A Training needs to be a Sprint, not a Marathon

140HTraditionally corporate trainings are quite long and passive. Participants gather in a room and listen to someone who wants to transfer knowledge. As a participant you are tired after a marathon day like that but this doesn’t imply that you will change your daily behavior. It isn’t the best way to learn because of two reasons.

First you need to make an active connection to your work environment. Second, recent research shows that a lot more repetition and reflection is needed to ensure new behavior in the workplace. Crossroad developed a new kind of training, the Sprint, to avoid these traditional pitfalls.


By doing a Sprint new behavior is assured

In a Sprint it’s about actively exploring new behavior, not about passive knowledge acquisition. We facilitate this by stimulating all senses by using images, video, sounds, etc. We also explicitly use exercises that use all the space available, like the walls, floor, windows, etc. All of this creates positive energy that triggers the brain and redirects attention from stressing to exploring.


“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”. – Aristotle


That is why we alternate between doing and telling in a Sprint and so find the right flow. A bit of theory gets practiced right away en the next bit will follow. The exercises are chosen to fit the work context as good as possible by using simulations, role-plays, cases, etc. We even ask real customers to participate.

From Social Psychology we know the proven principle of social facilitation[1] which tells us that the presence of other people will enhance the performance of familiar tasks, but will degrade the performance of less-practiced tasks. That is why when you are experimenting you need to have a safe space. Participants need to get familiar with new behavior and can do so in a Sprint. Confidence can be build up so people are ready to use it in the real world. We do this in different ways depending on the training. We use our own training space to temporarily get people out of their work environment, ensure and expect honest and respectful communication, insure that nothing will leave the room if this is needed, every sprint contains constructive feedback loops etc.

To summarize a Sprint is a short training session of about 3,5 hours in which the participants actively explore and practice new behavior. There is another major advantage because of this setup.


You better have multiple Sprints than one Marathon

A traditional training of, for example, two days can be split up in four Sprints, the major advantage is that people have the opportunity to practice on the job in between Sprints. A training can be more of journey because it is not one moment but multiple instances. There can be room for reflection and experience exchange between participants and repetition of theory in succeeding Sprints and so more learning. This way we prevent relapsing into old behavior, an important and often forgotten factor[2] in successful training transfer. We see it working all the time when working for clients.

For example, when we did a training program in a big bank in Belgium. This bank wanted to make its service in physical branches more customer instead of product centered. They went trough a 3-Sprint course in which they all learned, topic by topic, why the change was needed, explored possible desired behavior and most important actively practiced it with colleagues and customers. According to the participants the most valuable part of course was reflecting with colleagues about previous Sprints and how we were able to put it in to practice.


The Crossroad Design team focusses on human behavior to make services (better).
Do you have a service challenge? Contact us, we are happy to talk.


[1] Zajonc, R. B. (1965). Social facilitation. Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.[2] Burke, L.A. & Baldwin, T.T. (1999). Workforce training transfer: A study of the effect of relapse  prevention training and transfer climate. Human Resource Management, 38(3), 227-242.

By David Suijkerbuijk