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From Engage, The Trainer’s Guide to Learning Styles: Handling “Negative” Dialogue

ENGAGE, THE TRAINER'S GUIDE TO LEARNING STYLES

Engage, The Trainer’s Guide to Learning Styles
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Trainers often share that one of the greatest fears of encouraging dialogue is maintaining focus on the content being explored. Trainers often ask, “What if it goes off-track? What if they start to complain about things I can’t do anything about?”

The only way we can tap into the learner’s commitment to the content is to welcome the dialogue. The dialogue will tell you what the learners are committed to. In Seven Languages for Transformation: How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work, authors Kegan and Lahey share, “… people only complain about something because they are committed to the value or importance of something else.” (Kegan and Lahey, 2001, p. 30). When a learners says he is upset about one thing, what he is really telling you is that he is committed to something else. It’s your job to figure out what that is. Rather than thinking about how you address the complaint, focus on the bigger message being delivered. The opposite of what we complain about is what we want. With each complaint, the learner is giving up the key to engagement—what it is he truly wants to create.

Source: Engage, The Trainer’s Guide to Learning Styles (Wiley 2012)

Cool People Doing Great Things with 4MAT: Dennis Kagimba Mugimba of Compassion International

Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry focused on supporting the needs of children throughout the world. The Compassion International learning team began using 4MAT online courses to certify their global instructor team in 2009. Dennis Kagimba Mugimba, Child Survival Program Specialist based in Uganda, recently completed certification in the 4MAT Instructional Design Fundamentals online course.

What are you working on? How are you using 4MAT in this work?

This 4MAT training came in handy at a time when our work-team was in the preparations for rolling out the Human Performance Improvement (HPI) model to the Field staff we support in the five East African countries of Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. We had drawn up some training plans for this rollout training prior to the 4MAT training. However, following the 4MAT training, we felt compelled by the knowledge we had acquired to completely overhaul our earlier plans and return to the drawing board. Everyone on our work-team as well as Management is quite pleased with the new look of Instructional Design that we have come up with – so, well done 4MAT for equipping us.

What have you discovered lately that has positively impacted the results you are creating through the learning experiences you design?

The greatest discovery during this training was the realization that even though we all learn differently because we are wired uniquely, with proper training and skill, the trainer can facilitate learning in a way that addresses the various learning styles/preferences of the learners. By the end of the training, I felt more empowered and equipped to be a better facilitator of learning. From the home-front, through this training, I also became more intentional in trying to understand how my children learn. I have realized Elizabeth likes to be given instructions, Grace-Joy prefers to be shown how to do something before she can go it alone, whereas Christina has no patience for instructions; she simply jumps into the fray!

What’s your favorite quote? Why?

Without a shadow of a doubt, Bernice McCarthy’s quote “The tension between these two ways of perceiving, feeling and thinking, is the central dynamic in learning. So the real issue in learning is how to balance being subject to our feelings with relating to our feelings as object.” is my favorite quote during the class.

The next session of 4MAT Instructional Design Fundamentals begins on October 5, 2012.

3 Ways to Engage Learners in Innovative Thinking

Innovation happens when different ideas and different ways of seeing things combine to create a new, larger perspective.  I am happily immersing myself in all things new while on holiday in Europe with my just-graduated-from-high-school daughter, Madison. I am amazed at how many ideas come forth when we get out of our grind and take time to just “be.”

How can we create more opportunities for ideas, insights and “aha’s” to show up in the 4MAT learning experiences we create?

  1. Get a conversation going. Unhurried dialogue about the big and small are often a trigger for some of the best insights. How can you mimic the magic of a sidewalk table for two, cappuccinos and the luxury of real conversation? Allow learners to get into dialogue. Trust the process — ask THE right question and let it do the heavy lifting. Spend time crafting powerful questions that will stimulate the thinking of the group.
  2. Reflect.  Why do our best ideas come in the shower? For the brain alpha waves to get rolling, we need to relax and to stop thinking about the problem we are trying to solve. Individual reflection, journaling, a walk in nature or a switching of gears are all ways to encourage the arrival of a new idea. My three most favorite and impactful learning experiences all involved these elements. If you can’t get outside of four walls, think about pre- and post-learning reflection exercises which stimulate the brain.
  3. Stimulate with the novel. Our brains are attracted to all things new. New languages (or words), images that we haven’t seen before and the unpredictable all make our brains kick into gear and pay attention. Get away from the predictability of Powerpoint® and systematically include the unpredictable in the learning experiences you design.

