Category Archives: training design

Change The Question. Change the Result.

“The questions you ask determine what you focus on. Change the question and you change the focus. Change the focus and results change.”

Coaching is an essential part of the learning process, both in and outside of the classroom. The coaching questions we ask determine where the learner’s attention moves. We act on what we notice. Whether you are leading one-on-one coaching sessions, coaching in the classroom or training managers how to coach, being conscious of how the questions you ask impact direct attention is key to results being generated.

The forming of the questions we ask as coaches influences whether attention is focused on the positive or the negative. For example, the question “Why do you think you are having a challenge meeting your sales goal?” focuses attention on all the reasons why sales aren’t materializing. Predictably, you will hear responses like “out-of-stocks” or “client budget cuts”. A positive question focuses attention on what is working and might sound like, “What are you doing that is producing progress toward your sales goal?” Positive-focused questions create an opportunity to explore what is working and how we could do more of this. They direct the brain to pay attention to positive performance circuits which, when reinforced, support enhanced future performance. In other words, the more we pay attention to positive results, the more positive results we can create.

From ENGAGE: How Question Create “Movement”

A masterful facilitator appears to guide the group effortlessly toward the desired insight or outcome. He or she creates movement in the group by asking the questions that guide the thinking of the group. In ENGAGE, the first part of the 4MAT cycle, the training method used is dialogue. Questions are the primary tool used to guide learners through this part of the learning cycle.

The way the facilitator phrases or “frames” a question will determine the possible set of answers that might emerge from that question. For example, the closed-ended question, “Do you like the color blue?” opens up two possibilities: yes or no. The open-ended question, “What is your favorite shade of blue?” opens up many possible answers, including sky blue, baby blue, neon blue, cobalt blue, etc.

Source: Engage, The Trainer’s Guide to Learning Styles (Wiley 2012)

4MAT Learning Styles Descriptions

Your 4MAT learning style preference refers to your preference for how you like to take in and make meaning of new information. The combination of different learning approaches shapes the behaviors of learners:

Learning Style Type One 4MAT Learning Style Type One
Prefer to take in information from a “feeling” perspective and make sense of it by “watching.” In a new learning situation, Type One learners will rely on their intuition and gut when deciding on the relevance of new information. They will take time to think things through before acting.
Learning Style Type Two 4MAT Learning Style Type Two
Prefer to take in information from a “thinking” perspective and make sense of it by “watching.” In a new learning situation, Type Two learners will rely on external data and knowledge when deciding on the relevance of information. They will make sense of new information by reflecting and thinking things through before trying out new approaches.
Learning Style Type Three 4MAT Learning Style Type Three
Prefer to take in information from a “thinking” perspective and make sense of it by “doing.” In a new learning situation, Type Three learners will rely on practicality as a guide to determining relevance. They will figure things out by playing around with new information and experimenting
Learning Style Type Four 4MAT Learning Style Type Four
Prefer to take in information from a “feeling” perspective and make sense of it by “doing.” In a new learning situation, Type Four learners will rely on intuition and own sense of what will work. They will try different approaches to determine the usefulness of the information being learned.
You can assess your learning style preferences by completing the Learning Type Measure.

Understanding Learning Styles Using 4MAT

When you combine the perceiving preference for feeling or thinking with the processing preference for watching or doing, you discover four distinct preference combinations. These four combinations are the foundation of the 4MAT learning styles model and the 4MAT learning styles descriptions:

Learning Styles

Source: Engage, The Trainer’s Guide to Learning Styles (Wiley 2012)

Perceiving Preferences in the 4MAT Learning Styles Model

The 4MAT Learning Type Measure assesses learning style preferences in how we take in and make meaning of new information.

Once we take in information, we process the information. We make sense of it. Some of us linger in reflection. “Watchers” prefer to reflect before moving into action. Watchers like to understand the information. They want to make sense of what they are experiencing before deciding how to act upon this new information. You will see these preferences in a learning situation. The watchers will hang back and observe. The will ask clarifying questions. They will be more reflective as they approach learning activities. They like to see things unfold before jumping in. Are you a watcher?

4MAT Learning Styles Model

Others prefer to jump into action. “Doers” are imagining how they will use the information you are sharing. They will be quick to move into activity, sometimes disregarding the directions. They will finish quickly. And, they will have little interest in content that doesn’t seem to be practical. Are you a doer?

In any learning experience, you will find watchers and doers. The key is to balance the needs of both simultaneously.

Source: Engage, The Trainer’s Guide to Learning Styles (Wiley 2012)

Cool People Doing Great Things with 4MAT: Dennis Kagimba Mugimba of Compassion International

Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry focused on supporting the needs of children throughout the world. The Compassion International learning team began using 4MAT online courses to certify their global instructor team in 2009. Dennis Kagimba Mugimba, Child Survival Program Specialist based in Uganda, recently completed certification in the 4MAT Instructional Design Fundamentals online course.

