Enterprise performance. It does not occur by accident, nor by lucky strike. It is not achieved through finance or technology. Performance is made by people. By mature, educated, knowledgeable people. By groups and individuals who understand what good performance means and accept the associated challenge. By people who like to work smart to make things happen, and enjoy the process of getting there....
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Because training provides both the necessary knowledge and the required "tension".
Training provides not only education, it provides also "inspiration".
Enterprises aiming at high levels of performance resort to training, in all its formats, as operational, ongoing tactics. Because, in time, it produces the cultural force needed in the new world, the world after the change.....
Training is concerned with construction work: laying, replacing and breaking bricks.
In the course of our life we build a wall of bricks in our mind.
The bricks are our beliefs, our "credo", our principles, our values, our ideas. Ideas about how to do things. Ideas about what should be done and how it should be done.
All inputs we receive, via reading or listening or communicating or interacting somehow with this world, trigger our thinking.
When thinking settles, possibly a conclusion has been reached in our mind, and a new brick is laid.... or replaced with a different one..... or broken down.....
Thinking requires some form of effort. Laying bricks requires more efforts. Replacing bricks requires even stronger efforts: because a previously laid brick needs first to be "chiselled out" before a new one can take its place.
In certain instances, a brick is simply "broken" and removed once and forever.
Sometimes, we even demolish a whole layer of bricks, or a few of them.
It may even happen that, under special circumstances, we need or want to demolish the bulk of our brick-wall - possibly to build a totally different one afterwards.....
Training, especially "interactive" training, is a "construction agent", a catalyst.
Training triggers thinking, and makes the trainee analyse his or her bricks, the status of his or her brick-wall. Ideas are put under scrutiny. A mental debate takes place.
Possibly one brick needs to be added, or a few of them. Possibly a brick doesn't match the rest of the wall, and needs to be replaced by a more suited one. Possibly one or more bricks may need, under the light of the mental debate, to be removed altogether....
All construction activities of this nature, however, require efforts. Human beings, generally and if at all possible, prefer to do without efforts. Therefore two likely mental phenomena may arise: the one is reluctance - the other is resistance.
Reluctance is caused by partial agreement with the need to do some construction work. Resistance is caused by total disagreement with the need of getting chisel, hammer and trowel out of the toolbox...
Reluctance is generally easy to overcome. Reluctance is typical of mature, adult individuals who want to see full proofs and demonstrations, and are somehow prepared to debate further.... and to understand.... and to "learn". Understanding is learning. Reluctance, in different degrees, is generally found in younger people. Their brick-wall is still "under construction". "Open-minded" individuals, with a modern industrial culture, have a brick-wall "permanently under construction". This does not mean that their wall is flimsy or wobbly. Simply, it's a dynamic wall, sound from an engineering point of view, but available to be completed and perfected by advanced architectural styles....
Resistance is more subtle to deal with. Resistance is typical of industry's "veterans", of people with long (and generally specialised) "experience".
Their brickwall is rather strong, rigid, often "untouchable". Because their brickwall was built long ago and it has proved to be "right" and correct over the years. Because their "ideas" on how things should be done have been supported by "acceptance" and "confirmation".
When new ideas are presented, possibly very different from theirs, the mental debate is fast and "automatic". There are two possible outcomes: rejection or suspicion.
While rejection settles the matter there and then (..."it cannot be done".... ...."it won't work"....), suspicion (that the new idea might be valid) generally causes resistance.
For a simple reason, so diffused in industry: the "veteran syndrome". The syndrome mechanism is rather simple and understandable: '....I have been doing things in this way for so many years.... ....now "they" come and tell me that what I have done so far is wrong, because it can be done in a better way... ....it's like to say I am stupid.... ....stupid because I have done wrong things or taken the wrong way.... ....but I am not stupid... ...."they" are stupid.... ....and I dispute what they "say"... ....and I resist....'. Finito. Resistance requires a mature debate, but first a simple clarification addressed to eliminate the root cause of resistance, the (fake) "stupidity" factor.
This is actually the very secret in training, the heart of training.
Reluctance is "reluctance to change". Resistance is "resistance to change".
Effective training is concerned with reluctance and resistance.
