Learning Visuals

Newsflash: The Process Doesn’t Revolve around You

You would be surprised – or maybe you wouldn’t – by how many people in your organization don’t understand how the organization accomplishes its work.

To be honest, it used to surprise us. We would run learning programs on a topic, like say, financial acumen, and it would never fail: People in the accounting department would say things like, “huh, I guess I should know these details about the balance sheet but I don’t.” And that’s coming from the guys in Accounting.

It’s an organizational myopia that we now recognize as commonplace. In fact, we empathize. We all have a tendency to view the world from the point of view of our own work, our own desk.

Like Galileo, leadership often involves delivering the unwelcome message that you, the individual, are not the epicenter of your organization’s process.

Fortunately, we at Blueline Simulations fare much better than Galileo for being the bearer of this message. In fact, we’ve found that giving people a view of the big picture is quite liberating, and a key step in generating organizational transformation.

And we have found that the best way to give that big picture is with an actual picture.

Using metaphors and a balance of both quantitative and qualitative data, we render the complex processes and work flows of your organization with a compelling degree of engagement.

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Equipped with an enterprise view via a Blueline Blueprint Learning Visual, our learners report that:

  • I have a better appreciation for where I fit in the process.
  • Now I understand why the work those guys do in department X is so important.
  • I appreciate the difficult decisions that the leaders have to make to manage the many moving parts of this process.
  • I see ways to make my work more efficient, more focused, more optimized to the organization’s desired output.

Find out how a Blueline learning map can equip your people with an enriched understanding of your organization’s key processes and workflows. Contact us today for a demonstration.

How “Fly Swatter Phonics” Can Help Solve Your Next Training Challenge! Part Two.

Last week, we started exploring the connection between having fun and actually learning…something my 4-year old grandson does by “swatting flies” as he’s learning to read. A key takeaway from that discussion was to keep your training content relevant and manageable. Otherwise, there’s a good chance the “fun-o-meter” will register pretty low. This week, we’re picking up there.

We often hear clients say something like this: “We rolled out training, but we can’t keep people’s attention. They aren’t engaged. What can you suggest?” Remember the client from last week? The one with the bazillion PowerPoint slides? What we discovered was their training wasn’t connected to people’s everyday work in a real, practical and believable way.

Our suggestion was to rebuild the training to simulate the learner’s real world. We felt it was critical to give people a chance to immediately apply what they were learning in meaningful ways and get immediate feedback at the same time. I’m happy to report that the client loved the idea, we built it, and it was a huge success! People remained engaged the entire time as they practiced “fly swatting” the way they would be doing on the job. The takeaway? If you want to make training fun, engage the learner through realistic practice!

In “Fly Swatter Phonics” the game mechanics were pretty simple. There was a fly swatter, some 3” x 5” cards, a blackboard and a few rules. But it wasn’t the game itself that made the learning fun. It was the fact that my grandson was actively involved in the learning. He wasn’t just a bystander. He was doing something. He was participating. He was making decisions. He was competing, appropriately, with his peers. He was responsible for earning his rewards or watching others earn theirs. These are the things that made it fun. (A fly swatter without purpose is just another fly swatter!)

When our client handed over all of those PowerPoint slides, we knew immediately that we had to find a way to make participants active learners rather than passive ones. We did that through the simulation. We also did it through a self-directed learning visual where, with minimal facilitation, teams navigated themselves through a collection of activities, team discussions, applications and mini-challenges.

Here’s what ‘our client of many slides’ had to say about their new program: “CONGRATULATIONS! The new training was amazing! What an improvement over the old method. Thank you on behalf of all involved. I would be very surprised if there was one person in the room who did not gain from the two days.” The takeaway? If you want to make training fun, involve the learner in the learning!

We at Blueline Simulations believe there’s no good reason—and no good way—for effective learning to be boring or passive. Let us help you swat your biggest training challenges!

“Maps to Go” We’ve Pioneered an Exciting New Application for our Signature Blueprint Learning Tools!

Just ask our clients — Blueline’s signature Blueprint Learning Visuals are incredibly powerful tools for driving change and engaging audiences. But many clients have been asking for a simpler, faster, less expensive alternative to visually depict complex messages. Introducing the newest category in Blueline’s solution suite: the Journey Map.

Whereas Blueprints are designed as concentrated learning experiences, Journey Maps are built to move. A Journey Map is a smaller, 11 x 17 rendering that visually depicts complex messages. By design, these highly flexible images can carry change messages quickly and efficiently through your organization over a variety of media. The icon-driven approach, simple timeline presentations, and short marketing-style copy have been proven to be the perfect combination when rendering complex systems with simplicity and emotional engagement.

