What is the L&D equivalent of the Boeing flight manual?

We held a fascinating workshop in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on Friday afternoon.  The subject: how to help volunteers at Embassies around the world deliver short workshops to their colleagues?  The catch: we need to offer this support remotely.

We thought about what goes wrong with facilitation.  “Why am I here?”  “What am I supposed to be learning?” “Where is the expert?” “I’m bored” “Why doesn’t that person shut up?”  We thought about technology failures and bad spaces for interaction.

Not because we’re negative people.  Well maybe some of us are, especially by a Friday afternoon.  But we need to help colleagues to avoid these common pitfalls.

We also thought about all the ways things could go right: engagement, enthusiasm, boundaries being broken down, new learning habits being formed.

One colleague suggested a checklist approach.  And then, by coincidence, another colleague lent me The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande and I read most of it this weekend.  It’s brilliant.  So here’s the question: if surgeons and pilots can raise their performance by using checklists, why not facilitators?  What is the L&D equivalent of the Boeing flight manual?

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4 thoughts on “What is the L&D equivalent of the Boeing flight manual?

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  1. I’m thinking about the what ifs. Boeing will have flashing lights in the cockpit and the manual tells you how to fix the problem; amateur facilitators will need help spotting the flashing lights before selecting the fix.

    What is the equivalent of a workshop flight simulator?

    1. Natalie, Wouldn’t a workshop flight simulator for us be a running of the course with our colleagues? I don’t mean a walkthrough, I mean a full-tilt-boogey run of the course and collecting detailed feedback. I suppose that being a co-facilitator might also work, with a very experienced facilitator with you, and again a very highly detailed and frank washup session with feedback.

  2. I’m a huge Gawande fan. Check out his book Better. Sometimes it’s the really small things, really doable things, that make a big difference. For me that means, how do I make other people feel welcome in the classroom. The start of the session makes all the difference. One point I recall Gawande makes in his book is that surgeons who bother to know the names of the other staff in the room have a higher success rate (meaning their patients survived more often) then those surgeons who don’t know names. A simple thing, getting to know the names of others on your team or in the room, makes all the difference. I’d add that to the facilitator checklist.

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