In order to set your organization up for success you need to be able to communicate efficiently and effectively with all departments. Learning and development is crucial in order for a business to succeed. How do you ensure you are practicing the best methods in your training program? Chief Learning Rebel, Shannon Tipton, discusses out of the box thinking and blended learning techniques that will set your organization up for continued growth, development and success.

  • 00:49 – Fighting against the status quo
  • 01:43 – The power of content deconstruction
  • 04:36 – You can’t solve today’s problems with yesterday’s thinking
  • 10:25 – Reverse engineering the goal
  • 12:36 – Utilizing chatbots in training
  • 23:26 – How to solve communication issues
  • 26:25 – Defining responsibility
  • 30:11 – Creating an equation for success
  • 32:56 – How focus groups help solve the underlying issues
  • 35:43 – Why reading is the secret to growth & development
  • 39:30 – Why we should ask ‘why’ more

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Full Episode Transcription :
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Todd: (14:17)
Shannon, thanks so much for joining on the call today. I’m really excited to catch up.

Shannon: (14:21)
Me too. I’m super excited. It’s a great day. So let’s get down and dirty with it.

Todd: (14:26)
Yeah. Fighting the good fight. Right? So learning rebels is Shannon’s company. And why don’t you know at the beginning, I love for the listener to get right in your head and then maybe in your heart a little bit and figure out what led you to start learning rebels. And, and what’s your big why? Why do you do what you do and what is it that you do?

Shannon: (14:48)
Okay. Well, if you will indulge me, there’s little bit of a backstory here is learning rebels at first was simply a blog. And when I was working for corporate America, and this was Oh, probably about seven years ago I needed an Avenue for my thoughts. You know, so when you’re working in corporate America, you’re a little boxed in and maybe you have some beliefs in your head that you just need to find a voice for. And that’s when I started learning rebels just simply as a blog. Well then the universe came about and decided that I should not be in corporate America any longer and I should be out on my own. So my thought process was, you know, when you go on interviews, it’s, it’s like a date, right? So you have this, you have this situation where I’m trying to figure out if you’re good for me and you’re trying to figure out if I’m good for you.

Shannon: (15:53)
And just like any other first date, it’s all downhill from the first day, right? So if you don’t connect, you know you’re never going to connect. And I had a lot of first dates, if you will, with interviews after my last corporate job. And it was all because of my philosophy. I’m a little left of center as most of my friends would tell you, I’m a little left of center when it comes to my learning and development philosophies. And I knew that I just would not be happy working within the corporate confines again. And it wouldn’t be long before a corporation said, you know, Shannon, this just is not working. So I thought, you know what? Let’s just hang out my own shingle. And when I was thinking about a business name, my mind went back to my blog and I thought, you know what? The blog is who I am.

Shannon: (16:41)
That is my authentic self is so shouldn’t I, be my authentic self as the business. And so I lifted the name from the blog and made that the business name. And it really keeps you honest because you can’t have a business name to learning rebels and do things according to status quo. Right? So it kind of it kind of kicks your butt a little bit, you know?

Todd: (17:08)
Yea, you are boxed into a belief with that name a little bit. Right. 

Shannon: (17:14)
Yeah. Right. And all for good reasons, you know, so like I said, it keeps me honest. So that in a nutshell is how learning rebels, you know, became itself, you know, out here in the world. And when I thought about really putting this together and thinking about, okay, so now we’ve got a name, now we need sort of a, a brand and a logo and you know, and all of those things, you know, that one never thinks about when starting your own business.

Shannon: (17:49)
And a gentleman, Kevin thorn most of your listeners would probably know him. Learning nugget. He developed my logo for me and after we had a few conversations, I was like, you know what? It’s just fighting status quo. We’ve got to fight the status quo. Why do we keep doing the things that we’ve always done knowing that it’s not working, we’ve got to fight against that. And then in his mind he said, well it sounds like you need to have something that represents that fight. And I said, yeah, like you know, you’re putting on your boxing gloves in the morning and you’re ready to go out there. And, and together we decided that the boxing gloves is going to be symbolic of what learning rebels, you know, stood for. And so subsequently that’s where we are. 

Todd: (18:34)
So give you the real short and punchy version of what you do. What does learning rebels stand for and what do you do for your clients? 

