I’ve been asked to write this post for a while now as I’ve mentioned this idea a few times in the past and people have wanted to know more about it.
Quite simply, I believe that traditional training is like Mexican food. It contains the same core ingredients that are added in differing quantities and then folded differently.
For example, you fancy chicken fajitas for dinner. You chop up your chicken, peppers, onions and chilli. As you prepare your skillet you remember that you have some cheese. So, fire up your deep fat fryer, add the cheese, fold it differently and cook. Voilà, enchilada.
What’s the difference between the meals? Very little – a bit more cheese, a few less chillies but they are ostensibly the same. For too long, training often happens the same way. Get an idea, build it, add something, fold it differently and present it as something new.
Ah…I’m told there’s skill in designing and delivering L&D. Of course there is. There’s the same skill the chef uses – appropriate sourcing of ingredients, knife (editing) skills, knowing how long to cook something, advertising what we do and hope people enjoy it. We know that users are hungry – do we spend enough time finding out what they want to eat, how they want to eat it, and how far they want to be involved in the design of the dish?
Let’s look at the Mexican cookery analogy in a little more detail:
Over used, the dish is ruined. Too little, and it’s bland and tasteless. Welcome to the L&D world of activities. I’ve been on some courses that have exercises coming out of their ears. Over-seasoned, the trainer adds more and more activities to try and make the training varied and original. In the end it becomes distasteful as users struggle to find the meat of the piece. Generally the lower the content, the more the spice.
It’s typical in Mexican food to have pork, beef and chicken. Vegetarian alternatives are becoming more apparent but there has been little change in these recipes for years.
The comparison in L&D is knowledge transmission. And how do we do it? In the classroom. You can have chicken, chicken, or…chicken. In the classroom, the classroom, or…the classroom. In my experience, L&D are fascinated by the desire to be ‘ALL-KNOWING’. Are we the oracles of knowledge? Do people learn from us? Are we limiting people in how they learn by only offering this alternative?
Earlier, I asked where the skill is. In terms of the substance of the piece it’s about choosing the right cut, knowing how to slice it, making it manageable for the user to consume.
The side order
I love the fact that many Mexican dishes come with re-fried beans. Notwithstanding they’re filling and tasty, they describe the L&D issue over the extras. Too often L&D will add an e-learning element to some training. It’s a side order. The main meal of the course can exist without it; it’s not integral; it adds to the user experience but has little value in itself. How many re-fried e-learning courses have you completed that are face to face content, manipulated to make it ‘e-appropriate’. Worst of all, the tag blended learning is used to describe it. If it was blended learning, it wouldn’t be a side order. If you truly want to blend your learning, include your e-elements, your open learning, your additional activities as integral parts of the learning experience. Make the activity work with your other elements; why should your users treat your e-learning as anything more than a paper pot of sour cream if that’s how you present it.
The package is often presented as the programme, course, class, workshop, etc. The style of delivery is the way we fold the pancake in L&D. I’ve seen a lot of Mexican food in L&D in my time. However, you can’t just call it something new as a way of presenting it as new. There are times when we in L&D need to be original. How many new ideas are ever launched in L&D? When I say new, I mean completely original, based on research, transparent and of real value? I’ve seen many L&D professionals fold the pancake so tightly that the user can’t see what’s inside. Where’s the value to the learner in that? How many L&D professionals fold the pancake in a new way and call it new content? I think there are substantially fewer L&D professionals who present a de-constructed meal.
Make this your mantra – put the pancakes on the side, put the cooked parts in different dishes, include the side orders and let the user decide how to build it.
As I put on all my posts, I’d love to hear your comments – please comment below.