Category Archives: instructional delivery

4MAT Training Opening Activity: The Difference that Makes a Difference

I took along David Rock and Linda Page’s book, Coaching with the Brain in Mind, on a recent trip to an off-site train the trainer program. This is an excellent “textbook” for 4MAT trainers interested in learning the brain basis for effective transformation of behaviors. Rock and Page reference Bandler and Grinder’s work on paradigm shifts calling them “the difference that makes a difference”. They go on to give us metaphors for this shift including, “a curtain lifted”, “a light went on” or “I’m seeing with new eyes”. As I read this, I thought what a great 4MAT Connect step for a design. For example, imagine opening with this as a Connect activity:

 “We have all experienced a moment when everything  shifted for us. Sometimes this is a radical shift in our life: a marriage, a birth or a loss. Other times, it is as subtle as comment that someone makes in passing. This is the “difference that makes a difference”. When has a difference made a difference in your life?

Where might you apply this?

A customer service training focused on the little things that make a big difference.

A goal workshop focused on how incremental improvements create the progress.

A creative thinking workshop illustrating how a simple shift in perspective can radically change the view.

In the 4MAT model of design, we emphasize the bigger concept that overarches the content. Concepts transcend the content. Where else might you apply the concept of a “Difference that makes a difference”?

An Exclusive Web Workshop with Susan Scott, best-selling author of Fierce Leadership

We were thrilled when Susan Scott happily agreed to facilitate a web workshop for our learning community. In this one-hour workshop, Susan shares the key ideas from her latest book, Fierce Leadership, including the 6 Worst Best Practices.

In the 4MAT model, there are four roles that a trainer plays when delivering a learning experience: facilitator, presenter, coach and evaluator. Fierce Conversations offers strategies for building skill as a facilitator, coach and evaluator. Each of these roles require the ability to see what’s underneath the surface and call it like it is. Watch the Fierce Leadership, featuring Best-selling Author Susan Scott video.

An Exclusive Web Workshop with Bruce Tulgan, best-selling author of Not Everyone Gets a Trophy

Almost every time I am in dialogue with a group of trainers on learning styles, someone will ask about leading the younger generation. We invited Generation expert, Bruce Tulgan, author of 17 books on what makes the New Generation tick, to share the greatest myths surrounding Gen X and Gen Y. As a trainer, there is much to be learned from Bruce’s research on what must be present to optimize engagement of this group of learners: Watch the Bruce Tulgan: Not Everyone Gets a Trophy video.

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.

If an image is worth a thousand words, then clearly using images is one of the most powerful content delivery tools we have. Because of this, we are always on the lookout for new ways to visually share information. On the cover of Entrepreneur magazine, we discovered a hip group of guys who have created Animoto. Animoto allows you to upload images, choose music from a free-license library, push a button and create a professional-quality video. You can do a free version that lasts a couple of minutes or a longer commercial version for a minimal fee.

We were working with a client on a design launch focused on this month’s Earth Day. We produced this video in less than 30 minutes. 4MAT 4Business Video: Water Awareness

6 Social Activities for Elearning

I frequently get questions about how to do the 4MAT quadrant one in elearning. In Engage, the first step of the 4MAT model, we are creating a learning that encourages authentic sharing and meaningful dialogue. To do this, we must create a sense of community. This morning, I stumbled across this link highlighting 6 social activities:

I like the website idea–asking elearning participants to share three websites that illustrate their personal interests. Here is mine:

Margaret Wheatley on conversations:

Brain Rules–reading this book now and loving it:

Facebook-join our instructional design community of practice:

Engaging Learners: Community in Learning

Reading Community:  The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block.  Block shares:

“If we have any desire to create an alternative future, it is only going to happen through a shift in language. If we want a change in culture, for example, the work is to change the conversation–or, more precisely, to have a conversation that we have not had before, one that has the power to create something new in the world. This insight forces us to question the value of our stories, the positions we take, our love of the past, and our way of being in the world.”

To create learner engagement, we must  tap in to the conversation the learner is having with themselves about the content to be learned. Next, we move the conversation from an internal one the learner has with themselves to an external dialogue they have with others. Well-designed questions lead the learner through this  process.  Without this dialogue at the beginning of the learning experience, it is difficult for true engagement to occur. Think about:

-Eliciting learner stories about their own experiences through simulations, journaling, group sharing,  and personal reflection exercises.

-Asking the learner to compare and contrast their story with others’

In a recent 4MAT web class, a designer shared that she had  learners create a timeline of experiences that shaped their definition of effective leadership. The exercise created a rich dialogue focused on great and not-so-great leadership moments. By comparing and contrasting the stories, the group began to create a collective definition of powerful leadership. Community emerged and engagement was immediate.