The power of gamification in the workplace

More than 100 years ago, during a visit to one of the many factories he owned, Charles M. Schwab took a piece of chalk and proceeded to draw a large number “6” on the floor for all the employees to see. (Why did he do this? I’ll get to that shortly.) Schwab made his money as a pioneer in the steel-making industry, employed hundreds of thousands of workers and built an empire that rivals the biggest corporations of today. During his time as a leader, he had many similar challenges that today’s modern manager or business owner might face, such as motivating employees to reach their full potential in the workplace. On the particular occasion I mentioned above, Schwab had noticed that this factory had the capacity to produce more steel—but that the employees were not motivated enough to do so. He knew he needed to take a new tactic.

The process of making steel is done in “heats.” During this time in history, there was almost an unlimited demand for steel in the marketplace, so a factory’s ability to complete as many heats as possible was paramount. Schwab inquired to one of the day-shift employees about how many heats their crew had completed that day; the employee responded confidently, “Six heats, sir.” 

Charles M. Schwab. (Photo: Wikipedia)

That’s when Schwab got the chalk out.

When the night shift came into work later that day, they quickly inquired about the number’s origin; someone informed them that the big boss had come in that day and asked how many heats had been done, then chalked the response down on the floor. The next day, when the day shift returned to work, the “6” had been erased and replaced with a “7.” The night crew saw the number as a challenge and found the motivation within themselves to produce an extra heat that night. This back-and-forth between the shifts went on for weeks.

Schwab was using a technique called gamification to challenge his employees to achieve more.

Gamification is defined as “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something so as to encourage participation.” In an interview between InformationWeek reporter Debra Donston-Miller and Caroline Avey, director of innovative learning solutions at ACS Learning Services, Avey said:

The idea of game mechanics is taking elements of games and putting them into a normal business process. Game mechanics integrated into applications can be quite sophisticated or very simple. Users sometimes don’t realize they are participating in a game …. Think of a learning module where you have to complete one level before moving on to the next level—that’s a very simple game mechanic called leveling.

Look around you in the break room or in the doctor’s waiting room, or anywhere for that matter, and you might see grown men and women playing games on their phone. What if you could draw employees in with the same enthusiasm and the same commitment they have to “Candy Crush”?

At the U.K.’s Department for Work and Pensions, an online game called “Idea Street” was created and introduced to employees. In the game, employees receive points for innovative ideas, level up as they gain more points and have their names prominently displayed on a leaderboard throughout the company’s communication channels. The game has brought forth 1,400 ideas, 63 of which were implemented. The truth is that employees had fun while directly contributing to a business cause. Perhaps none of these ideas would have been unearthed without this mechanism.

Can gamification also increase employee morale and engagement?
A recent Gallup Poll reported that 71 percent of American workers are not engaged. In case you read that too fast, let me repeat it in another way: Seven out of every 10 people going to work every day in America are not engaged in their jobs. And although there are many factors contributing to the current state, it’s clear that actions must be taken to reinvigorate the workforce. And I think that gamifying certain business activities is one strategy that can spark some much-needed electricity throughout an organization.

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about installing an Xbox or foosball table in the employee lounge. What I am saying is that there is an opportunity to add a new element to your existing company practices and programs. The fun and competitive nature that gamification brings out in people can breathe new life into training and development programs, create fun and exciting mechanisms to track department metrics, and make company bonus programs more visible and interactive, as just some examples. Ultimately, these types of activities will strengthen the good relationship you have with your engaged workforce while at the same time rekindle the competitive spirit of some of your lesser-engaged workers. It might be time to get the chalk out.

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Originally published by Brad Bingham, Brad is an aspiring human resources thought leader who is passionate about organizational behavior, professional development and the art of leadership.


Listening Makes Technology (and Stuff) Work

2014-04-November-Listen.jpg  Meg Bear, group vice president of Oracle Social Cloud, uses an interesting term when she discusses the role of listening in the customer relationship: humility. That doesn’t come up often when discussing enterprise software, but Bear stands behind it as being a catalyst for a customer-centric business.

“Customers are trying to tell you what they want — they’re giving you breadcrumbs. With humility and listening, you’ll be on to the right thing,” said Bear during a presentation at last month’s Pivotcon.

