Train the trainer course outline

Recently I have started to work in a regulated environment where a number of instructors originate from military service. My experience of attending a number of courses delivered by these highly experienced subject matter experts is that military instruction does not always ‘fit’ with modern, experiential learning and development practice.

The following outline is a suggestion of knowledge and skills that could be gained from an intense TtT course by up to three, possibly four subject matter experts who may not have previously been involved in an instruction role. The focus of the sessions is knowledge of learning and development delivery, learning evaluation and management of the learning environment. This course does not tackle learning analysis or design which one would normally expect of a conventional train the trainer programme.

TtT Course outline v2

Session title

Learning outcomes and topics covered

09:00 start


A quick overview to the day, the context of adult learning and the learning objectives.

Case Study: What went wrong

List areas for improvement of a course, session, module or activity that was unsuccessful and why. (Participants should arrive having considered this element).

Relate understanding to what is to follow.

The environments

Demonstrate how environments can be made more effective.

Space, location, scene setting, layouts, and other assets. Dealing with elements outside instructor control.

About the candidates

Identify how candidates learn, and how to manage them professionally and diplomatically.

Personality of candidates, learning orientations, is a candidate difficult.

10:45 – 11:00 Break

Developing participation

Use different methods to encourage participation in training and recognise and manage a lack of participation.

Removing barriers to participation, enhancing participation, humour and banter.

Visual aids

Demonstrate effective use of flipcharts, slides and other display assets.

Flip chart management, holding areas, AV protocols, displaying material.

Fail to plan, plan to fail

Be able to follow the plan, demonstrate confidence in delivering from trainer notes.

Structure of the plan, trainer notes and their importance, getting back on track.

12:30 – 13:15 Lunch

Activities management

Recognise the importance and benefit of activities and how to manage them.

Activities or games, types of activities, getting buy-In, activities toolkit.

Facilitation Skills

Develop active listening and clear questioning skills through facilitation.

Question types, probing: digging deeper, questioning as a learning technique. Your listening skills, active listening skills in training

Has learning taken place

Conduct evaluation to continually confirm learning has taken place.

The difference between formative and summative evaluation, methodology.

15:00 – 15:15 Break


Learning by doing. Engage in a learning activity to practice some of the knowledge gained.

Participation, facilitation, action, management.


What have you learnt from today. What more do you want to learn.

Evaluation in action, pointers to other materials. CPD

16:30 Close

Learning design thinking

I was recently ask by a client to outline requirements and costs for a learning design project. As one does (or at least I do) it got me to express and explain my thinking. The client works in a regulated environment so the narrative is drafted to support such.

The following is an overview upon which courseware development structure can be devised.

Effective courseware development requires a judicious combination of;

  • subject matter expertise and
  • effective learning design

Subject matter expertise

Subject matter expertise will generally fall into two distinct categories of information;

  • subjective
  • objective

Subjective information is based on personal opinions, interpretations, points of view and emotions. It is often considered ill-suited for scenarios like decision making in business. Objective information is fact-based, possibly regulatory, measurable and observable. The key intent of the ??? course is to provide candidates with knowledge of a regulated environment in order to make informed judgements through a balanced use of subjective and objective information. The overriding purpose for candidates is the passing of one or more assessments and fulfilling the permission/licence requirement of the regulatory body.

Effective learning design

Effective learning design is less defined and subject to;

  • suitability
  • personal preference
  • fads
  • truth, facts and myths

Suitability occurs at the instructional design stage. Some activities and events are more suited to particular learning requirements. It must be remembered that just because a topic is onerous and highly technical and perhaps regulatory, that does not mean that it cannot be exciting and entertaining if delivered through creative methods. Conversely the most exciting sounding topic can be killed by an inappropriate delivery methodology.

It is impossible to completely remove personal preference from learning delivery; all trainers and instructors have their favoured methodologies. It is however appropriate for a training provider to insist on a protocol within learning delivery based on predefined instructional design; the instructor must follow the course verbatim.

Like many aspects of organisational endeavour, there will be fads, fashions, crazes and trends. Many of these will appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. Others however will appear and remain and become part of convention; rightly or wrongly (see next paragraph). It is wise not to dismiss something because it is new, but perhaps be cautious because it has not been well tested.

