November 7, 2007

polar-bear-tongue.jpgPreparation and organization. How much of your day do you think you spend on those two tasks? It’s all I’ve been doing lately and I’m a bit weary of both because they involve doing something now for something in the future. I’m weary I guess because I don’t feel like I’m doing anything. I feel like an animal gathering and storing food for the winter.

For many years, I hired outside instructors to teach advanced technical job-specific skills. Trainer A was a man in his 50s who did all his training face-to-face. He used flipcharts and occasionally offered his students videotaped vignettes to watch as part of an activity. He was meticulous in his preparation and organization. All binders were lined up perfectly. Everyone was given the same number and type of pencils. The name tents were set up perfectly. Everything was prepared and organized to perfection. His reputation was outstanding and his evaluations were always top-notch. He did not use a PC, didn’t have a Website, and communicated by phone instead of email. He had an interest in e-learning that might resemble the interest a polar bear, in the comfort of his recliner, would have about a report on global warming. He was not ready for change.

Trainer B was a woman about my age who also did all of her training face-to-face. Her expertise was in interpersonal skill training. She was as meticulous, actually more so, in her preparation and organization as Trainer A was. She would arrive 1 or 1 ½ hours early and rearrange the room, prepare flipcharts, ask questions about the group very, very detailed questions. She also used binders, flipcharts, and video. Her reputation was outstanding, her evaluations were exceptional, and she worked for many Fortune 100 companies. Her company had a Website and some post-workshop activities were available online and via email. Her interest in e-learning might resemble the stress a polar bear would experience when faced with shrinking ice. (What the ??? is this about?). She was starting to get ready for change.

Trainer C was a man about my age who also did all of his training face-to-face. Like Trainer A, his training served a niche market  hard to find technical content that was very job-specific. He traveled the continental U.S. and trained nearly 200 days per year. His preparation and organization was an art form. He experienced virtually no stress when faced with things I would’ve  freaked out about. He used a PC, projector, and online games in his classroom along with binders, and tent cards. His interest was keen on e-learning. I guess he’d be the Al Gore of polar bears alerting the other polar bears of changes looming by doing something about it. About the time I was working with him, I was rolling out a synchronous learning platform. He asked if he could work with me on it to deliver some of his training at a distance. He didn’t charge my organization for this and delivered a couple of pilots. He asked endless questions about online teaching and read everything I sent his way. His preparation was outstanding and he commented on the amount of time spent with this new channel for delivering his training. He was ready for change and doing something about it.

These three trainers, with different levels of readiness for advancing learning by incorporating technology, could easily have been some managers or learners at the organization. Or, any of us.

So, as I prepare and organize for workshops I’ll deliver, I’m reminded of these two videos that can remind everyone why we need to take seriously how we prepare and organize our learning activities.


  • Alistair Young

    Liked the BG (Before Google) bit! What’s the music on the second movie? Very nice indeed.

  • Alistair Young

    Liked the BG (Before Google) bit! What’s the music on the second movie? Very nice indeed.

Previous post:

Next post: