Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Change Under Stress

As usual, Tom Haskins has me thinking....

It's easy for us, as bloggers who have taken the time to process our thoughts and analyze our practice, to say what ought to be done in the trenches. Much harder to live it.

Think about it - how often have you reverted back to old practice because it is more expedient in the short-term, even though it does nothing to help in the long-term. Maintaining change under intense stress is a much more difficult process and one that requires strength, force of will, and not a little cunning.

I see that now among my co-workers - who are spending all of their time fighting fires (most of which aren't training issues so much as process and accountability issues) and not thinking through what it is we SHOULD do in the long term for supporting performance, both new and existing. Essentially - training becomes reduced to "help desk" and hand-holding.

So how does a trainer (or group of trainers) find the space to develop and implement long-term solutions?

Here's what I've been doing (hope my co-workers aren't reading this....)

- Play into everyone's ADHD. I find that if I just let things sit a day or two before acting - the crisis will pass. I listen and write it down somewhere since, generally, the ideas are good ones. If they ask a second time, then I know it's important. If I have time prior to them asking a second time, then I will go ahead and implement.

- Don't pick up the phone. The docs tend to be in "crisis" mode when they call. Often, the solution is very simple and if they just spent the 5 seconds thinking rather than dialing me, they would have figured it out. Mean, yes. But sometimes it's the only way. And if I have to, I go elsewhere to get work done. VNC is a beautiful thing.....

- Create long-term solutions via stealth. Do it first - apologize later. And make it a POINT to find time to do this. They will not give it to you (see prior tip for one "how-to") since others are perfectly happy letting you flit from one crisis to another. Also, think in terms of "how can I do it cheap / free." Quietly introduce the cool thing for them to play with. Eventually, they realize how cool the thing is and maybe give you money to do it right later. Though chances are, they will keep playing with the prototype....

- One deliverable, multiple functions - An example....One of the requirements for the end of every project I've ever been on has been a "lessons learned" paper. The blog, for me, serves as both a personal lessons learned and the start of the formal corporate lessons learned. The blog is for my peers in the elearning community. The white paper is for my peers at work. Shockingly similar audiences...I'm trying to impress them both.

- Daydream - I get the best ideas when I am zoning out at my desk or in a meeting (admit it, you do this too). Half the time, when I'm taking notes in a meeting, I am scribbling ideas for what I want my corner of training to look like and what needs to happen for me to get there. One thing grad school is fantastic for...teaching you to half-listen to what is going on around you while thinking about something totally different.

Actually - of all of the things I do as I try to drag my organization kicking and screaming into the 21st century - daydreaming is the most important. And the most fun....

I know Tom is preaching to the converted.

The folks in the trenches will ultimately have to take responsibility for their own transformation....all we can do is help....

1 comment:

Tom Haskins said...

Wendy: You're right I'm preaching to the converted, not the entrenched. I'm talking about transforming and you're doing it! Your strategies for "shaking up the entrenched" are inspiring. Your reflective practice makes tons of sense to me. When you're successful with these approaches, your colleagues will slowly see other possibilities, perceive their own limiting patterns, and reconsider their fixations.

As alternative approaches sink into their minds, perhaps you'll be able to call timeouts whenever they are insisting on persisting with the same old practices like: "It's your call, which way to we want to see this, define this, handle this, expect this to happen?" By putting the ball in their court by calling a timeout, like you're doing by avoiding their limiting tactics, they may become less entrenched sooner, rather than later.