Monday, January 28, 2013

Top Three Training Tips for Turbulent Times

Last night I flew from Boston to London for the Learning Technologies 2013 Conference. At one point the captain turned on the seat belt sign and ushered the command, "Please return to your seats and fasten your seat belts, we are anticipating a bit of turbulence."

Oddly, I like turbulence. It reminds me I am flying. Without it a flight is, suffice to say, a bit banal. As the cabin rocked like a jeep over rough terrain, it led me to wonder: How often do we hear the captain of an organization bellow a similar warning?

Every now and then strategic-thinking leaders will forewarn their teams of unexpected vertical winds.
Management will in turn prepare staff for making any appropriate adjustments to associated projects, their timelines and resources.

While some passengers grip the arm rest with white knuckles, others stay cool and calm. Similarly, some employees panic when they learn of a sudden change in strategic direction, while others breathe through and ride it with ease.

What makes it possible to do more of the latter and less of the former? Here are three top tips that came to mind last night as we jostled about:
1. First and foremost, in the field of instructional design and training, we must expect turbulence will happen. Long gone are the days when an organization is going to be strong and steady. Rather, unexpected winds of change are likely to happen more often than not for any organization to stay innovative. So our design and development methods must be flexible and responsive.
2. We need to pay attention to providing contextual based on-demand training. Like the passenger sitting in the exit row who is approached with pre-flight instructions on how operate the bulkhead door, employees need on point training options. Thankfully today's learning technologies make it possible to rapidly produce these.
3.We need to buckle up and calmly ride out any turbulence. If an organization opts to scrap a major project that consumes 85% of our time, we needn't worry our professional plane is going to crash. Rather, we need to stay committed to repurposing the work and design knowing that could be the case.

In a nut shell, the key to riding through the turbulence is staying agile. As instructional designers and trainers, we need to find ways to handle such situations with resourcefulness, reassuring employees that turbulence makes learning a fun ride.

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