Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Teaching "The Model" in practice

Over the course of my career, I've had ample opportunity to train others on things I know next to nothing about.

This time, I was tasked to train our new Executive Vice President of Academicky Stuff (not his real title) on the email system. He will be using a Blackberry Storm to get email and calendar information.

Understand, I have never even touched a Blackberry.

Heck, I can still barely operate my LG Dare.

And I know enough about mucky mucks to know that their attention will be on the shiny new toy. Not the email/calendar system.

This turned out to be a classic example of how Clark Quinn's "Train the model" concept works in practice.


7:00am - receive 2 emails:
- 1st email - from the IT folks....."The Blackberry is here!"
- 2nd email - from Executive Vice President of Academicky Stuff's secretary telling me that training is occurring at 4:15pm that day.

8:30am - ask to spend some time with the Blackberry expert to get my hands on it so that I am not going in completely cold. Predict that the 30 minutes we are given for the training will be spent on the Blackberry - not on the email system.

10:30am - spend an hour with the Blackberry expert watching her fight to get it configured correctly. This email system is still in beta for our organization and the implementation is still haphazard (at best).

11:30am - finally get my hands on the Blackberry for 10 minutes. Learn the following:
- The multiple dot buttons takes you to menus
- The "back arrow" takes you back
- The alt key takes you to the upper symbols
- Numbers are on the left - use the alt key to access unless using the phone.
- Capitalization keys are on either side of the space bar
- The trackball highlights. Mouse appears occasionally. Press the trackball in to select.
- What the icons mean appear on the bottom of the screen.

11:40am - figure that with this model of operation, I can at least muddle through most questions. Plan to transfer that very fresh learning experience to the student. Pray that he is a patient "self-learning" sort.....

11:45am - 4:00pm - work on other stuff. It's been a crazy week and a half.

4:00pm - Collect the Blackberry expert and the Project Manager to walk over to the Executive Vice President of Academicky Stuff's (EVPAS) office.

4:15pm - EVPAS gets an eye on the new toy. Work with him for 20 minutes on selecting ring tones, web browsing, the GPS, and, eventually, the calendar and email functions. The Blackberry expert and Project Manager work on final configuration issues.

EVPAS: Have you ever used this Blackberry before?

Me: Nope, just saw it this morning. Thought we could figure this thing out together. We're giving you the documents in case we don't cover something.

EVPAS: That works. Hey - how do I......

4:40pm - spend 5 minutes showing him the thing I was supposed to show him (the email / calendar system on his desktop).

4:45pm - drop off a quick reference, give him some business cards, leave EVPAS with the Blackberry and associated goodies, and tell him to call us if he needs anything.


Despite walking in without having a clue of what I was doing (sadly, a more frequent occurrence than I care to admit), EVPAS seemed happy and reasonably comfortable with the way the new toy worked. And none of us have received a panicky/angry phone call from his office this morning.

At the end of it all, he had a baseline model for muddling through, immediate support references for self-learning (the quick references and documents), and people he could call (me, the Blackberry expert, and the Project Manager).

After the training, EVPAS offered to have us back over for cookies when he gets settled in. I'm going to take that as a good sign.....


Jeff said...

I completely emphasize with you.

In my company's case, we will develop very thorough and effective online training, but many of the execs will not even glance at it before they call for one-on-one training. In addition, things that I expect them to want to learn themselves, they often ask us to teach their admin instead. Then again, maybe the admins are the ones who need the skills since they are applying the skills and really doing the work.

Thanks for the post, I enjoyed it.

Wendy said...

What you described is what generally happens in my world as well.

We usually get to the admins first - and determine from them whether to mess with the execs....

Difference here is that EVPAS wanted to be more hands-on with his new toy.

I suspect this is also his first senior executive position - so he's used to doing a lot of stuff himself. I have a feeling his admin isn't going to see the Blackberry.....