Two weeks ago I went on a glass art workshop. I really enjoyed it. The artist in charge wasn’t much of a teacher to be honest (see my blog about subject matter experts), but she was enthusiastic, and I was there for pleasure not to create a masterpiece. I was willing to have a go based on her vague suggestions, and work things out with her reassurance.
Last weekend I made some hats for a sheep costume (don’t ask!). I’m DEFINIITELY no seamstress and don’t even have a sewing machine, but by researching patterns and taking a step-by-step approach I managed to create two passable hats.
I was very proud of myself in BOTH instances for 2 reasons:
NOT because my work was to a high standard (it definitely wasn’t), but because it was a success: A success in relation to my status as a complete novice.
ALSO because I had (to a certain extent) worked it out for myself. Of course I’d had direct (in the case of the glass) and indirect help (with the hats), but I’d figured out a lot for myself. I didn’t mindlessly follow a set procedure. I'd thought about what I wanted to create, explored how to do it, and taken action to achieve that.
And of course, learning is always more effective (and more powerful) when we WANT to learn and when we have DIRECT INPUT into the learning process i.e. we do it for ourselves (see the IKEA effect).
So how can we incorporate these factors into our training design? I have three ideas:
- Make the training meaningful – What specific problem will this solve? How EXACTLY will it make life easier FOR THE PERSON COMPLETING THE TRAINING.
- Provide Guidance rather than strict rules – People do need to know where to start, what’s important, what needs to be considered. They need to feel safe as they work things out.
- Allow time for exploration – Probably the most important factor, and the thing that is most often missed (or at least limited) in corporate training. Even if people are learning a set procedure, let them fail and see what happens when they do it wrong (as long as it is safe to do so of course!). This really aids the learning journey.
Of course, it’s always a balancing act: We want people to learn for themselves as long as they do so in timely and cost-effective manner, so perhaps we only open up CERTAIN parts to self-discovery. But even allowing a little freedom (within boundaries) can have a huge impact on the success of the learning.
So how do YOU build self-discovery into YOUR training design?