Humility wasn’t the only quality Bear mentioned. Respect also made an appearance. As did authenticity. What Bear is looking at is a change in mindset, that requires businesses to open up to hearing what may not be the message they want to promote, to listening to the themes and topics that arise in their customer’s (and would be customers) conversations in social forums, and then being open and ready to make changes based on this listening.

It Comes Down to Preparation

Of course it takes more than using these “soft” skills to make a social strategy work. For Phil Colley, social media strategist at General Motors, it comes down to three factors: structure, organization and tools.

Having the structure in place means that Colley and his colleagues are prepared in times of crisis. GM has been no stranger to crisis. When it issued a recall almost nine months ago due to faulty ignition switches, GM’s social channels played a large part in handling customer concerns, questions and complaints. The existence of a three pronged process meant the difference between ramping up and acting versus scrambling to put new processes in place. The process listed clear priorities: informing customers, connecting customers to the right division and keeping GM dealers up to date through digital toolkits.

Colley gives credit to social’s support and integration throughout the company: “everybody touches social.” The company witnessed early on the power of social to connect with its audience, with the publication of its FastLane blog in 2005. With the success of the blog, every brand created its own social channel, its own blog. Social grew organically throughout the company, but it also grew out of control. A governance plan was set in place to aid in alignment.

Alignment was also needed in the technology realm. Before General Motors became an Oracle Social Cloud client, it had “125 different tools, none of them talking to each other, none of them talking to the CRM,” said Colley. The move to the Social Cloud allowed Colley “to focus on what he needed to be focusing on” and opened up an internal social channel for employees to discuss solutions for customers.

Differentiate Yourself

Colley’s assessment of the automobile landscape would probably be unheard of 15 years ago. “The vehicles from every auto maker are very good across the industry.” And yet this sentiment comes up more and more often, no matter what the industry. Businesses are no longer competing on the basis of their products — the differentiating factor comes down to the relationships with the customer.

Bear shares an example of how social listening — combined with the openness to use that input to provoke change — can deliver for customers and companies. A community manager at children’s toy maker LeapFrog started noticing customer comments on a discontinued line of alphabet refrigerator magnets. People missed them, discussed past experiences buying them for a niece or nephew and in general asked “why did you ditch this product?” The community manager brought these conversations from the social channels to product. The company reissued the toy.

For those still struggling for the hard return on social efforts, Bear made it clear that social should not be seen as a standalone item, “Social is an enablement tool for your broader customer goals. They’re tied to KPIs, they’re tied to broader strategic goals.” What businesses need to do when trying to assess the ROI question is ask, “What is our investment in the customer experience and how is that impacting the bigger strategic picture?”

About That Technology and Stuff

Last week Rikk Wilde, regional zone manager for General Motors in the Kansas City area, was tapped to present San Francisco Giants pitched Madison Bumgarner, MVP of the World Series, with a new Chevy truck. When it came time to hand over the keys to the truck, Wilde froze. Index cards in hand, Wilde ad libbed to describe the truck’s capabilities as “technology and stuff.”

PR gaffe? It looked at first like it might be.

But after a few hours, the tide turned. GM noticed the hashtag #technologyandstuff and #chevyguy taking off on social channels as people came out in support of Wilde. We’ve all been nervous before a presentation, but not many of us have those nerves caught before a televised audience estimated at 23.5 million people. The company ran with it, overdubbing commercials with “technology and stuff,” and adding it to the homepage.

Sometimes humility means being able to have a little fun, even at your own expense.

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Originally published b

6 Inspiring Examples of Gamification

When your customers or employees are having fun, it boosts your performance as a company. The concept of Gamification brings a world of opportunities for online businesses to attract and retain users, as well as converting them into buyers and even better… loyal buyers. We’re interested in Gamification because when building our chat tool we also aimed to combine business with fun. There are a couple of companies that we look up to as they truly nailed it with Gamification.

Even though the Google Trend graph shows the term ‘Gamification’ to be rather new, the systematical approach of driving motivation from people to a certain goal through game elements, such as teams and challenges, is literally as old as the Egyptian Pyramids.

