I admit this is a contentious title but I would suggest that unless you put certain conditions in place training generally and NLP training specifically doesn’t work. In this article I will explain why I am making that claim and some of the simple things you can do to make your learning effective.
A Systems Approach to Training
Shortly after the second world war the USA Air Force placed a lot of research into staff training this was from fighter pilots, through cooks, managers and front line troops. They rapidly found out that they were spending a huge amount of time, effort and money on training. But the scary part was, when they went into the work place to look at the results of the training they were finding little or no impact based on the amount of effort put into the training.
Out of this mire the US Airforce, aided by some great names in training like Skinner (the father of behaviourism and the guy for NLP anchoring before anyone called it anchoring.) and Benjamin Bloom (rarely mentioned in NLP circles but is a lynch pin for the structure of training) designed a new approach to training design called a Systems Approach to Training.
A Process of Training Development
Like all great ideas a Systems Approach to Training (SAT) is a statement of the startlingly obvious once someone has told you it. There is a lot said about this on the internet so I am just going to give you my version. So here is my taxonomy of training design:
- Explore the need
- Develop and deliver the course
- Integrating material back into your life
Let’s just break down a couple of these points down and look at the implications.
Before I will go on a course I want to match my needs against the course content and work out if I will get what I need from the course. I also like looking out to the future and imagining these four questions:
- The negative consequences of not attending the course
- The positive consequences of attending the course
- The negative consequences of attending the course
- The positive consequences of not attending the course
The answers to these four questions will give me the whole picture as to the value of the course. When I am designing courses I imagine my ideal student and take them through exactly the same four questions. Incidentally if you are a NLP Jargon Junkie these questions are developed through Cartesian logic and are usually packaged up at a really high price under the name quantum linguistic.
By taking this approach you are setting the conditions for attending the course and getting the most for it as well as building the criteria for evaluating the course. In fact I would encourage you to do a pre-evaluation which would be about looking out into the future and seeing what has changed for you, the people around you and your wider environment as a result of this course. This just gives you more criteria to evaluate from.
You might already have realised that going through this process is preframing your experience of the course. It sets out your motivation, the filters on how you see the course content, how you go through exercises and pretty much every aspect of how you interact with the course material. And I suspect you can recognise this will make the difference between going on a course and going on a life changing event that truly gives you a quantum leap change. Bearing that in mind it really surprises me how few personal development trainers support their prospects in this before signing them up for a course.
Integrating the Course Content into Your Life
Starting with the USAAF there has been a lot of research done on how people change at the end of a training course. The sad fact is that many people at the end of a course go back to their normal routines and the new learning is lost.
What the USAAF found was that routine coaching sessions based on setting goals about integrating the course material over a period of time made a significant difference to the retention and usefulness of the course material. The reality is if you want to get the most out of your course regular and routine coaching sessions to supplement the training are key.
A New Model of Personal Development Training
Obviously the best approach is to have some ongoing coaching as you integrate the learning back into your normal life. And sometimes that is not feasible even if the option is available. That is why I tend to design trainings deliberately to ensure there is some some method of self feedback, mutual support and enough confidence building on the course to try new and different skills when you leave.
But the reality is that short of having some post course coaching, which I am happy to supply there are some neat tricks that will help you fully integrate material from a course. The key is about how you preframe the course and how well you can provide yourself with feedback. We will discuss these issues further in the next article.
A typical version of how I design courses to include these factors would be my design for a Practitioner Course. You can click through and find out more about the latest NLP Practitioner Course here: