As you know, I’m a great believer in doing proper training design before running an event. There are many reasons for this – even when designing for yourself - which I’ve mentioned before (Here’s a quick recap).
But even the very best design doesn’t guarantee things will run perfectly, OR that you’ll run an event EXACTLY as designed. Even when I’ve done thorough research and designed an event that I KNOW meets the client’s specification and will work, when it comes to the delivery, I tend go a little off piste here and there.
There are many reasons for this – all legitimate. Some are specific to that group, others are ideas that only come to me ‘in the moment’, that I decide to run with.
I’d like to reiterate that you can only adapt a plan if you had one to begin with, otherwise you are improvising. Also having a plan means that you have already planted many seeds, considered many options, and have a clear route marked out, so it is easier and safer to change in the moment in this case.
So, yes, it’s fine to adapt in the flow of the session.
But what do you do then?
Bask in the Happy Sheets and congratulate yourself on being such an agile facilitator? Or do you reflect and take note?
If you are always adapting on the hoof, the original design slowly becomes obsolete. You constantly have to remember what you changed and why. Scope creep can set in, and the course you run for the 12th time may bear little resemblance to the first.
And what if you’re part of a team? If you make a change, your colleagues probably are too. There’s a very real possibility that very different versions of the course will spring up all over the place quite quickly and there’s no consistency at all. Plus you’re all reinventing the wheel – every – single – time.
If you adapt something and it works, add it to the design perhaps as an alternative exercise. You can add conditions, e,g: “if the group is small replace this exercise with…” “If you are short on time do this instead” or simply “an alternative exercise is…”
Or maybe, having tried an exercise as written you found a better way to run it, or felt that more instruction would have been helpful, add it in as an improvement. Add extra tips for the facilitator to help make the content even more relevant whilst it’s still fresh in your mind e.g. by adding examples to share, things to highlight. That way the design keeps evolving and improving, and every facilitator builds on stronger and stronger foundations. Great design relies on an iterative process: It’s never completely finished.
So whilst we know to ask delegates what they will do differently after a training session, perhaps we ought to do the same. And if you aren't the facilitator, get their feedback and take time to update the design and keep continuously improving, making what’s good better, and helping everyone to design and deliver the very BEST training possible.