First go at running a new course

I ran a 3 day training course last week.   I received the only content I was to be given (311 slides in a power point presentation) at 5pm the day before via email and did not have a printer to cope with that volume of presentation. 

IAPA:  The 311 is the actual number of slides not some made up statistic as occurs with 87.25% of the stats in my blog.

I did attend a train-the-trainer a month ago, but my notes and working papers were quarantined due to their secret and market sensitive nature 

IAPA:  The course reveals how IT projects can actually be run successfully without too much effort- which everyone always suspected, but that the IT world wants kept secret from all but an inner enclave of 3,445,621 members of the industry.

So I went through my 311 slides online and turned up ready to be fried by the students for being underprepared.  But my co-trainer Shane demonstrated that if you know what you are doing, 311 slides can actually be made interesting and relevant.

IAPA:  If you are wondering what the IAPA things are, they are “inconvenient and pointless asides”.  They do not add much to the flow of the article but allow the expulsion of waffle I have contained within me.   They apparently annoy old english teachers and provide them with Kamic revenge for some of the books and assignments they inflict on young students, who would otherwise develop a love for the english language.

Shane kicked off the day with stories of adventures in agile projects and he got people interested enough to start asking questions and challenging ideas.  And after that the day went well and based on that so did the rest of the course.

It was fascinating to hear how many of the challenges faced by the students were consistent across the group, and with my own adventures in past projects. 

For example I was able to provide a student with the following advice on stakeholder management 

“ouch, that would hurt, maybe you should try being firm but collaborative while you ask him to put the baseball bat down”

 … and then I nodded in a knowing but understanding way.  I think he understood my advice and we both understood that it is a lot more fun giving advice in training courses, than dealing with well armed but poorly civilised stakeholders in the wild.

So the main trick for training seems to be to get the students interested in debating with you early, and keep them from realising how much less painful it is to train people that run projects, so they don’t cross the fence and run training courses.

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About James King

I coach organisations in how to better make use of the untapped talent they have in their people and to explore new ways of understanding and solving new and old problems I live in Sydney with my wife and daughter and have no real hobbies beyond the usual boring ones of reading, writing and watching tv.
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4 Responses to First go at running a new course

  1. tom bosley says:

    hello, i am a commerce student who is interested in a career in training. I currently work part-time for transperth and have been conducting train the train conductor trainer training, which i really enjoy.

    now i’m trying to plot my potential career progression and figured you might have some helpful feedback based on your extensive experience as a trainer. Is this what I can expect:

    Co-Trainer … 1 year
    Trainer … 2 years
    Train-the-Co-Trainer Co-Trainer … 1 year
    Train-the-Co-Trainer Trainer … 2 years
    Train-the-Trainer Co-Trainer … 1 year
    Train-the-Trainer Trainer … 2 years
    Train-the-Trainer Trainer Co-Trainer … 1 year
    Train-the-Trainer Trainer Trainer … 2 years

  2. jamesking42 says:

    Hi Tom

    Based on your detailed assessment it is clear that you have true grasp of the inner zen of training.

    It is true that it takes up to 2 years to train a train driver, even without the need for them to know what they are doing or be able to train other train drivers in training (as in driving trains, not training as in delivering education).

    And we all know that conducting is harder than driving because of the additional customer service involvement.

    But with your clear intelligence and passion I think you could look at fast tracking your career.

    My recommendation is that you try some free-form research by boarding trains and buses in Perth and running “impro” conductor workshops for the passengers.

    Maybe you can even turn this into a hit reality show as you audition passengers and put them on the spot to see if they have what it takes to be a conductor on the bus.

    Once you have 2-3 years impro experience and a hit tv show behind you, it may be relatively simple to get a role with a major transport company, perhaps even jumping right to train-the-trainer co trainer, which would be quite an accomplishment.

    I hope that helps and good luck with what is a really satisfying and meaningful career choice.

  3. tom bosley says:

    thanks. one more thing … which celebrities do you think would make good trainers? i’m thinking tom selleck because of his commanding moustache and a little-bit-too-short shorts. or tina yothers because she doesn’t have much else going on right now.

  4. jamesking42 says:

    Both are probably fine for the show.

    But don’t worry too much about celebrity selection,there are usually some lying around when you need them.

    A good angle could be to get some old guy and get him to come up with a tag line like “thats the ticket” or “is this my stop”. It won’t be funny but he will become stereo-typed and won’t be able to leave the show when its successful.

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