Tag Archives: Jeanine O’Neill-Blackwell

How the 4MAT Model Improves Performance

As a result of some interesting dialogue in one of our 4MAT train the trainer courses, Karen Hann, Senior Education Manager, and Denise Johnson, Performance Improvement Consultant, of Tupperware came up with a visual concept of how the 4MAT model improves performance internally and externally in an organization.

Since the 4MAT model was developed in 1979 by Dr. Bernice McCarthy, over 1 million people have discovered their learning style strengths using the 4MAT® Learning Type Measure. This is one of the most common ways that individuals are introduced to the 4MAT model-by identifying their individual learning style strengths. In the illustration below, you will see that this increased self-awareness is the launch pad for a common language that can be used  to improve teaming, communication, engagement, training, execution, leadership and coaching.

  • 4MAT creates a foundation for leadership and coaching skill development—4MAT is a simple framework for leading, managing, coaching and performance improvement.
  • 4MAT provides a model for execution—The 4MAT four-step model is a framework for getting things done. Project teams can utilize this framework to build a plan and identify potential barriers for successful execution.
  • 4MAT dramatically improves the impact of training—4MAT dramatically increases the measurable impact of instructional design and delivery by organizing the essential content around four critical learning outcomes that deliver on expected training ROI.
  • 4MAT provides a framework for engaging others—The 4-step model directly applies to planning meetings, sales presentations, coaching and marketing.
  • 4MAT builds complementary teams—Team members and leaders can use the awareness of individual strengths to assemble teams with complementary skill sets.
  • 4MAT increases self-awareness—The Learning Type Measure provides individuals with an awareness of their natural learning strengths along with concrete strategies for effectively interacting with learning styles of fellow team members. 

4MAT: Interpreting the Learning Type Measure, Leadership Behavior Inventory and other assessments

The 4MAT model is a framework for understanding how people take in and make meaning of new information. The model can be applied to learning, training design, training delivery, coaching and leading. Most people discover the 4MAT model by taking one of the 4MAT assessment tools.

Each 4MAT assessment tool delivers a top-line, easy-to-digest description of the user’s style strengths. When you look deeper at the assessment profile, you will find that most users have a primary preference for one approach and a secondary preference in another. For example, a leader may have a strong preference for the 4MAT Type Four leadership approach with a secondary preference for the 4MAT Type Three leadership approach.

The primary and secondary approach descriptions combine to give a clearer picture of the individual’s approach. The illustration above shows how the combination of preferences described by the 4MAT Leadership Behavior Inventory illustrates leadership approach. Equally important to preference for a particular approach is the avoidance of another approach. 

To gain the most benefit from the assessment of style strengths, you should pay attention to the degree of focus on all four approaches. The 4MAT assessment tools are designed to foster understanding of personal strengths and deliver strategies for maximizing those strengths. A significant part of the process of maximizing strengths involves addressing potential weak areas to the extent that they may diminish the potential impact and contribution of the individual’s strengths. We refer to this as gaining a “threshold” level of skill.

The corporate 4MAT assessment tools available include the:

Learning Type Measure or LTM assesses preferences in taking in and making meaning of new information. At an individual level, this tool is helpful for understanding how you process information and how to identify your natural thinking strengths. On a team level, this tool enhances communication and productivity.

Hemispheric Mode Indicator or HMI assesses preferences for right-brain or left-brain processing. On an individual level, this is an excellent tool for understanding your preference for the two dimensions of creativity: abstract and concrete. thinking For trainers, this tool enhances awareness of what might be missing in your training design and delivery.  For teams, this tool is excellent for analyzing the creative process within the group and a great kick-off to a creative strategy session.

Leadership Behavior Inventory or LBI assesses preferences in four critical leadership approaches. On an individual level, this tool will help you understand your leadership approach’s strengths and the impact of that approach on all four learning styles present in your team.  At an organizational level, this tool creates awareness of the diversity (or predominance) of the four essential leadership approaches.

Training Style Inventory or TRSI  assesses preferences in four critical training roles: facilitator, presenter, coach and evaluator. At an individual level, this tool will help you understand your natural strengths when training others. It will also illustrate what might be missing in your training design and/or delivery. On a team level, this tool helps identify the composite training strengths of a team offering new possibilities for team teaching and colleague coaching.

How you are using the 4MAT assessment tools? Hiring? Coaching? Teambuilding? Leadership development?

