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I have long harboured a desire to become virtual and I don’t mean become an avatar (I did that at the BT TalkZone in the Millenium Dome at the turn of the century and I ended up looking like ET). What interests me is the ability to do training, coaching, focus groups and the like, conveniently, cheaply and virtually. Three years ago we did some tests to find out whether group training could be delivered live on line. After several attempts, with a number of providers, we had to conclude it couldn’t.
That was then, this is now. Technology has moved on. No longer does the internet connection disintegrate or suffer from interminable delay; software providers have been busy developing technologies that cater for a blend of media and accommodate group interactivity. All this means the time is right to deliver great sessions live and online.
This isn’t e- learning, which has its place but limited application and effectiveness. With live, online training we have a trainer, facilitator, presenter or coach working live with groups. Interactivity has improved so we can have discussion, experiential activity and breakout sessions. We can challenge, stimulate, collaborate and create. People can at last be successfully be engaged.
However, as with most new ideas there are problems; some early providers are switching people off to the possibilities. Death by PowerPoint is as prevalent in the virtual world as the actual one and zero interaction (apart from the obligatory poll) is the norm. Poor practice by some trainers is leaving learners confused and alienated. This new world requires a new approach and, as an experience trainer of many years, I can tell you it does need a new set of skills to complement the existing ones.
There is evidence that people are engaged by this form of training and find it less stressful than live sessions and it certainly has proved more effective than e-learning – but of course, only when it is done well. It takes skill, imagination and a passion for engaging learners in the session. And there is nothing new or virtual about those things!
Pandora was given a box by the Greek God Zeus and forbidden from ever opening it. Of course, curiosity eventually overcame her. As she prised off the lid, to her horror she released all the ‘evils’ into our world. This means that while the root cause of our current economic and organisational dilemmas can therefore be attributed to Pandora, so can the cure. As Pandora stared into the vessel, luckily, at the very bottom, one thing remained.
At every meeting I attend, and training programme I deliver, the crowd without fail utter the mantra, ‘more for less, more for less, more for less’. As if saying this over and over will somehow open up Elysium, the Greek land of plenty. It won’t. The predominant thinking I witness is; ‘preserve as much as we can, this is the way we do things, less is more!’
How can you unlock this mindset? The great breakthrough will come from thinking differently about what you are doing. Ask, ‘what more can there be?’ Better solutions with great possibilities do exist for those who look from a different perspective.
A technique to help realise possibilities and great opportunity is called ‘flip-flop’. Start with a list of the characteristics of your business, your issue or service. Then ‘flip’ your ‘flop’ to create a new perspective. Let me help you with an example: let’s see how this thinking changed the air travel industry for ever:
Characteristics of 1970s air travel
· National carriers
· Luxury travel available to a few
· From major city airports
· All the frills
· Food and drink included
…. Now, Flip the flop
The Budget Airlines’ new thinking created in the 1990s
· Small agile carriers
· Available to almost anyone
· From regional airports
· Pay for what you want
· Buy a sandwich and coffee on board
A highly profitable new market was born.
Flip–Flop, try it. Unlock your thinking. Open minds to new opportunities. Release the one thing left in Pandora’s box …