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.

Every Delivery Should Be a Pilot

As a patient, how would you like to know that it is your surgeon's first time going solo on you? Yet, we announce to participants that they are the guinea pigs in a pilot course. Pilot courses are great, but for designers and trainers... not participants. Learners experience the course differently when told to evaluate. They don't trust the process as much and they look for problems that may not be there. Don't tell them it is a pilot until afterwards. Then ask for their input. Also, training should be iterative. Constant improvements. When we label the first delivery a pilot, it creates a sense that once complete, the design is over. Every delivery should be a pilot-- but behind the scenes.


If a doctor prescribes medication, we take it. If a mechanic tells us our car stays in the shop, we begrudgingly accept. But if a trainer says it'll take a full day to teach a skill, the client says, "make it two hours." In no other industry do we constantly have to negotiate the duration of, or the approach to take. I am not claiming we are as important as doctors, but our programs cost a lot--- so why not trust the expert? Or... if not, hire someone else. The root of the problem is training is not viewed as essential. And, when we continually lower quality to meet logistics, we are agreeing and accepting that valuation. Yes--meet customer requirements, but do not accept lower standards.

Allocating Time

As a designer or trainer, what do you spend the most time doing? Many of my friends spend a tremendous amount of time making outlines, agendas, and materials. They live in meetings. We have forgotten our purpose, or we have missed the path for reaching that purpose. Training is an experience. Training develops skills. The more participants do and the less the trainer does, the better. Spending lots of time making materials pretty, editing timings on agendas, or meeting constantly to debate which spontaneous comment will be said at 10:32 is missing the point. Know your goal. Pick an activity to reach that goal, use content as appropriate, and have fun.