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Anything goes


'inspirational disco-dancing' and 'fancy dress' in her personal development courses.....

So, how far should a trainer stretch the borders, in a business environment, in order to impart knowledge?
Euphrosene Labon

8 Responses

  1. omitted lines

    I keep forgetting the summary line doesn’t show!

    The omitted line referred to Mary Gober who allegedly uses these techniques in her training courses.

  2. I think it depends…
    In Mary Gober’s case, according to the Mail on Sunday this weekend, it seems to be as far as she can by misrepresenting herself.

    Including lying about teaching at university, working with clients who don’t know who she is and stealing her ideas from her husband.

    I particularly liked the fact that she doesn’t like the use of negative language and insists that all bad news is given in a “good news – bad news – good news” format. Even going so far as to tell a bloke whose job it was to kick out tenants from sheltered accomodation that his good news could be “helping them with their bags”!

    As far as disco-dancing goes this could be offensive to members of certain religious persuasion and so on…

    But… it does seem to work for some of her clients and I think you should stretch the borders, as it were, as far as you like as long as there is a real learning outcome associated to it, which in the case of this particular tat I rather doubt.

  3. a drawback though
    is that it can give other forms of creative thinking workshops a bad name.

    I suppose Gober could be in the mould of Tony Robbins where participants are tapping into a livewire personality – even if they ultimately state the obvious.

    I’ve just finished reading the article and it’s rather sad that she had to embellish her credentials, presumably in order to be accepted by the corporate buyer?

    There must be a message in there for freelancers everywhere – but whether it is one to emulate or not is another matter.

  4. How far can we go?
    I remember a few years ago a lot of bad press about outdoor development. It is a shame when a few bad apples taint the world of more adventurous training methods.
    Just as with more traditional training, there are some very good options – and very good trainers – as well as some appalling ones. The only thing is with the more creative approaches there is often a higher risk, and when things are run badly this tends to put people off, understandably.
    However, I think the greater risk is in playing too safe too often. If planned with great care and facilitated with great skill, dramatic methods can yield dramatic results. Playing safe can result in training that lacks oommpphh; that meets objectives but nothing more; that is as emotionally flat as East Anglia (not that there is anything wrong with east Anglia!).
    By being more daring you can have a bigger psychological impact, build a stronger reputation for T&D and break out of the mindset of being satisfied by the merely adequate.
    Nik’s concerns, however, are entirely valid. For if one is daring without considering such factors then one is simply reckless.
    My answer then: go as far as your skills allow; push the boundaries but don’t break them.

  5. So long as you achieve the learning objectives
    It’s said that people learn better when going through extreem emotions, when they are being creative and when they have to ‘do things’ and ‘think for themself’. So challenge the usual boundaries of training – but we must always keep in mind the learning outcomes.

    I know someone who used to run a course that got 20/10 in all the feedback. But when I investigated why line mangers stopped sending anyone on the course, (it was product training for tele-sales teams) I found out that participants had a ‘fantastic time’ and ‘it was the best course they ever went on’, but no one could put the learning into practice after the course….

  6. Sizzle with substance
    I think Annah makes a very good point here. In my expereience courses need to have both substance and sizzle.

    The subtance will comes from clearly thought out objectives being used as a filter through which all learning activities are passed. If any element of a planned course is not meeting the objectives, ditch it.

    The sizzle comes from eschewing the sheep-dip,one size fits all approach and recognising that people have different learning styles and devising activities that cater for them.

  7. Horses for courses
    There are some very good comments here.

    In my opinion a trainer should strive to push the boundries, so long as they don’t lose sight of the course objectives. Sizzle is great and adds a new dimension to your courses so long as you keep your eye on the ball.

    I am currently delivering a large product module for our customer services team. One unit is very dry, lots of facts and so is a traditional class room based unit, another is investigative looking at our competitors and how we compare, so i deliver this session in full dinner suit in a James Bond Style. Its good fun, goes well with the theme of the day and has got some terrific feedback from delegates.


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