Getting a lot done with a small L&D team (aka: Inspiration from the “Twilight” series)

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Last week I had a chance to talk with a friend who’s been looking for new ways to stay on top of all of the L&D projects she’s been asked to work on. She works on a very small L&D team (and there’s currently a key vacancy) and she’s trying to keep the ship afloat. She’s concerned that if she says “no” (or at least “not now”)  to too many projects that the organization may begin to have second thoughts about the value of having an L&D team at all.

When she finished sharing her challenges with me, I thought for a moment, and then a thought struck me. “Have you ever seen any of the ‘Twilight‘ movies?”   Continue reading

Book Review: For The Win (How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business)

60-word Summary:

Gamification of learning and development has been en vogue for several years, yet so few organizations do it well. For The Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business goes beyond points, badges and leaderboards and offers a basic overview on how games work, why games work and some thoughts on how to combine game elements to achieve extraordinary results.

The Details:

Bright Spots:

The length: Weighing in at 126 pages, this book can be read from cover to cover in a couple of sittings (or a couple of cross-country flights!).

The examples: The authors obviously know their stuff and offer a variety of examples to ignite your imagination in how to transfer successful examples of gamified business practices to your own context. Equally important, the authors offer some powerful examples of gamification gone awry. When it comes to gamification, what not to do is as essential as what you’re thinking of actually doing.

The elements: Beyond points, badges and leaderboards, the authors offer an overview of game elements that too many attempts at gamification are missing. Dynamics (like emotions and progression), mechanics (like randomness and feedback) and components (such as boss fights and quests!) are all key pieces to any successful gamification effort.

Room For Improvement:

I’m not sure that I have too much critical to say about this book. As a learning and development professional, I would have loved to have seen more specific examples of gamification in the learning and development space. The wide variety of examples, however, offers plenty of ideas that are easily transferable to training programs.

Who Should Buy It:

I bought this book because I had begun to take a Coursera MOOC on gamification that was being taught by one of the authors and he recommended this book as a course text. I didn’t make it past Week 2 of the course (I’m just not into trying to learn new concepts by watching a series of 5-10 minute video lectures), but I’ve learned a lot from this book.

For The Win is perfect for someone who is either new to the concept of gamification or someone who is familiar with the concept but just doesn’t know where to start. It’s also ideal for training designers who have been trying to “gamify” their learning experiences with points or badges or leaderboards but just feel like there’s supposed to be more to a gamified experience (there is).

Honestly, this book isn’t just intended for training professionals. If  you’re someone in a position of management – either people management or process management – and you’re looking to truly understand a way to engage and motivate people using gaming principles, this book can offer a lot of ideas.

Well-designed training has something for a range of experience levels

Evolution

A guiding principle for good instructional design is to be sure that you know your audience and design something that meets their specific needs.

If you know that your audience is relatively inexperienced, then you need to make sure the basics are covered. If your audience is quite tenured, then advanced skill building would be in order.

What happens when you’re not quite sure who is planning to show up (for example, when you have to design for a conference session)? What happens when you’re told that your audience will have a broad range of experiences?   Continue reading

Is your training obsolete?

One of the little things that I enjoy about traveling for work is the opportunity to use the hotel gym. Last week at the Hilton Garden Inn in, I headed to the gym bright and early and I wasn’t in the mood to listen to music on my iPhone. I noticed that each workout machine had a docking station that could both charge my phone and allow me to play a movie from my phone on the monitor of the treadmill.

The only problem is that the docking station looked like this:

Treadmill_Obsolete_Training

It would have worked well if I traveled with my old iPhone 4, but it wasn’t going to work with any iPhone manufactured after 2011. Unless the hotel was planning to replace all of their exercise equipment, these docking stations offered zero value to hotel guests.

It got me wondering: how often do I produce training programs – lesson plans or elearning modules –  that have a “shelf life” and which have long-since expired?   Continue reading

The Mystery of the Mentor

In my first formal training position, I had the good fortune of working for a boss who had a strong presence, knew how to navigate organizational politics, and could teach me a thing or two about learning and development.

I was only in that position for six or seven months, then both my boss and I left the company – he left for grad school in Australia and I left to move across country. We still keep in touch, and I’m glad we have. I still value his insights.

I feel lucky that I stumbled into such a situation. What about people who have never had an opportunity to engage with someone who could turn into a mentor? My colleague, Tim Waxenfelter, recently had some thoughts about the importance of finding a mentor and is sharing them in today’s Train Like A Champion post: Continue reading

The one interview question I always ask when screening someone for a training position

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I’ve been interviewing a lot of people recently for a variety of training positions.

Interviews are a funny phenomenon. Some people interview really well. Other people get quite nervous and struggle mightily. I learned the hard way that you can’t hire someone solely on the strength of their interview performance. Other factors like their resume, work samples, portfolio and performance during a simulated task are also key factors.

There is one question that I’ve found when screening training professionals that offers me insights into how they think and what they identify as important to them: Continue reading

What’s the value of a train the trainer session?

Finance Cash Business Dollars Money Success

One of my favorite topics to design and deliver is presentation skills. When people present better, they have the opportunity to change the world.

Over the past few years, as I reflect on these sessions, I’ve begun to question the value. Is a presentation skills or train the trainer session worth the investment of time and money? Too often, when I peek in on what people are doing after attending such a session, I would have to say: no, the investment of time and money wasn’t worth it.   Continue reading