Google Trends: Gamification searched throughout the time (checked on 11th February 2014)

As argued by various authors, the pyramids were built under a different structure than what we’ve been thinking for so long. Apparently the number of slaves used for the construction was way below what has been thought, all because of the game elements that were included in the work. Slaves were organized in extremely hierarchical groups with specialized individuals in different crafts. These “teams”, named after their hometown, competed against each other for many different goods. Their victory was based on effectiveness and rapidness.

The first Gamifiers

Now we wouldn’t want to dream of glorifying slavery in any way. However, this example does demonstrate the power of game elements. There are some great examples of modern-day companies that used gamification to boost their performance. We accumulated some of the most inspiring examples to put on display.


1) M&M’s Eye-Spy Pretzel Campaign

One of the great examples of successful participants engagement with an online social game was the 2013’s M&M’s eye-spy game. Framed within the M&M’s Pretzel campaign, this simple cost-effective game consisted of a simple full-page graphic design of M&M’s and 1 small pretzel which users had to find.

Can you find the pretzel?

This simple, cheap game brought huge gains to M&M, with a boost of more than 25.000 likes on their Facebook page, 6.000 shares and 10.000 comments.


2) Club Psych TV Show and Merchandise Sales

Another great example comes from the american TV Show Psych. Marketers for this product decided to create a new platform – Club Psych – which incoporated gamification into their dynamics with the main goal of increasing customer engagement and ultimately increase their merchandise sales.

The Club Psych is a platform with different games, challenges and multimedia resources related to the tv series. By registering and accomplishing new levels, downloads and other resources, players are ranked in leaderboards, are awarded points and can challenge their friends.

When marketers measured gamification effects within the platform they came out with astonishing numbers: overall traffic on their network increased by 30%, online merchandise sales by 50%, page views by 130% and their content was shared 300,000 times on Facebook, reaching 40 million users.


3) Nike + and the Running Experience Community Project

Nike+ is one of the most famous examples of a game that locks a high amount of potential customers into staying in contact and communicating with the company.

Nike+ is an app developed to complement the most unstructured sport on the planet: running. This platform collects personal data from the users and keeps close update on their running activities in order to monitorize and display their latest achievements and overall evolution. Moreover, Nike+ allows users to compare and compete with people from all over the world, including direct friends when connected to social media.

For Nike, this viral game greatly boosted their exposure and customer loyalty. Furthermore, this highly-developed gaming system allowed them to collect high amounts of data over long periods, after which they were able to segment and market their products and services directly. All the information collected also allowed an increase in productivity of the R&D and Online Marketing departments.

In fact, Nike +’s concept has been so successful that the main framework was built upon and expanded by many other businesses. We just want to highlight the entertaining example of Zombies, Run!, a game where instead of competing with your mates, you are running ahead of a flesh-eating army of zombies.

This game combines the main principles of Nike+ with storytelling – a story about a postapocalyptic zombie world to be exact. While you’re out running you’ll hear a voice telling you whether it is time for a sprint to outrun a hungry zombie mob.


4) Giff Gaff’s Magical Gamified Business Model

Similarly to many community based game approaches comes the Giff Gaff game developed by O2 in 2010. Giff Gaff is a mobile phone service provider with a unique business model.

The idea is that every service provided by Giff Gaff is done by the users of the community, from sales to customer support! From the beginning, since you buy your Giff Gaff SIM Card from one of the members of the platform you’re giving away points and becoming a member of the community. When you request any kind of support at their forum and a member supports you, he is also getting more points. These accumulated points can be then converted into cash, as 1 point is equal to 1 pence (which can be withdrawn, converted into airtime, or donated to charity).

Although gamification is typically used to engage customers, the following examples show that it can also be applied for internal purposes.


5) The US Army Game – The #1 recruitment tool on the planet

Another great example of an organization that deployed the gamification concept to support its strategy is the US Army. They developed a free to download game which has become their number 1 recruitment tool.

This is a multiplayer tactical shooter game where people have the opportunity to combat at a squad-level with three fireteams in an extremely realistic approach. By bringing reality into a game, recruiters allow recruits to put themselves in the shoes of a soldier and check whether they have what it takes to become a battle fighter.

