Tip #430: Getting Mileage Out of a Car Metaphor

“An idea is a feat of association, and the height of it is a good metaphor.” Robert Frost  

I’ve been doing some curriculum design and delivery work for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, so transportation themes and metaphors have been on my mind lately. I have to admit that I’ve been having a lot of fun with them.

For example, here are the module titles and corresponding learning objectives for three different days of training.

It’s Both the Journey and the Destination, a one-day team building and change management training program for an intact unit (in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections):

Get in the Driver’s Seat: 1. Explain your contribution to the team mission.

Merge into Traffic: 2. Describe the importance of fulfilling the mission and leaving a positive legacy.

Anticipate Roadblocks: 3. List the distractions, disruptions and distemper that have impacted and will continue to affect the team.

Change Lanes: 4. Practice going forward even when the members keep changing and 5. Discuss how to sustain a team through membership changes.

Avoid Traffic Jams: 6. Assess how to successfully handle project meetings when they have limited authority.

Open Up on the Highway: 7. Plan how to stay on track in the face of changes, both large and small.

Reach Your Destination.

Day One of a two-day training series for new managers was titled: Getting Out of the Weeds.

Getting into the Driver’s Seat: 1. Define the roles and responsibilities of a manager.

Checking the Road Map: 2. Discuss the expectations of the senior management team.

Enjoying the Ride: 3. Describe how to function within the agency culture.

Reading the Road Signs: 4. Explain how to get to know your program area and 5. Identify where to get answers.

Turning on the Windshield Wipers: 6. Assess the skills necessary for managing your program area and 7. Plan how to organize your tasks and manage your time.

Switching Drivers: 8. Explain the impact of clarifying decision making authority and 9. Create a delegation action plan.

Taking the Off Ramp.

Day Two was titled: Where the Rubber Meets the Road.

Putting Gas in the Tank: 1. List the issues or concerns you have or anticipate having with your supervisors.

Adjusting the Mirrors: 2. Discuss project leadership techniques and 3. Practice team meeting management strategies.

Changing Lanes: 4. Assess the steps involved in implementing and managing change.

Watching Out for Pedestrians: 5. Plan how to relate to employees who competed for your position.

Deciding Where the Rubber Meets the Road: 6. Discuss the role of communication, coaching, mentoring and problem solving in effectively supervising supervisors.

Getting Past Roadblocks: 7. Determine the best response for handling real job situations and 8. Explain why it is important to aim for respect, not likeability.

Moving On: 9. Complete a personal development plan.

As you can see, cars were a rich minefield for me! I even found little plastic cartoon cars to reinforce the metaphor.

I’d love to hear about how you have used metaphors in your training programs!

May your learning be sweet.


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