by Randy Sabourin
One of the perks to working at e-roleplay is that almost everyone is a professional actor; as a result there is always someone with a show in production. I get invited to a lot of amazing live theatre. Recently I witnessed an outstanding play adapted from the book Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom. I had heard of the book but had never read it. The quick synopsis is that Mitch reconnects with his old University mentor Morrie who is dying. Mitch reluctantly absorbs Morrie’s wisdom and it has a profound effect on his life.
The play was performed in a small intimate venue so the emotional effect was enhanced dramatically. Terrence Bryant, who is one of our senior roleplayers, played Morrie brilliantly and brought many, including me, to tears at the end of the performance. It was a moving experience. The underlying message of the book and play is simple but profound. Life is about making connections with people, being involved, having an impact with the people you love, your family, and the people in your community. Another of Morrie’s messages was a caution not to let technology remove us from making those connections. Mitch is constantly talking on his cell phone and not being ‘present’ in the moment throughout the play.
After several days thinking about the play it became clear to me that Morrie’s message is applicable to what we do at e-roleplay and to our role in the Learning & Development community. The connection was made obvious to me by witnessing Terrence skillfully performing his craft both in the play and at e-roleplay.
Corporate L&D is driven by delivering knowledge to a large amount of people as quickly as possible. These days the delivery mechanism seems to be driven by technology, including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), eLearning, Mobile Learning, Gamification, Virtual Seminars and Workshops, and even compressed learning through book abstracts. Knowledge is certainly gained through these technological formats, and at the same time, it makes it more difficult to make that direct connection with another person.
In addition, no matter how successful the delivery of knowledge through technological means, there remains the ongoing challenge of retention and converting knowledge into real skill. Knowledge retention and skill is driven by guided practice. Other professionals like artists, athletes, doctors and firefighters know that guided practice is critical to prepare new trainees before they interact with ‘clients’ and even more vital for veterans to maintain their edge and grow their skills. What professional athlete or musician doesn’t practice? In business, we seem content with practicing on our clients.
Morrie’s wisdom echoes in my mind. Making real connections with people, one to one, is an important ingredient to a rewarding life. It is also the key to successful learning. It’s why I’m extremely proud of what we do here at e-roleplay. Our roleplayers make a personal connection and establish trust to help each participant convert the knowledge they gained through all the technology into skills to help them achieve their goals. One person helping another person improve.
“Devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”