In Change Management, Facilitation Skills, People Skills, Team Effectiveness

Last week I met a Mercedes-Benz driving coach – please note he was not a driving “instructor”. His business card says very clearly that he is a Driving Coach. Listening to him, I was soon convinced this wasn’t just a job title – there was a difference in approach that got me thinking.

He said ”I don’t teach people to drive, I coach them”. Rather than following a strict lesson by lesson syllabus, a driving coach allows the learner to “own” the lesson time by deciding for themselves what they want to cover. The coach guides by asking the right questions and getting the learner to think – always open questions by the way, “How do you feel about…?”, “What things do you think may affect…?”. The learning process is experiential and exploratory, and I witnessed this driving coach ask his pupil to draw out a mind map, to find out what he’d learnt. Wow!

So what about ChangeQuest and other accredited “training” companies? Should the project management industry revisit this expression, and is it a bit deceptive?

We talk readily about “training companies”, but I realise this risks being an unimaginative and inadequate description, that doesn’t begin to describe what is on offer.

Training is what we do with dogs. It involves repeating simple tasks until they are done perfectly and a reward can be given. With dog training, reward and appreciation of what the animal is doing is absolutely everything. A basic principle is that even if you can catch the dog doing something good by chance, you should still reward – this highlights and embeds the good behaviour. It works for people too. We all like to be appreciated and are more likely to repeat behaviour for which we are rewarded. So, the “training” approach can be important – but is that what you would experience during a project or change management training course?

I’d suggest that if Mercedes-Benz driving instructors are ”coaching”, then ChangeQuest certainly is too – we would think of it as facilitating learning.

“Training” techniques have moved on a lot since the old “chalk and talk” approach, where the goal was knowledge-transfer rather than learning. But, we’ve stuck with the same “training” terminology, making it quite hard for anyone buying courses to know what the study experience is likely to be.

ChangeQuest uses brain-friendly learning methods, and we talk about our courses being interactive, practical, and focused on the specific needs of the learner. But, Mercedes Benz have convinced me that the project management training sector has a lot to learn – and sometimes we find inspiration in the most surprising places….

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