David Hutchens

What’s Next after Experiential Learning? Welcome to Full Immersion.

Here’s how it usually plays out: Client X comes to us with a PowerPoint deck of 300 bazillion, text-dense slides and says, “this is our old training program. Can you do something with this?”

If you’ve clicked around this website at all, you know the answer is yes, we certainly can.

Through simulation, narrative, game mechanics, and more, we transform content from our client partners into a rich experiential learning event that is informed by the latest research in adult learning theory. The applications are nearly endless. And we’ve spent our careers creating some groundbreaking, experiential programs for our clients – in the classroom, and virtually.

But there’s another level that we offer; a fully immersive approach in which your learners step away from the training room or computer, swing open the doors, and step outside into the sunlight and a broader world that is dense with learning opportunity.

Last year, we sent the sales staff of one of the world’s most influential biotech firms to Disney World. Our guess is that a few of them squeezed in a ride on Space Mountain, but that’s fine with us because the purpose was to observe, capture, and reflect upon the ways Disney is able to deliver its legendary, exceptional customer experiences.

We’re talking about a whole-body, fully kinesthetic learning in which learners are plunged into a world that is dissimilar from their own… all for the purpose of unearthing big ideas that can transform their own businesses.

(We even sent those same biotech leaders to Starbucks and Apple stores to explore different varieties of customer experiences. The insights they brought back to their own business were revolutionary.)

In our next blog entry, we’ll take a closer look at these “full immersion” learning events, and draw out some principles that will allow you to begin considering your own.

Your Holiday Gift Hunting Begins Right Here… On the Blueline Website!

Ready to have some holiday fun, and win an Amazon gift card from Blueline Simulations?

Here’s how it works. We have hidden a little blue present (like the one seen in the photo) somewhere blue-presenton the Blueline Simulations website. All you have to do is click around until you find it. No one gets trampled in the process… and even better, you can click on the present to enter your name for a $10 Amazon gift card!

At Blueline Simulations, the holiday season is a great time to think about the relationships that we enjoy with our client partners all year long. We’d love for you to take a closer look at our offerings and the unique “Blueline way” that makes us the leader in “all things simulation.”

So start clicking. Find the gift. And then let’s talk about the greater gift of an ongoing relationship built on value…and values.

Contest rules:

  • When you find the blue gift, click on it and enter your name to win one of ten $10 dollar gift cards.
  • We will award two gift cards each week, all through the month of December.
  • If you are a winner, we’ll contact you directly and send your gift card via email.

Happy hunting and Happy Holidays! (And by the way — have you ever noticed that Blueline’s CEO, David Milliken, looks kind of like Santa Claus? Hmmm…)

An Evolution in Learning: Welcome to the Age of Integration Part 1

Our story begins with a classroom and an overhead transparency projector.

In its nascent years, corporate training was filled with the promise of alignment and change as employees were removed from the shop floor, herded into the conference room, and encouraged to scribble notes while a subject matter expert delivered information that had been deemed strategically important. Learning was largely transactional — a one-way transfer of information with learners situated permanently on the receiving end. (As for PowerPoint gosh, don’t get me started. Let’s just say the technology has only ensured that the transactional model stayed in place long past its expiration date.)

Then came the age of the knowledge worker, and organizational learning took on a different flavor. Awakened from their classroom-induced hypnosis, practitioners recalled how they learned to ride their bikes at the age of 8 (no PowerPoints!) and wondered why the same idea couldn’t be brought to the front lines of work. Many firms (including your friends here at Blueline Simulations) were intrigued by the possibility of the “discovery rich learning environment.” Using learning technologies such as immersive simulation, learning visuals, Socratic dialogue, and narrative, learners drew from their own experience and knowledge to generate awareness, insight and behavior change. This rich age of constructivist learning persists today, and firms such as Blueline Simulations continue to explore whole-brained technologies (such as our popular Learning Blueprints) to create engagement, connection, and meaning. The constructivist age of corporate learning is still young, and we’ve just barely scratched the surface.

Then, with a mouse click heard round the world, web-enabled technologies emerged and learning changed yet again. Why are we spending all of this money to fly everyone here to HQ? Just look how much it is costing us to take our people off of the shop floor!

