In our 4MAT Train the Trainer programs, the most common challenge trainers share is how to deliver a large quantity of content in a narrow window of time. When we receive requests for training, they oftentimes come in the form of a list of content that needs to be included. The familiar “We already know what we want to cover in the course” is heard as the requesting manager hands you the 452-page procedure manual. Defining the overarching concept you are conveying is the first step in addressing this challenge.
Concept is the big idea, the core, the essence that runs through the content. It is the essential meaning of the content. It is what an expert grasps that a novice doesn’t. The concept connects all the details and topics together. When you focus design around what best delivers the concept, you find there is room to eliminate non-essential stuff.
For example, imagine you are teaching a course on conflict resolution. What’s the 4MAT concept? If you decide that the bigger idea that weaves through conflict resolution is”getting to win-win”, you now have a clearer picture of what you are conveying. The concept becomes a filter for determining what is “nice to have” content versus “need to have” content.
Defining concept requires some effort. In our train the trainer programs, we invest a great deal of time on how to nail this. With a clear concept defined, the rest of the design work flows. Most importantly, when you do the heavy lifting on figuring out what the content is really about, the learner doesn’t have to.
Here’s some questions you can ask to begin to think about the concept of your 4MAT design:
What’s the big idea?
If I had to sum this up in a word or two, how would I do that?
If I asked a subject matter expert to sum it up, how might they respond?
What does a high performer (unconsciously competent) grasp about this content that a novice misses?