4MAT Leadership Behavior Inventory (LBI): Understanding Leadership Approach

In a recent 4MAT train the trainer session, the question of “How do we convince managers that understanding how the brain works is important to everyone in the organization, not just to training and development?” To answer this question, let’s explore the value leaders will generate by understanding how learning happens and how the 4MAT Leadership Behavior Inventory assesses leadership approach.

If you are familiar with the 4MAT learning styles model, you know that there are four primary preferences related to the process of taking in and making meaning of information. Most individuals have a dominant preference in one of the four learning approaches while others have a secondary approach that is also frequently used. This means that a manager has a preferred approach and every individual on their team has a preferred approach. At times, these preferences differ greatly.

A manager’s learning style influences their approach to communicating, planning, coaching, project management, prioritizing and more. If managers and leaders are using one or two dominant information sharing and processing approaches to manage people, programs and processes, it is likely that productivity and overall effectivess of the team and the organization suffers.  For example, a senior leadership team that relies heavily on the 4MAT Type 3 and Type Four approach when communicating  will miss half of the organization with their message. The value of understanding learning preferences lies in understanding that your 4MAT learning style refers to the part of the learning process that you prefer and tend to linger in the longest. To produce optimal results, we must move through the entire learning process in our planning, communicating and learning.

When a manager or leader understands how to form and lead groups that will generate balanced thinking, results increase exponentially. Here are some of the ways that managers and leaders who understand learning styles and understand how learning happens use this information to create higher performance:

Role design-When analyzing a project or team function, a manager that has awareness of the different learning style approaches of each individual on their team will organize the work to align with the thinking strengths of each individual. This enables each individual to contribute at the highest level.

Job Placement-When hiring for a position, a manager with a strong understanding of thinking preferences will look to see if the functions required in the role align with the natural strengths of the individual. They will ask themselves, “Will this person be operating from their natural strengths the majority of the time in this role?” For example, the 4MAT research team has identified that 44% of public hospital health nurses are strongest in the Type One learning approach. This indicates a feeling and reflective approach to interacting with others with a strong disposition towards listening that would serve well in the role of caretaker.

Team Structure-Differences in style create tension. This tension is healthy when it is acknowledged and celebrated as a valuable element of the team’s diversity. For example, a strong Type 4 team member will focus on possibilities while a team member with a strong Type 2 preference will focus on probabilities. Partnering these two thinkers on a new product development project will deliver well-thought-out solutions that are innovative and likely to be successful, based on past performance.

Organizational design-The extensive research on 4MAT learning style preferences in different functional roles confirms that different thinking styles gravitate to different functional roles. For example, our research shows that the majority of entrepreneurs and strategic planners have a preference for the 4MAT Type Four learning style while the majority of bookkeepers and operations managers have a preference for the 4MAT Type 2 learning style. The differences between these functions in an organization create healthy tension and balance between possibilities and probabilities.

There are many benefits to understanding learning styles and the way that learning happens. If you want to invite leaders in your organization into this conversation, one of the most effective ways to do this is to assess their leadership approach through then lens of the 4MAT Leadership Behavior Indicator (LBI). Here is an overview of the four approaches:

The Type One leadership approach is highly collaborative, team-oriented and focused on  people.

The Type Two leadership approach is highly structured, fact-based and focused on process.

The Type Three leadership approach is highly practical, action-oriented and focused on performance.

The Type Four leadership approach is highly intuitive, adaptation-oriented and focused on possibility.

4MAT Image Step: Using Metaphors to Create Training Impact

Many train the trainer programs encourage the use of games that serve as metaphors for the content being learned. Why and how does this work to enhance learning? For most people, metaphors are seen as a device to creatively articulate some idea. Poets, musicians and creative storytellers are often perceived to be the masters of metaphor. On the contrary, we are all quite masterful at using metaphors.

In Metaphors We Live By, authors George Lakoff and Mark Johnson share, “…metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.”1

We think in metaphors. Lakoff and Johnson illustrate brilliantly the many ways we think in terms of metaphors:

We think of time as money2:

“How did you spend your time today?’

“There was just not enough ROI on my time on that project.”

“You need to budget your time wisely.”

We think of an argument as a container3:

“That argument has holes in it.”

“Your argument won’t hold water.”

As trainers, we need to understand that a difference in metaphor will create a difference in understanding and approach. For example, many people perceive conflict as a “battle” to be won:

“I’m prepared for battle.”

“I’m going to take him down.”

“He won’t know what hit him.”