Great Minds—cool people doing great things with 4MAT

Virginia MeyerMeet Virginia Meyer, co-founder of redCHOCOLATE®, a company providing education and professional development in the professional beauty industry.

What have you discovered lately that has positively impacted the experiences you design and deliver?
VM:  For me it’s all about connecting with people in a deeper and more meaningful way, whether that is in the design or the delivery process.  In our world, it’s all about being able to duplicate success behavior.  So, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can connect people to the big ideas in a compelling way. If we are going to get people to do something differently, we absolutely have to begin with getting them to think differently.  I am the champion of a great Q1 (editor note: 4MAT Connect Step-the first step in the 4MAT Cycle).

What are you working on? How are you using 4MAT in this work?
VM:  I am always working on evolving our training content addressing both the technical aspect of haircolor training and the coaching skills required to improve results.  We are also getting ready to add curriculum in hairstyling.  In our work, we work side by side with leaders and managers who are learning 4MAT as a model for engagement and a system for coaching.  I love their “ah-ha’s.”  The moment when they get that their ability to lead and coach success behavior is the key to their team’s dramatically improved performance.

What’s your favorite quote? Why?
VM:  “Things are only impossible until they are not.”  – Jean-Luc Picard. Why?  It’s everything!

What are you consuming (eating, reading, buying, taking in) these days?
VM:  Anything organic, whole, as clean as possible for food and lots of vitamins. I am hooked on Dr. Saul’s work and the power of vitamins.  My business partner has a huge appetite for music and has recently been playing music based on African tribal chants – which I am loving.  I have two books going right now, one I received as a “must read” from my writer friend and the other (I hate to admit this), Shades of Grey.  My rationale is that anything making that kind of impact is worth understanding.

What do you think that we all should be paying more attention to?
VM: That still, small voice.

What’s rocking your world today?
VM:  Well…I went to a small piano recital.  The  18-year-old pianist that closed the recital did Rhapsody in Blue.  It was nothing short of astounding.  He’s 18, going to medical school on a full ride scholarship, sports champion and an amazingly gifted pianist.  The music was heady.  Even more so, an 18 year old playing with everything he’s got.  Bringing everything to the game – whether 8, 18, or 80 rocks my world everyday.

4MAT Hemispheric Mode Indicator: What if I only had a (left) brain?

4MAT Hemispheric Mode IndicatorThe 4MAT Hemispheric Mode Indicator measures our preference for right-mode of left-mode thinking. With an awareness of your natural preference for one mode of thinking over another, trainers, instructional designers and learners can more readily recognize how to stretch into their under-utilized learning mode. Most of the participants in our 4MAT instructional design courses and train the trainer courses share with us that the right-mode learning strategies are most likely to be missed.

We know now that the right brain plays an essential role in learning.  As recently as the early 1980’s, neuroscientists believed the right side of the brain was mostly unnecessary. Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Roger Sperry, shared in his 1981 Nobel lecture, the right hemisphere was “not only mute and agraphic but also dyslexic, word-deaf and apraxic, and lacking generally in higher cognitive function.” Sperry made it sound like our right brains might be non-essential.

What if you only had a left brain? If we look at patients who have suffered damage to the right brain, we will find a list of symptoms and inabilities that give insight into what would happen if you found yourself missing the right part of your brain. Here’s what that might look like:

  • You wouldn’t understand a joke.
  • You would have no idea what Forrest Gump meant when he shared the metaphor “life is like a box of chocolates.”
  • You would not be able to make sense of a map or any other visual tool.
  • A 2-year could draw a more realistic house, cat or dog than you.
  • You would have no concept of what Bob Dylan meant when he sang about “a rolling stone”:

              How does it feel

                           To be without a home

                           Like a complete unknown

                          Like a rolling stone?

All of the problems associated with right brain damage are related to the ability to relate one thing to another. The right brain enables us to make connections and synthesize which are essential acts in learning and innovation.

Without well-crafted right-mode learning strategies, learners have difficulty integrating learning into their lives. The 4MAT instructional model intentionally creates balance by moving the learner through a complete learning cycle while integrating both right and left-mode strategies.  We have to constantly ask ourselves, “How balanced are the learning experiences I am creating?”

What do you think gets in the way of effective use of right-mode instructional strategies?

Using 4MAT to Integrate “What Learners Know” and “What Learners Think”

What we think and what we know are two different things. Thinking is what is happening in our minds – the mind chatter we listen to. Our consciousness, on the other hand, holds all that we are aware of including that which we cannot put into words (yet).  Making the distinction between thinking and knowing is important when designing and delivering training experiences.

