Communication Tools

If Not Training, Then What?

There’s a lot to be said for training; it certainly has solidified its place in corporate culture as a means of addressing issues, teaching skills and strategies and getting employees aligned, motivated and on track for great success.

But there are times when training isn’t the answer – when the situation calls for a different approach.

As a case in point, a client called several years ago asking to revise and update a training program we had developed in 2006. A short discussion, however, revealed issues that pointed to a different solution. The client didn’t have a training need, they had a communication need.

Rather than update the current training, together with the client we decided to develop two high-impact communication pieces:

  • The first piece, a telestration, served as the ideal medium for communicating exactly what leadership wanted employees to know in a very engaging and visually stimulating way. Being just a few minutes in length drove high levels of viewership.
  • The second piece we developed was a powerful Blueline infographic that served to refresh the target audience on the overall process they’d been trained on by graphically displaying key inputs, process steps and decision points. This engaging one-page visual then became a just-in-time ready-reference job aide.

Sharing graphic elements between the telestration and the infographic enabled us to drive adoption through consistent branding while keeping costs down. The solution met the goal without one minute of training.

One of the many frameworks Blueline Simulations uses to explore how to best help clients solve their business challenges is BKD (Believe-Know-Do). We start with what you want your target audience to be able to Do. Then we explore what they need to Know in order to Do that effectively. And finally, we pinpoint what they need to Believe to be motivated to Do it.

know-do-believe

I invite you to contact us to learn more about any of our custom classroom simulations, Blueline Blueprint™ learning visuals or other innovative delivery methods that have been generating notable business results in leading organizations worldwide for more than 13 years.

Facing a business transformation? Blueline is in your future!

blueline-dialChange creates uncertainty – causing fear and confusion and hurting productivity.  A clearly defined message and communication strategy can dispel doubts and facilitate alignment.  Learn how Blueline supported innovation initiatives at a Fortune 50 Healthcare Company using proven planning and communication strategies.

The outcomes are best summarized by the head of the organization who opined: “the successful outcomes of this initiative are an important lesson in embracing the types of innovation we want to support throughout the organization – through these efforts we got 80% of the way to our destination in 20% of the time it usually takes us.”

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

At Blueline we are very familiar with the power of a strong visual image. Our highly successful Learning Blueprints are built on this principle. But what if you could combine the engagement created by a picture with the clarity of the spoken word? It turns out you can.

One of our clients is rolling out a new strategic account management framework to transform their sales approach.  The supporting curriculum is made up of three separate workshops – each dedicated to a unique set of competencies. Frustrated with the poor compliance they had been getting with pre-reading assignments, they needed a creative way to introduce critical elements of the program’s new framework in advance of each of three corresponding workshops.

This gave us the perfect opportunity to showcase the power of Blueline’s telestration technology. A telestration is a short video using high-speed hand-drawn images and picture-wordsanimations.  When combined with a clear message from the narrator, this approach captures and holds the viewer’s attention.  Generally, three to four minutes in length, telestrations are very useful in simplifying messages, because both the video and audio focus exactly on the ideas being communicated.  The audience quickly understands – and this combination makes a significant amount of information memorable – in one viewing.

For this particular client, we developed an introductory telestration that conveyed the need for the new sales framework; provided an overview to the three phases; and explained how the new approach would benefit customers, the business, and sales representatives. We then developed three additional telestrations, one for each of the three phases of the framework – which provided an introduction to the associated competencies. As an alternative to pre-work, sales representatives were asked to watch a video before attending the corresponding application workshop.

An overwhelming percentage of participants watched the video prior to their workshop. Several sales managers asked for copies of the telestrations so they could replay them at upcoming sales meetings – enabling them to discuss different aspects of the framework with their teams. One manager even commented, “I’ve seen a lot of training videos, but this is 10 times better than anything else. I could take this telestration and train from it alone.”

Do you need to communicate new ideas to your organization in a brief, engaging, and meaningful way? Contact us at Blueline Simulations and let us show you how the power of telestrations can be put to work for you.

Facilitating Business Transformation at a Fortune 50 Healthcare Company

After major changes at all levels had created fear and confusion throughout the business, our client’s leadership sought to find a way to align stakeholders through a common purpose and vision for the future.

They turned to Blueline to take them through the process of defining their future and prioritizing the actions that would be needed to achieve it.  But doing that well was only half of the daunting challenge that faced them.  After all that the organization had been through, finding a way to capture and tell the story of their journey in a fun and engaging way that inspired employees and clients to embrace the vision and take the actions prioritized by leadership, was just as important.

Our team set about to help them to transform their organization through a simple, yet incredibly effective, combination of planning and communications initiatives.

Capturing the essence of leadership’s efforts through a blueline drawing

In advance of a strategic planning meeting, a Blueline Partner collaborated with one of our Master Artists to begin to draft a table-sized blueline drawing that told the story of where they had been. We left significant amounts of white space on the visual so that there was room to capture their vision.