This game was developed with a very clear business goal: increasing the number of recruits to the army. Before playing the game everyone is recommended to create an online account, joining the “Online Army” (and giving them all your real data).

In this example the gamified thought goes even deeper by replacing typical badges you get with any online game, for the “Badges of Honor” you will earn by becoming a member of the American Army.

As you can expect, this game has been under heavy ethical discussion. Colonel Wardynski defends the game: “There is a fine line and you don’t want to step over it. We steer clear of glamorizing war or taking advantage of current events. People may have lost love ones recently. And there is the privacy of the people involved. Another concern is national security, if you put too much detail into it.”


6) Salesforce’s Roadwarrior Training

Gamification can also be used for training purposes, as shown by SAP use of Roadwarrior to train its sales staff. Roadwarrior was developed by Salesforce to train sales representatives, through simulated meetings with customers, on how and what to answer considering tailored customer needs. Through the process of answering simulated customers, the sales rep wins badges and earns points, or loses them when they request life-lines. There are many levels to be unlocked on cross-technology matters and reps can challenge other colleagues to match their accomplishments.

Sales people are generally very competitive, making them a good target for a game motivating them to upgrade their sales skills. According to’s blog, 90.4% of the companies that implemented a gamification program for their sales team reported successful results.

With Roadwarrior SAP turned training into fun, increasing the position of its sales force within the learning-curve (by forcing them to continuously simulate different scenarios), increasing motivation and stimulating socialization among the team. And the bottom line, leading to higher sales.


The Possibilities of Gamification for your Business

You might be aiming at developing your internal capital related with HR matters such as productivity, as you can see from the example of SAP and its training game Roadwarrior, the US Army’s recruitment game or through crowdsourcing as Giff Gaf’s original business model which includes the concepts of gamification merged with relevance of social communities.

Gamification is a business tool and games are not simple, not just graphics and design. If you would like to create an engaging experience to your customers think strategically and plan carefully what you want to achieve even before hiring your game developer.

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Negotiating Using Three Lessons from Pro Sports

Global organizations continue being under increasing pressure to produce results and build lasting relationships. Additionally, the ability to negotiate successfully in today’s turbulent business climate can make the difference between success and failure.

Michael Blackstone is a former executive director of basketball operations for an NBA franchise. He joined the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010, bringing with him a background in working with sports teams’ front offices to help them improve their negotiation strategies and processes.

Blackstone, now an executive vice president at Shapiro Negotiations Institute, said that his experience with the Cavaliers has taught him quite a few things in negotiation that can be translated into the not sports-related business world.

Basketball Hoop Photo

Too much emphasis on winning

Blackstone said that there is a lot of focus put on who wins the press conference when teams are negotiating trades.

“People spend far too much time wanting to win the deal, versus focusing on getting what they want out of it,” said Blackstone, who came on board as the salary cap administrator just a few months after star forward LeBron James bolted from Cleveland for the Miami Heat. “As long as you maximize your interest and get what you want, does it really matter who wins?”

Failing to prepare is failing to fail

Blackstone also emphasized that businesses need to be prepared at all times if they wish to be successful.

“The number one reason people give for not preparing is time,” he said. “But in reality, time is the scapegoat. In our society of instant gratification, preparation is work. The truth is that people don’t want to do the work required to prepare. They’d rather wing it and hope for the best.”

He added that preparation is the most important part of the entire process — and the only part under one’s control.

“Those who are best prepared are the best negotiators,” he said. “It is important to emphasize a systematic approach to preparation that is effective for any negotiation. Because we’re creatures of habit, if you are successful using specific methods, they will become ingrained and likely save you time preparing for future deals.”

Establishing a walk-away point

People often tend to leave a negotiation without establishing a walk-away point. Blackstone said the way to combat this is by establishing a bottom line — a certain dollar amount, for example. Otherwise, one may be subject to what is known as a “deal fever.”

“The closer you get to a deal getting done, the less likely you are to walk away – even if the deal doesn’t make sense,” he said. “On the other hand, if you take the time to decide on a walk-away point and even go as far as to write it down prior to the meeting, you’re more inclined to stick to it, or at least take time to evaluate the deal, before settling by saying yes to something less than what they want.”

