Tag Archives: train-the-trainer courses

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?

Defining Learning Outcomes to Guide Activity Choice

4MAT Train the TrainerIn our online 4MAT instructional design course, Leading Training Needs Analysis to Define Results-Focused Learning Outcomes Online Course, we explore how to define measurable outcomes that guide the design process. We focus on four key questions that help shape the outcomes framework which you will use to filter activity and content choices. To ensure performance results, four key outcomes must be achieved: value, knowledge, skill and adaptation.

We work through three critical steps in the outcomes development process:

Step 1: Analyzing the gap in performance.
Step 2: Defining the desired outcomes for the course.
Step 3: Working with Subject-Matter-Experts to define the concept and content of the course.

Let’s take an example of a request for sales training and explore one of the four key outcomes you must define: the Value Outcome. The value outcome statement articulates what value shift must occur in the learner to ensure higher performance. How must the learner think differently in order for them to act differently?

To craft a solid Quadrant 1 outcome (and great training opening), you must get into the mindset of the high performer. How does the high performer think differently than the struggling performer? What do they value differently? An article by titled, What Makes Great Salespeople Tick” by psychoanalyst Rapaille  gives a great example of a fundamental difference between high performing and struggling sales team members. Rapaille shares that great salespeople are “happy losers” that view rejection as a challenge.  Rapaille goes on to explain that our first experiences in selling shape our views. When we sold (or didn’t sell) that first box of Girl Scout cookies, a foundational view of sales was formed.

If we imagine Rapaille as our subject matter expert on the mindset of high performing sales people, we might articulate a Value outcome statement for this course which sounds like:

1. Engage/Value Outcome: Learners will learn to value rejection or negative responses from customers as useful feedback in the sales process.

In the case of dealing with rejection, great salespeople value negative feedback. A high performing salesperson sees the negative response as a valuable clue that redirects their sales approach. To create this mindset in low performers, requires a reframe of their existing beliefs that are a direct result of their previous experiences.

In our 4MAT train the trainer courses, we explore the four roles that trainers play when delivering a 4MAT-based design. In this step,  the trainer plays the role of “Facilitator” and uses reflection and dialogue to connect the learners to what they already know about the content and establish personal relevance. Here the trainer introduces the big idea, or concept, that subject matter experts appreciate which leads to learner engagement around the topic being learned. The outcome statement will serve as a guide to define the focus of the content and concept for the course. When choosing the opening activity,  think about how you can tap into the learner’s previous experiences of learning from rejection.

For example, in the sales course mentioned earlier, you might design the following opening:

4MAT Step 1: Connect
Reflect on early experiences in “selling” something. Can you recall being faced with your first rejection? Describe the experience. How did you feel? What was the impact of that experience? What did you learn from this experience?

Note: In this step in the 4MAT model, the learner is tapping into their experiences which shape their perceptions around the content. The activity choice focuses on personal experiences around rejection which links directly to the desired learning outcome. Skillful facilitation will lead learners to connect their past experiences and current view of selling.

4MAT Step 2: Attend
Share your experiences in your table group. Answer the following questions, as a group:

  • What were the commonalities in your experiences?
  • How did this experience shape your view of “selling”?

Note: In this step in the 4MAT model, the learners compare and contrast their experiences. The learners begin to notice themes and identify how perceptions shape their behaviors. Energy is building around the topic.

4MAT Step 3: Image
Using the materials provided by the facilitator, learners are asked to visually illustrate how positive and negative feedback from a potential “buyer” impacts your sales approach.

Note: Here the learner begins to see how their perceptions (which are shaped by past experience) influence their results. Imagine a learner sharing a visual with “positive=negative” written across the paper chart sharing, “Positive and negative cues from a buyer give me equal value. Each points me in the right direction.

There are an infinite number of activities to choose from when designing. When you couple this with the unlimited amount of content you can include, effective instructional design choices can become difficult. Well-defined outcome statements make the process of filtering content and measuring impact much simpler.

4MAT Train the Trainer: Simulation in Live Courses or The Great Marshmallow Experiment

We learn from experience. When faced with something new, we ask ourselves “How does this connect with what I already know?” The 4MAT model of instruction, which we share in our instructional design courses and train-the-trainer courses, guides learners through a complete learning cycle which begins with the learner’s experience.

Simulations are a powerful way to generate a shared experience. There’s a lot of talk about simulations in e-learning environments. In our 4MAT e-learning instructional design courses, we play around with all the different ways we can simulate the personal interaction and reflection that is often missing in e-learning environments.  But, what about simulations in live learning environments? We tend to think that learning simulations require a great deal of time, but that’s not always the case.

Last week, I headed over to the Southwest Learning Summit hosted by ASTD Dallas to lead a train-the-trainer workshop on how to connect performance-based outcomes to activity choice. The rest of the time I had the pleasure of participating in the sessions. Diana Monk of Time Warner Cable, opened her 75-minute session with a fun, impactful simulation that took less than 20 minutes.  Yes, this was 20 minutes of a 75 minute presentation-sounds like a lot. However, I can tell you it was the most engaging and memorable part of the entire day. (And, our team took home the $10 Target gift card prize-gotta love that).

The winning marshmallow structure

Here’s how she did it:

Time needed: 20 minutes

What you will need:

Paper bags (1 per group of 5 attendees)

10 sticks of dried spaghetti (in bag)

12″ length of string (in bag)

1 Marshmallow (in bag)

2″ strip of masking tape



1-Teams of 5 are formed.

2-Each team is instructed to build a structure that will support the marshmallow without piercing, cutting or otherwise mutilating it. The goal is for the marshmallow to be positioned at the highest point possible from the base.  The structure must be stand-alone. It cannot lean on or be supported by anything else, including the people creating it.

3-Teams are given 12 minutes from “Go” to grab their bag of materials and create their structure.

4-Midway through the 12 minutes, the facilitator “remembers” that she forgot to tell us the following: “I forgot to tell you that the winning team members will each receive a Target gift card.”

5-At the 12-minute mark, everyone must remove their hands from their structure. The winning team is determined by the height of the marshmallow from the base.

What could you do with a simulated experience like this? Where might you take the debrief? How could you connect this to content you will be sharing.





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. 

4MAT Design Studio Opens

“Build it and they will come.” We love that line from the movie, Field of Dreams. We hosted our first 4MAT train the trainer workshop in our new offices. We didn’t actually build the building, but we had some very cool design thinkers show up. Our 4MAT design studio is in the original train depot of Covington, La. We like to think that many exciting journeys began from this very spot.

Stay tuned for the complete train the trainer program listings in the 4MAT calendar.