And then there are the truths, myths and facts within the learning and development environment. Many myths are peddled by individuals and institutions with limited or blinkered knowledge of the background to their assertions. Truths appear well founded in research and developed by notable experts only to be superseded by further research and a new way of thinking. What can be considered at this point is that a truth is volatile and fact is not. There have been varying truths about how people learn, be it visually or actively, on the left side of the brain or the right. However, it is a fact that the (normal) brain has two hemispheres. For learning to be enhanced, it is suggested that the truth be qualified, the facts verified and the myths nullified.



Art in Strategic Thinking

Art as a vehicle for learning to think strategically



“So what does participation and experience in the artistic endeavours bring to the development of strategic thinking? It has nothing to do with artistic talent per se; the aim is not to achieve fame and fortune as an artistic master but, rather, to develop the attributes and critical reflective processes necessary for strategic thinking. An arts experience ‘opens the doors of perception,’ as poet William Blake wrote in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.”
(Learning to Think Strategically. p233. Julia Sloan. 2006)

In this programme, participants explore and undertake a variety of artistic endeavours and relate these activities as prompts, metaphors and tools for learning to think strategically. The program engages participants in creative thinking; on the right side of the brain some might say, by experiencing eight principles of artistic endeavour.


Looking and seeing; the art of challenging limiting beliefs

A question of style; the strategic objective

Negative space and what isn’t there

Light, shade, the blindingly obvious and darkest recesses

Colour, where cold, calculating and warm, fuzzy have their place

The medium; a look at how to create a strategic plan

Perspective and the changing power of detachment

Big picture and ignoring what isn’t needed



Participants will:

  • [looking] engage in producing an accurate piece of artistic endeavour and conduct an exercise in challenging self-limiting beliefs
  • [style] demonstrate different styles of artistic endeavour and identify different types of strategic objective
  • [negative space] demonstrate the ability to observe all elements of a scene and report on the importance of what is not evident
  • [light and shade] enrich an image by adding tone and identify which dark recesses of an organisation might shed light on strategic intent
  • [colour] describe the relevance and impact of colour and document the rich reserves of staff with different temperaments, knowledge and skills
  • describe different art medium and list a variety of planning tools available for different strategic objectives
  • [perspective] identify how a different viewpoint changes what is observed and suggest how they might get a better view
  • [big picture] select one or more elements of an image on which to focus and assemble or refine the scope of strategic intent


This programme is aimed at individuals who are open to the potential of thinking beyond current practices.

The programme is applicable to all levels within the organisation, particularly:

  • team leaders and first line manager
  • project and operational managers
  • directors and business leaders.

The idea of including the team leader level is to develop a ‘pipeline’ of staff who have learnt to think strategically. This develops the capability to outsmart and out compete those organisations that continue to rely solely on senior business leaders for direction.


Programme content

The programme consists of eight sessions within which participants will be actively engaged in artistic endeavour. The participants will relate these activities directly and indirectly to aspects of thinking strategically via a selection of real life case studies. The exercises are intended to prepare a participant for the task of strategic planning by creating an environment where they can grow their ability to think strategically.


To engage in the production of an accurate piece of artistic endeavour and conduct an exercise to challenge self-limiting beliefs.

This first principle, the act of looking at something with a view to undertake a creative endeavour has two grounding factors; what is it that we are looking at and are we able to represent it appropriately. Both of these factors are governed by interpretations made by the brain.

Starting with the latter idea of representing an object; a guestimate is that 80% + of the population say they cannot draw; this is a self-limiting belief formed at an early age, likely through an inability to ‘match reality’. Within the programme readers will be guided though an activity that will demonstrate that these and potentially any other limiting belief held by them and others can and should be challenged in the pursuit of developing strategic thinking.

Moving on to interpretation; existing constructs within the brain may cause us to ‘see’ something that the object is not. Common optical illusions can play havoc with our ability to match reality. For the strategist this may be similar to behaviours like confirmation bias which undermine the thought processes that underpin a strategy process. Dealing with these two ‘brain deceptions’ is paramount before moving onto some more creative artistic endeavours.


To demonstrate different styles of artistic endeavour and identify more than a single type of strategic objective.

Different styles of artistic endeavour all have their relevance and fulfil different aesthetic requirements; interior design, commercial and domestic being a relevant example. Internal or external strategies such as the following have different characteristics and are also relevant to the strategist depending on their objective:

  • Increase Market Share
  • Strengthening Financial Resources
  • Physical Resources
  • Productivity
  • Innovation
  • Action Planning

But which style/objective is most appropriate for what?

