The Power of (Re)creation
I have trained a lot of people over the years and the courses I originally wrote and produced have held up well throughout continual change.
Truth be known, I’ve changed a lot as well. Because I’m not the same person I was almost a decade ago when I created the initial materials, I prefer not to present some of those courses. The information is still solid and value is high, but I’ve moved on and the topics don’t excite me as much as they did before.
This is pretty common in the training field, but few people will talk about it. In most cases if somebody will pay for a course, most trainers will present it — even if they’re bored to tears with the topic.
What I decided to do was rewrite the courses from the ground up, then to see how I felt. Would I be any more excited after recreating a workshop from scratch?
All stories, examples, exercises — and every other element — would be new. I’d take what I had learned in the past decade and see if that would lead me to change basic concepts and foundations.
Much of the new content would be based on my experience with my own company. I’ve led a small organization (usually 8-10 people, counting contractors) for nearly 15 years and the interactions with my team still teach me new things — particularly now when most are in the Generation Y (Millennial, Gen We) category.
With this generation now beginning to work its way into leadership positions, I am so grateful for my team, because I pick something up with nearly every encounter.
In addition, what I’ve learned from attendees to my public and private workshops would be valuable.
Parting with old materials can be tough
Old training courses are like comfortable jeans or shoes. The fit is familiar and just feels good. Even though I wanted to change, I still had to admit the courses worked and people would gain value and enjoyment from them even if I didn’t rewrite them.
What I did was take a chemist’s approach. I knew the old formula still packed a lot of power but I wanted to experiment with adding some new ingredients. As anybody who took high school chemistry knows, combining certain elements can lead to unpredictable results.
In my case I was tossing together ideas, not chemicals, to see which would play nice with each other. Some did, some didn’t. Some fizzled. Some sizzled.
Singing in the laboratory, er, at the computer
So I would write and try one idea with another and, all of a sudden I would stand and pace the room, delivering the material as if in front of a workshop class. I’m sure my three year-old wonders what is up with daddy. Twice I turned around to see him standing in the doorway, looking wide-eyed and probably wondering who I was talking to.
I guess he figured I was playing and he wanted to join in the fun.
You know what? He was right.
I was having fun.
The material I thought I no longer wanted to teach has come alive for me again.
In the middle of the process I took a couple of client meetings and was so animated in discussing the project that both wanted to sign up — and I had made no attempt to sell anything. They felt my excitement and they wanted to be a part of it.
What can you recreate?
Do you have training courses, company manuals, promotional campaigns, and other things that you produced long ago that could use a facelift? If you look hard enough I think you’ll find a number of potential projects that could use a makeover — whether it be mild or the extreme variety.
You can get members of your team to join in and make it a party. If you do invite others to play, don’t take on the role of chaperone and just observe. The fun is in being a part of the action.
When it comes to fun, Boomers and X-ers don’t have to take a back seat to our Gen Y friends.
If you’re going to get into the re(creating) mode, here’s a short list of what I suggest:
- No sacred cows — Try to avoid taking policies and procedures (or whatever the content is) from the old version to the new version, intact. Ask yourself how each such item could be changed, while maintaining the fundamental principles involved.
- Practice out loud — Even if people think you’re acting goofy, verbalize what you’re writing. How does it sound? The written word sometimes takes on a different feel when you add voice.
- Be creative and encourage others to do the same — Brainstorm freely and combine elements at will. You never know when you’ll achieve a breakthrough.
- As long as you’re having fun, don’t stop — Some of my best experiences and most creative work came at the end.
- Don’t assume you’re done — Even after I thought I had finished I had flashes of new ideas and wound up editing things that I thought were already fully developed.
- Celebrate the new product — You did it! Now throw a pizza party and congratulate yourself and whoever else took part. When you’re done, move on to the next item.
Flexing one’s creative muscles is always beneficial. What I discovered was that it’s even more fun — and more challenging — to take something you’ve already produced, tear it apart and remake it, step by step.
Have you done something like this? Got something to add?