Linking in with Matt

Matthew Richter posts daily comments in LinkedIn—well almost daily. You can follow him and join the conversation by going to For the benefit of our readers, we decide to compile and reprint some of his provocative pieces from the past. Let us know what you think.

SPARKing Trust

We often hear how important it is for a group of participants to trust the trainer. I agree. What does that actually mean in practice? Many years ago, Thiagi did a review of all the research and popular books on trust. He found that there are five components that must be present for a group to trust you. You must seem Selfless--you must not appear to have ulterior motives. You must be Predictable--not erratic or crazy. You must be Authentic--credible and believable. There must be Relatedness--over the course of the day, a level of intimacy and engagement occur. And, finally, you must have the Know-how, or the competence to stand in front of them. You must have SPARK.

Concurrent Design

Build the airplane while flying it. When Thiagi taught me this core principle of his design methodology, my mind was blown. We should stop designing in a laboratory, or behind a computer screen, and try activities out on real people, live. If we are using activities, and we have an SME in the room, and we know what the business outcomes are, then we are ready. Design is iterative. Accept it won't be perfect, ever. I want to experience how people react, hear their questions, and leverage their shared knowledge. The time spent doing analysis first, meeting stakeholders, and revising agendas over and over adds no value to reaching the ultimate goal.

Training Schedules

Why do we structure training to fit a schedule? For example, why do we believe a leadership course is 16 hours long with breaks? Obviously, logistics must be considered and certainly influence how we design and deliver training. But, have we gone too far? Are we convinced that a particular topic can and should be taught in a specific amount of time? Will it work for everyone? How do we know? Learning is messy, and often unpredictable. The more constraints we put on it can undermine what we hope is the longer-term goal of retention and application. Logistics and time should be the last things considered. What ensures learning is the much higher priority.