Do You Train Like Barney Stinson?

This interaction resonated with me for two reasons.

First, I’m beginning to train for a marathon and there’s something appealing to the idea that there’s only one step I need to take in order to prepare for a 26.2 mile run.

Second, I hear similar statements when I talk with co-workers and clients about putting together a training program. “Look, adult learning principles are nice and all, but honestly I just need to tell them what they need to know. And then they just need to do it.” When it comes to training, too many people carry the attitude that “there is no step 2.”

The problem, as borne out by research, is that when you bring people together for training and it’s a bad experience and nothing new or different results from that training, people grow more cynical about the value of the training going forward. When people are more cynical about training, they are less likely to engage or take anything away.

“There is no step 2” is a simplistic fantasy (if you were to watch the whole episode, Barney indeed pays for this guiding philosophy later on!). The truth is, if someone wants you to help put together a training program and your name will be attached to it, then there are three steps you need to take.

  1. Set clear objectives. Basically, you need to finish this sentence: by the end of this training, the participants will be able to ___________________. And your sponsor (supervisor, executives, client, or whoever else asked you for this training) needs to be aligned with the way that this sentence ends.
  2. Design something amazing. Yes, this is easier said than done. Of course, if you have well-crafted objectives, your task of designing something amazing should be a lot easier. Click on the link for “Instructional Design” on the left-hand side of this blog if you want some ideas on ways to engage people and get them involved in your next training session.
  3. Follow-up! Just because you said something and/or because your participants had a great time in your session doesn’t mean it’s going to stick. How will your participants be held accountable for doing something new or different or better once they return to their desks? (Click here for a more effective way to create an action plan)

7 thoughts on “Do You Train Like Barney Stinson?

    • Thanks Mike. I’ve been eyeing Seattle’s Rock-n-Roll Marathon next May (or is it June?). I ran 2 Rock-n-Roll half marathons in Virginia Beach back in my running days (before kids) and they were a lot of fun, and now it’s time to go after that holiest of running grails: the 26.2 sticker for my car.

      • It definitely gets more challenging (and rewarding) after kids. It is an amazing feeling to cross the line after 26.2..especially the first time. Best of luck and I look forward to hearing about all about it. 😎

  1. When I first saw this post, I thought two things:
    1) Be sure to make your training Legen…Make them wait for it…dary!
    2) Suit up! Make sure you look so good that people will not notice that you are lecturing at them all the time.:-)

    BTW – I have a Barny Stinson Successories by my desk entitled Awesomeness
    “When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead. True Story.”

    Thanks for the post Brian. So much wisdom from the Barnacle.

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