Sure, the early promise of e-learning was accompanied by a certain amount of disillusionment. (Click: Answer the question. Click: Advance to the next screen. Repeat.) But just as classroom designs evolved from transactional to constructivist, so did elearning.

And as the learning industry generated more and more great ideas for exercising the technology well, some new awarenesses began to spread within the organization: that perhaps it was time to end the artificial separation between doing the work and learning how to do the work; and that learning can and should be delivered at the exact moment of need.

The constructivist era has evolved into the age of integrated learning. This has spawned a broad range of performance support innovations.

In my next post I’ll look at some new ideas for delivering integrated learning — mission-critical training at the point of greatest learning impact: at the moment of need.

Little Black Globs of Mistrust

With its headquarters located in Tampa, Florida, the people of Blueline Simulations have been casting their gaze to the water. Here, it is mostly rocky and not sandy, but the water is blue and warm. A drive across town is marked by sightings of pelicans, and sometimes even a few dolphins. You see a lot of fishing boats here in Tampa; the families who make their living from the sea are not some far-away abstraction. They’re right there on the side of the freeway with their lines in the water.

I haven’t seen any oil. At least, not yet.

I remember the early, bitter-sweet sense of relief that we all felt when the news reported that most of Florida coast would be spared from the rush of oil that was escaping into the gulf. That relief is gone, and today it is replaced with a dread that is creeping as surely as thick, black ooze.

Today in the morning paper, I saw a full-page ad from BP. The headline and copy in the ad struck a reassuring tone. The message was that the company would make things right, and would take full responsibility.

My wife looked over my shoulder. “How much do you think they paid for that ad?” she asked. I knew what she was going to say next, because the thought had crossed my mind, too: “Wouldn’t that money be better spent cleaning up the mess?”

As an organizational guy, I often find myself imagining how these kinds of public relations disasters look from within the organization. I am confident that the BP organization takes no joy in harming the environment, or the public’s trust. I wonder about the meetings that take place internally, the growing internal anxiety, as time and again, the organization’s well-intentioned public statements and actions are received in the worst possible ways: “Don’t they see how hard we’re trying?!”

When we talk about trust here at Blueline Simulations, we cast it in terms of behaviors. There are things you can do to build trust and to restore trust. There are also certain behaviors that will destroy it in a heartbeat. One of our partners in learning, Stephen M. R. Covey, has identified 13 behaviors of high-trust organizations, and they read like a really, really bad report card for BP.

Covey’s behaviors include talk straight, confront reality, and right wrongs.

Think about the statements you’ve heard company representatives make in the news and also the ways those statements have been mercilessly picked apart by pundits. Now play a little “Monday morning quarterback” and imagine how you would recast each of those press events. Think about the statement that Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, made: “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”

If you were Tony’s “trust consultant,” what would you advise? In this case, what does it look like to talk straight, confront reality, right wrongs?

I know that the Tylenol scare of 1982 is one of the more overplayed business case studies, but doggone if those guys didn’t get it right. After seven people in the U.S. died from ingesting Tylenol, Johnson & Johnson alerted the nation to stop using Tylenol until they could determine the extent of the tampering. They recalled 31 million bottles, retailing at over $100 million. They offered to exchange capsules already sold for tablets which cost them millions more. They established relations with law enforcement officers on every level to help search for the person who laced the medication and to help prevent further tampering. When they reintroduced the product, it had new triple-seal, tamper resistant packaging. As a result of their actions, they turned what could have been a disaster into a victory in credibility and public trust.

J&J practiced accountability, confronted reality, talked straight. Yes, it was painful and yes it was expensive. (And remember that the crisis wasn’t even J&J’s fault.) To this day, that company enjoys a level of trust and credibility that others envy.

Again, imagine yourself as the trust consultant to BP. As you think about Tylenol’s response, what might Covey’s trust behavior of “practice accountability” look like? Winston Churchill said that it is fruitless to claim “we are doing our best.” You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.

The opportunity exists today for BP — and for any company — to exercise behaviors that build trust at all levels of the organization. It requires resources and a fair amount of courage. But the rewards are great.

Today, trust and transparency are as important to corporate reputation as the quality of products and services. Attend Blueline’s Building & Restoring Trust Webinar. Click here to learn more.