What are you working on? How are you using 4MAT in this work?

This 4MAT training came in handy at a time when our work-team was in the preparations for rolling out the Human Performance Improvement (HPI) model to the Field staff we support in the five East African countries of Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. We had drawn up some training plans for this rollout training prior to the 4MAT training. However, following the 4MAT training, we felt compelled by the knowledge we had acquired to completely overhaul our earlier plans and return to the drawing board. Everyone on our work-team as well as Management is quite pleased with the new look of Instructional Design that we have come up with – so, well done 4MAT for equipping us.

What have you discovered lately that has positively impacted the results you are creating through the learning experiences you design?

The greatest discovery during this training was the realization that even though we all learn differently because we are wired uniquely, with proper training and skill, the trainer can facilitate learning in a way that addresses the various learning styles/preferences of the learners. By the end of the training, I felt more empowered and equipped to be a better facilitator of learning. From the home-front, through this training, I also became more intentional in trying to understand how my children learn. I have realized Elizabeth likes to be given instructions, Grace-Joy prefers to be shown how to do something before she can go it alone, whereas Christina has no patience for instructions; she simply jumps into the fray!

What’s your favorite quote? Why?

Without a shadow of a doubt, Bernice McCarthy’s quote “The tension between these two ways of perceiving, feeling and thinking, is the central dynamic in learning. So the real issue in learning is how to balance being subject to our feelings with relating to our feelings as object.” is my favorite quote during the class.

The next session of 4MAT Instructional Design Fundamentals begins on October 5, 2012.

4MAT Interview with Julia Watt, Corporate Cosmetic Sales Director, Dillard’s

What have you discovered lately that has positively impacted the results you are creating through the learning experiences you design?
The idea of “begin with the end in mind” has become my compass for education and conversations.  By being crystal clear on the outcome the learner wants to see, and the outcome I want to see, we are able to move much more effectively through the learning cycle.

What are you working on? How are you using 4MAT in this work?  
Our “big rocks!” Each of our managers have identified an area of their business where measurable improvement will elevate our guests’ experience … and … our business! By going narrow, yet deep in one area, we are identifying the belief (4MAT Engage step), knowledge (4MAT Share step), skills (4MAT Practice step), and refinement (4MAT Perform step) needed to move the needle. We are using 4MAT through all communication avenues … huddles, meetings, one-to-ones, education, leadership. 4MAT causes us to ask four questions about the “big rock”: Why is this rock important to our business? What do we know for sure? How will we make it work? And what is the commitment we want to celebrate?

What’s your favorite quote? Why?
Oh my, the hardest question of all! I do love quotes! While my favorite can change throughout the day, here is one that speaks to the urgency of my life: “I get up every morning determined both to change the world and to have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day difficult.” ~E.B.White

What are you consuming (eating, reading, buying, taking in) these days? 
Food consumption = A salad and Chick-fil-a sweet iced tea, almost every day of my life! Reading = The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni. He has a wonderful perspective on the ability of healthy organizations to unify management, operations and culture.

What do you think that we should be paying more attention to? 
Is there trust?  If so, the rest is a walk in the park.

Leading and Coaching from the Inside Out

Look around and you’ll notice most brands communicate from the outside in: they define themselves in terms of what they do.

Look closely at brands that inspire you and inspire your loyalty, and you will likely find that they communicate in quite the opposite way: from the inside out. They speak in terms of “why.” Truly inspiring companies invest much more of their time communicating their “why,” and much less on their “what” and “how.” The recently popular MAC vs PC ads are a great example of the difference in selling “why” we do what we do versus “what” we do.

A powerful “why” is the catalyst to action. A problem that many businesses face is having a “how” and “what,” but no clear “why.” The “how” is the action taken to produce something and the “what” is the product we offer, the result of our action. Without a clear sense of “why” the “how” and “what” are often unclear and uninspiring.

On a personal level, this would be like saying you plan to write a best-selling book (the “how”) in order to gain fame and fortune (the “what”) but you have no idea what to write about or what you want to say—a total absence of “why.” A clear and compelling “why” is an essential ingredient to successful action.

Think about this in terms of leading and coaching others. Sharing “what I need you to do” and “how I would like you to do it” and “if this happens, be prepared to …” may be enough to equip others to act. But, to inspire others to act, you have to facilitate a conversation around the “Why.”

We follow leaders who start with “Why.”

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If you would like to explore bringing the 4MAT Lead and Coach workshop to your team, contact us at or 866.888.4628.