Monthly Archives: February 2010

4MAT: Free the Hostages


Last week, a participant in one of our 4MAT Train the Trainer courses shared her frustration in engaging learners who did not want to be in the training experience. We affectionately began to refer to these participants as “hostages”.

How can we free the hostages to participate fully in the learning experience? Every  shift in behavior begins with a shift in belief. To engage non-engaged learners, we have to shift the belief that there is no value to be gained from the experience. This will only come through personal experience. Simply telling a hostage, “Trust me, this is going to be great”, won’t cut it.

Here are some of the ideas our 4MAT trainer group explored:

1-Define what “value” is to the learner-allow the learners to define expectations and determine what is of interest to them around the topic

Expectations exercise-elicit expectations and design a wall-size mindmap that illustrates common themes.  Link the participant’s expectations to the agenda for the program.

What’s Your Question? Ask participants to answer the following: “If you could explore only one question around this topic, what would it be?” or “What’s the most important thing we should be talking about today?” Link the answers to the program agenda.

2-Engage the learner in a meaningful exploration around the issues that are relevant to them

-Determine the concept of the content. Engage the learner in an exploration of the bigger concept. Think simulations, dialogue on past experience, story-telling and pair shares around provoking questions. At this point, you are exploring the bigger idea, not the content.

The first part of the 4MAT Cycle, Engage, focuses on how to create this experience. When it is done well, the learner sees the personal relevance of the content and is eager to move into content exploration.

Training Activity: What’s your sentence?

Daniel Pink

Earlier this week, I spilled an entire cup of coffee on my copy of Daniel Pink’s latest book, Drive.  Luckily, this happened after I finished the toolkit section of his latest book. Pink, the former speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore shares that people are inspired by intrinsic motivation–the desire to do good work and to do good.

Here’s a video that shares  the two questions you should be asking yourself.  This is a great inspiration piece for training design. Imagine this as a 4MAT Perform step in a course focused on leadership development. Check it out:

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

Powerful 4MAT Training Questions

Every question has a corresponding set of possible answers. The design of the question determines how broad or narrow the response field becomes. For example, when I ask the question, “Do you agree with me?” the response field is limited to a “yes” or “no” option. When I ask the question, “What do you agree with in what I just said?”, the response field broadens considerably.

Almost every train the trainer program will reference the importance of asking questions. Part of the art of crafting questions is the awareness that the question opens up the space for the dialogue. There are times when you want to narrow that space. For instance, when you are leading the learner somewhere specific or you are short on time. And, there are times when you want to open that space wide and see what might emerge in the dialogue.

Many of us get concerned about encouraging dialogue because we are worried that we can’t get the conversation back on course. The questions you ask can help you lead the conversation and redirect when needed.

Narrow                                                                         Broad                                                                             

Do you agree with me?                    What do you agree with in what was just shared?

Does this make sense?                     What part of this conversation is intriguing you?

Are you okay with this?                    What’s working for you? What could be better?

Daniel Pink, Carrots and Sticks and Motivating Learners

Dan Pink and I had a chance to connect in between speaking at the Serious Business conference in New Orleans last weekend. Dan just released his latest book, Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  In his book, he shares the 7 Reasons that Carrots and Sticks (Often) Don’t Work…here are 3:

  1. They can extinguish intrinsic motivation.
  2. They can diminish performance.
  3. They can crush creativity

This book has interesting applications to 4MAT training design and delivery. The essential purpose of the 4MAT Engage step is connecting to the intrinsic motivation of the learner . Many train the trainer programs emphasize integrating fun activities. Engaging the learner requires more than fun activities-it requires a deep connection to the greater purpose of the learning. When this doesn’t happen, we risk performance and creative adaptation.