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How many of us roll your eyes or start to sweat when you hear these words during a training session “Ok time to role-play”?

So why do trainers use this exercise?  I’m sure the most common response is that we learn by doing.  But if you’re only “doing” once or twice without any reinforcement or even worse — bad coaching, then are you really learning a new skill?

Many of you have heard the term deliberate practice – studied by Dr. Anders Ericsson, who has studied on how to become an expert on anything.  He stresses that you need to get out of your comfort zone when learning  a new skill.  As you master certain elements you move on and once again get out of your comfort zone.  This is just one ingredient to deliberate practice.  Here are some other key ingredients:

  1. Motivation – Are you motivated or are you just doing this to keep your job?  You can tell right away during role-playing those people who are really trying and those who are just going through the motions.
  2. Have an understanding of the skill you are taking on – This means the way in which you approach the practice should factor in your pre-existing knowledge.   For example, I wouldn’t expect someone to conduct deliberate practice on building a car engine without taking into account that they are already familiar with how the engine works and how each part is put together. F
  3. Provide immediate and constructive feedback – This is great when you are working side by side the expert but how do you get this feedback when working alone?
  4. Invest the amount of time you need to perform the task repeatedly -Depending upon what it is, you may need to involve other people, places or resources to do this.

I’m a very persistent advocate in providing employees with effective and impactful training experiences to enable them to do their job.

Does your role-play include the above ingredients?  I would bet money on this that many of you do not.  But all is not lost — I’ve spent many years in building technology platforms that do include all of these characteristics.

Today’s technology advances provide us with so many choices to choose from such as AR, Simulations, Speech Recognition, Chat Bots — and it’s only going to get better.

I’d love to hear if anyone out there has a great example of a truly Deliberate Practice tool for training. — I ‘m happy to show mine off anytime.