I want to learn versus you’re forcing me to learn

In a previous post, I talked about extrinsic versus intrinsic motivators. I had an afterthought—to put a spotlight directly on how the landscape of training to internal audiences and communicating about new products and services to external audiences is changing rapidly. Finding ways to create more intrinsic motivators versus extrinsic motivators is paramount. It’s worthy of its own entire blog topic.

Let’s start with internal audiences, since they really matter here. Traditional computer based learning (CBLs) or hard copy training manuals will be virtually extinct in the next 5-10 years. They will be replaced by gamified, multi-media content-based portals that may be web or mobile-enabled.

What’s driving the change? A multitude of things:

  • Content. The ability to drive and change dynamic content is easier using a digital portal. Technologies like proximity and augmented reality facilitate this. Plain and simple.
  • Speed. Executional ability is king in a lot cases. It’s not what you create—rather it’s how often you change it to stay fresh.
  • Costs. Portals costs less in the long run to create, maintain and tweak along the way. Build the skeleton of the portal once, and it should last a while. Lots of companies will skin it to refresh the brand.
  • Sustainability. Who wants to go through the hassle of printing hard copy training manuals? Not to mention the environmental impact.
  • Motivation. Moving from extrinsic motivators (I have to do this) to intrinsic motivators (I want to do this). Engagement and employee morale will be lifted when employees want to be a part of something, not because they have to.

For external audiences, it’s not as straightforward, but from a motivational standpoint, there are some really cool ways to take the mundane and make it sexy. Think of all the things consumers have to do in order to enjoy something. Like when you buy a piece of furniture from a store, and it comes flat packed in a box in 9000 pieces? You have to follow a set of strict directions in order to build it correctly right?

This reminds me of a recent experience. I like to build things, so my wife and I recently played developer for ourselves and designed and built our family home from the ground up. One of the many tasks I had to take on was building out all the closets in the house. So I purchased various custom closet kits (you know, the kinds with all the cool little drawers for everything from your socks to sweaters) and spent many nights and weekends building. There I was, confronted with a paper manual with a gazillion steps to put the furniture pieces together.

In my desire to get it done fast, I resorted to YouTube and, sure enough, found a video someone posted on how to put the furniture together fast. Can you guess how they made it fun and entertaining? They used very good-looking Swedish models (the furniture was from a Swedish manufacturer—you can probably guess who), dressed in bathing suits, demonstrating how to put it all together! Two things are very important in Sweden: volleyball and vodka. It was entertaining and hilarious! These guys found a tactic to bridge the gap between extrinsic and intrinsic motivators! They actually made the mundane fun. In the end, I wanted to learn; versus they were forcing me to learn.

And yes, I got the closets built!


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