Tip #813: Action versus Intention

“My father taught me that you can read a hundred books on wisdom and write a hundred books on wisdom, but unless you apply what you learned then its only words on a page. Life is not lived with intentions, but action.”  Shannon Alder

For years, I’ve insisted that the lead-in to the learning objectives should be: “During the workshop, the participants will... “ My rationale is that skill-building training should ensure the active practice of those skills during the program, where the participants can build some confidence in their ability to use their new skills. This is particularly important, considering the fact that post-session, most participants will jump back into their busy schedules with little to no time to practice any further.

But, if we design learning experiences by beginning with the end in mind, perhaps the lead-in to learning objectives should be: “After the workshop, the participants will be able to…” The rationale for this is that our focus should be on actual post-session performance on the job.

However, I get hung up on the post-session “will be able to,” which is different than a post-session “will.” One implies intention and the other implies action. Following this logic, perhaps the lead-in to learning objectives might be: “After the workshop, the participants will…”

But, of course, we can’t guarantee that they will use their new skills post-session. There may be system constraints that impair their ability to change their behavior. Perhaps recognition of this explains the “will be able to…” phrasing.

On the other hand, we can guarantee that they will use their new skills while they are in the training session.

I would argue that, if participants can perform the skills during the training session, they will be able to perform them once back on the job.

When I craft the lead-in to learning objectives, I think I’m going to stick with my focus on active performance during the training session instead of the possibility of performance after the session.

What is your thinking on this?

May your learning be sweet.


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