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Archive for the ‘Coaching’ Category

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Learning at Light Speed, 101 Ways to Speed Up the Learning Process

#1:  Experiment

One of the important things we learn from the quality movement is the importance of experiments.  If you know how long something takes, you can set up experiments to see if an approach to learning is faster or not. 

So if you test a reading assignment versus a lecture or a game or elearning, you can see which one actually effects learning speed the most.  Other experiments might involve looking at the amount and timing of practice or the effects of different types of feedback.

The big point is that if you want to speed up learning, you need to know how much time it takes now and then experiment to make things faster.

Copyright LPI 2008.

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surf.jpg

Uploaded by mikebaird

So what’s a guy on a surfboard have to do with measuring learning?  I mean other than surf pictures are already great.  Well first I’d say he’s proficient.  I might even say he’s a high performer. 

What makes him so is not all the individual competencies like balance, physcial condition, position on the board, knowledge of the waves, etc.  It’s his ability to put all these elements together without having to think about each part.  In education and training it’s easy to get into the trap of breaking everything down into it’s pieces and parts and forget that they have to fit together in unique and different ways.  You can test all the competencies and still find someone that doesn’t perform well.  You’ve probably seen people who are good at tests and bad in real life.

What I recommend in measuring learning, education or training (I’ll do a post soon on the difference), is to look at creating a proficiency statement.  This is a statement that combines three elements.  First, you look at results.  You can do it in terms of how much, how good and how fast.  A proficiency for our surfer might be the number and variation of the wave’s he can handle or it might be the different tricks he can do.

Second, you look at independence.  Is this something you can handle on your own without asking lots of questions.  Sometimes it shows up in terms of being able to take initiative.  For our surfer it might be something on wave selection or decided when to surf. 

Third, there’s a level of confidence.  This appears in a fluidity of motion, a fluency of language and an ability to focus.  Confidence is usually directly observable.  I think our surfer looks confident.

Sometimes you can get to proficiences by listing out all the competencies and then regrouping them by how they are actually used.

Now you have a set of measures that are directly observable or produce measurable results.  In some cases like reading it goes from a test where you get a short reading assignment and then answer questions to see what you got out of it with a test of, here read this to me…know tell me what it was about.  I guarantee you that the second test is more effective.

Once you have a clear measure of proficiency, then you’ll find it rather easy to determine and measure time to proficiency.  One thing that time to proficiency will tell you is which teaching or training method actually works the best.  If two teachers, teach the same thing to a group of 30 but use different methods, the one that got to proficiency faster has a best practice that others should copy.

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Uploaded by Idle Type

Well here are all the people that were kind enough to make submissions to this weeks Blog Carnival.

  1. Rose Walbrugh presents The inflexible brain posted at FreeMyMind.Net.
  2. FitBuff presents Power of the Mind – Much Stronger Than Your Biceps! posted at FitBuff.com’s Total Mind and Body Fitness Blog.
  3. Dave Origano presents How To Plan For a Great 2008 posted at Online Marketing & Exponential Business Growth Blog.
  4. Kingsley Tagbo presents How To Take Your Business Analyst Career To The Next Level posted at HOW TO LEARN COMPUTER PROGRAMMING FAST OR GET A JOB EASILY.
  5. Shaun Connell presents Content posted at Make Website Money.
  6. Joe Caterisano presents How to get organized posted at Self Help and Personal Development.
  7. Kingsley Tagbo presents How To Take Your Business Analyst Career To The Next Level posted at HOW TO LEARN COMPUTER PROGRAMMING FAST OR GET A JOB EASILY.
  8. TT-Shane presents Check out TrainingTime.com! posted at HR Forum.
  9. CMOE presents Teamwork: Not Just Working With Each Other, But Working Together posted at Leadership In Action.

If I missed anyone, let me know.  It’s just that I’m new at this.  Look for another Carnival next week.