Shannon: (18:43)
Well, right now we are really in the microlearning space and I love being in that space because it really does help my clients think differently, which is what I want them to do. So when clients come to me, they’re usually stuck on something and I get them unstuck. So they say, my training’s not working. Okay, well let’s reframe that problem and help you get to a place where your training is going to work for you and the humans within your organization. So what we do is we work with their strategy, with their overall learning strategy. We also work to what I call the content deconstruction. So we work with them to deconstruct their content and then reconstruct their content so that it works for their organization that really solves their organizational pain points.

Shannon: (19:43)
So, and too that it leads us to creating a series of micro learning elements, their micro learning strategy really helping them get from point A to point B. So it’s not as simple as saying, we do instructional design, it’s really as per the name. It’s, we do, we want to help you get unstuck. That’s really what our mission is. 

Todd: (20:14)
And unstuck as a, as a company trying to train their team or stuck in a number of different areas. 

Shannon: (20:23)
In a number of different areas. Usually I find that the problem isn’t as simple as creating effective training, that that’s usually not it. There’s usually something around it. So what, what does that look like? Is it because you’ve got a culture that isn’t allowing for effective, productive curiosity allowing type of training? What, what, what’s happening? Is it your management? Is it your technology? Is it your organizational culture? What is it? So the job here is to help them figure out where are the potholes in the road and help them fill those potholes, if you will, so that they become unstuck and they can continue to move forward.

Todd: (21:19)
Yeah, I love that. I love that. So one of the things I love to dive in with people with your type of experiences, you know, if they’re, if they’re experiencing these potholes, is their conventional wisdom or methodologies they’re trying that are just not working.

Shannon: (21:36)
Most likely. It’s pithy and we’ve heard it before, but it’s true. You, you can’t solve today’s problems with yesterday’s thinking. And that’s usually what is happening, you know? So they go back to the drawing board and they say, we’ve got this leadership development program, but we’re not producing leaders from it. Okay. So what they do is they go back and they reconfigure the curriculum. It’s like, well that’s not really your issue is it? You know, you haven’t really planned for what the outcome should be and how that outcome aligns with what your business really requires to be successful and what the humans really require to be successful. It’s not just substituting one piece of curriculum with another piece of curriculum. And that’s usually what happens. Or they’ll say, well, let’s make this a blend. Okay, let’s make it a blend. So they add some pre work and some post work and let them read a book and it’s like, okay, but again, we are not focusing on what the end result is supposed to be, right?

Shannon: (22:50)
So now what we do is we go in and figure out what helped them figure out what that end result is supposed to look like. How is this program supposed to help the business? And in a lot of times your program is not helping your business. In some cases it’s hurting your business. So now what do we do to fix that? And now that’s when the epiphany start to happen. That’s when the light bulb start to happen. And we can say, well, this pothole, this pothole, let’s fill that not with gravel. Let’s fill it with something that’s sustainable, you know, so that this pothole doesn’t re-appear. 

Todd: (23:27)
So, can you give a very specific example of that? Because I, I love, I love the whole approach to begin with the end in mind. Are they, are they just doing it because, you know, you mentioned at the beginning of your talk there that they wanted to develop leaders. Is it because they just know that that’s a good thing to do that’s common in the, in their market, that people are doing things to develop leaders but they’re not truly passionate about it and haven’t thought through what that actually means to the business?

Shannon: (24:00)
Yes, it’s more the latter than the former. There are a lot of organizations I’m sure that are out there that are doing leadership development. Just as an example, you know, to tick the box, this is what we should be doing for our people. Now, there are others where this comes from a really good place within their organization. They want their people to be successful on a variety of different levels, but they just don’t know how to get there. And or, or worse, they, they think they know how to get there or they’re sure they know how to get there, but nobody is really doing any checks and balances to ensure that that is indeed the right direction to go in. So I don’t see a lot of this being developed from a bad place. It’s coming from a good place, but just they’re taking the, the a, a fork in the road that’s really not going to get them where they want to be. You know, their whole plane is headed to Hawaii and some way or another, they took the flight path that’s going to take them to Arkansas. It’s like, how did that happen? So, you know, and it’s about rethinking this.

Todd: (25:04)
Yeah. So, okay, so how do you, so how do you go about it? Is it, is it a framework you follow every time? Do you work with the founders, CEOs? Do you work with the leadership team? Do you work with the whole organization? How do you go about getting your hands dirty, putting on your boxing gloves and getting this figured out?

