The Law of Fun
September 28, 2017 | 1011 Views
This blog, #5 in a series, first appeared on August 22, 2017 on the John Isbell Training website.
Do you realize how much pressure there is on the person who is writing the Law of Fun? You gotta bring your "A" Game if you are going to write about fun, but can we get real for a second? Training is not always fun. There it is. I said it. Most of the time in fact, training is a chore. It's often something you HAVE to do, not anything you WANT to do. If you have been reading this series, you know that the better and more compelling you make your training programs, the more people will have the desire to learn what you are teaching (if you have not read the previous blogs, please feel free to go back and read those as well. Go on. We’ll wait.). In this law we take the Law of Desire and we turn it up hotter than that habanero pepper that you bit into that one time because your friend swore it wasn’t “that hot,” only to see your face turn a shade of red usually only reserved for actual fire (like the fire that my friend’s pants were on after that monumental lie). What I’m saying is, the more fun we make training, the more the trainee will desire it.
So the question that has plagued the learning and development community for decades upon decades is “How do we make it fun?” Well I’m glad you asked. We do that in 3 ways: Inclusion, Distraction, and Interaction. Let’s look at inclusion first. When I say inclusion I’m really talking about the way in which we develop training materials or tools. I’m talking about including the people you might be training in the development process of the materials or tools they will be using. For example, at a couple of the concepts I worked at, we were going to make training videos. As you can guess, most training videos for years have been awful with unrealistic actors saying cheesy lines that no real person in that job would actually say. My idea was simple, let’s have the people that do the work, make the video in the way they’d actually talk and do the job. So we held a contest. We told them to make a video with their phones or tablets about the topic we were working on. We said they can be funny, they can be realistic, they can even be dramatic if you thought it was called for, but they had to be authentic and in their own voice. We got 100’s of submissions from all over the country. We ended up splicing several winning videos together to make a compilation version. We gave them prizes and we sent a small prize to anyone who made a video. Those videos were the most watched videos we ever produced. Our people were included in the making of these materials. They became the subject matter experts and they enjoyed seeing the creativity that their fellow team members put into it. The next time we ran a contest like that we doubled the amount of participants.
The second way to create fun programs and tools is through Distraction. Normally when I say distraction it's because I have noticed something shiny out of the corner of my eye and I forget what I'm talking about. Or food. That distracts me too. Like when I think about my wife's famous peach cobbler dessert she makes. It's so good. She makes it with...wait, I did it again. Sorry, let's get back on point. In this case, what I mean by distraction is that if you create programs and tools that make them think they are playing games, they don’t realize they are actually learning valuable information that will help them in their jobs. I won't go into a rant about companies that are afraid to embrace technology, except to say that those companies who don’t adapt to the tools that move the trainees in a way they want to consume information, will parish along with the rest of the non-adapters. Dang, that was deep wasn’t it? Sometimes I surprise myself! There are numerous instructional design companies out there who offer gamification and e-learning, interactive models and exercises that are much more fun to play and in the process, aid in learning while you are playing. When you distract people from the mundane with something they enjoy and still get your salient points across, you can have a huge impact in today’s world of constant distractions and immediate information at the touch of a button. Utilize these things in your training programs and tools to help up the fun quotient.
The third and final way you can make training fun is Interaction. You can foster this environment in a couple of ways. First, the manager and trainer must be highly interactive with the trainee. Even once the initial training is over, find ways to keep the training alive. One manager I saw would have trivia contests all the time. She’d just announce a trivia question for the day, "I’ve got no sidework for the person who gets the answer first." She’d ask the question and people would clamor to give her the right answer. She made it fun and highly interactive. Another way to have interaction is to build a community for the trainees. One way is to have a youtube channel. Another way is to have a social media page (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) for people in training to interact with each other. It also acts as a way for you to house archived information and a FAQ area as well. When people know others have their same questions they feel like they are not alone and they feel a connection with each other. Plus they can have fun and use some humor with each other using social media.
If you follow these three guidelines when developing training programs and tools, you too can have more fun than a 3-day weekend in Vegas without kids. Actually, maybe not THAT much fun. You are still in a workplace, but you can make training fun and enjoyable for those who are taking your training programs. When we make them fun, we give them the desire (see law #4) to want to learn the programs and they will take away more from them. Considering I have now repeated the Law of Desire a total of three times in this article, I have also reminded you of the Law of Repetition because things most often repeated are best remembered. This is just crazy. It’s almost like I’m a training professional trying to get you to remember these laws or something. I bet you were having so much fun you didn't even notice! Well that’s all for this week, I hope you have a great day and make it count.
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John, Amazing! Very eloquently said. One thing I learned in my time working for Disney was the difference between being an instructor and a facilitator. We were facilitators, because facilitating is all about interacting with your audience.
As a trainer I have always approached every training I do by a quote from Walt Disney: "I prefer to entertain people in the hope that they learn, rather than teach people in the hope that they are entertained"