27 October 2017

Let's all teach people to fish - design for business training needs to get real.

Every time I look at this picture, it warms my heart. A friend had taken me out to the country and was giving me a lesson in fly fishing. I didn't do so well. This photo does not capture how incompetent I really was. We had a remarkable time - taking me back to the fun outdoorsy stuff that I miss.

There's an old adage that says  "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day but teach him to fish and he will never go hungry."

I was given an opportunity this week to speak with stakeholders about teaching people to fish (become entrepreneurs) and how important it was that they be supported in that journey. Not just supported, but supported in the right way.

In the early days of my own entrepreneurial journey, I was adamant that I needed money to become a business owner. I really believed that having an influx of cash would get me started. But I was wrong. I didn't know what I didn't know. With a lot of humility I have learned tough lessons where the rubber hits the road. Some of those lessons have been very painful including the one where I recognized that I needed skills and not money.
I was a reluctant entrepreneur so I had no real desire to learn to fish. I needed to learn to survive and if it meant fishing, then I needed to learn. I also needed someone with the patience to teach me how. Even though I ended up teaching myself, it's a tough model - it's labour intensive, it takes too long and can wear a person down. Fortunately, I lived to tell the tale and so it has also become a gift. It has allowed me to gain insight that I wouldn't normally have been privy to had I not had that experience.

Here are a few of the lessons that I have learned where the rubber hits the road that continue to benefit me in designing business training:

1. Stop giving people handouts without ensuring that you also give them the supports they need to leverage the handout. Throwing money at a problem does not resolve the underlying problem. Support has to be intentional - tackling the issues that are front of mind for the learner.

2. Design matters -  the first business course I took taught me how to do financial management in business. I had no finances to manage and it all seemed so abstract. I couldn't figure out how to make my first $100.00 and someone wanted me to plug numbers into a spreadsheet that were higher than any numbers that I had ever seen in my life.

Having the right learning objectives in a program is as important as providing support for transfer learning. It's OK to take a course in a classroom but if you're left to your own devices when the program is over, then you're in hot water because learning is a vulnerable venture. Change is tough - doing it on our own is difficult. We need to have well designed programs that meet people where they are and then couple that training with the right support for transfer learning. Often when people leave the classroom, they don't have the supports in their lives to support the change they need to make. Make sure you offer an opportunity for support. 

3. Mindset matters - this is the hot button topic that permeates every class that I offer. It worked for the little engine and it works for us. What we believe matters. Learning is enhanced when we meet people where they are. Levels of oppression impact where the gaps are and how big they are. Money mindset, assertive communication, relationship building. All of these are core competencies in business. That's why I prefer to sprinkle every program with core competencies. It makes for a better, more engaged program. 

That's why people signed up for the 30 Day Sales Challenge after already being through it one time. They had results the first time around and when I offered the new and improved, they wanted to join again. I keep it real. We don't speak in abstracts - it's all about the hustle where the rubber hits the road. I like to meet clients where they are. This is essential to success in our industry. 

If you're in the business of supporting entrepreneurs, learn to give them what it is that they need not what you think they need - this takes courage. 

Want to book an appointment to talk about design?  

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