Updated: Jan 3, 2019
I recently attended a train-the-trainer session for a productivity course and – as is the norm – the facilitator encouraged us to consider what we'll apply from the course, and to encourage our attendees to do the same once we begin facilitating.
It's a familiar training ritual: An instructor asks, “What one thing are you going to apply when you get back to the office?” Or, “How will you implement what you’ve learned…and who’s going to help hold you accountable?” Attendees then gaze into the air for a few seconds before jotting down whatever thought pops into their minds.
Unfortunately, once the whirlwind resumes back at the office, that initial thought is either immediately forgotten, or checked-off in a productivity app…and forgotten.
Enter “Possibility Thinking”
The next time you’re facilitating a learning event, try ditching this ritual. Instead, take steps to ensure the knowledge gained is knowledge K.E.P.T.; in other words, foster "Key Event Possibility Thinking" (as in learning event, but L.E.P.T. isn't as catchy or easy to use).
Possibility Thinking is about generating more ideas for learning and development before allowing people to settle for their first thought, which is rarely the ideal one (I once read that your first thought is one you've been conditioned to think). As participants think more deeply and creatively about learning application, and potentially leverage a broader range of accountability partners, it can significantly increase knowledge retention.
To activate Possibility Thinking, encourage participants to:
Partner with another attendee or in a small group to brainstorm potential ways to reinforce and act on what they’ve learned
Brainstorm with a peer upon their return to the office to get ideas from someone directly familiar with their role and responsibilities; if they have a mentor and/or coach, encourage them to explore options with that person as well
Discuss the "winning" idea with their manager for input, support and accountability (if step 2 is too daunting, they can move directly to this step)
Share progress and successes with the person(s) who helped them uncover a "winning" idea – who doesn’t like hearing how their idea helped? – creating an indirect accountability partner
In case you didn't notice, this approach includes all aspects of the 70/20/10 model: experiential application, social interactions to foster possibilities, and the training event itself. It's this 70+20+10 that makes for a stronger, wider mix of ideas for reinforcing training and learning events – and ensures knowledge gained is knowledge K.E.P.T.
About the Author: For over 20 years, Marcelle has honed her craft as certified leadership coach and experiential development strategist within diverse Fortune 100 companies and the defense industry, coaching and advising everyone from C-Suite executives and leadership teams, to front-line managers and new hires. She’s masterful at enhancing existing talent development processes by infusing “job mixology” -- the ideal blend of job-related experiences, certified coaching and creative strategies needed to ensure development efforts fuel lasting results. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.