Learners know much more than they can quickly put into words. This is especially true when first exploring new content.

In his book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle shares, “All true artists whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness. The mind then gives form to the creative impulse or insight.”  To ensure learning transfer, learners must be equipped with the ability to adapt the content – to get creative.  Tapping into the full potential of our creativity requires that we make time for reflection.

The problem with many learning experiences is that they are emphasize thinking over knowing. The 4MAT model intentionally balances this focus. Here are two (of the many) ways that the 4MAT model equips learners for success:

  1. Encouraging Learner Reflection: The 4MAT instructional design model intentionally builds in reflection points for the learner to explore and synthesize what they already know with the new information being given to them.
  2. Mental Imagery: The 4MAT model integrates right-brain instructional strategies which enable learners to express what they know (consciousness) but may not be able to fully express in words (thinking).

In the rush to shorten a training design, we have to be careful to honor and maintain the balance between thinking and consciousness.

Balancing Right and Left Brain Activity Choice in Your 4MAT Design

I recently facilitated our 4MAT Advanced Instructional Design Course with the Aveda Global Education Team.  In this experience the group discovered their 4MAT learning style results and then overlaid this with their 4MAT Hemispheric Mode Indicator results. As we explored how their natural learning preferences influenced design and delivery approach, the group began to explore creative ways to increase retention of information by engaging the right brain. The learners were assigned to groups to reprocess the brain research shared on the impact on learning of right- and left-mode strategies. One particularly creative group came up with an interesting exercise to explore the differences between right- and left-mode processing.

Here’s the directions for the activity they designed:

  1. Draw two charts each titled with “How does this make you feel?” On one chart, draw a series of interconnecting squares. On the other chart, draw a collection of interconnecting spirals.
  2. Divide participants into two groups and assign each group a chart. Ask each group to answer the question, “How does this make you feel?”  Invite each team to write their answers on the chart.
  3. Have the two groups switch charts. Repeat the process.
  4. Debrief the exercise by sharing the insights written on each chart.

4MAT Learning Styles4MAT Instructional Design
One of the things I found interesting about this exercise is how the learners described the differences in how the two images made them feel. Some of the words used to describe the differences included:

  Boxes: Linear Image   Swirls: Abstract image
  • “Retrotastic”
  • Organized
  • Secure
  • Motivated
  • Structured
  • Deliberate
  • Softness
  • Free
  • Relaxed
  • Warm
  • Comforted
  • Inspire

 

As we stood in front of the two images, the entire group began to ponder how balanced their individual approach is to utilizing right- and left-mode strategies.  The consensus was that a balance of both right- and left creates the greatest learning impact and that the group collectively tends to lean heavily on left-mode processing.

When the group facilitating the exercise asked the question, “What do we miss when we underutilize right-brain learning strategies?,” the answers shared brilliantly summed up the power of right brain strategies:

  • The impact of seeing the bigger picture.
  • The ability to visualize how it all fits together.
  • The potential power of the mental image created when we use stories, metaphors and visual tools.
  • The impact of feeling.
  • Full engagement.

Working with Subject-Matter-Experts to Define Learning Outcomes

Our team had the opportunity to work with the Aveda training team to design a curriculum to be used globally to train hairdressers in haircutting. To define the learning outcomes for this project, we interviewed stakeholders including customers, trainers and master hairdressers to define the four learning outcomes that would guide the instructional design process.

An interesting insight on how master hairdressers view the concept of hair design came out of the performance analysis process. Using the 4MAT performance model we share in our Leading Training Needs Analysis to Define Results: Focused Learning Outcomes Online Course, we began to unearth some of the surprising ways that hairdressers view their work. In response to one of the questions, one hairdresser described the process of cutting hair as being similar to carving a sculpture. He went on to compare haircutting to the process of sculpting a large slab of granite into a statue. He shared that when the sculptor approaches the granite, he has to see what needs to be removed to get to the desired result.

Haircutting is similar to the process of sculpting  in that the hairdresser must see the “weight” that needs to be removed tocreate the desired result in the client’s hair.

To help a novice gain competency, trainers must create an opportunity for them to “see” what the competent already see. By asking the right questions of a subject matter expert, an instructional designer can uncover the important concepts that must be conveyed in the training delivery.  The right questions led to the discovery of a powerful concept , “weight distribution”, which  became one of the core concepts shared to help novice hairdressers begin to see what master hairdressers already see.