Training deals with both phenomena in the most appropriate ways.
Training does not lay or break bricks. Training triggers the necessary mechanism in the trainee's mind and prepares the ground for some good construction work.....
Children show very limited traces of reluctance and resistance, or none at all.
Children also like to "play". Playing is an enjoyable way of understanding and learning.
Differently from children, adults show reluctance and resistance. But adults are like children when it comes to "playing": their "brick-wall" suddenly goes "in the background", it becomes a bit "blurred".
The tendency to "reject" or to "suspect" (and then to "resist") is somehow slackened while playing.
So, playing is the starting point.
Simulation games and humorous or hilarious exercising are essential in training. They create the "relaxed", "playing" climate necessary to let messages filter through.
Seeds fall on the ground....
But, eventually, the game is over and the brick-wall comes back with all its strength (actually a bit weakened already...).
Now it's time to look at things "maturely".
It's "proofs" and "demonstrations" time. It's "clarification" time, clarifications to beat the "syndrome.". That time in which we either water the seeds or we let them dry out...
It's "case study" and "case history" time.
Yet, "suspicion" may still be there....
Stronger mind debates must still take place. So stronger messages are required to overcome the associated "resistance".
This requires a mirror effect. Now it's "video-camera" time.
Nothing better than video-camera recording (VCR) can show the difference between an old, unsuitable "brick" and a newer, better fitting one. At least, in all those cases in which it's viable to go for VCR approaches.
This creates the mirror effect. The mirror does not lie. Even "veteran" minds can see the reality through the mirror.
Only obsolete, sclerotic mentalities cannot. Tough luck. The road to better performance cannot be taken painlessly by just anybody......
With regard to the mirror strategy and a practical way to use the video-camera, please see my special offer to all enterprises: Show the waste to your people. Click here.
Carlo Scodanibbio is available to deliver training courses and workshops world-wide. Lead-time: min. 3 months.
English, Italian, French (limited).
Presentations and Notes/Handouts: English and Italian.
Carlo Scodanibbio training style.
Interactive, relaxed, very limited "lecturing". "Hands-on", practical. Frequent simulations ("playing"), exercising, case studying.
Presentations: multi-media - Power-Point, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player.
Number of participating delegates.
For "in-house" courses and workshops, the number of participants should not exceed 20. This will ensure a good level of interaction, necessary for training effectiveness.
For "public" or "open" courses and workshops the same rule should ideally apply. In all those cases in which the participating delegates are 30 and over, allowance should be made for frequent "open debate" sessions.
Training room layout.
Ideal layout: a number of tables - each capable of accommodating 4-6 delegates - laid out in a semi-circular shape (over 120°). The projection screen is placed in the centre of the circle.
Alternative layout: tables can be laid out "class-room" style, but in a "fishbone" arrangement.
Both layouts allow team-work and team-exercising.
A theatre style seating arrangement and also U-shape layouts are not appropriate for effective team-work.
PC or Laptop: Pentium 4 or superior - 1 Gb RAM - VGA screen, resolution 1024 x 768 - sound card and speakers (or sound connection to Data Projector or external sound system) - CD/DVD Drive. Operating System: Windows XP or superior. Software: Power Point 2003 or superior, Windows Media Player, WinDVD, and Internet Explorer - ADSL or ISDN connection to Internet required only for the e-performance course/workshop.
Data Projector: high lumen output - capable of accepting screen resolutions up to 1024 x 768 - with Video and Audio input connectors and "source" selector - with internal speakers or connected to external speakers - with remote control.
Screen: of adequate brightness/reflectivity - tripod or (preferably) wall mounted.
2 Flip Charts and markers.
As a courtesy to the course leader and to all participants:
- telephones, participants' cellular phones and public address system in the training room should be off at all times except during breaks
- there should be no interruption except in emergencies or "crisis" situations
Any "disturbance" factor (like those above) is not only a loss of time - it also causes a disruption in the training "momentum".
Distance Learning is a reality. Although "distance-training" does not carry the same effectiveness as its "real-world" equivalent, it may still represent a practical, very economical and viable solutions in many circumstances.
Check the distance-learning page to see all initiatives activated so far - clickhere