Best Practices: Following and Setting Trends in Training (Part 1 of 2)

“I wish I’d thought of that” has to be the creative trainer’s lament. So, reading a New York Times article about a new trend referred to as “right-brain meetings,” you have to really fight the urge to utter the lament and wonder how you missed this one—unless you’re Infopeople Training Consultant Cheryl Gould.
Cheryl has for years been doing what Elaine Glusac writes about in the April 30, 2008 Times article: using “accessories ranging from Slinkys to the video game Guitar Hero to help drum up better brainstorming”—and, by extension, learning.
Glusac reports that the “new method owes some debt to the books “A Whole New Mind,” by Daniel H. Pink, and “The Rise of the Creative Class,” by Richard Florida.” Admitting that I’ve read and admired much of what Pink and Florida have written, I also think we should give credit where credit is due: Cheryl and other Infopeople colleagues have been effectively injecting this sort of creative fun and inspiration into work, learning, and training for quite a while.
Those of us who attended some of the “Master Trainer” sessions she led in 2002 remember that the simple act of tossing rubber balls and other toys around at the beginning of those workshops helped us enjoy and learn the lesson that ice-breakers help to stimulate learning. And you can be sure that we engaged in viral learning by carrying that idea back into our own training sessions so other trainers and learners would help to spread the word.
Attendees at the California Library Association conference in Long Beach last year remember Cheryl and others enthusiastically engaging everyone they could reach by demonstrating and encouraging others to try Guitar Hero and a variety of other games. The result is that skeptics who might have seen no place for gaming in libraries walked away with a visceral understanding of how it might be effective in drawing teens and others into their facilities. They came; they learned; they had fun.
It’s no accident that Cheryl’s Infopeople workshops sell out fairly quickly. Those who know her recognize that whatever she teaches is going to be useful, applicable to their work in libraries, inspirational, and entertaining. When she teaches us about Flip cameras and helps us learn to operate them, in her Customer Service in a Self-Check World workshop, we know we’re going to be using them on behalf of the libraries and customers we serve as soon as we can bring these tools into our own workplace.
As we review Glusac’s reporting, we are left with at least a couple of reactions: the feeling that we are already on familiar ground because of what we’ve seen from Cheryl and her colleagues, and curiosity about what new trends Cheryl is already helping to establish months or years before reporters and other writers bring them to an even larger audience.
Next: Creating Trends in the Contra Costa County Library