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The Ice Cream Fruit Roll-Up Revelation

corporate training employee engagement instructional design Mar 14, 2024

A Lesson for Corporate Learning

Recently, an ice cream fruit roll-up challenge inspired by a popular YouTube trend served as an unexpected catalyst for a profound learning moment, both for my grandsons and, surprisingly, for me in the realm of corporate learning and development (L&D).

My grandsons, eager participants in the world of YouTube challenges, convinced me to try creating a snack that involved rolling ice cream in fruit roll-ups, freezing it briefly, and then enjoying what was promised to be a delightful treat. The result was underwhelming, to say the least, but the experience opened up a heartfelt conversation about the intentions behind many online challenges.

The discovery that some content creators prioritize their gains over the welfare of their audience was a profound shock and I could visibly see the weight of that realization settle on the shoulders of my 7-year-old grandson.

This moment of clarity brought to light a parallel issue within corporate training environments. Too often, training programs are developed and deployed not with the learner's needs in mind but as a knee-jerk reaction to a single event or to serve the ego of higher-ups. Whether it's a comprehensive week-long training triggered by a single question from a VP or a new hire program that prioritizes company policies over cultural integration, the underlying issue remains the same: these initiatives are not designed with the genuine intention of aiding the employee.

While the burden of shifting this paradigm doesn't weigh on L&D professionals alone, we do hold the crucial capability to drive change. Our challenge is to design learning programs that truly equip employees for success, fostering engagement and enhancing their ability to contribute meaningfully to the organization.

Transformative learning thrives on the dynamic duo of play and storytelling. Moving beyond conventional, lecture-based approaches, game-based learning has proven to shorten the journey from skill acquisition to real-world application. By embedding the essence of new features in relatable stories or weaving new hires into the fabric of company culture with engaging and illuminating activities, L&D can craft programs that align with corporate objectives while striking a chord with employees's personal aspirations.

Just as my grandson learned to look beyond the surface of online challenges, we in the corporate learning space must look beyond the superficial demands of training requests. We need to question whether our programs truly serve our employees or merely the egos of those who commission them. It's not about assigning blame but embracing our responsibility to create meaningful, engaging, and effective learning experiences.

Let's take this lesson to heart and commit to developing training that values the learner's journey and success, just as much as we value the outcomes for the organization. It's time for L&D to lead the way in crafting learning experiences that truly matter, engaging employees through creativity, play, and relevance. This approach not only benefits the individual but also strengthens the entire organization, creating a culture of continuous learning and growth.

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