Change and a Hot Dog

Change and a Hot Dog

The hot dog debate is a debate that has gone on for decades, if not centuries– from the street dogs of New York, to the Chicago Dog, to the infamous Dodger Dog from Dodger Stadium in LA. Americans’ favorite place to get a dog is about as varied as what to put on them.

I love hot dogs. Now, before I get comments, emails and tweets asking “Do you know what’s in a hot dog?”: I know, and I don’t care. If a hot dog is going to take me down, then so be it.
 

What goes on your hot dog? In my opinion, it is all about the mustard – no ketchup on this girl’s dog. Sometimes I get creative with brown, spicy mustard and maybe even some sauerkraut or chili but for the most part it’s pretty basic, good ole American yellow mustard with a hint of sweet relish and I’m good to go.
 
Last week I was paging through an old issue of Bon Appétit magazine and flipped right to “80 Ways to Eat Your Hot Dog”. My resistance to change was staring me in the face. Who would’ve thunk it? 80 different, cultural ways to top a hot dog! Awesome!
 
This article inspired me to look at my long standing hot dog habits with a fresh set of eyes, and it got me thinking about all the different ways we get stuck.
 
From Hot Dogs to PowerPoint
 
There are a lot of times where we believe our way of doing something is best. After all, we are the professionals. If it’s not broke, why fix it? Maybe we “shake things up” by changing a little (fewer bullets and more clipart on our PowerPoint?) and pat ourselves on the back for our ingenuity (those slides look great!).
 
But that’s not change. Adopting - rather than just accepting - change is all about open-mindedness, adaptability and flexibility. It’s easy to get stuck in your same comfortable ruts - whether with hot dogs or with elearning design - and sometimes you need a shock to the taste buds to remind you to try something new.
 
Get out from in front of your PPT screens and get excited!
 
Learning is at a very exciting juncture right now. The possibilities are endless: ILT, WBT, m-learning, e-learning, social learning, blended learning – the ability to communicate, to collaborate, to share, to disseminate information has never been easier.
 
Why stick with the same mustard on your hot dog when you have endless varieties to choose from? Experiment with all of the different tools that will make the learning experience richer and deeper than it has ever been before.
 
Change is not easy, chili may give you heartburn, and you may discover you don’t like the taste of dill pickles on your dog. That’s okay. Teaching a course through Facebook may not be your thing or within your company’s culture, but I bet you could do any of the following:
  • Yammer is an enterprise social network - like Facebook, but for your workplace. Get a Yammer feed started for your sales team to share wins.
  • Start a book discussion club on Twitter. Open a Twitter account and invite new hires to participate and share experiences.
  • Create a focus group on customer service by starting a blog (using Blogger or Wordpress) and asking “Customer Service Experts” in your organization to participate.
  • Use OSQA.net as a free open source tool to build a FAQ, wiki or knowledge-gathering site. Every company has tribal knowledge. How do you collect and share it?
  • A good, old-fashioned discussion board about your last ILT session. Use as a tool prior to the ILT session to gather information about anticipated learning goals and encourage participants to share how they are using the information they just received!
  • Use Google Sites to build a webpage dedicated to the charity efforts of your organization. Have teams contribute with pictures and results of various charity campaigns - a real feel-good for everyone!
  • Build a Google Site dedicated to just new colleagues. Have people contribute tips and hints as to how to maneuver as a newbie through your organization. Build in a FAQ section to allow newbies to ask questions. Post a glossary of all the crazy acronym’s your organization uses.
The possibilities are endless! Dust off your imagination. Need more ideas? Read Social Media for Trainers by Jane Bozarth.
 
Take a giant bite of what’s different.
 
You don’t know what will excite your learners if you’re not out there taste-testing. There is always a different way do something, even the basic stuff (new hire orientation…boring!). It may take 80 hot dog tastings, but I’m willing to bet you will find a better way. Take this analogy anyway you wish, in the meantime, I’m trying the Cheddar with Cider Braised Leeks and Apples. This sounds like a dog with potential.

Shannon is the Learning and Development Manager for Ambius, a global company specializing in “Enhancing the Workplace”. She has been an L&D professional for over 15 years, with experience ranging from the hospitality to restaurant industries. While her specialty is helping organizations start their own learning cultures, she is also passionate about the use of blended learning and Social Media learning techniques and using those techniques to build a Community of Practice for the learner. Shannon currently resides in Antioch, IL with her family.
 
Image Credit: alykat on Flickr