For more information:

Nabeel Jaitapker, M.A., is Editorial Director at and Training Industry magazine.

Originally written for TrainingIndustry Magazine

Engaging Your Team via On-site Training

Corporate training has risen in the past three years, with corporations spending more than $70 billion in the Unites States, according to Additionally, training expenditures have risen to more than $130 billion, worldwide. The reasons are due to the economic recovery, as well as how companies are discovering large gaps in the skills of their employees now that the fog of the recession has cleared.

Although most corporations understand the need for ongoing training, many companies have trouble getting their workers to get excited about it. This is because workers often view training sessions as either a waste of time or just more work piled on their desks. If you consistently receive unenthusiastic responses when you inform your employees about an upcoming in-house training program, here are three highly-effective ways to make training more engaging and worthwhile in your workplace.


1. Starting with the Fun Factor

First and foremost, training should be fun, interesting and engaging. Many employees hear the word, “training,” and they immediately think of long, dull presentations that take up hours of their time and give them very little to use in their everyday duties.

Spice things up a bit by using a variety of tools. Thanks to technology, there are many at your disposal. Find some engaging training videos, plan some discussions around interesting issues, work in some role play, set up a quiz or plan a debate.

Find the best training materials you can afford for training, because they are the tools that will spark interest in your employees. To find the best in-house training materials, ask colleagues and managers, and look online for reviews. Search for training programs tailored to your specific industry or field.

2. Targeting to Employee Roles and Responsibilities

One of the easiest ways to turn your employees off your training before even starting is to fail to target it to them effectively. Quite simply, if your employees don’t need the training, they won’t be interested in it, and you’ll just waste their time – and yours. As a busy employee, you don’t want to spend your time training for something that will not help your employees in the slightest.

Aim training at individual employees to provide them with skills they can use in their jobs. If everyone does the same generic training it will reduce motivation, and it could even generate resentment among experienced employees. For some great ideas, talk to your employees and ask them what types of training would help make their jobs easier and more productive. Your team probably has a much better idea how they can improve their work processes or productivity in order to tap into their full potential.

Break it down by department, workgroup, project or team to focus on specific training that will improve the quality of the work environment, as well as the finished product of your worker’s efforts. When employees know you care about training them to make their jobs better, they feel better about their jobs, which motivate them to engage and work harder.

When you finish a training program, provide an anonymous survey to participants to fill out to check for effectiveness. You can ask for suggestions on ways to improve the training so you can fill in any missing areas the next round.

3. Recognizing and Rewarding Participants

A simple way to motivate your staff for their training sessions is to provide them with some form of recognition after they complete their training. This could involve something as simple as a certificate, but it could also be an increase in wages or a promotion. You could also give prizes for the workers who got the best overall scores. Whatever you decide, try not to make money the only motivation for attendance. Let your employees know exactly what you want them to get from their training, and how they can use what they learn to make their jobs easier and more productive.

If your employees know they will get rewarded for completing the training, it encourages them to want to do it more. They know it has some value and will not be a complete waste of time because you endorse and believe in it, too. This will only work, however, if the above two points are already covered. If you fail to make the training fun and targeted, no amount of recognition will make your employees look forward to the training in the first place.

A Creative Example

The best on-site training programs pay off tenfold when employees can put their training to practical use each day in the workplace. Here is an example illustrating a training program at New York Presbyterian Hospital that utilized all three of the above tips to create an extraordinary and highly-effective training program:

  • Fun Factor – A top-notch hospital is like a winning baseball team because both require the best players combined with great coaching, so the hospital produced “Your Playbook for Creating a Grand Slam Patient Experience,” a concept to capitalize on the fact they have a baseball field next door and are the official hospital of the New York Yankees.
  • Target to Employees – They put together a team of “all-stars” to provide their best plays for home runs: The most positive patient experience possible, and then they conducted “Spring Training” based on their playbook. They based the sessions around nine “knock out plays,” including listening, reflecting and empathy, according to the nine innings in a baseball game.
  • Recognition and Rewards – They extended their training by initiating the “Play of the Week, in recognition of service well done by specific individuals, and to continue the training and growth well after the initial spring training sessions. They also have an ongoing recognition program in place, “Most Valuable Players.”