Shannon: (25:24)
Well, interesting is that you, you asked me for a specific example and I think this is a good time to bring that up is there was a sales company, and I can’t get too specific because you know lawyers and so, but there was a sales company and traditionally there are three types of training if you will, that really start out in a good place, but really end up in, you know, in Arkansas that’s sales training, onboarding training and leadership development. Super bloated, super unfocused. We’re really not achieving the results that you want to achieve or aren’t reaching their potential. So in this case with this company we worked in, medical device company, worked with them and they were creating a program for their sales team for product knowledge. They were going to roll out a new product. They wanted to train their people on this new product, but the product was not going to be rolled out for months later.

Shannon: (26:35)
So the big question is why are we training them now? You know, because there’s going to be a knowledge gap between training them now and when the product’s going to be rolled out. Well, they felt very strongly that they need to bring the salespeople in because we wanted them to hit the ground running when the product hit the marketplace. Okay. All right. So if that’s the case, then, what makes you think that they’re going to remember what you want them to remember and they said, well, usually what we do is we bring them all in. We put them through a week’s worth of training and then we bring them all back, pick my jaw up off the ground, thinking about the expense of all of that and the, and the loss of knowledge. Right? And so when we were working through this, and we do what we call a VIP day.

Shannon: (27:25)
So we’ll go in and we’ll spend a day with whomever has fingers in the project. That could be the it could be the CEO, it could be the VP of sales. It could be the VP of HR, whoever has fingers in the project. And that is something that I hold dear to you. I don’t go to you if I cannot have this day. So what happens here is we just start saying, okay, talk to me about your goals. And they’re really confused because they’re like, well no, we want to get down and talk about the training. No, I want to really understand what you’re hoping to achieve with this. So we have this conversation about the goals and then we reverse engineer the goal. So the goal says at the end of this, they said, well, we want people to know the product. Well that’s great. That’s a given.

Shannon: (28:16)
But what is the outcome of that? Why is this salesperson understanding this product going to be important to your company? Why is that important? And so we reverse engineer that goal. And really what ended up happening is that the new product was going to be really important to the, to the life of this organization. This was not just a new product launch. This was a new product launch that was critically important to their organization. So, Oh, so why are we focused on that? Why are we focused in on the do or die of this product and putting your yesterday’s, we’ve always done it this way, behaviors there. Because clearly if you’ve always done it this way, this product launch would not be do or die, right?

Todd: (29:09)
Are you seeing if they’ve always done it that way, are you still referring to the fact that they train them way before the product was ready? And you know what, what I’m thinking is I’m sure there are circumstances where that is a good thing to introduce it. If it’s a very complex product, right? You want, you may be, you need to do that early and often. So when, so with this specific situation, why did you think that was not the best plan?

Shannon: (29:36)
Well, the end result was we kept that aspect. We brought it. Yeah, we had to. So we brought everybody in. But the key was how do we keep the product top of mind so that the sales people did not forget what they learned? One. And secondly, how important this product was to them as people. Right. So sales people, it’s all about the commission. So this is important to you and it’s important to your business. How do we keep that up? Well, the answer to that was a nontraditional approach. A less non traditional now than it was a year and a half ago when we put it in was using a chat bot. So, so what we did is we created this chat bot for this sales team. And so the, the good thing about this is that they went through the training the way that we were supposed to.

Shannon: (30:30)
We took video of some aspects of the training as well as some of the demonstrations. So that way when they hired a new person that you person was able to onboard directly with that chat bot. So the chat bot dropped along with email lessons that were dropped every couple of weeks. Every two weeks we had an email lesson drop and every week we had a chat bot conversation going. So this way no one forgot this product was coming. They did not forget about the product features and benefits. They did not forget about the negotiation tactics and they were able to, when the product did drop, they were able to take that product and take it to the physicians that needed to see it and sell it almost immediately. 

Todd: (31:22)
I think this is such a phenomenal and simple strategy, because you could just do it. Do you, is it is there a very different approach to the way those micro learning moments happen or do you basically just take the one day of training and slice it up in a little pieces and drip it out over three months? 

Shannon: (31:44)
No, every, every situation is unique. I wish I could say, yeah, just take your content, slice and dice it. It doesn’t quite work that way. 

