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Design Philosophy

Seven key principles serve as the foundation for every aspect of Think Training's program design:

Target Only Strategically Important Information and Skills

We work hard before, during and after each training program to ensure that every element of design and delivery focuses on the skills that your employees most need to master in order to implement your business strategy effectively. The work required to keep your program tightly focused on only the skills your employees need most — work that may include a formal needs analysis, extensive field research, and/or informal conversations with you and high-performing employees — pays for itself many times over. Employees are more engaged in the training and retain more of what they learn. Also, because the training gives students examples of how their most successful peers handle the most difficult challenges as well as opportunities to practice handling situations exactly like the ones they face in real life, they emerge from training ready to tackle the challenges that are most important to your company's success.

Approach Participants As Though They Are "Customers" Who Need to Be Sold

To ensure that program participants absorb and apply the full repertoire of skills covered in their training, every Think Training program treats participants as though they were customers. Before participants are asked to adopt a particular mind set, try a conceptual model or "use" a new skill, the training design will give them a first-hand opportunity to see and experience the need for that new skill or model. Only then will they be asked to practice using the skill. And, the opportunities for practice will be under realistic, challenging conditions.

Combine Classroom Learning with On-the-Job Experience

"Experience is the best teacher, but the tuition is often prohibitive."
— Anonymous

Learning by doing has always been the fastest way to master a job. Unfortunately, the pain and expense of mistakes made while learning on-the-job may expose the employee, your company and/or your customers to unacceptable risks.

Classroom and Web-based training can never substitute entirely for learning on the job, because employees learn the most — and retain more of what they've learned — by doing. But, at their best, classroom and Web-based training can promote effective learning while substantially reducing the risks.

At Think Training, we recognize that both forms of learning — classroom and on-the-job — are valuable and necessary. Consequently, we do everything possible to combine the best of both. For example, we:

Incorporate Real-Life Experience in the Classroom.
To create a learning environment in the classroom that comes as close as humanly possible to on-the-job conditions, we make maximum use of dramatic, video case studies based on actual situations. These case materials fully engage students, give them opportunities to learn and apply new skills in realistic situations, and substantially enhance the quality and durability of learning.

Equip Students with Job Aids and Planning Tools On-the-Job. To facilitate application of skills learned and help students continue to develop their skills after they return to their jobs, we develop and emphasize practical job aids and planning tools that make it easy for students to apply their new skills back on-the-job.

Help Managers Integrate Training in Day-to-Day Operations. To help students capitalize on their training fully, we make certain that students' managers know not only what the training has covered but also how they can follow-up with day-to-day coaching and reinforcement.

Make Students Responsible for Their Own Training

Unless they're motivated to learn for reasons of their own, adult participants often won't be receptive to training. But, even motivated participants learn best if they're actively engaged in and, as much as possible, take charge of the training process themselves. Instead of listening passively to an instructor's lecture — no matter how entertaining it may be — participants need opportunities to discuss the situations they personally find most challenging, actively explore their own and other participants' ideas and experiences, and practice using new skills under realistic conditions.

For all these reasons, we design our programs to help students discover — for themselves — why and when they need to use the ideas/skills being taught. Then, to make sure that the focus stays on participant learning — not the instructor's expertise or performance ability — we design exercises and modules so that the participants' experience, ideas and contributions in class become the key force driving force their learning.

Focus On Real-Life Situations

All the concepts, models, skills and exercises included in our courses are based upon — and drawn from — real life situations and the actual experiences of top-performers who've handled those situations effectively. We rely on a minimum of presentation or lecture in order to keep students focused on active, practical discussions of their own experiences. Our instructors all are experienced top-performers themselves —- people who've carried a bag or held responsible management positions — so they have tremendous credibility with students. But we believe that the richest learning — the learning that is most likely to make a difference on the job — takes place through the exchange of students' own ideas and experiences, in-depth discussion of actual situations and practice using new skills and concepts in the classroom. Consequently, our instructors work to ensure that your students are the "stars" of their own training.

Design for Totally Individualized Learning

Every participant in a given program comes to the training with a different set of skills and has a different set of personal strengths and improvement opportunities. Consequently, if the objective is to produce meaningful change for each participant, the program must be designed in ways that encourage and enable each individual to focus on the knowledge and skills most appropriate to his or her needs.

To accomplish this goal, we provide a wide variety of materials — diagnostic feedback instruments, self-assessment tools, and exercises — designed so that each student can draw lessons that apply to him or her alone.

For example, in a sales training class of 16 students that includes one of our Distinctions™ Surveys, each participant would receive personal survey feedback from his or her customers. The survey and the survey analysis process would be identical for everyone in the room. But the conclusions each participant draws from his/her personal data will be unique to him or her as an individual. Likewise the plans each participant develops in order to capitalize on personal strengths, address personal improvement opportunities and apply new skills back on-the-job. In much the same way, participants will emerge from each and every module of their training having learned lessons unique to them in precisely those area(s) where they needed the most improvement.

Ensure That Each Student Applies Lessons Learned

Learning in a Think Training course is never academic or hypothetical. Students plan instead of planning to plan. Every exercise, survey instrument, self-assessment tool and discussion is mapped directly to one or more of the specific skills or concepts covered in the training and geared to help students develop effective ways of handling situations just like the ones they face in reality on-the-job. At the beginning of the course, students are asked to choose a specific, important situation on-the-job that they need to handle more effectively. Then, throughout the program, students apply what they've learned to that situation using the planning tools they've just used for classroom exercises and role plays. By the end of the program, each student has a comprehensive, detailed plan — often involving an approach unlike anything they've tried before — for handling a situation that has defied their best efforts in the past.

Because these seven design principles guide everything we do, you can be sure — as shown again and again by our clients' follow-up measurements — that the program we build for you will significantly enhance your employees' implementation of corporate strategy. Our design philosophy helps to ensure that participants find our training programs engaging and fast-paced. Far more important, they are the cornerstone of our programs' ability to produce meaningful results and enduring changes in performance.
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