The results are that more than 60 percent of the staff can cite the “Play of the Week” and give an example of how they’ve used a play in recent days. Weekly patient comments reflect the nine plays taught in Spring Training, and since initiating the playbook, the hospital has witnessed upward trends in the 2012 Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey results, where “Responsiveness of Staff” increased to 60 points, up 14.6 percent from 2011, and “Overall Rating of Hospital” went up to 77 points, a whopping 18 percent jump from 2011.

For more information about Adult-Learning: 

Originally written by Chris Bates for 

Understanding the Many Different Roles of an Instructional Designer

Instructional design is not a one-person assignment limited to a single task. There are multiple disciplines involved in it, with the instructional designer assuming a series of roles to complete the job. This idea was presented in the paper, The roles of design: a new method of instructional design. In this document, authors provide designers with a series of viewpoints to consider throughout the development process.

Each role is a crucial part of the process, all roles are equally important. The instructional designer is part engineer, part architect, part artist, and part craftsman. It definitely entails a lot of flexibility or the ability to balance roles.

Whether or not you’re new to the practice, integrating these four design roles can help improve your workflow and, by extension, your work. Here’s a brief preview of each role.

Development can be done with a manufacturing approach, but the authors suggest that a craftsperson will add more to the resultant product, due to a focus on quality and continual improvement of design, method, and product.  No one role supersedes the others in
importance.  Balance between the roles is the key.

instructional design elearning

1) The Instructional Engineer

The engineer in every instructional designer focuses on the problem-solving aspect of the design. To do this, the engineer applies learning models derived from research. The role ensures that the instructional material or product is highly usable—that it enables target audience to achieve their goals.

There are important aspects of the design process that the instructional engineer is directly involved in:

  • The use of research-based and and pedagogically-sound ideas for developing instructional materials
  • The application of educational theory
  • The implementation of technical features to ensure the products work.

These are important to ensure that the work—which definitely includes the process of planning and organizing the project—is efficient.

Quick Points:

  • A deductive approach is employed.
  • Relies on scientific facts and utilize systematic analysis in the form of inputs and measurements.
  • Planning and organizing is the primary strategy.

2) The Instructional Manufacturer 

While the engineer offers valuable insight to the process, most of the materials produced are done by a technically skilled manufacturer or maker.

The instructional manufacturer is responsible for applying pre-defined templates designed to solve problems as efficiently as possible. Manufacturers face several common challenges but the chief among them is the quantity or number of functional educational materials produced. For this, the manufacturer has to rely on simple, efficient and quick-to-implement formulas of making products.

Quick Points:

  • The main task is to consistently produce functional and predictable materials.
  • The role demands efficiency, consistency, speed and completion of assigned tasks.
  • The manufacturer in every instructional designer helps lay the foundation for a better project development.
  • Use ID models to speed up the process.

3. The Instructional Craftsperson 

This role is a positive, additive and generative aspect of the instructional design process. As a craftsperson, the designer implements the design and continuously improves it.

Unlike previous roles that rely heavily on research and theoretical foundations, the craftsperson mindset adds value to the process with its high level of execution skills.

While the manufacturer prioritizes speed, the craftsperson does things at his or her own pace—it’s done when it’s done. He or she is primarily concerned with the product, both its technical and aesthetic aspects.

The craftsperson, more importantly, knows what true innovation entails—developing new ways of teaching or new approaches to learning.

Quick Points:

  • An iterative approach is employed.
  • Trying out something new (trial and error) is an important aspect of their design strategy.
  • They value both utility and aesthetics.
  • They rely on practical experience.

4. The Instructional Architect

The architect in every instructional designer is trained to see things from a wider perspective. Seeing the holistic view, the instructional architect applies a broader approach to the design process, integrating all discrete functions, from the initial conceptualization to the final evaluation.

Instructional architects are simply not satisfied with solving problems. They push the process to its limits by exploring innovative solutions, and even by moving beyond the problem’s technological and educational specifications. Because of this, architects keep up with the latest research and technologies and work with a variety of tools and media. While the craftsperson is primarily concerned with the usability and aesthetics of the product (not with learners), the instructional architect focuses on integrating the needs of learners and the client.