What if that metaphor were shifted? What if conflict were viewed as a creative process? as a collaboration? as a dance with each party taking turns leading? How might that shift the way we prepare for, approach and resolve conflict? A shift in the metaphor we use to understand, shifts the way we think and they way we act.

As trainers, the metaphor is a powerful tool for understanding the concepts that guide the learner’s understanding and approach. If we want to shift behavior toward a desired outcome, we must identify what metaphor will best guide the thinking and action of the learner. In the 4MAT model, the Image step creates an opportunity for the trainer to explore and, if necessary, shift the metaphors learners use to understand and approach the learning content.

Imagine that you are leading a workshop for department managers on the strategic planning process. Which of the following visual metaphors would you use to create a shared understanding of the process you are leading the group through?

Telescoping spyglass-illlustrating how the individual, team, department and division objectives must be integrated and focused on the long-range vision

Mason jar with rocks, pebbles and sand-illustrating how we must allocate space for the big initiatives (rocks), then secondary initiatives (pebbles). Otherwise, all of our resources (the space in the jar) are consumed with low impact initiatives which generate minimal return (sand).

Pie-illustrating that there is a limited budget and limited resources (pie). Each department’s allocation of budget (slice of the pie) will be determined based on the merits of plans submitted.

What metaphors have you used in training design and delivery to shift thinking?

1Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark. 1980. Metaphors We Live By Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, p. 3.

2 Ibid, p. 7.

3Ibid, p 92.

4MAT Train the Trainer: 6 Activities for the Perform Step

In the 4MAT model for training design, there are four parts of the learning cycle that the trainer leads the learner through. In the fourth part of the cycle, Perform, the trainer is focused on building the assessment and adaptation skills of the learner.  Let’s take a look at what is happening in this step:

4MAT model: perform

Source:  McCarthy and O’Neill-Blackwell, Hold On, You Lost Me! Use Learning Styles to Create Training that Sticks, ASTD Press, p 25.

In Perform, the trainer invites the learner to assess the practice application which occurred in the previous step, Practice. The learner is assessing and adjusting and the trainer is guiding this process. Activities that encourage the learner to assess, refine and adapt the content being learned are appropriate for this part of the training design.

Here are some examples of activities that fit well in Practice:

1. 10-10-10
Objective: Planning activity focused on implementation of the learning in the next 10 days, 10 weeks and 10 months.

2. “Co”+ “Labor”=Collaboration
Objective: Learners will devise an action plan for implementation of learning. This activity focuses on personal and team accountability around the learning.

3. Exit Interview
Objective: As a final “exam”, participants will interview each other in a reflective manner about the learning that has occurred.

4. Super Hero
Objective: Using a Super Hero as a metaphor, participants will reflect on tools and skills needed to implement the knowledge.

5. Reunion Web Call
Objective: Learners participate in a post-session call to review implementation or learning commitments.

6. Elearning: Branched Scenario Simulations
Objective: Learners assess the effectiveness of alternative applications of the content being learned.

Download the facilitator guide with complete instructions:

What’s the Concept?

We have talked about the concept of your 4MAT training design before in the blog. Recently in a train the trainer workshop, I was having a chat with a new-to-4MAT trainer who had some questions about how to get started in defining your concept. Here’s a quick video I created on defining your concept:

Remember, effective training concepts are:

  • Core, essential ideas.
  • Form bridges that link the learner’s experiences to the content.
  • Have immediate relevance for the learners.
  • Establish relationships between topics.
  • Act as a thread that weaves all the content together

The 4MAT online train the trainer course is an easy way to learn how to apply our 8 step design model. We invest a great deal of time on this critical part of the design process. As one of our recent training participants shared, “When you nail the concept, you immediately create a “wow” factor.”

By the way, if you haven’t already discovered Screenr, you should check it out. You can create short videos in no time. http://www.screenr.com/

4MAT Train the Trainer: The balance between Watching and Doing

In the Mastering Training Design program, we explore the differences in how learners process information. When we “watch”, we make sense of new information through reflection. We ponder the meaning and listen to our inner voice. When we “do”, we make sense of new information through action. We take action and move out into the real world.  Some of us prefer to linger in watching and some of us prefer to move quickly to doing.

The trainer’s role is to guide the learner through this movement from inner reflection to outward action.  The 4MAT model outlines specific steps that address what the trainer does and what the learner does to create this movement.

