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Frances Ferguson

Glasstap Ltd

Training Design Manager

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Tweak Mountain


Or as JM Keynes put it: "The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as escaping old ones."

We've all been there haven't we? We see an opportunity to help individuals or a team to improve their performance; we put thought, we put expertise, we put effort into identifying what could be done only to be greeted by that familiar refrain:

"Oh we tried that in 1972/1984/1997/2002* and it didn't work"

How does it make you feel when you hear that? Do you want to scream? Do you screw your hands in a ball and have to remind yourself to breath? Do your eyes widen and you mouth drop open before you remind yourself to rearrange your facial features into the right professional expression?

Do you shrug and walk away? Or do you see it is a challenge to show them it is a great idea that they are very capable of delivering on?

There is a reason that "But why?" is the most common phrase uttered by pre-schoolers; they need to question to build their understanding. Yet by the time we get to our teenage years such questions are often seen as an unwelcome challenge to authority and this sense of it being 'wrong' often pervades the world of work too.

Yet it can be enormously helpful when someone holds up the 'But Why? Mirror' so you can see the world from another perspective, to see what looks good and what would maybe benefit from a little tweaking.

As training professionals that is after all our job - to help our learners to see things a little differently and identify the small changes that will make the big difference.

Yet my time in the training profession has taught me how difficult it is to find the time to do the same with our training material.

How often have we cut and pasted an old favourite exercise or workshop because it feels familiar and we know it has worked well in the past? In the pressure of our busy lives as trainers, it is very easy to slip into the "if it ain't broke" mentality?

As I write this on my Macbook, listening to music on my iPod and answering a call on my iPhone I ponder on how technology has changed and developed. What would have happened to Apple if Steve Jobs always enjoyed listening to his Walkman? What would have happened if he hadn't wanted to enhance, to develop, to tweak, to perfect?

Everyday we benefit from the hard work of others, the people who took something that worked and said "it's great but it can be even better if I just….."

So here is a September challenge for us all, to take a step back at our training workshops, the old favourites, the ones we can deliver in our sleep and ask ourselves how we can make it even better?

As you do this, it is worth remembering the wonderful words of JM Keynes that we started with:

 "The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as escaping old ones."

*delete as appropriate

Author Profile Picture
Frances Ferguson

Training Design Manager

Read more from Frances Ferguson

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