Todd: (31:52)
Yeah, that was a loaded question, but I’m sure there are, there are aspects that you know, you can, you can do as a little reminder. I don’t know. I’m really curious just to understand more about what, what one of the messages would be as an example. 

Shannon: (32:08)
What are the messages regarding? 

Todd: (32:11)
One of the chat bot messages people would get.

Shannon: (32:14)
The key through the chat bot was to create it as a conversation, not just a, here’s your, here’s your learning for the week. Boom, here’s another one. So it was hi Todd. Are you ready to learn more about X, Y, Z product? Yes or no? Well, actually it was yes. Or later. They didn’t have an option while you say no. So they would say yes and you’d say, great. One of the things we wanted to talk to you about today was remembering how the demonstration is opposed to go with at the doctor’s office. Are you ready? This conversation will take five minutes. Are you ready for this now or would you like to reschedule this for later? I’ll do it now. Wonderful. So what were the key takeaways that you remembered? And then we’d give them three options and they would pick the one that they most, they most remembered out of it.

Shannon: (33:08)
Great. Well being that you feel like you most remember this, let’s touch base about this. And so we would drop a new video in and let them watch that video and say, does this reinforce the other two messages that you felt? Did it stick? Yes or no? Yes. Great. You know, would you like to learn something else today? Yes. Wonderful. Now here was the white paper that went along with that video. So review that white paper and give me one concept that you thought was a great features or benefits. I went to it. And so then that conversation would last maybe three minutes, the whole thing, you know? So you had a two minute demo video, you had them answering a little poll question and then you gave them a white paper, which would go into their toolbox, which when they tag, when they typed into the chat bot tool, a list of resources showed up so they could select whichever one that they wanted.

Shannon: (34:01)
So as new things were coming in, they were being placed into their toolbox. So it was a simple conversation and they could postpone it to later meaning. And then options would show up would you like this in an hour tomorrow or in 48 hours so that they could choose because they only got one a week. So we didn’t want them to feel inundated or overwhelmed, you know, with this sort of information. And so it was very, it when we did our pilot on it, one of the things that they really liked is that they felt that it was, they felt like they were talking to a person even though they weren’t talking to a person. So it still had a bit of a humanistic element to it.

Todd: (34:45)
Yeah. I think, I think that’s great. And my mind is kind of thinking how many different directions you can go with that conditional logic. Right? That’s really powerful. Is there, is there is there a time when this doesn’t work? Like for someone listening, what, what are like some of the best things to use that idea for? And then maybe some that it just doesn’t work with the chat bot or it’s too time consuming to set up.

Shannon: (35:13)
It will, it is time consuming to set up. So you do need, you do need to be able to think through the conversation because every question that you ask and needs to have a response, right? So you have to plan that. So it does take time. Now I liked the, I, I love a good chat bot and I am partnering actually shameless plug. I’m partnering with mobile coach right now, you know, to do a series with them. So I’m super excited by that because I think a chat bot can be used in a lot of instances now where shouldn’t it be used? It shouldn’t be used if you are going to use it as a fresh learning object so people don’t know anything about it. So you’re, this is not the place to teach leadership development. You’re not going to teach leadership development through a chat bot.

Shannon: (36:06)
Okay? So, but what you can do is you can provide learning reinforcement through a chat bot. So that means that when you think about chatbots or any other sort of micro learning element, it works in, it can work in conjunction with your macro content. So you have to really think then about your macro content being fully aligned fully organized. It really is relevant and high, high impact. So you want to think about high impact, high use. When you combine all of those things together and you shake it up, then you can discover that micro learning as a chat bot or any other thing can be a really nice adjunct to what you’re doing.

Todd: (37:01)
Yeah, I can, I can just envision, especially with a, with a complex topic, if they go into a full day training, you know, by the time you’re, you’re done with that one new product line, but there’s a lot of detail on it. You know, the sponge gets saturated, right? So very quickly. How quickly after the initial training do you typically see that a chat bot is effective? Is it right away? So like,

Shannon: (37:29)
Right away. Yeah, right. Not the next day, maybe the following week, you know, and even then it’s a soft, it’s a, hi, remember me? Let me refresh your memory on some of the things that you, that you learned and or something like that. It’s a very soft entrance. And then the following week you start building, right? So you have this, you have this peak. It’s not unlike a movie, right? So you have your intro, you’ve got your, your peak area, you’ve got your, maybe some conflict where you’re doing some problem solving or what have you, you know, and then you have a conclusion at the end where everybody leaves and wants more popcorn. So that’s what you want to leave them with. You want them leaving fulfilled, not exhausted. 