Sample Blueline Drawing…

bluelinebikes

Subsequently, Blueline facilitated a one-day strategic planning session to guide our client’s efforts to define their vision for the future and to prioritize the steps that they needed to take to get there. The same Master Artist that drafted the initial blueline drawing also attended the one-day meeting. Throughout the meeting, he captured the process and the leadership team’s decisions. The final output was an engaging, table-size visual that members of the leadership team could use to engage others by retelling the story of “where they had been, where they are going, and how they planned to get there.”

Engaging stakeholders through the use of a telestration

We repurposed the drawing and memorialized the leadership team’s efforts through a 4 minute narrated video capture of the Master Artist creating the drawing, so that it could be used to define and promote the organization’s brand.  This required that we capture the story in the form of a script that mirrored the drawing.  The final deliverable was a professionally narrated video of the Artist rendering the drawing for the audience.  (Through the power of technology, the rendering takes place in about 1/60th the time it actually takes to recreate the drawing.)

Sample Blueline Telestration….

The client used the telestration and blueline drawing to kick-off their Future Vision initiative during their annual meeting.  The meeting opened with the telestration – which laid a foundation for a presentation by the leadership team.  Subsequently, three by five foot posters of the blueline drawing were hung throughout the meeting space so that participants could “re-experience” the journey with their leadership.

The outcomes are best summarized by the head of the organization who opined: “the successful outcomes of this initiative are an important lesson in embracing the types of innovation we want to support throughout the organization – through these efforts we got 80% of the way to our destination in 20% of the time it usually takes us.”

Is your organization facing a challenging transformation?  Contact the change management experts at Blueline today!

Helping the Brain Make Meaning

I recently discovered a presentation from last year’s TED conference by Tom Wujec, an Information Designer and Fellow at AutoDesk, in which he explored the question, “How can we best engage our brains to help us better understand big ideas?” Certainly an important question for those of us engaged in developing training and communications programs.

Wujec’s investigation was stimulated by people’s reactions to an experiment conducted at the previous year’s TED conference. (For those not familiar with it, TED is a conference for bringing together leading thinkers and practioners in the fields of Technology, Education and Design. The purpose is to share “big ideas” that will “change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world.”) At the previous conference, artist from AutoDesk and The Grove were capturing the main ideas or concepts from each presentation in sketches. These were then assembled into an interactive display that attendees could explore. The overwhelming positive response led Wujec to begin to investigate just how does the brain “make meaning” or assemble mental models.

Not surprisingly, his investigation of cognitive science lead to the conclusion that the visualization of ideas and concepts plays an important role in how we make meaning of and retain ideas. He learned that meaning comes through a series of discovery or “ah-ha” moments, through various processes. His talk focused on three areas of the brain involved in converting visual input into mental models.

  1. The Ventral Stream – which determines “what” we are looking at
  2. The Dorsal Stream – which spatially locates or places items
  3. Limbic System – where the feeling or emotional reaction to what we’re seeing resides

Wujec’s examination of how these three (along with about 25 other processes) create meaning led to three conclusions that have significance for how we develop training and communications.

  1. Have People Interact with the Images to Create Engagement
  2. Augment the Memory with Persistent and Evolving Views

Of course as I watched the presentation, I immediately thought of our Blueline Blueprint learning visuals. For years we have known how effective they are at helping individuals grasp new ideas and concepts. One of my clients found that after three months people who attended a session using a learning visual I had designed had a 65% better grasp of the company’s new strategic objectives, and how those objectives should influence their work, than individuals attending the traditional CEO “road-show.” I was struck by how the training and communication sessions built around one of our Blueprints tap directly into Wujec’s three components of making meaning.

1. Use Images to Clarify Ideas — Now I can hardly draw a stick figure, but I’m lucky enough to work with talented artists who excel at developing visual metaphors and images to capture and clarify clients’ ideas. During at least half the Blueprint (links to projects I’ve worked on, someone on the client team will say, “we’ve struggled with this for months, but your visual has created alignment and clarity of message that we just couldn’t achieve.”

2.Have People Interact with the Images to Create Engagement — Using the Socratic Dialogue method, small teams of learners explore this powerful visual to find information, make connections and discuss application to their work. This creates a level of engagement and processing of ideas that is an order of magnitude greater than listening to a presentation of material.

3.Augment the Memory with Persistent and Evolving Views — Frequently, we will use elements from the Blueprint as a visual component in on-going communications that occur after the initial session. This provides a visual trigger that recalls the experience and the learning. We have also created place-mat size copies of the visual or even mouse-pads as take-aways, all to provide that persistent review of the concepts and application.

Of course, discovery learning, or creating those “ah-ha” moments, is fundamental to all of our designs and programs. We constantly strive to find ways to live up to a slightly altered version of Lao-Tse’s quote on great leadership, “But of a good design, – when its work is done, its aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did this ourselves.”