Training Business Analysts in the classroom with colour, pictures, games and some healthy group competition… works!
Recently my business partner, Tim Mackinnon and I had the opportunity to train 21 Business Analysts from a national company in Australia. We agreed with the BA Practice Manager to train the group in groups of about 6-8 people at a time to avoid too much ‘down time’ back in their office…so this meant that we had to train the same course 3 times in a 1 month period in 2 different states.
Some believe that you learn more when you have “fun”.
I am one those people who believes that people will be more receptive to new information if they are relaxed and in a positive frame of mind. In my world, the best way to get someone into a relaxed and positive frame of mind, is to engage with them in a ‘fun’ way. With “fun”, I don’t mean silly activities to embarrass people or making pointless jokes, but rather a structured and quite deliberate format of engagement that facilitates and encourages a relaxed positive atmosphere.
People tend to learn best when they do something for themselves and most trainers have realized this and tend to deliver training with a practical exercise to follow each concept they explain. This is good and definitely helps people learn but in our experience if this can be combined with activities, which constitutes games and creative challenges, it creates that positive and relaxed atmosphere which in turn improves the participant attitude and level of engagement.
Why would we do it differently from every other classroom trainer?
Determined not to deliver your regular ‘run of the mill’ corporate training, we decided to make the goal of the training to have “fun with a purpose”. We wanted to enjoy delivering the business analysis training in our roles as trainers, but most of all, we wanted to offer a style of training that would engage our participants throughout the 3 days. I think everyone can agree that although Business Analysis can be highly rewarding as a career, the content of learning the BABOK® Guide can be a little hard to digest, especially for 3 days, 8 hours each day in a classroom set up…. So we really didn’t have much of a choice…if we wanted to be successful we had to make it fun!
Isn’t this what every Business Analysis trainer wants?
We wanted people to learn a lot of content in a short period of time and we wanted people to walk out with practical skills, real world examples and a firm grasp of the BABOK® Guide itself. You might ask: Well, isn’t that what all trainers want for their participants? I think in theory they do, but in practice they often don’t manage to deliver that result. We were determined to accomplish this in theory and in practice. We realized that the only way this could realistically be accomplished would be by people having fun while they are actively learning.
So how did we make it “fun” without just being silly?
Applying ‘our blend of gamification techniques’ to encourage engagement and participation on every level ended up being a great mix of relaying concepts, getting the group to apply some creative thinking whilst absorbing knowledge. Our attitude was – if we enjoy ourselves training, then the participants will enjoy receiving the learning. It worked a treat!
We introduced the idea of a board game early on, which included dice rolling, chance cards and team competition. Each team would score points based on performance, almost like trivia! This was an essential part of our ‘gamification strategy’ and was carried throughout the 3-day training. Even the non-competitive souls became a little feisty! It was fun and people really learned how to navigate the BABOK® Guide at the speed of light!
Apart from the board game we used a lot of group activities that encouraged pictures instead of words and colour instead of black and white. We also mixed in a series of soft skills and a deeper understanding of their own individual learning styles, which really opened up their minds to approaching problems with a new lens.
Participants came out of their shells
In this group we had a few introverted and normally quiet individuals who came into the training. By the end of the first day, we witnessed them coming out of their shells when we engaged in some group games and competitions. We generally left it very open for people to give as much as they wanted to in terms of contribution during group discussions and taking part in the activities. In quite a surprising and natural way we witnessed how some people started to open up and become more vocal and confident when we engaged in informal and fun group games. It was almost like this was too irresistible for them and they could no longer hide behind the corporate personas they walked in with.
At the end of all the business analysis training sessions, we had people come up to us saying that they feel like the team has bonded as an unintentional consequence of the training and said they now know each other so much better. That made the training and all the effort with the fun aspects absolutely worthwhile for us as Business Analysis trainers.
Getting these great results in terms of participant engagement over the period of a month has been a very rewarding experience for Tim Mackinnon and myself. We are both passionate Business Analysts and thrive on engaging with people through their best learning styles, applying our unique and colorful layer to the BABOK® Guide content and our gamification techniques when we train.
Tim and I love delivering Business Analysis classroom training using this unique and effective “fun with a purpose” style approach.