Training design is focused on improving the skills and competency of a learner.  Observing and questioning masters, or subject-matter-experts, will help you identify what to include in your training design. Subject-matter-experts can help you identify what concepts must be valued, what content must be included, what skills must be practiced and what follow-up and support must be offered.

25 Coaching Questions for Trainers Using the 4MAT Model

coaching questionsIn our 4MAT instructional design courses and train the trainer courses, we often hear trainers share how difficult it can be to focus and sustain learner attention. Let’s explore how you can use 25 Coaching questions to focus the attention of the learner during the 4MAT Practice step. First, let’s explore why questions are important in the coaching process.

The neurons in your brain communicate with each other through electrochemical signals. These signals are triggered by incoming sensory information. What you notice and pay attention to over time shapes the neuronal connections in your brain.  In the article, A Brain-Based Approach to Coaching, Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D., shares:

“The questions you ask of your brain significantly affect the quality of the connections it makes, and profoundly alters the patterns and timings of the connections the brain generates in a fraction of a second. Now, substitute the concept of ‘attention’ for the phrase “the question you ask,” and you get the statement “Where you focus your attention, you make connections.”1

If you want to create sustained behavioral change, you must generate focused attention on the behaviors that must be executed consistently to generate the desired training result. In the 4MAT model of instruction, the third part of the learning cycle is “Practice”. In this step, the learner applies the content and the trainer moves into the role of “Coach”.

The questions the trainer asks in this step should be aimed at focusing the learner’s attention on the quality of the practice application of the content being learned in the course.  To help you increase your inventory of coaching questions, here is a list of 25 Coaching Questions you can use to focus the learner’s attention during practice training activities:

25 Coaching Questions for Trainers Using the 4MAT Model

1. What worked?
2. What could have worked better?
3. What do you notice about your application?
4. If you were your own coach, what coaching would you give yourself on this?
5. How could you turn this around?
6. What are three things you would improve?
7. What would you do again?
8. What would you not do again?
9. If you were a customer, how would you evaluate your approach? Your results?
10. What are three actions you might take to apply this with different results next time?
11. On a scale of 1-10, where is your application?
12. What would it take to move from a 5 to a 9?
13. Where are you comfortable? least comfortable?  Why?
14. What can you learn from this?
15. How else might you approach this?
16. What do you notice?
17. What could you pay more attention to?
18. What themes do you see showing up in the work of the group?
19. What differences do you notice in your application and others?
20. What one behavior (or thought) if executed consistently would make the biggest difference in your application?
21. What insights have you gained through this practice?
22. What do you think you should do first? next?
23. What would you do if it was entirely up to you?
24. If you saw someone else in this situation, what would you suggest that they do?
25. If you weren’t holding anything back, how might this look differently?

What other questions would  you add to the list?

1David Rock and Jeffrey M, Schwartz, M.D. Journal of Coaching in Organizations,  2006, 4(2), pp 32-43.

How the 4MAT Model Improves Performance

As a result of some interesting dialogue in one of our 4MAT train the trainer courses, Karen Hann, Senior Education Manager, and Denise Johnson, Performance Improvement Consultant, of Tupperware came up with a visual concept of how the 4MAT model improves performance internally and externally in an organization.

Since the 4MAT model was developed in 1979 by Dr. Bernice McCarthy, over 1 million people have discovered their learning style strengths using the 4MAT® Learning Type Measure. This is one of the most common ways that individuals are introduced to the 4MAT model-by identifying their individual learning style strengths. In the illustration below, you will see that this increased self-awareness is the launch pad for a common language that can be used  to improve teaming, communication, engagement, training, execution, leadership and coaching.

  • 4MAT creates a foundation for leadership and coaching skill development—4MAT is a simple framework for leading, managing, coaching and performance improvement.
  • 4MAT provides a model for execution—The 4MAT four-step model is a framework for getting things done. Project teams can utilize this framework to build a plan and identify potential barriers for successful execution.
  • 4MAT dramatically improves the impact of training—4MAT dramatically increases the measurable impact of instructional design and delivery by organizing the essential content around four critical learning outcomes that deliver on expected training ROI.
  • 4MAT provides a framework for engaging others—The 4-step model directly applies to planning meetings, sales presentations, coaching and marketing.
  • 4MAT builds complementary teams—Team members and leaders can use the awareness of individual strengths to assemble teams with complementary skill sets.
  • 4MAT increases self-awareness—The Learning Type Measure provides individuals with an awareness of their natural learning strengths along with concrete strategies for effectively interacting with learning styles of fellow team members.