No one likes to fail, but everyone should. Research shows learners remember better and for far longer when they don’t immediately get the correct answer, in other words — when they fail first. “Failing” creates a stronger emotional response to the material causing more retention. Blueline has 4 guidelines to follow to help you design activities that provide the opportunity for your learners to fail forward and make each of your training session more successful. Click here to read the full blog: Does Your Training Help People Fail?
Thank you for all of your kind words in response to our holiday message this year. Our “Twelve Days of Christmas” holiday message is a simple version of one of our newer service offerings: a video telestration that combines a hand-drawn visual with music and voice-over messaging. Every telestration is designed to tell a story, whether it’s your organization’s transformation story, or something fun and simple like celebrating the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”
Since so many have asked about it, I thought that I would outline our process and introduce you to the talented artist behind it. From concept to final video even simple telestrations like “Twelve Days” take weeks to produce and hinge on the talents of a Script Writer, Art Director and a Master Artist. Click here to learn more about how telestrations come to life.
If you haven’t been following the fast-emerging discourse around “organizational storytelling,” allow me to help you get caught up.
Here’s the idea: More and more organizational practitioners are recognizing the power of story to create culture; speed learning and change; archive knowledge; establish brand; and build shared meaning. (Gosh, there’s so much more to say here. If your attention is already piqued, check out resources like this one, this one, or one of my own articles here. Or just do your own Google search and be prepared to get lost in the heady fun for hours.
Funny thing is, pretty early in this conversation most people hit an immediate roadblock — not around best practices, but around something as basic as the very definition of organizational story.
That’s right. Many of the best thinkers in the story space are still deliberating over what a story is.
I’ll give you an example. Pause for a moment, look at the image below, and take note of any reaction you may have:
So my question for you is, is that a story?
Story purists say no, a logo or a brand is not a story. After all, the Coke logo above is lacking even the most basic story elements. Where’s the plot? The protagonist? The problem? The journey? Heck, it doesn’t even have a beginning, middle or end.
Granted, you probably wouldn’t shell out $10 to watch a corporate logo on a movie screen. But these objections miss an important point; one that has everything to do with the topics that concern us most here at Blueline Simulations, like learning and engagement. (We’ll get to that in a moment.)
Let’s stay with the Coke logo a little longer. When you reflected on that red, scripted icon, what did it trigger? Did you think about Mean Joe Green, or perhaps a multi-ethnic crowd singing in harmony on a hilltop? Did you have a memory of sharing Cokes with your kids as you strolled down a beach or paused in the shade at a Disney theme park? Or perhaps your reaction was negative: a perception you have of a monolithic corporation; or your distaste for their marketing efforts towards school-aged children. (Here’s what it evoked for me: the smells of cut grass and gasoline from a lawnmower; the feeling of sweat rolling down my neck; and the fizzy, carbonated feeling as it hits the back of my throat.)
Unless you moved through this little exercise quickly, the Coca-Cola brand triggered something for you — whether it was a feeling, a memory, a desire, or experience that was dormant in some remote network of synapses in your mind.
In other words, it triggered a story. And that story engaged you at a deeply personal level.
And so the question is not so much what is a story, but where is it; and the opportunity for learning practitioners is to ignite the rich well of stories that already exist tacitly in the minds of their learners, and unleash untold levels of participation and engagement.
There’s something important happening here for the practitioner of organizational change. Sure, I could present a PowerPoint slide with a series of bullet points telling why you should, say, build trust in a team. But somewhere in your experience is a painful story of what happens when that trust doesn’t exist. What if instead of clobbering you with bullet points I could somehow tap that latent source of emotion and conviction that already lives in your memory?
This is what we do at Blueline Simulations. We don’t market ourselves actively as a “story company.” (After all, there aren’t too many people asking for that. At least, not yet.) But the “co-creation of narrative” lives in everything we do… “ from simulations, to games, to our signature Blueline Blueprint learning visuals.
There’s a hallmark moment to every Blueline Simulation learning engagement. It almost never happens when we project a model up on the screen, or when the facilitator offers some brilliant word of wisdom. Instead, it is usually an invisible moment that happens silently in the mind of the learner, in which they have been invited to reach deep into their own wisdom and experience… and there they encounter a story that elicits powerful reaction and demands an actionable response. Like a silent explosion of some invisible supernova, we can’t always see it. But by designing our interventions to those moments of internal discovery (and not merely to the faithful reproduction of data via a series of PowerPoint bullet points), Blueline Simulations taps into a nearly inexhaustible source of engagement, participation… and action.
