Sustainable Training

I often get asked by my clients, with the pace of change how do you keep your training materials up to date?

There comes a point in time when you just give up.

Or there comes a point where you know there is a different way.

Because I’ve worked at start ups and software companies where product changed at least weekly, we had to be creative and a strategic in the way we created and maintained training materials.

If  I am creating something brand new, immediately think about longevity. How long is this document, presentation, course, job aid, video going to last? When will be used? For how long? What’s the purpose and the audience behind it? Answering some of these questions helps me narrow down the actual output created.

If I am working with maintaining existing material I work through a simple change matrix. Based on a scale of 1-10, a team member works through number of people impacted, look and feel (UX) change, and workflow impact. After agreeing on a rating for these few factors the numbers would add up to a specific change level and we’d focus on the working through materials from there.

Sounds like a lot of work, but it was pretty simple once it was in place. We can quickly focus on updating the materials appropriately for the change to support the performance we expected out of the impacted audience.

I’ve created these for the sanity of my own teams, but also to help set expectations with customers and our own leadership. Having a clear picture of what and when will be available and up to date based on the specifics of a change, made working with the teams easier.

Finally, the other way I focus on sustainable based training, is by focusing on the workflows or business process. Building this type of training materials and programs could be more involved as they may overlap systems and be cross functional.  If you create training based on use cases of a workflow, this could mean less maintenance. One could assume that the process changes less often than the product. I understand it may not always be the case, but primary this is what I have seen with my experience. These programs took longer to design and build, but they took less time to upkeep. I will probably write more on this so stay tuned.

If this is something that your organization needs help with, drop me a line. Would love to help figure out what the factors and scale are for creating sustainable training programs and documentation.

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Art of Engagement (Part 2) – Voices from the trenches

In my previous post, I briefly cover some ideas that Haudin talks about the roots or the foundation of engagement.

But what about the voices that matter. So the people in the trenches might not be engaged, but why? What is holding them back? In the book the Art of Engagement, Jim Hauden speaks to the voices from the trenches.

Before I even dig into that, I want you to check out the Disengaged Canyon. I found this a few years ago and have fell in love with the amazing way that the visual representation very accurately shows the organizations that I work with. Here is a short video but you can get the picture…


So what do these voices from the trenches say? How can you get them over this fear of actually engaging abd being a part of something big? So what is holding people back from just “getting it” and doing the right thing of accepting the strategy?

The voices (reasons) of why I can’t be engaged if…

  • I am overwhelmed
  • I don’t get it
  • I am scared
  • I don’t see the big picture
  • Its not mine
  • My leaders don’t face reality

These are things that change agents in the organization working with the senior leaders and managers should aim to overcome. The reality is if you don’t take a “strategy” off of someone’s plate, they might not be sure of what to do with the new one you just added. And then people just work to survive, forget looking at the big picture. Haudin uses the analogy of relevancy and communication. He talks about if your communication were similar to a stand up comedian, would you get a laugh from the crowd or would you hear crickets.  If you think people might not get it, what can you do to test it to the crowd? And what would the crowd do if they read/heard them?

Haudin compares the Big picture to a TripTik vs. a GPS.


When you travel with your TripTik you always know “You are here”. You see the context and the surrounding areas. However when you use a GPS you are strictly dependent on the satellite connection and/or 3G. Now this isn’t a debate about which is better or not, but I have experienced this as well. If I travel somewhere and get a GPS I honestly have no idea where I am in relation to anything other than my specific destination. I have no sense of a bigger picture. And sometimes that hurts me when I am trying to get where I need to be because I have missed it. What maps could you provide your employees to better get the BIG PICTURE and so they know where the  You are Here sign is on the strategic journey of engagement?

Also imagine that the strategy or the process you are trying to change could be visualized to be on top of a puzzle box. What would that image look like?

This book does a great deal of explaining how important visualization is – because its hard to draw something that hasn’t been thought out in great detail. Going a bit further with the puzzle analogy, how complex is the “puzzle”? How many pieces will it have? Think about these things as you begin to get people to think about the big picture.

You can’t create beautiful powerpoint slides that force people to make the change or to make them more engaged. You also can’t force the “aha” moments. One of the key things I have learned from this book and that has been validated by the work I have done, is that you can’t turn on someone’s lightbulb for them nor can you make them change. You can, however, create an environment where the aha moment might take place and let it happen. You can help facilitate it and be there  to coach and mentor the people along the way. All I know is that I don’t change because someone tells me to, nor am I engaged because its the best for our business. I am engaged because I know what I do falls in line of something bigger than me and I have and understand the big picture.

What about you? What tools do you need to see the picture on the puzzle box? What aha moments have you recently had and what was the big revelation?


Changement…. That’s a made up word in English (i guess its a french word.. no wonder I thought it was OK to type). But lately the term change management has been on my mind so much that I made it into one word. Like I have spelled it as the title of the blog post, without realizing what I was doing.

Change management play such a huge role in training. Its almost the first step and the training is a by product of the change management approach. We have dedicated change management people on my team and its been great to learn from them. They have been really focusing on things that a trainer also had to focus on, without the title. I remember working on a project before SAP and the change management was so huge. I mean, your solution should be user friendly enough that your customers don’t need trained right? Not the case with this project. But I felt like I couldn’t devote enough time to the changement because of the amount of training documentation that needed to be done. The changement piece brings about the right stakeholder in the room to make decisions about the change and get the word out. Training piece of the pie helps by working the change into the training. You could say that training is basically a form of changement. Or that’s what I have come to think anyways.

Your customer desire training because of a change they are expecting to see – whether it’s performance, system, behavioral or some other change. It stems from that. The thing that I have seen is that people dint think the change is that big of a deal and they don’t do much about it…. That’s when issues come into place. I think that sometimes changes with for example a system can really shake  the identity of the employee.

An example of this came last weakened when I was painting with a good friend and she was telling me how distraught her sister was at her work. Her sister is a nurse and they are rolling out a mobile system that the nurse have to enter the patient’s data so that way next time they come in their vitals, allergies and everything is already in the system. Sounds really cool to me, however my friend went on to explain that it’s really caught her sister off guard. She gets it, about being up to date with systems and technology, but how does this system make her a better caregiver to each and everyone of her patients? She has been an amazing care-giving for many years without THIS so why now? Her sister is going through identity crisis at 52 wondering if she really was meant to be a nurse at all or if  she should hang up her scrubs now while she is ahead.  As she was telling me this story I knew what was missing…. There wasn’t any one managing the change that would affect their workforce. No one understood why, and why now, and the Whats in it for me, and the reasoning. The target group wasn’t involved in building the solution, thus took no ownership when it finally became the reality.

This happens all the time, but what should organizations do about it? What are your organizations doing about that changes that come into the work place? Or is your organization mature and not changing anything anytime soon? do you have dedicated people focused in change and the impact it will have on your organization? What do they do? I would love to hear your thought or stories of good or bad changement