Here’s a quick 4MAT video I created in response to questions our last group of trainers posed about how to address watching and doing in training design:

 

Training Design from an Experiential vs Thinking Place

Last week, I facilitated our Mastering Training Design course. In this 4MAT train the trainer workshop, one of the things we explore is the difference between sharing information from an experiential (feeling) place versus a thinking (intellectual) place.

By the second day of this course, participants are digging in and developing their own training designs using the 4Mat 8-step model. Before we work on the real-world course content that participants bring with them, we ask the trainers in our workshop to create a training design on one of two community awareness topic: “be physically active” or “quit smoking”. I am amazed at how quickly trainers can move into designing truly experiential learning. Designing experiential learning involves much more than adding activities. It is the art of eliciting and, sometimes creating, powerful personal experiences in the learner.

I discovered a video created by the Sussex Safer Roads Project on Nancy Duarte’s blog. The commercial is a powerful example of how an experience can be created in seconds. When I watched the video on my living room couch, my 6-year old asked “What’s wrong, Mommy?” You should know that I can be moved by a good dog food commercial. Emotional reaction is not uncommon in my living room. Even knowing this, I was surprised by the universal reaction of the trainers in the room. 

Before you watch the video, take a look at the slide presentation below that I found on www.slideshare.net. This is a typical way that any trainer might approach this subject from a “thinking” place. Then, watch the video and experience what information sharing feels like from a experiential/feeling place. 

Sharing information from a “thinking” place:

Sharing information from a “feeling” place:

4MAT Train the Trainer: 3 Activities for Practice

In the 4MAT model for training design, there are four parts of the learning cycle that the trainer leads the learner through. In the third part, Practice, the trainer is focused on building learner skills that directly link to the desired business impact of the training course.  Let’s take a look at what is happening in this step:

4MAT model: practice

Source: McCarthy and O’Neill-Blackwell, Hold On, You Lost Me! Use Learning Styles to Create Training that Sticks, ASTD Press, p 25.

In Practice, the trainer invites the learner to move into application of the information presented in Share. The learner is doing and the trainer is observing and coaching. Activities that encourage the learner to apply, adapt, practice and/or problem-solve work in this part of the learning cycle.

Here are some examples of activities that fit well in Practice:

  1. Craft a Story vs Report a Story
    Objective: Reprocessing activity which requires learners to develop a story around the information being shared. Learners are divided into two reporting groups: creative story-telling and “just the facts” reporting.
  2. At Your Finger Tips Resource Guide
    Objective: Participants will build a personal, reference guide of the content using index cards and a ring binder.
  3. The Law of Three
    Objective: Action planning activity which encourages learners to identify 3 key learning focuses and plan specific actions around these ideas.

Download the facilitator guide with complete instructions:

4MAT Train the Trainer: 6 Activities for Interactive Lecture

In the 4MAT model for training design, there are four parts of the learning cycle that the trainer leads the learner through. In the second part, Share, the trainer is focused on delivering new knowledge required to deliver desired performance.  Let’s take a look at what is happening in this step:

Part of the 4MAT Cycle Goal Learning Climate Learning Method You know  it’s effective when: Trainer’s Role
ShareThe question is “What?” Learners understand expert information related to the content. Organized, focused, and reflective with a n opportunity to ask questions. Lecture and interactive discussion on the content. Learners are recording, noting and questioning. They are asking clarifying questions and seeking to better understand the bigger ideas. Presenter

Source:  McCarthy and O’Neill-Blackwell, Hold On, You Lost Me! Use Learning Styles to Create Training that Sticks, ASTD Press, p 25.

How do we, as trainers, create this desired climate? What kind of activities should we use to generate insights and create meaningful dialogue?  Here are 6 Share training activities that work with any content.

1-Group Interviews

Overview:  Learners interview each other on questions related to the information being shared.

2-Questions and Answers

Overview:  To engage learners before or during lecture, learners generate key questions related to the content.

3-Craft a Story vs Report a Story

Overview:  Lecture processing activity which requires learners to develop a story around the information being shared. Learners are divided into two reporting groups: creative story-telling and “just the facts” reporting.

4-Lecture Translator

Overview:  Presenter pauses periodically during lecture and learners translate lecture into their own words to reinforce key concepts. This works particularly well with high-level technical information lecture.

5-Essence

Overview: Participants summarize lecture with the intent of identifying the core concepts being shared.

6. Content Voting

Overview:  Participants generate a list of questions for the session. Participants vote on the questions they are most interested in exploring, related to the topic.

Download the facilitator guide with complete instructions:

Train the Trainer Guide

6 Activities for Interactive Lecture