If you’ve never done so, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to click around the Blueline website. There is a rich portfolio of learning resources here awaiting your discovery. You’ll probably be impressed by the cutting edge technologies, the unconventional learning devices, and the sheer creativity of the offerings. But remember that those are merely triggers, and that the real deliverable of Blueline Simulations is something we can’t depict in a JPEG image on our website.
In parting, a few questions for you:
What kind of change do you seek to create in your organization?
What might happen if, instead of dictating that change through a series of imperatives, you extended an invitation and an opportunity for learners to connect to their own stories?
What is the new story of success and opportunity that you and your people might co-create together?
Last week, I made the pilgrimage to Jonesborough, Tennessee. This postcard-perfect town boasts unbelievable views of the Smoky Mountains, but is famous around the world for another reason: it is the home of the International Storytelling Center.
Every October, more than 10,000 storytellers and story lovers from all over the world descend on Jonesborough for one common purpose: to hear and to share stories.
It’s the biggest storytelling event in the world, and its subject matter is as diverse as its audience. Family stories. Historical stories. Ghost stories. Funny stories. It seems that all you need is a stage, a microphone, and an audience… and the opportunities to engage through stories are endless.
What does this have to do with organizational learning? Quite a bit, it turns out.
Today, more and more organizational practitioners are asking questions about the use of stories to engage their people and their marketplaces. That was the subject of my presentation, which was titled “The Stories We Create: Narrative and Engagement in Organizations.”
Many organizational leaders have personally experienced the unique power that stories have to engage and create a shared experience and new behaviors… often without the defensiveness and resistance that accompany most linear and expository organizational communications. (For a thorough exploration of the topic, check out the rich body of work by former WorldBank Executive, Stephen Denning.)
Now imagine that you could capture the most powerful narratives in your organization in a form that is fully replicable, scalable, and engineered to create engagement and behavioral change.
That’s the idea of a Blueline Blueprint…
Here’s the idea. You begin with an organizational need: say, to mobilize activity around a key change initiative; or to make the organization’s mission and values come alive for a new employee. (Those are just examples. What is the pressing need that requires action in your organization?)
Next, the learning and change experts at Blueline Simulations work with you to create a table-sized visual that is rich in metaphors, stories, and quantitative information.
The power happens when your people pull up a few seats around the Blueline Blueprint. They explore the stories, analyze the data, and link the information to their own experience. They begin to link their own stories to the need of the organization. Action and behavior change emerge fluidly and organically.
These are the same activities that have built communities around millions of campfires over the centuries… only here they are applied strategically to create engagement around your strategic need.
The best way to experience a Blueline Blueprint … is, well, to experience it. Give us a call at Blueline Simulations. Tell us the story of your organization… where it is today, and where you would like for it to be.
Then let’s work together to create a new narrative; one that is about meaningful work, engaged people, and marketplace success.
Finding the right employee to match the needs of an organization is a huge investment. Businesses spend a significant amount of money on recruiting, testing and negotiating with potential candidates to fill open positions. So after spending so much time, effort and money finding the right person, how can they ensure that the new hire’s experience is as beneficial as it can be for both the employee and the employer? Onboarding plays a critical role in the answer to this question.
The argument has been made that each new hire brings their own motivations, work ethic and eagerness to contribute with them when they join an organization. And they do. But the impact that a powerful onboarding experience, that welcomes a new hire into the fold and says “this place really cares about you and the contributions that you will making and we hope that our relationship together will be long and productive” can be game changing. When working with our clients on these types of robust onboarding efforts, we often hear comments from participants about how impressed they are that a company would invest so much time on them as a new hire to learn about the company, and how helpful the experience was as a springboard into the job.
Learning Blueprints‘ (visuals) play a significant role in an engaging onboarding experience and provide an avenue for a fun way to transfer knowledge, and for new hires to explore an organization. The story told by these visuals helps the new hire see how they fit into the strategic direction of the organization, and can generate excitement about how they can contribute. Blueline Blueprints‘ help to bridge the gap between being an outsider and belonging, They also confirm that the decision to join the company was the right choice! A new hire can connect immediately to the organization and be proud of what they joined. And, informed new hires can be more productive in their first 30, 60, 90 days of hire than uninformed new hires.
If your company’s onboarding philosophy is â€œlet them learn by observing or asking others’ the information being conveyed may not be what senior leadership desires. The onboarding process can be formalized but fun. Learning Blueprints’ and the activities around them, involve a lot of learning and thinking, and the discussion and stories allow participants to learn from each other – not just from the talking head at the front of the room. Incorporating different methodologies also shows the creativity of the organization – even if the organization is technical in nature.
Learning Blueprints’ increase retention, bring fun to the learning process, allow stories to be told that can include past, present and future, and help the new hire see where they fit into it all. What better way to welcome the new hire!