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chaos.jpg

Recently I had an opportunity to lead a number of process improvement sessions.  One of the things that’s challenging is that it’s really a divergent/convergent process.  By divergent I’m mean that early on the discussion is expansive with a lot of options.  Later on as decisions are made the process is convergent leading to closure. 

As a facilitator, it’s important to allow the early chaos to happen because that’s part of the creative process.  I continuously remind everyone that this is a normal part of the process and everything will come into focus as we go along.  A lot of people are uncomfortable with this messy state of affairs and try too soon to organize things or cut off discussion.  You just have to push back and tell people to be patient.  I use parking lots to help record all those ideas that we won’t be dealing with in order to keep some focus to the discussion.

I also let people know when we are shifting gears and going into the decison making phase.  That’s the point were judgements are appropriate and necessary.  I find that when I train others on this type of faciliation that they have to see this happen at least once to fully appreciate what really happens.

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Here are two very traditional new hire orientations.  First, you put new hires in the classroom and then have each department head come in with a PowerPoint presentation and talk for an hour.  I’ve seen this go on for up to five days.

 The second method is to have new hires go to each department and get a short presentation on what that department does.  It’s a little less formal and you get to see the department.  I’ve seen this last for up to two weeks.

So, when you ask new hires how they liked this orientation here’s the typical response.  (You actually don’t need to go to the expense of doing this survey here’s what you always get.)  “That was really interesting but I don’t remember much of it.” or..”it would have been more helpful after I’d been here a while.” or..”I couldn’t stay awake.”

These methods are actually more like a hazing than anything of substantial value.  It’s too much, too soon and delivered in the worst possible way.

What’s the alternative? 

First of all, the information is valuable.  However, it’s probably different every time it’s presented and it doesn’t have a context.  So what we do is try to capture that information and put it into some type of reference material.  Could be online but doesn’t have to be.  Then new hires read or go through that information over a period of several weeks and then they get an opportunity to meet with departments for informal discussions or maybe some job shadowing.   In other words, it’s spread along a Learning Path.

Here’s an easy way to capture this information.  The next time you go through your traditional orientation tape record it and then transcribe it.  Now with the PowerPoints you  have all the information you need for a good writer to put it together.

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.Gene Simmons Interview 

Gene Simmons Interview,
originally uploaded by BAMCAT.

Maybe I need to stop watching celebrity apprentice but it brought to mind an age old agrument about the value of talent versus the value of team. (While there is no “I” in team, there is “Me” and “Meat.”

Okay, so here’s the point. In the last episode, the two teams had to make a commercial. One team did the typical team brainstorming and trying to work as a team. The other team was taken over by Gene Simmons and Steven Baldwin who convinced the others that they had 20 years experience in the field and that the others should go back to the room and relax. Guess what? Talent won over team.

Companies often use golf and a scamble format to show how four people working together can accomplish great things. But how would any scamble team ever put together do against Tiger Woods if you let him have the same number of tries? (Your team of 4 versus Tiger with 4 balls.)

In basketball where they try to match up talent in various positions, how would a typical team do against 5 Michael Jordans in his prime?

While there is synergy in teamwork, I think we sometimes miss the boat when we don’t see the power in the individual.

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I’ve seen both these terms used interchangably and with completely different meanings.  I think it’s important to have a distinction no matter what you call them.

 To me a coach is someone who has direct responsibility for training and developing someone else, usually a subordinate.  It’s part of their job description and compensation.  “I do well, if you do well.”  “I want you to win and if you win I win.”

A mentor is someone who doesn’t have the resonsibility but wants you to do well.  They want you to win, but they may not win if you win.  This is a person you can go to for advice or ask questions.  A mentor is willing to help but doesn’t have to.

Which is best?  In the ideal situation, you should have both.  They offer something different and both can really help. 

I’d also add in a third player, a “buddy.”  This is someone who is going through exactly what you’re going through and provides support and resources as you learn.  In the Gallop survey about what employee’s value, having a buddy is top of the list.

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