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Christina Lattimer

People Development Magazine


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How Leaders Can Create an Epic Mindset with a 4 Step Approach


A recent client was discussing a problem with an employee, and how he would tackle the issues in their next one-to-one meeting.  As the leader, my client was absolutely right to deal with poor performance and find a way forward which would solve the problem one way or another.  My client was very uncomfortable with the whole process though, until he finally managed to develop a strategy he would use in the meeting to be able to give the employee space to raise issues and find solutions himself, and if he didn’t, his plan “b” was to find ways to describe outcomes which show the employee what was required in a forward thinking way.    What the leader did in this interaction was change his mindset about the meeting insofar as the purpose turned from giving negative feedback, to one which was about raising performance. 

So what you might be thinking, it’s a neat enough play on words, yet with the same result?  But the truth is, of course, the way in which such situations, either one-to-one’s or learning events, or even simple ways of briefing people are carried out can make the difference between failure and success.

Positive Language helps businesses flourish

Getting our language right, so it is positively focussed isn’t a new phenomenon of course.  Psychologists have long since identified the importance of being positive, contending that  “if you want your business and personal relationships to really flourish, you’ll need to generate at least five positive messages for each negative utterance you make(for example, “I’m disappointed” or “That’s not what I had hoped for” count as expressions of negativity, as does a facial frown or nod of the head)”

It takes a certain amount of maturity to be able to find ways to express oneself positively no matter what the situation, and it takes a certain amount of determination to find ways to change what can be our habitually negative mindsets.   It can seem daunting when you want to create a collective new mindset in the workplace. 

Traditional Learning isn’t always effective

Traditional learning and development methodology can be effective in the right situation and when you have a willing audience.  But the results can be disappointing and spasmodic.  One organisation I worked with had a perennial problem with poor management and a lot of resources was invested in introducing qualifications and competencies to help.  The result was a negligible change.  The reason for this is because the changes were not being absorbed in a deep and meaningful way.  The training was cerebral and task orientated but did not filter into the subconscious of the managers involved.

On another programme whereby an organisation bought in a huge programme of training to improve customer service, showed 18 months later that the changes were barely discernible. 

There is a way however which will facilitate great changes for the better, quickly and at a deep level and create great results.  Fi Haywood and Alan Jones of Café Style Speed Training have perfected a number of activities based on deep Neuroscientific research and after 15000 interventions are proving to be making a real and positive difference, quickly and effectively. 

The Cafe style EPIC Model

Activities and games are always welcome materials in any learning situation, and Fi and Alan have hit on a great system which completely changes the way learning in the workplace is approached. Briefly, here is their 4 Step EPIC Model.   


90% of what’s being learned is being remembered when doing.  You know what it’s like we are creatures of habit and until we experience a different way ourselves, it all just sounds like big talk.  For example, a CEO I worked with was always quite blasé about money until he lost everything, and that painful experience meant when he came back, he developed a much more respectful and healthy relationship with money.  It is the same with pleasurable experiences, my daughter completely dragged her feet when it came to leaving home, but once she had her own place and experienced the autonomy and freedom it gave her, she would not like to come back.  No amount of talking about it would give her that experience.  

And so it is with learning if you take for example one of the Café Style games called “Chain Reaction” all about helping teams to embrace a “no blame” culture.  The exercises are carried out with the team and they are allowed to experience the contrast between blaming and accusatory behaviour and solution focused behaviour.  What happens is that in a few minutes, the learner has become acutely aware of the feelings associated with each approach.   Because they are now completely aware of the way each approach made them feel, then whenever they have to come across that situation in the workplace, they will inevitably have to think twice about the way they decide to tackle it. 


Adult learning is most effective in a positive emotional state: when it’s fun. It makes intimidating, perplexing material engaging and easier to comprehend. Many areas of neuroscience provide proof that without play we cannot have the creativity and innovation we need.  Play in itself is sociable and engaging, and when everyone is sharing the experiential learning at once, it serves to reinforce the gentle and positive messages. 


A cyclical process leads to twice the impact of traditional linear learning.  The activities encourage learners to continue and experiment with their new experiences very much like this training recently reported, when science students were asked to experience the experiments of colleagues to strengthen their awareness of alternatives and to hone their critical thinking skills. 


A collaborative approach equals a significant improvement in outcomes which are gained by adding social and collaborative elements to learning. Most learning anyways occurs in informal settings; some say more than 70%.

The Elearning Industry believes that experiential learning is here to stay describing the following benefits:

  • Accelerates Learning
  • Provides a Safe Learning Environment
  • Bridges the Gap Between Theory and Practice
  • Produces Demonstrable Mindset Changes
  • Increases Engagement Levels
  • Delivers Exceptional Return on Investment
  • Provides Accurate Assessment Results
  • Enables Personalized Learning

You can find out more about the brilliant work being done by Café Style and get the Chain Reaction game for free by visiting us here. 

One Response

  1. Really interesting piece,

    Really interesting piece, thanks for sharing. Some of the techniques that you discuss definitely resonate with research we have conducted across our portfolio of learning providers. 

    The key themes for me are collaboration and iterative, it is only by a continuous cycle of analysing and refining in informal settings that new techniques can truly be embedded.

    In case it's of interest, here's the link to the eBook that we produced along a similar topic;

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Christina Lattimer


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