I started working on different approaches to corporate education and training with Thinking.School in 2016. Initially, I started developing a program that was quite abstract: It was set up around ‘thinking strategies’ and how they could be used in problem-solving. The problem with abstract training like this is that we end up with a metaphoric hammer looking for a nail. It was a set of strategies looking for problems to deal with. More interesting, I found is that this problem with abstraction in training is not unique. As I spent more time working in the space and talking to others, I saw the same issue plague enterprise scale Design Thinking programs – they make sense, they sound great, people enjoy them – while they have pockets of influence, they struggle to have a broad lasting impact.
To counter this problem, I redesigned Thinking.School courses to be ‘vocational’ practice-driven courses. We now have User Experience Design and Agile programs. Both UX and Agile are skills that can be used every day and their application is easily understood. There is nothing abstract. The challenge was how to integrate the ‘thinking’ DNA of Thinking.School into those practical courses. This is what changed how we deliver course material – focus less on how and more on why, empower companies to leverage existing pockets of excellence, and always bake in some ‘thinking tools’ that simplify the practical application of the skills.
Principles of execution + Thinking Strategy = Applied execution (practice)
For corporate training to really work it has to fit into the culture in which it is being delivered. The more it can be made applicable to the environment and draw on existing best practice, the better chance it has of being adopted. For this to work, we developed a different model for delivering training: foundation curriculum that is adapted to each organisation based on research and interviews. The interesting thing is that this approach starts to blur the line between teaching and coaching.
- Find the great
- Connect to common framework/concept (ie: what you’re teaching)
= Adapted Principles of Execution
The final piece of the puzzle is habit building. The biggest issue with introducing any change is that it requires participants developing new habits – and usually displacing old hard to forget habits at the same time. To deal with this challenge we look to the work done by BJ Fogg at Stanford. BJ Fogg leads the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University. He and his team research human behaviour and how you can influence it to achieve business goals.
Behaviour = Motivation, Ability and Trigger
Fogg suggests that three things are needed: motivation, ability and a trigger. When these three things come together, people are capable of changing behaviour. By changing the way we introduce concepts into the organisation, and building on the existing culture we’re increasing motivation. We then work with leadership to ensure that teams don’t have implementation barriers (ability) and finally we embed key ‘moments’ – times both teams and leaders pause to reflect on the next action – which are our trigger moments for using newfound skills.
Find out more about BJ Fogg’s work at:
This is still a work in progress, but from the feedback so far it seems like we’re moving in the right direction. If you would like to have more information about the training/coaching programs just say hello.