Tag Archives: 4MAT 4Business

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.

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.

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.

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: www.margaretwheatley.com

Brain Rules–reading this book now and loving it: www.brainrules.net

Facebook-join our instructional design community of practice: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=68125306923&ref=ts

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.

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.