Friday, January 09, 2004

What is it about other people's reality that we're so attracted to? And can trainers tap into this trend?

I watched a television show about reality TV the other day. (Yes, I know, I need to get out more.) It postulated that the attraction to reality shows is partly due to a curiosity about what other people go through and how it measures up to our own experiences. That's different from pure voyeurism, which is attracted to the showy and dramatic over the portrayal of day-to-day life. (Some reality shows, of course, do cater to this voyeurism with flashy stunts or highly contrived situations, but many just portray daily life in a somewhat contrived situation.)

Is there a way that trainers can tap into the reality show trend and the curiosity behind it? Can role playing and/or job shadowing be adapted to appeal to people's natural thirst to know what other people's lives are like? Can technology help?

What about a training video that follows a day in the life of xyz person in xyz role? Or what if you could mount a head cam on someone like they do on the reality shows with physical stunts and show the day almost literally from someone's eyes? (This would require some editing, of course.)

If people in your company don't have a good understanding of what other people do, what if you arranged a job switch day? Rather than just having someone shadow a fellow worker, what if they had to try to do their job for a day? (Of course, they probably wouldn't do much actual work but they could still get a sense for the job.)

Or, if there's conflict between groups, departments, or people in your company, what if you brought them together and asked them to role play each other's situations--portraying how the other person or group would act and think. (Some may already do this.)

Or what if each department in your company put together a blog that kept other departments updated on the projects they were currently working on and the obstacles they were facing or successes they were achieving? Readers in other departments, in addition to getting a slice-of-life view and better understanding the other department's role, could chime in with suggestions, ideas, or offers of help when needed.

(See this article for more on blogs in the business world, and my article "We Learning" for more on using blogs as learning tools.)

This is just a start. What other ideas do you have?

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