Todd: (38:17)
Yeah. Yeah. I like that. When you go into companies, either when you’re pitching them on, coming on board as a consultant or helping them with a project, do you bring metrics from some of these other companies you’ve worked with? So when you, when you put it in the chat bot, do you do a control group versus the using the chat bot? Have you done any testing like that?

Shannon: (38:38)
Yeah. In this case we did. We did a pilot we did a pilot against the control group, but it was a short one because we really had to hit the ground running and they were placing a lot of faith. And what we were going to do. But there are many studies out there that can tell you, you know what chatbots or augmented reality type of tools can do for you. And yes, we bring those all with us. We bring use cases so that they can see how it can be used and how it can be helpful.

Todd: (39:14)
Yeah. And this is great. You know, how would, how would this be applied in the area of sort of knowledge transfer from a mentor to a mentee? And it doesn’t have to just be the chat bot, but just like in micro learning type of situation. We are, I’m, I’m attending an event, I’m speaking at an event next week that’s a it’s a manufacturing smart manufacturing and automation summit. And one of their biggest problems is they’ve got all these older workers who’ve been in these factories and machine rooms for decades and decades, and they’re having communication trouble between these people who are just about to retire. And the millennials coming in, they just, I mean, they, it’s almost as if they don’t speak the same language. So there’s, there’s a lot of wisdom that they need to transfer that might not be sort of a Booksmart type of thing, but they’re, they’re struggling with that. So can you, can you share any stories of that or do you have any thoughts on micro learning in terms of that type of training.

Shannon: (40:17)
Well, yeah, as, as a matter of fact, I’m working with a manufacturing company right now.

Todd: (40:23)
Alright, let’s hear the goods.

Shannon: (40:26)
Yeah. Yeah. So it’s really interesting because it’s the same sort of thing. And at first I was really happy. I smiled when you said that it was a communication issue because it is, a lot of times I get I get people in workshops, I do a lot of custom workshops and some public workshops and I get people that come in and they say, well, I, I need help doing generational training. It’s like, no, no, no, you don’t, it’s not a generational issue. It’s a communication issue, you know, at its core. So when you, again, when you think about some creative problem solving and repackaging or reframing, rather the problem, the problem is that we don’t know how to talk to each other. So how can we do that better and how can we do that smarter? And one of the things that we initiated with this manufacturing company was first off, something very, very simple was the use of Google applications. So they were, you know, they were taking their notes on paper and post it notes and they were leaving them everywhere. And people obviously couldn’t, you can’t exchange knowledge, you can’t pass knowledge down on a post it note. So where are we gathering this information at? So it started off really simply, first off in meetings when you guys had a meeting with each other about solving a problem,

Shannon: (41:54)
A Google doc needs to be opened and somebody needs to be taking notes on what is happening and somebody needs to be taking pictures about what is happening and uploading those pictures and uploading those notes into a Google doc. So that was the first phase. And that was actually surprisingly easy to Institute. So the leadership saw, cause I put the leaders through a little class on how Google docs and how Google applications worked and they were amazed. They were like, Oh my God, I had no idea it was this easy. It always sounds hard. It’s like yes it does but it’s not. So we did that and that took hold. The next thing that we did is that we took that information and we put it into a Wiki.

Shannon: (42:36)
So we moved the information from Google applications into a Wiki that could sustain user generated content. So once the information moved from point A to point B, it was then a matter of organization organizing that information. And so there is a moderator who organizes the information and they rotate that position every month or so I believe, you know, somebody gets in there who’s a subject matter expert, looks at the different topics and then they decide, it’s like, yes, this is a keeper, this gets moved or this is a great best practice and this needs to be sent out and you’re not dealing with floods of information. I don’t want that.

Todd: (43:17)
It’s a living document that way. Right, right. And to get some more perspectives. I really liked that idea of rotating people through.