Negative space

To demonstrate the ability to observe all elements of a scene and report on the importance of what is not evident.

In order to create an object, it is sometimes appropriate to focus on and draw the background around the object rather than the object itself. For the strategist, this is about becoming aware of what is not evident from analysing data, information and insights.

Light and shade

To enrich an image by regulating or adding tone and identify which dark recesses of an organisation might shed light on strategic intent.

The light and shade principle has two distinct and appropriate aspects relevant to both artistic endeavour and strategic thinking. These are; the view of a scene and the representation of an object.

Viewing a scene on a bright sunny day presents challenges for an artist and more so for a photographer. Highlights blind an observer and shadows may hide important shapes and form; neither provide any detail.  Just as an artist has to do; the strategist will need to regulate the brightest and most obvious data, information and insights and investigate further areas of the organisation that are less prevalent at putting forward ideas or suggestions.

From a representational aspect, two dimensional shapes do not necessarily have any form or substance; a circle is a circle, a rectangle is just a rectangle. An artist will add light and shade to these shapes to create the illusion of three dimensional objects. How might a strategist add form to data to provide a more wholesome representation of the organisation.


To describe the relevance and impact of colour and document the rich reserves of staff with different temperaments, knowledge and skills.

Colour is often used by artists to represent emotion; the cold of the blue range of colours and the warmth of the reds and oranges. There will be staff within an organisation who are cold and calculating and others who are warm and friendly. All will provide data, and/or information and/or insights valuable to a strategist.


To describe different art medium and list a variety of planning tools that are available for different strategic objectives.

An artist has a plethora of media from which to choose in order to undertake an artistic endeavour. They will, or at least should choose wisely. Likewise, the strategist has a raft of tried and tested as well as new and innovative tools and instruments which they can use in the strategic analysis and planning process. And yes; mixed media is a valid endeavour.


To identify how a different viewpoint changes what is observed and suggest how they might get a better view.

An artist working in two dimensions uses perspective to represent three dimensional objects. The same object seen from a different distance or elevation will be represented by a different shape. For a strategist, the requirement is to change a viewing position so as to create a different representation of an organisational issue.

Big picture

To select one or more elements of an image on which to focus and assemble or refine the scope of strategic intent.

An artist has the capability to be selective about what and how they use elements from a scene they see in front of them; removing, including or rearranging the essentials of a composition to suit their purpose. And a strategist must decide which of the unlimited sources of data, information and insight are relevant to and will provide for their strategic intent.



I; Peter J Mayes am a qualified illustrator (GlosCAT 1977), business information systems analyst (UWIC 2000) and long time educator (1981). For as long as I can remember I have been creative and a habitual ideas person. My mind seems permanently in ‘innovation’ mode, almost without thinking; forming new concepts and designs. As an eight year old my artistic abilities were recognised and I recall I did not consider myself to be any more talented that my classmates. As a mature student, part of my studies were management and business; again, my abilities were recognised with a number of distinctions in coursework and exams. For the past 15 years I have been exploring the notion of art as a vehicle for business thinking. My rational stems from a combination of artistic ideas based exploration (divergent thinking) and logic based systems analysis (convergent thinking). As eluded to, I have long held the belief that we all have an aesthetic side and have sought to substantiate this premise in both personal and business endeavours. In 2004 I devised a programme: Anyone can draw; the art of challenging self-limiting beliefs. In 2017, after much deliberation and exploration, I finalised the eight principles that form the basis for the Art in Strategic Thinking concept.

The two key books that have now formed the catalyst for my approach are:

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Betty Edwards.
Learning to Think Strategically. Julia Sloan.


Most recent articles include:

Springborg, Claus (2012) “Perceptual Refinement: Art-based Methods in Managerial Education,
Organizational Aesthetics: Vol. 1: Iss. 1, 116-137.
Available at:

Schein, Edgar H. (2013) “The Role of Art and the Artist,” Organizational Aesthetics: Vol. 2: Iss. 1,
Available at:


Other books that I have read and that have played a part in the development process include:

Strategic Management. John L Thompson
Exploring Corporate Strategy. Johnson and Scholes
The Mind Map Book. Tony Buzan
Thinking Styles. Fiona Beddoes-Jones
Six Thinking Hats. Edward de Bono
Experiential Learning. David A. Kolb
The Fifth Discipline. Peter Senge