I have just realised that I have spent the last 15 years of my life as a trainer using one widely held assumption, namely that people learn best by seeing the “correct”  way to do things.  They come on a Presentations Skills course and we focus on how to present better, by demonstrating, suggesting improvements, watching other people do it well, listening to great speakers and so on.  I – and I am confident that I’m not alone here – model, encourage, support and practice doing the topic WELL.

Since Christmas I have stumbled blindly into another way of doing it.  Get people learning about a topic by showing how NOT to do it.  Could it be that this is just as effective in learning about the topic, I wonder?

It started out as a bit of fun:  I read about the Flip video camera (which by the way, and I’m not being paid by anyone to write this, I assure you, is in my view a must-have piece of kit for any trainer now – dead easy to use, goes in your pocket, there to capture and easily edit those in-the moment bits which need reviewing, analysing and learning from); decided I must have one, and spent the day with a close colleague, playing with it basically.

An hour later we had ourselves a video on “Appraisals: spot the gaffes!”.  We simply improvised an appraisal and I had a go at bringing to life all the awful bits of being appraised I could think of.  I reckon there are more than twenty within this nerve-jangling 10 minute ordeal.

As I watch it I find myself wondering whether, by putting people into Conscious Incompetence through the video, I might be able to accelerate the pace of learning on a course.  They get to see Bad Practice, we analyse it and dig into why it is Bad Practice, and then maybe we will draw a line under it and move into Conscious Competence from the off on a training course.

Have a look for yourself and see what you think.  I’d be interested to hear from you if you have had a similar thought, or some experience of doing things this way.