Whenever I feel like my training efforts will never scratch the surface of the real problems, or that I'll never make headway with a project stakeholder, win over that difficult SME, or build trust with an audience full of skeptics, I find that a little perspective goes a long way in helping to renew my focus and energize my thinking.
While on one such recent energy-renewal quest, I stumbled upon the following TED Talk about the enormous challenges faced by wildlife conservationists in Namibia. While the subject-matter isn't specific to training, I felt the learning points were extremely relevant and more so, served as a much-needed reminder to me that learning is the driver of all change in the world - big and small.
For those of you without 20 minutes to watch his engaging talk, consider these 3 lessons from Mr. Kasaona about tackling huge challenges.
1) Blend old ideas with new.
As Mr. Kasaona says, "...we learned to honor our traditions while still being open to new ideas."
Can't get that skeptical training audience to buy-in to a new solution? Try putting your biggest, loudest skeptics in charge of making your training a success. Can't tweak an existing training program into producing better results? Stop trying to fit that square peg into a round hole.
2) Focus on the Solution.
I think the training department often gets a bad rap from business leaders because we show up to gunfights with water pistols. Business leaders and trainees alike don't necessarily want or even need "training." More often they need our help aligning problems that hamper performance with better tools & resources that support goals.
For Namibia, it wasn't a case of poachers running amok that was the core problem as much as it was the underlying social conditions that made poaching a viable way of life (even if it was only a short-term solution). By recognizing the bigger problems and focusing on solutions that positively impacted those underlying conditions, wildlife conservationists stopped the vicious cycle of disrespect feeding the broken system.
3) Create Lasting Partnerships.
Change doesn't happen in a vacuum and neither does the training that underpins it. Clearly you need engaged trainees, responsive Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), and articulate leaders to make training into a real change-maker. But you also need external partnerships - with vendors, industry trade organizations, or even just the camaraderie of an annual professional development conference to keep you grounded, and to help you build that sense of community that takes your job as a trainer from rewarding to fulfilling.
How are you getting energized to take on big training challenges in the new year? Share your stories with us and leave a comment.
Trina Rimmer is a learning and communications consultant with twelve years experience designing, developing, and delivering smart, engaging training. When her skills aren't being tested by her children, you'll find her helping others to develop their own training design muscles.