Category Archives: Uncategorized

4MAT Design Studio Opens

“Build it and they will come.” We love that line from the movie, Field of Dreams. We hosted our first 4MAT train the trainer workshop in our new offices. We didn’t actually build the building, but we had some very cool design thinkers show up. Our 4MAT design studio is in the original train depot of Covington, La. We like to think that many exciting journeys began from this very spot.

Stay tuned for the complete train the trainer program listings in the 4MAT calendar.

4MAT: Divergent or Convergent Thinking?

“To have a good idea, you must first have lots of ideas.” –Linus Pauling, winner of two Nobel Prizes

The 4MAT Learning Type Measure® assesses many dimensions of learning including our preference for divergent versus convergent thinking. What does this mean? Divergent thinking is focused on creating many options. Convergent thinking is focused on choosing one of the existing options. This difference in thinking style becomes readily observed in meeting spaces in Any Business. The divergent thinkers want to brainstorm, explore new ground and play “What if?” The convergent thinkers want to analyze the existing options, think through what will work in our current model and choose the viable option. Tension exists between these two ways of processing.

It is important to notice when you switch from one to the other. A too-early switch to convergent thinking could have you miss the big idea that might create a monumental versus incremental learning leap. A delayed movement to convergent thinking can have you miss the delivery date.

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?

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:

Is understanding the same as knowing?

cimg1191I was recently in Minneapolis having a birthday dinner celebration with friends. We were at a great little bistro that allowed us to look out the window onto the street.  My friend said, “Oh look, it’s snowing. Big, fat snowflakes.” Her husband said, “That’s definitely Cary Grant snow.” The conversation continued with the naming of the snow. They have quite a snow vocabulary in Minnesota.  As a Louisiana girl, snow is snow. We see it every 2o years or so and it all looks the same–amazing.

This year, we experienced snow in South Louisiana for the first time in many, many years. My two youngest daughters, ages 9 and 5, experienced snow for the first time. Of course, they know what snow is. They understand that it is cold and white. Yet, they had never experienced it. My husband and I woke them up and they ran outside in overcoats tossed over their pj’s. After catching snow on their tongues and making snow angels, my littlest one said to me, “Mommy, I never imagined that snow would be wet.”

Understanding is not the same as knowing. It is experience that gives us true knowledge. Craft experiences that tap into what the learner knows. Lead the learner into deeper knowing by choosing activities that immerse into, explore, apply and adapt information. This deep dive moves the learner from understanding into knowledge.

Storytelling through Powerpoint

Powerpoint has gotten a bad rap. Powerpoint gave the power to design to the people. Yes, we the people have abused that power, a bit—100’s of slides in 12 point font each filled with competing images and points to be made. With a bit of self-control, powerpoint can be a dynamic and powerful storytelling tool.

A great story begins by drawing the audience in. It takes the learner on a journey–writers call it a “story arc”. And, it ends with a big finish, a moral, a point to be made.  Think about Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth–it all began with a story being told through powerpoint.

One of the absolute best books I have discovered on powerpoint design is Nancy Duarte’s slide:ology. Here is an archived webinar discovered on, in which Nancy shares tips on how to apply design principles to powerpoint:


Free Content: Wiimote Whiteboard

In 2007, Johnny Chung Lee began working with Nintendo’s Wii system’s Wiimote. He discovered that the $40 wiimote could be used to create low-cost, high tech devices that rivaled much more expensive components. If you have ever lusted after an expensive whiteboarding tool, take a look at what Lee created with his wiimote:


Word on the street is that Lee is working on a low-cost version of the infrared pen.  Has anyone created one of these?

Here we go…

Co-author, Hold On, You Lost Me! Use Learning Styles to Create Training that Sticks

Co-author, Hold On, You Lost Me! Use Learning Styles to Create Training that Sticks


I frequently have the opportunity to connect with learning professionals in our 4MAT live and web workshops and the consulting work we do.  The conversation begins with the application of 4MAT, a model for understanding different learning styles.  Inevitably, the dialogue  centers around  questions on how best to apply brain-based design to real-world leadership and learning issues. As learning gurus, the questions that we collectively seem to be most interested in:

How do we engage learners in the content we are sharing?

What are the best practices in training design and delivery that we can learn from?

What’s the best examples of elearning that truly addresses the way the brain learns?

Where can I find examples of powerful activities that engage different learning styles?

Any new, interesting technologies out there that can make design simpler and delivery more engaging?

The intent of this blog is to ponder these questions and create a forum to share the answers we are discovering.  I hope you join the dialogue.