In a recent blog post, I explained that there are training lessons to be gleaned from playing solitaire on our computers. In the last blog, I pointed out that:
- Learning can and should be fun.
- You can “undo” something that didn’t go according to plan by altering your approach the next time you train.
- Overcoming the learning curve makes training easier.
Here are three more lessons trainers can take away from this beloved game:
- You don’t have to take the cards you’re dealt. In solitaire, you can always reshuffle the cards (F2). You can’t request a new draw of learners in your classroom, but you do have other choices. If you anticipate a resistant learner group, you can structure an icebreaker that may manage that resistance. One of the icebreakers I like to use asks the participants, in their table groups, to list all the reasons why they shouldn’t be there in training. Once done, I ask them which items on their list they can directly control. I then offer to make the best of the training time by dealing with what they can control—a good learning opportunity.
While you can’t request a new draw of learners in your class, you can actually reshuffle the learner deck; do this by simply orchestrating a table change to adjust the dynamics in the classroom. Put the strong personalities together; break up the cliques; separate the side-bar talkers. In short, reshuffle the deck.
- A good start makes for a winning game. In solitaire, the first ten cards showing hint how the game will go. If you can see that you’ve got some good moves from the cards showing, you’ve got a good chance of winning. In the training room, building in activities to ensure a good start makes you, and the learners, more comfortable with the day. If the first thirty minutes go well, the day may continue well. Doing things during those first 30 minutes, like greeting the learners as they arrive, using a brainteaser, conducting an active icebreaker and introductions, delivering an instructor credibility statement, covering housekeeping, presenting a course overview, and surveying learners for interests and priorities, is a great way to start.
- Statistics count. In solitaire you don’t win every game. One thing playing the game on a computer does for you is that it will give you game statistics including percentage of games won. Even the best trainers don’t “win” every time they walk into the classroom. Resistant learners, unfamiliar content, or an “off” day will result in a class that doesn’t go as well as we would like. Recognizing that most supervisors and organizations look at trends versus the isolated results of one class gives even a perfection-oriented trainer some breathing room. What do your numbers look like in the long haul? Your results over time tell the story. Statistics count.
In our world, learning opportunities abound—even in a game of cards. What have been the sources of some of your most unlikely places to glean lessons learned in an effort to improve your own instructional techniques? I look forward to your comments!