Our clients immediately recognize the Journey Map’s unique ability to deliver important messages with power and retention.  And what they discover soon after is that it can also be used as a cognitive organizer, with a series of images and icons that can be repurposed to create continuity across other applications – from the company intranet, to employee handbooks, to strategy presentations, to internal communications branding.

From collaborative “napkin sketch” to professional rendering to multiple applications, the Journey Map is an incredibly adaptive tool that keeps delivering value.

When creating a Journey Map, our Art Director and master artists collaborate with our clients through a simple three-step process that speeds development and keeps costs low:

  1. An initial “napkin sketch,” developed in collaboration with you. We will facilitate the process in which we help you render your strategic messages in a rough, metaphorical format.
  2. A first draft of the full image in highly polished Adobe Illustrator format (also known as “vector art”), accompanied by the copy messages.
  3. A final rendering, with individual icons and image elements isolated for you to apply to other communications.

    The visual approach to the journey maps have proven to be effective in rendering robust information in an accessible, graphical format.

Every Journey Map visual meets the highest quality standards:

  1. It is a colorful and dynamic visual, graphically consistent with other solutions developed by Blueline.
  2. The document will be formatted with “tabloid” dimensions of 11 x 17 inches, and delivered in PDF format. (Upon request, we can also deliver the document in Photoshop, EPS, JPEG or other graphic formats.)
  3. The primary design elements of the document will be isolated and delivered as individual graphics for use in other applications. (For example, individual icons may be placed within explanatory documents in Word format, or used in online documents.)

You may be squinting to view the details of the Journey Maps depicted here. (See how engaging the approach is?) We’d love to give you a much closer look… and help you envision how your critical, strategic messages can be rendered in a highly engaging narrative/metaphorical format. Give me a call today, and I’ll tell you how.

Choose Wisely

Last week I wrote about the power of the learning visual to engage learners in creating their own story. Now clearly the quality of the art and visual metaphor in a learning visual have a significant impact on the learners and their experience, but how about the visuals you choose in other learning mediums, such as the virtual classroom or social learning portal? What role does the avatar or look you choose play in creating your story?

Well, as it turns out, these visual representations can play a significant role. In their book, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, Nicholas A. Christaki and James H. Fowler, discuss research that has been done on the impact your avatar or visual representation has on the interactions you have and the perceptions others develop about you.

In one study they cite, individuals were assigned at random either an “attractive” or “homely” avatar in a virtual world. Those who got an attractive avatar exhibited more self-confidence than individuals assigned a homely avatar. Specifically, they had their avatar stand closer to individuals when interacting, on average 3-feet compared to 6-feet for homely avatars. They also demonstrated a greater willingness to share information and initiate conversations.

In another study, individuals assigned a tall avatar were more confident and assertive. They were consistently able to negotiate for a larger sum of money in a money exchange game when paired with someone who had a short avatar.

Perhaps the most amazing finding of these studies was that there was a carry over of the perceptions created in the virtual world to interactions in real life!

As more training and learning takes place through virtual and social technologies, be sure that when choosing your visual representation – choose wisely!

The Power of the Learning Visual

It doesn’t matter if you call it a Work Mat, Discovery Map, Learning Map or, as we do, a Learning Blueprint. I’m constantly in awe of the power of this medium to change attitudes and pass on knowledge. The solutions we develop utilizing learning visuals consistently garner comments such as “This is the best training experience I have ever had,” but more importantly show significantly enhanced learning retention and use.

So what makes this particular approach so powerful? Intellectually, it appeals to the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learner. Behaviorally, it creates high levels of engagement and interaction. Intuitively, the metaphor often used in the learning visual provides a “big picture” that draws all the content together in a meaningful way.

While these are certainly considerations when choosing to recommend a Learning Blueprint for our client, there is a fundamental reason for its impact: a well designed learning visual taps into the power of stories.

Stories are one of the oldest, and certainly one of the most basic ways that we learn. For most of human existence the primary way of passing on hard-earned lessons was through story telling. If it can be said there is a primal way we are hard-wired to learn, it would be through the power of stories.

What makes the learning visual a particularly powerful story medium is that the learner becomes a part of the story. Of course, a story line is often built into visual and experience, but the real power is that learners become both the storytellers and players in the story. Good design begets an experience in which each table builds its own story and each person has a role in that story. This taps into our natural inclination to internalize and remember stories. Retention and impact grow, because the story becomes personal, it becomes my story for each learner.