Quick Points:

  • A broad range of responsibilities is assumed.
  • Because of their holistic viewpoint, they look across the entire project.
  • A balanced approach  to instructional design is employed.

5. The Instructional Artist

Last but not the least is the instructional artist. He or she is also considered as an instructional explorer, one that relies on creative insights. In fact, the successful designer is an artist preoccupied with exploring ideas no matter how different or unusual they are. These ideas may fail or break the mold, which works just fine for the artist who has already embrace experiments, unexpected results and failure as part of the work.

The artist brings the craftsperson’s work to the next level by understanding and developing new ideas. As a “what if” person, the artist experiments with tools, media and affordances and thus inspire and direct the aesthetic aspect of the project. Without the artist, it’s likely that your instructional material is just another well-designed project–one that exists elsewhere.

Quick Points:

  • They value novelty and rely on creative insight.
  • They employ an inductive decision-making process.
  • Visioning or developing a plan for the future is their primary strategy.

For more information, contact:

Originally posted in SHIFT by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, May 01, 2014 

Combating the Forgetting Curve

Learning leaders are well acquainted with the learning curve. They’re not giving sufficient attention, however, to what is known as the “forgetting curve.” This refers to what happens when the training’s not reinforced: employees quickly forgetting what was learned.

Here are seven tactics that can be incorporated in learning programs to help employees remember the curriculum better:

Using memory aids

Mnemonics such as verses, acronyms or memorable phrases will go a long way to help the learners retain information, whether it’s abstract or a list. People often count on mnemonics to remember.  Some can identify the number of days in a month only with “30 days hath September…”

Others use, “Please excuse my dear aunt Sally,” as a mnemonic for the order of operations in mathematics (parentheses, exponents, multiply, divide, add, subtract) which is used in all electronic spreadsheets.

Create mnemonics for the processes you want employees to remember. Don’t underestimate the value of checklists, which are reducing errors in fields as diverse as surgery, aviation, civil litigation and investing. Creating mnemonics helps employees remember the checklists you want them to use.

Linking the learning to what employees already know

New information sticks better in a learner’s mind if it builds on existing knowledge. That means the instruction should begin with a short review of existing skills and the new learning should be linked to them.  If the level of the learners’ existing skills isn’t known, it’s advisable to establish a baseline.


Using multimedia

Curriculum is absorbed more quickly and remembered longer if learners absorb it with both eyes and ears.  The more varied the media used the better the retention. Use color and for visual material, try using moving graphics.

Beginning reinforcement during training

With unreinforced learning, much of what was learned will be lost in 20 minutes. Whether the training is virtual or led by an instructor in a classroom, build content retention by creating an immersive environment by letting students take notes on their personal devices and by encouraging them to share information by tapping the collaborate tile. Additionally, debriefing employees as soon as the training’s over, whether an entire group or person-by-person, is key to uncovering any instances of the training not being understood.

Providing ongoing access to content

Give learners reinforcement information that can be accessed after then training’s over by using forum-style discussions, webinars, polls, video how-to’s and direct messaging. Be certain the employees understand the organization’s expertise directories and provide an easy way for them to ask questions.  Use social media, individual development plans, paired coaching, group exercises, the shadowing of more advanced employees and the full range of company communications media.

Encouraging skills application right away

Particularly for behavioral skills, students who fail to apply the new skills right away may never do it.  Let them practice during the training and encourage them to use the new skills immediately.   If you’re teaching a whole new way to work, such as with selling, ask them to use one new skill at a time in a safe environment – with a colleague rather than a customer or direct report — because it’s hard for people to totally change the way they’ve been working.  Be certain the employees’ managers are encouraging use of the skills – and rewarding their use when it’s appropriate.

Beginning before the training

Especially for multi-day programs, ask the employees to free up their workload so they can focus on learning during the training.  Encourage them to make a self-assessment to identify the particular skills they need and to complete pre-class work thoroughly.  They’ll stay more focused, and remember more.

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Originally published by Bill Rosenthal – Written for