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Dominic Valentine

Dominic Valentine

Training Manager

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The Training Novelty from Hell -for the best of intentions?


I have absolutely no objection to some novelties and other adornments in the training room,on the tables or at the side.Sweets,stress balls, and even soft toys.Seen them all and so have you. And no objection to good "giveaways" at the end - they can either flag up some key messages from your training on pocket sized laminates and/or have your business contact details on some cute offering. However, explain this-lol. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and the road I describe next was lit up-literally and metaphorically!!It's a little health warning although I am sure colleagues will avoid, and have avoided, this elephant trap!

One of my clients  recently decided that every place set in advance for  trainees should have a ballpoint pen provided - with a ping pong ball  flashing light at the top. Imagine a Belisha Beacon and you have it in one! Now,you can only get the wretched light to flash when you bang the pen on the table, hard as hell! Not all of them always work at the first attempt so prolonged battering is needed with some.

God knows why anyone would want such a thing. Anyway, the whole morning  training session for 60 minutes the other day was conducted against a background of these damned things hitting the desk and flashing in/out of sequence. Torture by instalments. Like stepping into a cartoon.

In the coffee break I binned them -lol .But what is their purpose? This was a technical course on equality laws and diversity issues. We never touched on the Belisha Discrimination Act. And there was no cameo appearance from Leslie Hore- Belisha (1893–1957).

I expressed my disapproval in measured,circumspect terms to the client but could get no rational explanation. Just injured surprise -"we've always done it" OR "they like it." That bit was true!

So colleagues, lead kindly light. Explain.

6 Responses

  1. oh, Dominic…..

    …..embrace diversity…..some people make a lifestyle choice of banging things on tables, just because this isn’t your "scene" you have no right to impose your outmoded views on more ‘enlightened’ people.


  2. Humerous reply and funny too – but no further forward lol

    Embrace them!?!!!

    EASY to say -HARDER to do!

    Even in real life discrimination cases where diversity is not embraced, the mantra of what is "reasonable, practical and proportionate" will always be brought to bear on the case in question.Slippery words but caselaw authorities,statutory codes of practice and options presented as alternatives all help to turn the subjective into more objective considerations.

    You should have been a lawyer – answer my question. What is the precise purpose of these wretched instruments from hell lol. How do they enhance learning? And stop me reaching for the gin bottle -lol.


    QED Training

  3. link to Garry’s recent post of the blog about the worst training

    the 2×2 grid of Interesting v Important

    these pens (gizzits as I call them) are in the "interesting but not important" quadrant……next time go around before the delegates arrive and collect them up, hide them and donate them to the local charity shop afterwards.  They are a distraction to the delegates (individually and collectively) and a hinderance to the learning.


    PS I was joking about the diversity bit……

  4. novelty

    Oh I know you were joking-thats why I lol, lol in response. I had never seen the damn things before and assumed(lol) they were just odd but conventional pens. Good learning point though, you are quite right. I will minesweep every venue from now on. Interesting development last night – an e mail from the client saying they could well appreciate the morning concert and are going to ask trainers to let people take them home at the end. God!!!! But they might as well share the joys with partners- or not!

    Thanks for the blog – you have enough material here now for another book


    QED Training

  5. Flashing pens

    I was given a supply of these as freebies for a health improvement programme we were working on in the office – I put one on each desk as a reminder that there was a questionnaire to complete and they did bring a bit of fun into the office.  However as a trainer, like you, I would not have wanted them in a training session all the way through.  Had you recognised them early enough and collected them you could then have distributed them at the end and used them as a concluding activity – each person lights up their pen and tells the others of a "light bulb" moment they experienced during the training?  and then takes them back to the office to remid them of that?

  6. light bulbs

    Yes – at the very end they would have some utility. Thanks

     — QED Training

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Dominic Valentine

Training Manager

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