Monday, 21 November 2016

A review of “Training From The BACK Of The Room”

Recently I attended a course with a long title of “Training From The BACK Of The Room” [1]. It was a wonderful event and has helped me a lot in so, many different ways. I went on this course as there was a problem I was trying to solve.

Training From The BACK Of The ROOM!
As an Agile Coach I have learned over time that the main change required as core to an Agile Transformation of an Enterprise organisation is that of Culture. Instead of mere working practice. Culture means changing the mindset of the many.

It seems to me that one of the best ways of changing a mindset from Command and Control to an Agile Mindset is if the people learn how to do this themselves. But before that even happens they will need some help with Agile Fundamentals. The basics to get them going as a mindset fundamental. Hence the name.

This means someone needs to train them. Now while I have done training before, I always felt it could have gone better. Thus I needed to improve my knowledge first before improving anyone else’s knowledge.

I had heard about such a "train the trainer" course that would improve your training skills. With your learners being the focus. It is called “Training From The BACK Of The Room” created by Sharon Bowman [2]. Then I was also fortunate enough to attend such a course which was being trained by James Enock and Nader Talai. Who had been taught by Sharon herself.

The course started totally differently from every other course. The trainers did not directly instruct us, but directed to sit at a table and write our name on a label with a sign like so...

Learner Greeting Instructions
Each table also had a copy of the workbook and box with all the equipment that us as learners would need for course. Post it notes of all sizes, Sharpies, stickers, colour A4 paper and some weird toys! On the walls were various learning tools, which we would come to use later.

It should be noted that This training requires a big room, a very big room. There were only 10 of us, the room usually holds 20 plus for training. But later we discovered we needed the room as there is so, much to do. We used every part of it.

Group Presentation
In Sharon’s training, the learner chooses the areas of interest. Therefore the learner directs their own training. Thus we were asked to vote on 9 learning areas using a Dot-Voting technique.

Learners Dot-Vote For Learnings
More tools were explored and then we went into how to plan a session using the 4C’s Map, which covers:
  • Connections
  • Concepts
  • Concrete Practice
  • Conclusions
In the photo you can see the explanations of these in the supplied Participant Workbook and also the complementary books you get with the course.

4C's MAP and Sharon's Books
And it continued on into the second day whereby we would direct our own learning on exercises and understand how learners learn best with Sharon’s teachings providing a very large collection of training tools. We also covered the Brain Science [3] behind learning with the concept of the Pinky Brain [4].

We then had to use the 4C’s Map to develop our own one hour training session. Here is me demonstrating my training plan for the Agile Mindset. The outcome was not that the learner just learned, but that they could explain it to someone else. This way we know they have really understood the subject matter.

Presenting my session plan using 4C's
In summary this is one of the best courses I have ever attended. Both of the trainers worked in harmony keeping to Sharon’s approach and I felt I had learned so, much that it motivated me to learn even more. Most of all I shall be putting this into practice immediately so, that my learners can benefit too. A massive big thank you to Sharon, James and Nader for this enlightenment.

The class with James (Centre) and Nader (far-right).

Agile Link:
Many Agile, Scrum and Kanban trainers have been on this course and recommend it highly. It seems to have became widely attended across the Agile community.

Sharon has also produced an Agile Manifesto for Accelerated Learning as was displayed on one of the walls.

Agile Manifesto for Accelerated Learning
I think Mindset will need to be put on my Agile poster [5] as a future update.

[4] Pinky Brain:
[5] Agile Development Poster:

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