Tag Archive: culture change

Lately  ‘Mother Nature’ has shared with me some very unexpected (but welcome) situations. These situations can’t specifically be linked with teaching and training; however, through analogy they illustrate some fine teaching/training lessons.

We returned to vacation to find that the weeds had taken over. Anxious to return our property back to ‘normal’ my husband attacked the weeds in the lawn. He moved to the herb garden and asked me about the ‘weeds’: “Did you plant tomatoes with the herbs OR are these just weeds?”

I examined the patch of plants: “I didn’t plant tomatoes there, but those ‘weeds’ look like tomatoes.”  We later surmised that our (home-made) compost must have provided tomato seeds.

To the left is a mid-summer picture of my basil along with my unexpected tomatoes. [Look closely for the immature tomatoes.]

Now, nearing the end of the season, I can say that I’ve harvested between 20 and 30 tomatoes from perhaps the most prolific tomato plant I’ve ever had. There is truly something to be said about companion planting!

While I considered my unexpected bounty a surprize, I had no idea I was in for a real treat: something some people NEVER experience.

Last weekend, while out for what we planned to be a brief hike in part of the Silver Creek Wetlands, I noticed something that I’d never seen before in this small creek: fish about 2 to 3 feet long.


the fighting, the struggling and the abundance of salmon (or what we think were salmon).

[Further research has shown that the greenish 2-3 foot fish we encountered were probably Chinook Salmon and the 2-3 foot fish with a blacker tone may have been Steelhead (Trout).]

For two hours we ran up and down the stream watching the salmon. One salmon, that we think was a female, was quite an aggressor. She was docile until another salmon approached, then she jumped over, bit and chased each salmon back down the stream.

We tried to ‘coach’ the others to get by her and were delighted that a small salmon leveraged the fight the aggressive fish was having with a larger fish. That opportunistic salmon escaped up the river.

Not all the salmon were as lucky. For some, ONE step forward meant TWO steps back. While some salmon just kept persevering, others were too exhausted to continue and lay lifeless along the river bank.

We cheered on the salmon until we noticed the time and then we hightailed it home.

Anxious to share this experience with you, I thought about how ‘Mother Nature’ illustrated some lessons that can be applied to the Teaching/Training World: 

  1. Give the unexpected a chance. When facing the unexpected give it some time to ‘grow’ and mature. (Don’t ‘weed it out‘ too quickly.) You may be surprized with the results, just as I was surprized with my bounty of tomatoes.
  2. Consider surrounding (or supplementing) your material with companion material. Even if you only prepare to speak about a companion topic, testimonial or reference. Extending your training in this manner makes it more relevant, more interesting and the results may be more ‘fruitful’ (just like the tomatoes).
  3. When you don’t seem to be making any progress, (examine the situation) and persevere. If you face a barrier that is a person, I suggest you start to employ Culture Change Management techniques. (Here is a link to my post on what Trainers need to know about Culture Change.) Whereas, if you’ve made some progress and then seem to have been pushed back; find comfort in the knowledge that going forward should be easier the second time you try it. (Remember if you did it once you can do it again!)

Have you applied lessons from ‘Mother Nature’ in the classroom or on a webinar? Please share with us by leaving a comment.

Until next time… Be flexible and observant so that you may enjoy the surprizes that work and life will bring.


I’m working with iMovie on a Video Trailer some of my salmon footage. Stay tuned…


Turkey Dinner

The days are getting shorter…

The leaves have fallen from the trees…

The air has a bit of a nip in it…

Thanksgiving Day approaches.

While some people are feeling festive, many businesses are getting quite serious as Black Friday approaches.

What will their year look like: will they make it or break it?

It’s time to get serious and “Talk Turkey” about training.

It can’t be ALL fun and games ALL of the time.


Ultimately, you, as a trainer, are paid to get results: either enabling a culture change or training your audience with new knowledge or a new skill. Although exercises and games can be fun and may increase your popularity with students, the sponsor of your program is paying you and THEY WANT RESULTS.

Beware that those fun exercises (especially for soft skills training or team building) may sidetrack or hijack your training.

Debriefing the exercise is PARAMOUNT. Take the time, involve your audience: What did they learn? What does that illustrate? How can they apply that knowledge back on the job?  Yes, you could save time and explain to them what the exercise illustrates… But that may not ensure they ‘get it’ and can relate the lesson to their ‘world’. (For more on being audience driven see this blog post.)

I know, this sounds a bit like parenting: “What did you learn? Why? What will you do differently next time?” BUT many trainers don’t take the time to reflect on exercises, activities and games… perhaps that is because they are driven by the ‘happy sheets’/feedback ratings at the end of the session instead of the real driver behind the training: getting to results.


When designing a program, you start with the objectives. (What will be the result of your program/session? What will attendees walk away with upon completion?) From there you can measure and evaluate how well your program addresses those objectives (and ultimately impress your sponsor with your success.) [For more on interpretting training feedback, download the Strategic Feedback System whitepaper available in the box on the right-hand side of this page. I will be removing that download very shortly. So download it now and let me know what you think.]

However, what happens if your ultimate objective is something you can’t achieve with training alone? What if your program is  reliant on some outside event, equipment, activity or stimulus?

Why do I bring this up? Supporting culture change is challenging. There is a difference between what you can impact as a trainer and what needs additional measures to be successful. An understanding of culture change may help you be more consultative which may impact your sponsor’s success. For an over of culture change and the critical success factors, consult my most popular (and talked about) blog post: “What Trainers Need to Know about Culture Change.


