Thursday, September 22, 2011

Behind the scenes this week at MCI

We are excited to share with our clients some of what goes on here behind the scenes as we work to create positive and exciting experiences for our participants.
Today - 22 September - Jovi from our admin team and Natasha the account manager have been preparing to launch a distance learning program for one of our top clients and we have been packing and preparing their bags. In the bags are their notes, their headphones, letters of welcome and introduction to the program - and a sign that they will use when they are in their webinar sessions so that others do not interrupt them!
This program is a Diploma in Management program and is going to be conducted via webinar as well as through our e-campus. What an amazing journey for our participants who are going to be learning right at their desks and yet still part of the group.
At the same time in our offices, there is also a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment training program taking place with some incredibly positive trainers who are learning from Electra and hoping to complete their WORKVILLE portfolios as soon as possible.
WORKVILLE is the MCI evidence portfolio for the program and assists participants to collate their evidence according to a story of a trainer who works in an organisation and has several roles to complete.

Anthony Robbins - master trainer!

We went for a booster session with Anthony Robbins this week - and there is no doubt that he is one of the top trainers I have encountered - ever!
I wrote about his amazingly strong training techniques in our March blog and now I am even more convinced of his ability.
If you missed out on the March blog, please read that as well:
Anthony has some very good messages and I will capture some of those further down, but it is the way in which he conveys them and ensures that we remember them, that makes his such an effective trainer.
1. He says his key messages over and over again in different ways. He anchors the learning by ensuring that the audience also says it to another person, sees it on the screen and writes it down. "Do you have that written down?" he asks to remind everyone to take note.
2. He creates movement in the room. No one sits down for for more than 20 minutes at a time. Tony knows that movement creates energy in the room and the brain starts thinking and operating differently.He ensures that people are up and about and "shaking it out."
3. There are role plays. I know we hate them and he does not label them as role plays. He says - "let's try it out." Act out what you have just heard so that it embeds in long term memory.
4. His visuals on the screen are simple, easy to follow and designed according to 'slideology' principles.
5. He uses his voice particularly well. Loud, clear and changes the tone and the pace frequently to reinforce the messages.
6. He is so full of energy and as we know, you are drawn to those with the energy. Do we always set our energy on high when we are delivering training? Tony is obviously in peak physical fitness as well because he keeps going at that pace without tiring.
7. He constantly changes the mode of the session and the brain loves that type of change - we remain engaged and in flow. He introduces humour and then becomes serious. He talks and then he writes on the whiteboard. He comes down from the stage and walks around. The group does an activity. The music comes on and then goes off. Constant change and before you know it 3 hours has gone by and you have learnt and recalled main messages.
8. He is very strong on his own personal branding. He is not afraid to share his own stories of his life and triumphs and failures - not in an arrogant way but as part of the learning. He is a brilliant marketing person and not shy to promote his other programs. Why are we as learning and development people not pushing what we do so strongly that we have a high profile in the organisation?
9. And talking of stories, Tony uses lots of stories to make his point clear. He talks about the sports stars he has worked with and their lessons resonate with us. He talks of other people he has coached and he sets us up to believe that anything we want to achieve is possible. Are we using enough stories in our own training sessions to inspire others?
10. Tony gave out no fancy manuals with beautiful images and pages. We all took our own notes and that is the way to go! The more you write yourself in your own words the better. He gave references and told us where to go to read more and learn more - but the live session was all about driving the key messages home.
11. There were over 5000 people in the room. You never felt as though you could not learn because you did not receive special and individual attention. Instead, the energy and the networking were great and in the smaller activities we were learning from each other. I know that in some cases you do need to provide smaller classes for more impact and for special needs - but I am tired of the belief that training is only effective in small groups.
Here are some of the key messages that are relevant for all of us in our personal and professional life:

“See things as they are, not worse than they are.” – Tony Robbins

“The difference between MUST & SHOULD is the life you want and the life you have” - Tony Robbins

“Most people are weak because they can’t tell the truth to themselves, be honest with yourself and the truth will set you free.” – Tony Robbins

