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.

Creating Surveys

Creating a kind of survey such as a smiley sheet is more complex than it may seem. To do that, you should be clear about what questions you want to answer. You better know why you are asking them. You should know how you will collect your data and analyze them. More importantly, be sure to ask a single question. Often, we mistakenly put into the question more than one idea as we try and qualify it for specificity. This causes participants to interpret what you are asking differently and can skew your results. And, most importantly, are you willing to change anything if the results indicate you should? Many other rules apply, but this is a good start.

The Only Question

There is only one question I care about as a trainer and a designer: What does the client want people to do differently as a result of the program? There are a lot of other questions I also ask, like what problem am I trying to solve, or how does the new skill solve that problem, and so forth. But, to me, the most vital information is to determine that vision of the delta: the change we want to see. Once I know that answer, the rest of the design challenges all come together like an easy jigsaw puzzle.

The Lazy Trainer

The best trainer is a lazy trainer. The more a trainer does, the less the participants learn. The more a trainer prepares slides and workbooks, the less the participants learn. We spend too much time making materials and presentations perfect and less time making activities that put learners to work. Even our activities are maniacally over-prepared. More time is spent on how the activity artifacts look than making sure we run a good exercise. We talk a good game when we say engagement, but that works best when we sit down, stop talking, and stop obsessing over slides. The good news: everyone who reads this message probably already does this. The bad news: there aren't enough of us.