Shannon: (43:25)
Yup. Yeah. Because that’s the hard part because people will always ask me who’s supposed to be responsible for this? Cause I it is an organizational responsibility. It’s not a person responsibility. So if you want your organization to live and breathe moving forward, then it’s got to take an organization to do it, not just a person and not just learning and development. Learning and development is not responsible for your organization. Living and breathing. That’s everyone’s responsibility. 

Todd: (44:01)
Yeah. That and that is tricky. You know, in my experience that is one of the hardest things to It seems like people are wired that way or not. I guess it, I guess it doesn’t have to do with experience as well, but I own my own business for seven, six, seven years and I sold it. So I kind of attribute a lot of my ownership thinking and my, my mindset around every time I do something that’s, complicated and time consuming, I force myself to slow down a bit and document at least the basics. So when someone else needs to do it, there’s some sort of trail. Right. because I know when I was building my business, I knew that would increase the value of the business. You’re building processes, right? How do you, how do you instill that in someone who has not and potentially will never benefit from something like, like I just mentioned, like the, the value of business going up because of all the systems. Can you, can you train that, that sort of attitude,

Shannon: (45:16)
You know, that’s a, that’s, that’s a big question. 

Todd: (45:22)
I’m looking for your secrets cause I’ve tried and it seems to me like, I think, like I said, either you’re born that way and you just, you want things to become a process or at one point you were either punished or rewarded for it not being there or being there.

Shannon: (45:39)
Right. You know, a lot of it is mindset coming in. And so as a business owner at first I was, I’ll put this from a client perspective. I was first of course taking anything, you know, because I’ve got a mortgage to pay, right? Yeah. And then then I was able to be a little more selective and I, and it didn’t take me long to do that. Then it was me like, you know what, either I’m going to take clients that I feel I can relate to you, you know, and maybe I, maybe I won’t go out to dinner next week or something like that, you know? So it becomes a harder choice, but it is all about the mindset. So either you, you take a client that is willing to take the risk or you don’t. And I think the same thing happens with your team. So when you are in L and D in an organization or even in an organization outside of your L and D department, it’s, it’s first off, it’s slow. You know, you can’t expect everyone. I never expect everyone to come on board and think like, I think that’s just, that’s unrealistic, you know? And it’s, it’s unfair, you know? So how can I, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make a drink, but you can add sugar to the water.

Todd: (47:04)
Yeah, I was just going to say you can incentivize them to drink. So I’d love to hear you get into that too. When you wrap this thought up,

Shannon: (47:11)
Right? So now how can I help that mind shift happen? It is not about training. I think it’s about encouragement. So when we, when we see that we want our to think in a different way or we would like for them to think in a different way, it’s not just popping them in there and saying, okay, think this way. It’s about, for example, when you take innovation, I want my team to be more risk takers. I want them to be more innovative. Just do it. It doesn’t, people are not inherently like that. At least not everyone is. So that means you’ve got to think about the you think about the equation. And for me, when you think about innovation, the equation behind that is curiosity plus creativity plus time equals innovation. So now, so now as a leader, how can I supply them with the environment for curiosity? They going to be curious about what’s happening around them and to be creative around the problems that are around them and then give them the time to work it out. 

Shannon: (48:26)
And if I give you all of this, and I do set the environment that is healthy and safe to do this and they don’t, okay, now we’ve got a motivation issue and I have little patience for motivation issues. So either you want in or you don’t because I’m happy to help. But if you don’t want it, then maybe then we need to take a look at what’s around you and why not. Is there a barrier that I’m not aware of what’s happening? And then maybe it’s a suggestion of, okay, maybe this is another area of the business that you can help me with. Maybe not this particular area, but maybe another area. 

Todd: (49:09)
Yeah, that’s great. 

Shannon: (49:11)
So I don’t know if that answered your question.

Todd: (49:13)
No, no, I, well I like, I love where you went with it because that, that equation is really good. And I, I want to go a little deeper on if there are no results. So when you have clients that are, that are having trouble with a specific type of training or a specific department what do you do for Y? What do you do, if anything for feedback from the employees? Do you like before you come up with a curriculum or before you can get a really clear understanding of what the problem is? Like, what the motivation problem is or why the learning isn’t sticking. Do you get feedback from the employees?

Shannon: (49:49)
I do.

Todd: (49:51)
And how do you go about that? Can you tell us a little bit of your secret sauce there?

