I came on this article from Allen Interactions on using primitive tools to do storyboarding:
In our modern age of computerized convenience, the default is often to get out the laptop or tablet and start tapping away. But sometimes that may not be the best first step. Or even the second or third. What I like best about the article is that it uses people to mimic the computer actions while capturing ideas and designs on paper. So I started pondering how this applies across more than just design.
Task Analysis
I am a compulsive scribbler and note taker. If the phone rings, my reflexive response is to reach for the pad and pen to capture whatever action items are going to result. I think all of us are good at note-taking during the task analysis portion, but how many of us take the more interactive approach that Hannah suggest in her article? What if instead of a simple conversation, we also included pantomime and acting out of processes and procedures? And don’t forget role play. When we hone in on behavior-based change (which is our ultimate objective as IDs) it might help our SMEs and stakeholders to act out the behavior they want us to include in our training.
This is easy to do at a call center since we can act out the phone script, but what about training staff on handling customer complaints or conducting job interviews or having one of those crucial conversations? For instance, I could easily see us incorporating a role-playing technique in a task analysis something like this:
ID: I’m going to pretend to be the customer and you pretend to be the worker, OK?
ID: I want you to show me first of all what staff are currently doing when they have customer interactions.
SME: That’s easy.
ID: “I have a complaint about the product. It doesn’t work.”
SME: “What did you expect? You bought the cheapest thing we manufacture. That’s a total piece of junk. What you need is the WhizBang 2000 instead of the GeeWhiz 20.”
ID: “Why would I buy the WhizBang 2000 if you can’t even make a GeeWhiz 20 that works? I’m going to take my business elsewhere.”
SME: “Good luck with that. You won’t find anything that cheap anywhere else.”
The ID would capture notes and this could become the basis of a scenario-based learning event. Then they would repeat this using the behavior the learner should be demonstrating.
Training Design
I think the article does a good job capturing how to incorporate low-tech into the design phase of training. There are other things we can do besides sticky notes and white boards (i.e. the tried-and-true Parking Lot). All of us who have done presentations are intimately familiar with flip charts. Tear those sheets off and use them for diagramming process steps or concept maps or sketching layouts.
Training Development
The current project I’m working on is an e-Learning solution. Most of what I’ve developed so far has been on paper. Using Captivate, I created a shell that I am using for a demo of how the training will look. Since editing in Captivate is a terrible pain, I am saving the actual creation of the e-Learning for last. My goal is that my SMEs will look at the demo to get a picture in their heads of how the training is going to look when it’s done, but that the real important part of content development will be done on paper first. I started with Excel to map out the process steps and then converted that to a storyboard in Word. Technically, it’s not paper based, but it’s a lot quicker and easier than Captivate.
Sidebar Rant
Why oh why do people INSIST on presenting handouts in PowerPoint? Why? I want to pull my hair out every time someone hands me a slide deck printed on paper. Why can they not take their PowerPoint, convert it to Outline view and export it as a Word document that prints out on 3 pages instead of 30 pages of slide composed mostly of empty space? I am fast coming to the prejudicial conclusion that anyone who prints an entire slide deck instead of a Word document for a handout is an idiot. I know it is bad of me to think this, but I’m probably a bad person for wanting to use words instead of white space to convey meaning.
Training Evaluation
No, this is not about the smile sheets. This is about tracking performance. If we are serious about business performance, we should be able to document time saved, money saved, money earned, customers retained, employees satisfied, lost time accidents reduced, auditors who have returned favorable findings, or some other piece of paper that shows a response to our efforts. To the degree possible, we need to make sure these are included in quarterly or annual reports. I’m not a big fan of numbers of people who attended class or hours spent in training (unless it is government mandated hours of training and then it satisfies a compliance requirement and reduces organizational exposure to risk). Training may not be able to show a direct ROI, but we should at least be able to note our impact as part of an overall performance strategy.
Paper is not going away. If PowerPoint decks are any guide, it will only get worse as we become more electronic. The trick is to make sure we use it to our advantage.
In other news, along with Lajuana, I too have landed. I have taken a position as a Consultant with Sequent in Columbus. I will be the e-Learning innovator part of the training and performance side of the team looking at training solutions for their clients. I have been working for them for the last month as a contractor and due to a staffing change, they were able to bring me on full time. I want to personally thank all of you for your support and especially Bill Daniels for helping me get my feet wet in the world of contract training development. The skills I learned from you came in handy and went a long way toward creating a favorable impression. And just as importantly, my fellow Drewsters over the years have demonstrated how a good team operates and I cannot thank you enough for helping to hone my rough edges and show me what it’s like to work as part of a collaborative team. Well done, everyone.
Common Craft Offering
Finally, for those of you looking for an oversimplified explanation of agile methodology that uses an effective stawman argument, check out the latest from Lee Lefever of Common Craft: he says is true and accurate. It is also irrelevant as anyone who has used the waterfall methodology effectively can tell you. The explanation shows what happens when slavishly adhering to a process (the straw man) or using the map the find the best way, but altering direction on the way when it doesn’t match the road construction (what REALLY happens under the waterfall). They just call the latter “agile” and describe it like it’s something different.