“When fear leaves you, life enters you.” - Tony Robbins

“The only thing that is keeping you from what you really want is the story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t have it.” - Tony Robbins

“In leadership, you get what you tolerate. Lead by example.” - Tony Robbins

“If you want to change your life you have to raise your standards.” - Tony Robbins

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Inaugural Gamestorming training in Australia

Wow - what a wonderful group of participants who were awarded their certificates as 'gamestormers'! This amazing toolbox of different ways of facilitating and enhancing sessions was so powerful and gave participants a whole range of new ideas for changing the tone and texture of meetings, workshops and even induction programs that need a refresher.
The wall became the new table and the creativity was on fire. The group made it all seem so simple as they followed their 10 essentials and then delved further in to the 'Gamestorming' book by Dave Gray and Sunni Brown to try out different openers and closers. They drew and used their post-its and used templates as well. They body-stormed and tried out session plans that they had never thought of before.

Learnings from LEARNX 2011

LearnX 2011

We were very excited to attend the LEARNX conference in Brisbane last week – well, firstly we were there to collect our 3 prizes for best Certificate IV in Training and Assessment program and also for our women in management Diploma program. We also were so proud of Kerri Blackstone who received a Gold award for best learning leader. And a huge congratulations to our client Michael Sebastian at Fleet Partners for his great award as best Training Manager.

We were also keen to hear what the key themes of the conference were and what people are talking about when it comes to achieving great learning outcomes.

Here are some of the insights that we gained from the day:

1. When comparing elearning to face to face learning, it is worthwhile remembering that you can also have some very bad classroom training delivery! To achieve strong outcomes, you still need great instructional design and solid delivery. Elearning works well when you let it work well.

2. It is worthwhile remembering just how much training is done without involvement of the learning and development team. This is training that happens on the job, through brief coaching sessions by subject matter experts or through casual conversations and in meetings. We don’t track this type of learning and yet it accounts for 70 – 80% of all learning (depending on whose statistics you listen to).

3. The key to positive learning outcomes is to have a look at what is known as ‘scrap learning’. This is the learning that does not relate directly to job performance and is discarded once participants are no longer in the session itself. It is scary to think that this could in some cases account for up to 80% of what has occurred in the training room. Not a great statistic when you want a good return on investment on your training delivery.

4. In a superb session by Dr Helena Popovic, there were some further strong learnings on how to take advantage of the way in which the brain functions when it comes to training.

Besides warnings about alcohol consumption – “the more you drink, the more the brain shrinks” – she also spoke about how movement is so important in training sessions. The more we exercise, the more our brains are brains function at their peak. So by introducing movement in to our sessions for at least 12 minutes, we enable students to function at optimal levels.

She also spoke about how important it is to laugh in training sessions. All those feel-good chemicals that are released help us to learn more effectively.

She reminded us that we need to start learners out with a challenge that is manageable. In this way they remain in flow and they start adopting a can-do attitude. The brain also likes change and so it is up to trainers to ensure that things change in the room at least every 9 – 10 minutes. Make the effort to focus clearly on one thing at a time. If we are focused it induces our learners to be focused.

Finally, Dr Popovic reminded us that stilling the mind is as powerful as energizing the mind.

Mind chatter is always there. Be aware of that voice and what we need to do to switch off the mind chatter. Every hour - do a 30 second exercise to sharpen up the room.

Do mindfulness exercise - Look at palm of hand.. Look, listen, feel. Don't chatter in your mind. Press the pause button on your thinking and there is place to take in what we learn. Ask learners to listen and feel with their eyes closed.

5. Some final words of wisdom from different presenters:

“Don’t call our participants ‘learners’. No one holds such a job title.”

“Work from right to left. Understand the business problem from a business perspective first and foremost and design according to those challenges.”

When we talk about a blended learning solution, it is more than simply face to face training mixed with some on-line work and a few webinars thrown in for good measure. It includes the use of every possible tool – Blogging, Apps, Portals, Demos, Webinars, Face to face sessions, Hands on practice, virtual coaching, Evaluations, Job aids and Reality games.