Monthly Archives: August 2009

Facilitating Effective Dialogue

“…people only complain about something because they are committed to the value or importance of something else. Thus in avoiding the energy and language of complaint, or regarding it as a force that needs to be expunged, we are also losing the chance to bring vitalizing energy of commitment into the workplace.”

-Kegan and Lahey, Seven Languages for Transformation, How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work

The first step in designing a 4MAT-based training design is to tap in to the commitment of the learner. The method we use is dialogue. 

In our 4MAT train the trainer programs, many trainers share that they are nervous about creating open dialogue in a training. “What if it goes off track? What if they start griping about things I can’t do anything about?”

The only way we can tap in to the learner’s commitment to the content is to welcome the dialogue. The dialogue will tell you what the learner is committed to. When a learner says they “hate touchy-feely activities “, what they are really telling you is that they are committed to something else. It’s your job to figure out what that is. When we get stuck on defending or fixing the complaint, we miss the bigger message being delivered. With each complaint, the learner is giving us the key to engagement-what it is that they are truly wanting to create.

Are you crafting experiences or making some "thing"

coffee cup

“Simply roasting coffee, brewing it, or pouring it into a cup for someone is merely the performance of a simple service. In the absence of a wider, experiential understanding, all you’re doing is putting a hot liquid into a mug.”

-Lewis P Carbone, Clued In:  How to Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again

If you had to describe how you want your customers to feel after an interaction with you or your company in three words, what would those three words be? We are talking about how they feel, not what they think about the interaction.

Training and Development is focused on impacting behaviors that drive business results. When training is primarily focused on doing, we miss the biggest part of how consumers evaluate an experience with a company. To craft a brand-defining experience, every employee must have a concrete understanding of  the bigger concept of what is being delivered to the customer.

Apple understands this concept. I have lost count of how many times I have heard the word “cool” used by a Mac owner to describe their brand experience.

What words would your customers use to describe their experience?

The Ebert Effect


“The Ebert Effect: When people, from their perspective, are inundated with indistinguishable choices, they perceive a product, service, approach or experience with a specific point of differentiation to be superior.”

In Collapse of Distinction , author Scott McKain shares that we must create “small, solid points of distinction” that are recognizable to our customers. Humans get bored. A notable difference in  one experience over another grabs our attention. Different is better well, because it is different.

The ultimate measure of training is the impact on business result. Business results are rooted in competitive advantage. Competitive advantage is ultimately defined by the behaviors of every single employee.

If our customers haven’t been surprised by what we are doing in the last year, we are in danger of losing them to boredom. This is equally true of our external customer and our internal customer who consumes the training we deliver.

One-size-fits-all  Train the Trainer programs don’t deliver the ability to adapt to the unique needs of every learner. To adapt, to surprise, and to delight the learner trainers must have a deep knowledge of how learning happens.