Tuesday, December 14, 2010
As a puzzle maniac, I agree that even thinking about a good one (cryptic crosswords are my drug of choice) induces a pleasant mind-state - something they found in the study. And that moment of insight when the answer suddenly appears is one of the great joys of life, to me.
And as a creator of leadership-skills practice sessions which always combine laughter with serious practice, I constantly see how insight follows the loosening-up process of watching a funny live scene.
Glad to have the neurology to prove it!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
That reminds me of Marshall Goldsmith's wonderful Feedforward exercise, which we've used with a number of different groups: clients, our religious community, and even just between Dan and me. Instead of focusing on the past (which we can't change, anyway), feedforward encourages us to consider ways that we can do better as we move ahead.
If you haven't tried it, I urge you to check it out. Marshall's clever format helps stop our usual resistant brain-chatter and opens us up to true listening and real possibility. People report feeling truly cared for after the exercise and tend to come away with a few good ideas for improving their lives. One baby step at a time.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
One answer is hinted at in a blog post by Jonah Lehrer at The Frontal Cortex. The topic is buzz and how it works to sell products, especially movies. But near the end of the post, Lehrer writes: "For too long, we’ve tried to understand ourselves in isolation, as we test people one at a time in the psychology lab or rely on their past preferences to predict behavior. But these conditions and algorithms are artificial. In the real world, we are deeply intertwined with each other, dependent on our social networks for all sorts of advice."
I thought back to a recent workshop we gave, in which 24 newly-minted supervisors watched each other deal with various realistic management situations, live and impromptu. Participants commented on how valuable it was to see how other people handle things - even if their style is different from yours (or perhaps especially so!). Even though back on the job these folks will often have to act alone, the collaboration they experience in training helps give them a repertoire of possible approaches that they're more likely to remember when they need them.
We often emphasize the practice aspect of our workshops, and of course that's vital: nothing makes learning stick like actually trying it out. But the group process may be equally important for topics (like supervisor skillls) that involve social interaction. In a culture that still tends to overemphasize the individual, it's useful to reaffirm the wisdom of crowds.
Photo by Jill Brazel of a Workplace Productions program
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Do we really exist outside of relationships?
I've always been annoyed by the phrase, "We're born alone, and we die alone." I can't speak about the death part of it, but having given birth, I can say most emphatically that we're not born alone! Some woman (and likely a whole bunch of other people) are on the scene and working very hard to make that birth happen. And, as the article points out, babies are interrelating right from the start.
We Americans seem to be especially in love with what Shenk calls "the atomized person." I can't help thinking that this notion is partly responsible for the polarization of the country today, and the apparent loss of the sense of the collective good. If we saw harming our neighbor as actually harming ourselves, we might have a different view. In the piece, John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago says: "We're ready for a Copernican revolution in psychology."
Which sets me to thinking about how what aspects of learning design may be based, unknowingly, on this underlying belief in individualism. Are there ways to do it better?
At Workplace, we adore collaboration. From the basic pair who run the company (Dan and Beverly Feldt, who are husband and wife); to our fabulous interactors; to our clients, whose great ideas are always incorporated in our "flight simulators"; to our focus groups and participants, whose grappling with the situations we present creates the learning - it's all glorious groups. Could we be the wave of the future?
Yummy food for thought. Maybe I'll go talk to Dan about it...
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
We have two fantastic interactors who demonstrate flooding and its solutions, and of course they're riveting. But there's also a lot of information on the physical signs and symptoms of flooding that I have to convey at the beginning of the workshop. Last time we did it, a participant complained about the "lecture" (!), so I wanted to tinker with this section to see if the 10-minute rule might help keep the learners more engaged.
I redesigned this chunk it so that I changed direction about every 9 minutes, bringing in the interactors, discussion, etc. I also made sure that I explained BEFOREHAND exactly how the information would be useful to the learners. (I'm an awful nerd sometimes, and I tend to get enthusiastic and not notice that listeners may be thinking, "And you're telling me this WHY?")
The redesign worked beautifully! In fact, one of the participants, commenting on the half-day program as a whole, said, "I don’t think any of us were bored for even one second."
Photo: Jill Brazel
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
There is something about the human brain that causes it to begin to refocus every 10 minutes. So after doing your best for 9 minutes, spend the next 60 seconds doing something to re-capture the brain's attention, to 'hook' it into sticking around for the next 10 minutes. If you lecture for 60 minutes...or create online courses...chunk them into 10 minute 'modules' divided by a 60 second "hook"...something that will cause the learners' brains to say, "Say what?" This buys you another 10 minutes.Don't know what research this comes from, but it's interesting enough to try out. I'll watch in my next training program to see if folks get restless in 10-minute intervals. Anybody notice this in their own classroom work?
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
These findings seem like neurological support for the well-documented phenomenon of entrainment, when people in conversational sync spontaneously mirror each other's movements and rhythms. Guess we do it on the brain level, too. Does this explain why my sister and I so frequently say the same thing at the same time? We even do it while instant messaging.
So, fellow trainers, how can we encourage this shared neurological dance with our classes? And does this give you new ideas about the effectiveness of story in adult learning?
Wait, I know what you're going to say...
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
And how important is it to see our work last? Ariely devised a fiendish experiment about that, too.
If you have eight minutes, listen to the interview. It's fun, and there are surprises lurking.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
I also like his suggestion that those leading creativity sessions mention repeatedly that chaos and disorder precede breakthroughs; so many people take that wheels-coming-off moment as a sign that they're lost, rather than as evidence that they're finally beginning to get somewhere.
Image via Creative Commons
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
We've all had that horrible moment. The presentation where we suddenly can't get the words out. The big exam, and we can't remember anything we've studied. The music performance where our fingers won't work any more.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Check out my review of Oops! in the current issue of Perdido Magazine. Subtitled "13 Management Practices That Waste Time and Money," Aubrey Daniels's book is a contrarian take on widespread strategies that don't work -- including downsizing, discussed at some length in a recent Newsweek cover story. The book's kind of clunky in its writing, but definitely worth a look.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
From Jonah Lehrer's recent essay in the New York Times:
In a 2004 paper published in Nature, Jan Born, a neuroscientist at the University of Lübeck, described the following experiment: a group of students was given a tedious task that involved transforming a long list of number strings into a new set of number strings. This required the subjects to apply a painstaking set of algorithms. However, Born had designed the task so that there was an elegant shortcut, which could only be uncovered if the subjects saw the subtle links between the different number sets. When left to their own devices, less than 25 percent of people found the shortcut, even when given several hours to mull over the task. However, when Born allowed people to sleep between experimental trials, they suddenly became much more clever: 59 percent of all participants were able to find the shortcut. Born argues that deep sleep and dreaming "set the stage for the emergence of insight" by allowing us to mentally represent old ideas in new ways.
photo courtesy of Creative Commons
Monday, March 8, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The real questions are the ones that obtrude upon your consciousness whether you like it or not, the ones that make your mind start vibrating like a jackhammer, the ones that you "come to terms with" only to discover that they are still there. The real questions refuse to be placated. They barge into your life at the times when it seems most important for them to stay away. They are the questions asked most frequently and answered most inadequately, the ones that reveal their true natures slowly, reluctantly, most often against your will. - Ingrid Bengis