Shannon: (49:56)
Focus groups. Focus groups. I tell you I love a good focus group. Love throwing a rock in the middle of the pond and see what ripples out. You know, so then what I, what I do is I take, if they are if they conduct employee engagement surveys, you know, or employee satisfaction surveys, I want to get my hands on those and find out where some of the red flags are. One plus one sometimes doesn’t always equal two. So there might be, as we all know, if you’re, if you’re married, you know that your argument about taking out the trash was not about taking out the trash right. There’s something deeper there. So I like to look at the surveys so I can get a sense for what is in the undercurrent. You know, so you talk to HR and you talked to leaders and they’re going to give you their opinions and that’s great.

Shannon: (50:50)
Now what I want is the other side of the equation right. There’s their story and their story is somewhere in the middle is what’s actually happening. So I find that a good focus group will give me, will give me good answers and then maybe you follow that up with some individual interviews. You know, if you feel like you still don’t have the answers to what’s happening around you. But for the most part I can, I can get enough from my VIP day and a couple of focus groups to really to really build on creating a strategy for an organization. And, and, and I, this is sometimes it’s yeah, it’s automatic that the thinking is automatic because the last two or three corporate positions that I had was really building a L and D department almost from scratch and then helping the organization nurture a culture of learning. So I think the intuition that I have going in is really beneficial. You know, sometimes it’s hard to articulate that, but you can kind of see it, you know, it’s like art, you know, you know what, when you see it, and in this case, you know, whether or not people, an organization is open to a culture of learning or it’s not,

Todd: (52:10)
There’s some, there’s some really great stuff here. Shannon, I’ve got a ton of notes I could, I could go on for a long time, but let me, maybe this is a good question to sort of wrap it up with if if an executive or a leader had one hour today or one hour per day to sort of explore developing that culture of growth and learning, what would you suggest they do ongoing with that time? Either personally or with their team?

Shannon: (52:43)
Personally, read. We don’t read near enough. We read blogs and blogs are great. I write a blog so don’t stop reading my blog, but we need to read more than that. We don’t do our own research. You know, we, we let the sound bite do our research for us. So what I like to recommend to people is read outside of your industry. So, so for learning and development, how I always encourage people to grow within learning and is read about marketing, read everything you can, lay your hands on about marketing because it’s a symbiotic relationship. So the same thing for leaders of any other industry. Read about another industry that might be close. You know, so if you put it in a mind map, it you know, some tentacles that reach into it and you, you’ll discover other things that other organizations are doing and learning that you can implement. So the first thing I would say is to read more. The second thing that I would encourage people to keep in mind is, discomfort is not bad. So a lot of, some of the questions that I get about running rebels is what do I mean by a rebellion? And we’re billion has not about causing trouble within your organization. It’s about causing discomfort in your organization. So as a leader, what can you do to make the environment Uncomfortable for status quo? Right? So we’ve got to make keeping the status quo a little more uncomfortable for people and, and subsequently they will gravitate towards where there is comfort and maybe there will be comfort in risk.

Shannon: (54:53)
So, I would encourage you to pick up a book and read more about how we can take more risks within the organization. Think I’ll take a little bit more time to think. And we don’t do that nearly as often either. So find a routine in the morning. And a lot of leaders do this, you know, where you have your morning coffee or maybe you’re exercising or what have you. But what I would encourage you to do is find somebody two steps away from you. You know, don’t, not somebody within your hierarchial level. So as a VP, you don’t go to another VP. If you’re a VP, find a manager. If you’re a manager, find a floor person, have coffee with them, talk to these people, find out what’s happening in your organization. Find the truth, you know? So I think that those would be a couple of pieces of advice and it doesn’t take long, you know, rather than having your morning coffee and watching a Ted talk, which is only 20 minutes of soundbites that you’re not going to do anything with anyway, spend 20 minutes with somebody who’s on the front lines of your business. Have coffee with them, find out what the truth is. 

Todd: (56:06)
I love it. Those are three really, really good tips. But I know you mentioned this a couple of times and since it does relate directly to learning rebels, you said when you’re talking about discomfort not being bad, right? How can you make that the status quo? How can you do that? How, how do you go about that? What’s a tactical way that people can do that? 

Shannon: (56:30)
We don’t ask enough why questions. Yup. Yup. If we asked more why questions or why not questions, then I think that the status quo would seize to be the status quo. We’d have a new status quo and then we’d have to fight against that. 