“At the end of the day”, focus on what you can impact, relate your training to the ‘world’ of your audience and thank them for their attention and participation. Remember you are a ‘guest’ in their world.

And this week be thankful for friends & family, health, happiness

and all the little things that we take for granted.

It can all be taken away in an instant.


Thanks for reading… Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving.  Gobble, gobble! 🙂


Flickr Creative Commons Image by grapesmc

If you think you are going to TEACH someone to change, THINK AGAIN: Teaching (or training) is only one part of enabling change.

I was going to title this post: ‘Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks’, but understanding culture change is important for teaching the both the new and experienced AND both the young and mature students. (So, I’d really have to title my post ‘Teaching A Dog New Tricks’.)


Just like a stubborn puppy, regardless of age you may run into resistance: serious resistance.

Time pressures usually get blamed for sabotaging new skills or behaviours back on-the-job; however, many times the real reason is lack of desire: some people just don’t embrace change. These people may use every excuse not to change: they don’t understand it, it was NIH (not invented here), they say that it is doomed to failure…  Yes, and the list goes on. Why does this happen?  Well, they are comfortable with the way their job is today and may feel the change is a threat: to their job, their seniority… But what is important to understand is that some of these folks MAY go out of their way to undermine the awareness campaign, instruction program or the implementation. Why? Because they don’t have any desire to change.

Think about it… You may be AWARE that dieting to drop a few pounds is a good thing; however, you may not have the DESIRE to change until you are told by your seamstress that you must lose a few pounds to fit into your grandmother’s wedding dress for your wedding  OR you told by a doctor that you need to lose a few pounds so they can operate on you to save your life. If you are going to change, you need the DESIRE to change.

Even a general understanding of culture change will better equip you to design your sessions and (ask and) ensure the right support is in place. Before, during and after the learning occurs, you want to ensure that the team has collectively done everything possible give the change being implemented a chance.


So what is change management: specifically, culture change management?

Culture change management deals with the people side of change. There are a few models, methods and frameworks that address culture change management. Prosci‘s ADKAR® Model seems to be one of the most popular.

Here’s the ‘skinny’ on Prosci‘s ADKAR® Model. The effective management of the people dimension of change requires managing to five key goals:

  • Awareness of the need to change.
  • Desire to participate and support the change (which is key to learning…).
  • Knowledge of how to change (and what the change looks like).
  • Ability to implement the change (skills & behaviours) on a daily basis. (This turns knowledge into action.)
  • Reinforcement to sustain (and promote) the change. After achieving the change: Recognition, rewards, celebrations. (Yes, I know that sounds like good people management practices and yes it is.)

If you keep those goals in mind, you will have more insightful conversations on ‘change’ in general.


I am simplifying the whole topic of  ‘managing culture change’ and hopefully you’ll be curious enough to go out and seek more information.  The training strategy will be part of the overall change management plan (which includes other areas such as: communications, coaching, sponsorship and resistance management). When you are developing and delivering training there are a few KEY things you should keep in mind with respect to culture change: (This list is not exhaustive!)

1. Collaborate with the other members of the ‘Change Team’. You are not alone, communicate and work with the other members of the team. Remember the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. (Here are some Team Teaching Tips that may be applicable beyond the Teaching Team.)

2. Design your session to help manage resistance from the workers:

  • Build-in the answers to typical objections (especially if there is opposition to new processes or technologies that may appear to increase their workload, responsibility or accountability).
  • Explain what-is-in-it-for-them and ensure them they aren’t being engineered out of a job.

3. Provide a forum to collect and address all other criticisms or new objections. Report any new type of resistance back to the change team for ideas on how to handle and prevent in the future.

4. Leverage the sponsor of the change:

  • Have him/her open the session to set the stage to answer as many of the ‘why’ questions upfront.
  • Have him/her send invitations to your session.  Having a VP (or boss) issue an invitation is more powerful than HR or Training sending out the invitation. (Remember, you can’t train people if they don’t show up.)

5. Provide a forum for the attendees to experiment and become comfortable with the new process, behaviour or technology.

  • Consider providing some Performance Support material to assist back on-the-job.
  • Supplement  with individualized coaching.

6. Design-in reinforcement showcasing and highlighting success. For example, if Harry was a successful early adopter, invite Harry to help reinforce the change wasn’t difficult and provide some practitioner’s hints and tips. (This will reinforce that changing isn’t black magic or mumbo jumbo.)

You may not have to deal with all these complications if you are in a small business environment. However, consider leveraging the pioneers, associations and communities to help you with taking people through the different stages of the change process.


“The only constant is change.” Heraclitus of Ephesus a Greek philosopher (c.535 BC – 475 BC)

As a Trainer you are perfectly positioned to help (and accelerate) the change process:

  • Help manage resistance, address objections and try to make your attendees feel comfortable with why the change is happening as well as back at the job expectations.
  • Leverage the sponsor and the rest of the change team to help in designing and delivering you session.
  • Provide a forum to reinforce the success (and lessons learned) of the early adopters.

So, embrace change. Think about how you develop and deliver instructional material. Now, knowing the goals or phases of culture change, how are you going to change how you develop and deliver material?

In the spirit of change, lets change things up. Please leave me a comment and tell me what you would like me to write about. What would help you change and become a more effective trainer?

Until next time…


Flickr Creative Commons Image by Ernst Vikne