When Psychologists Train Pigeons… Tip #268

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When psychologists train pigeons… the pigeons are hungry. Duh, but sometimes we forget. 

After I took my first Vignettes Learning course with Dr. Jimenez, I threw out all introductory topic-talk and looked for typical, dreadful challenges to make human trainees ravenous:

To Develop Performance:Key Learning Focus: Interaction:
1. WHY take this?
Vignettes Learning Micros begin with the Challenge: Plunge participants into a work crisis or problem that immediately shows the value of investing time and attention in the session – the “WIFM” – what’s in it for me.

In technical training: first show what can go wrong, then procedures/troubleshooting.

When strengthening relationships and communication skills, look for typical crises that the lesson helps prevent or resolve. 
E.g., manager/direct report, sales or customer service rep/customer, team colleagues, any employees with suppliers, vendors, regulators, other stakeholders.
A briefcase – 1-4 sentences as text, audio and/or video narration – showing a failure or breakdown in an interpersonal relationship. 
Plus a photo or illustration with speech balloons (or just quotes in graphic text): 

Example: a Micro lesson for Call Center agents to prepare for (or recover and learn from) a call from an upset, angry customer:
  • Short transcript of the failed call with the upset customer (narration or dialogue; text or recorded audio/video)
  • Illustration/photo of angry people and speech balloons:
    • “How can I help if you just scream?!” vs.
    • ;“I was speaking politely but you kept repeating your stupid rules!”
An early question that heightens the participant’s awareness of value and need for the session. Then follow up questions that bring out key points about the elements of the best practice/skill guidelines.

Functionality can be a: 
  • Poll for selecting main reasons, given a choice of 3-5 all valid reasons that will be part of the learning points.
  • Multiple choice where one reason is clearly valid, others confuse people’s needs with obstinance.
  • Drag-and-Drop matching
  • Research assignments outside the session with space to return and select the best description of findings.
  • Real-world action learning assignment, e.g., interview a colleague or email a plan to line manager or team

Your insights, experiences, and additional techniques for communicating the WHY of a Micro session? *Email your thoughts to [email protected] and your name and work if you’d like credit.

In the next few blogs, we’ll explore ways to bring to life the next steps for achieving needed on-the-job performance – my tips and any you want to share:**

WHAT to do? What best practices do experience top performers use?Shape top performers’ recommendations into easy-to-use best practices/skill guides.
HOW to do it? Ways to apply best practices to typical work challenges.Demonstrate how – avoiding Tell/Test methods that rarely produce real-world results. 
HOW WELL can you do it? Practice with feedback Explore 5 ways to provide practice communication skills when participants have no one to talk to…Plus your strategies?
WHO-WHEN-WHERE? Connecting individual action to colleagues sharing success strategiesAchieve what Dr. Jimenez calls the “______***_____” and connect Microlearning to ways to share the evolving wisdom of an organization. (https://www.situationexpert.com/site/se)


Tita Theodora Beal

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”

Vignettes Learning Workshops
1. Developing Critical Thinking for Modern Learners
2. Microlearning for Disruptive Results
3. Instructional and Experience Design for Workflow Learning
4. The Masterful Virtual Trainer Online Workshop
5. Hyper Story-Based eLearning Design Workshop
6. Training Frontline Leaders as Learning Accelerators
7. HYBRID Remote and Hands-on Training
8. Advanced Skills in Webinars