Positive Outliers

Online Training or Online Learning?

One of my subscribers read my Roadworks article and she was interested in my explanation of this statement I made:

“Online training is good in itself, but it really is not what I am called to do in this season.”.

Thank you, Cathie. It does deserve a fuller explanation.

What’s Wrong with Online Training?

There is nothing wrong with the idea of people with pertinent experience providing online training courses to others, particularly at this time. I have done it myself and, in all likelihood, I will do it again.

I see a growth in people owning their own learning.

I see a growth in people owning their own learning. So online courses are a great resource if the topic is relevant, and the learner needs more information and more of a know-how challenge.

Yet, there are several reasons why I have backed away from majoring on online training for the present.

Here are my three main reasons:

1. My Priority is Writing

It has become clear to me, particularly at the onset of the pandemic, that I have a calling to write. I have come to realise that other forms of work that once were a primary expression for me in previous seasons of my career are not as relevant right now.

It was not so long ago that I was a full-time training consultant. I ran a training business. Training, online or face-to-face, was my thing.

Not now. Writing is my Big Rock. It’s my priority; designing, building, marketing and administrating courses is not now. Nor do I find post-editing videos for hours is a rewarding use of my time.

This is not to say that I would not return to building online learning in the future. For now, though, I write as my primary calling.

And I’m comfortable with that.

2. Online Training is More Knowledge-Push

Also, I’m mindful that most online training is very propositional, very content-driven, very how-to. An online course takes people through steps, rules, offers techniques and explains them.

However, on the whole, such online training is mostly knowledge-push, not wisdom-pull. It does not help us develop divergent and connective thinking skills.

At the first level of any skill, particularly to do with using technology or learning a new language, or learning basic theory, this is what the student needs, and the shorter the better. Knowledge is important. Know-how is valuable.

Most forms of online training, and most tools to do it, force the training designer into a content-driven approach. The thinking is that the more content, the more valuable is the course.

What I do is beyond know-how

In my area, though, I aim to help my readers become positive outliers, people who go on to achieve greater potential in themselves. I invite them to learn, to pull from me in the context of conversations. It delights me to see them grow. Content is part of this, a necessary part. However, it is beyond know-how.

I want to help my clients leave the territory of rules to the challenge of navigating the unique unknown, where relationships and principles matter more than techniques and apps. Practice by make trial in action is the key. See my post and video on developing our critical skills.

3. Not Enough Bandwidth and Personal Expertise

I do not have the bandwidth right now. Margin is important to us all, not least to me who has advocated it in my writing and coaching. I might do if I found the right partners skilled in these areas of content creation and marketing, in the future. Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy’s book, Who Not How has helped me realise that I must not exhaust myself in domains that are not my strength.

A Bigger Impact

So, for the time being, the alternatives I offer my clients are one-to-one coaching, small group facilitation or workshops, and coaching my Mastermind group of creatives.

I take as my example a teacher of 2,000 years ago who invested himself in the few, mostly asked questions, understood that his students grew most when they worked on the most important questions for themselves, and so started the largest human movement on this planet.

Making the biggest impact in this world often comes by starting small

Making the biggest impact in this world is often by starting small, and helping others learn by asking pertinent and timely questions in the context of a safe relationship.

The Seven Keys to Exceptional Work

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Discover & Practice the Seven Key Areas that All High Performers Share

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Leaning to Action Leaning to People

Keeping People in Frustrated Incompetence

Photo by Ehimetalor Unuabona on Unsplash

As change leaders – and most of us are change leaders at some time or another – we can have quite a high appetite for change. When we lead a change, we look to persuade others around us to come along. Yet, what is the effect on our customers and our colleagues of a perceived endless series of changes?

In my previous article on the Matrix Body Farm, I considered how the valuable margin in our work to serve others can be eroded or removed altogether by the growing trend towards micro-control through targets. 

There is another unintentional effect that keeps people incompetent, and it is driven by those of us who are change leaders!

Now, we like to think of ourselves as the good guys, the people who change the world for the better. Sure, there may be pain in the journey, but ultimately we tell ourselves that are there to make our organisations better, that this pain we inflict is worth it. 

Well, my wife and I were talking with some friends about the brutalising effects information systems can have on healthcare, when she recalled her time as a receptionist at a doctors’ practice. She is very much a people-focused administrator, so medical receptionist was a good match fit for her at the time. Yet, she said this:

Just when we were getting used to the new system, they changed it. And they kept changing it!

One of the oldest change management models — maps, I call them — comes from Kurt Lewin. It has stood the test of time because this map is simple, yet powerful. Here’s a video from my Leader’s Map Room

Lewin’s Map

When people say, “I just don’t know what is normal anymore,” and they keep on saying that over time, yes, they are incompetent, but maybe we have made them that way. And we keep them that way. Just when they are just about to discover the new normal, we come along with our next wave of change. 

Maybe when we keep changing things, we keep people in incompetence. They never have the opportunity to gain mastery.

It’s the refreeze of the Lewin Map, that is crucial. If we keep people from entering their own refreeze stage, it’s as if we are keeping them in liquid incompetence, a very uncomfortable place to live and work.

Check out the Leader’s Map Room for more of these maps.

Leaning to Action Self-Awareness

Course Corrections

I’m old enough to remember the first moon landing.

Everyone seemed to be in awe of this tremendous achievement. It was one of those moments when there was this feeling that the world had changed. Forever.

The distance between the Earth and the Moon is about half a million miles. The landing module landed within 10 feet of the edge of the landing zone. We were astonished that technology could be that accurate.

It wasn’t.

What we didn’t know was that throughout the flight, there was a course correction every five minutes. It appears that the trajectory of Apollo 11 was more like the tracking of a sailboat tacking against the wind than a dead-eye straight line to the moon. It seems that the Apollo mission was thrown up there, roughly towards the moon. If it hadn’t been these course corrections, the mission and the three men on board would have been lost in deep space.

There was a routine feedback loop. It was essential to the success of the mission.

We all have feedback loops we can use. I have discovered that one of the most powerful for me is what I call the Daily Heads Up a daily routine I write about in my new book, Leading Yourself. In the Daily Heads Up I do two things:

  • Review how I have done  over the last day; and
  • Plan the most important work for the next.

This is a circadian (daily) loop. There are other loops I use over different cycles. For example, I’ve just been reviewing 2016 and considering a 2017 plan.

I’ll talk about some of these over the next few days.

Here’s my question: What feedback loops are you aware of using? What feedback loops are you aware of not using?