Todd: (56:47)
But darn it, we have to start right over again. 

Shannon: (56:51)
Well, we will fight that bridge when we come to it. And so if I go way deep into my background, so my background really is not within learning and development. My background is within restaurant. So I grew up in the restaurant industry and when I made the transition from operations into training, I had no knowledge of training. I really didn’t. This was before the internet, you know. So a lot of my learning came from simply from me going, why do we do this this way? This is crazy. This is nuts. You know, and maybe it’s just inherent in my personality or what have you. I was never afraid to ask that. Why question, why do we do it this way? Because clearly we’re not getting the results we need or people are unhappy or what have you. So that discomfort comes from asking why and why not? And then finding what the core problem is and addressing that core problem. But it all started. 

Todd: (57:54)
I think that goes back to what you mentioned earlier about creating a safe environment, right? You need people to feel safe that they can ask why or why not without having the answer or the situation they find themselves in be a negative. Right? 

Shannon: (58:10)
Right. Yes. And you know, and I realized that in some places that’s, it’s easier said than done. And, and I do have empathy for that. We’ve all been there, but, you know we do have choices. So eventually what it took for me was, I remember one job in particular, I, I remember it vividly when I started to wake up in the morning and I would look at myself and go, this is not working. What I am not doing, what I am doing is not making a difference. It’s not making an impact. I’m unhappy. And I know the people in this organization are unhappy and I just need to find something else. And there’s a, a lot of us have time that’s invested or we’ve got projects that are invested over waiting for the next corner to turn. And you know, that sort of risk is hard. You know, but there’s a certain amount of self truth that needs to occur. 

Todd: (59:19)
Yeah. There’s a, just, we wrap up, I want to say something that’s a, that’s an interesting strategy. I don’t know if you do anything like this, but for, for organizations where it can be difficult for people to ask those questions, why or why not, or any questions? We had a guest on, Chad Littleton. Do you know Chad from we and me? Oh yes. Yeah. Oh. So he’s got these cards and the cards have really interesting questions on them and instead of you asking the question as if you created it in your head, you sort of, you pull out your card and you just read what’s on the card. So it’s it, I mean it’s kind of cheating, right? Cause it’s not really getting as uncomfortable as you probably want your clients to get. But in some situations that’s probably safer, right? They could say, Oh well on my card for the day, I better ask this question. Right. And it can be really helpful the answer. And then they’re not quite as much in the spotlight of, Oh why did you ask that question? You should’ve learned that two weeks ago. Right. 

Shannon: (01:00:19)
That’s interesting. I love that. What a, what a nice way to, not nice. Understatement. What a smart way. to really break in an organization to asking those questions. I love that. 

Todd: (01:00:34)
Yeah. Isn’t that great? I mean I just, I had, I understood the cards, but the way that, that, like that framework for using them in the office and I think what he said is they would give two cards to everyone every week and they had to play their card at one of the meetings that week. 

Shannon: (01:00:53)
Interesting. Oh, I had to steal that. That’s a good, right. 

Todd: (01:01:00)
All right, well Shannon, this has been great. So where can people follow up to get more info on you and explore some of your micro learning or talk to you about helping them out with, with everything we just discussed? 

Shannon: (01:01:11)
Sure. Learning rebels.com that’s my website. They can contact me at shannon@learningrebels.com that’s my email. You can find me on Twitter at S Tipton. You can find me on Facebook at learning rebels, Instagram learning rebels. I tell ya, if you can’t find me, there is something bigger happening in the world.

Todd: (01:01:33)
That’s their first challenge. Find you. 

Shannon: (01:01:37)
It is not a challenge. I am out there. But yeah, my web, my website learning rebels.com. There’s a contact page on there and that’s the fastest way really to find me or to get ahold of me. 

Todd: (01:01:48)
Excellent. Well, thank you so much. This is a lot of actionable stuff in here, so I really appreciate all that you shared and thank you for, for for being who you are and sharing your wisdom today. 

Shannon: (01:01:59)
Thank you for having me. This was a great morning conversation. Now my brain is spinning. I want to go off and do some work. So thank you for the you know, for the push this morning. 

Todd: (01:02:10)
Excellent. My pleasure. Alright, have a great one, Shannon. 

Shannon: (01:02:14)
You too now. Thank you.

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