I fully support the use of training videos in the workplace, but let’s make sure they are well-chosen and educating. Showing a poorly created, outdated, or entertaining but vague training video to employees is like feeding them a lunch comprised of Big Macs, super-sized fries, and big gulp Cokes. Viewers will leave the training session feeling strangely full, but will not be better off. In fact, a more apt name for this genre of video might be the Empty Calories Training Video.
What the workplace needs are videos that both educate and entertain, that can be used to prompt organization-specific learning. It may seem unnecessary to entertain the trainee, but if the video is outdated, boring, or cheaply made – in short uninteresting – the audience will stop paying attention. The magic of a great video is that it teaches something while it entertains. Let’s call this possibility the Nutritious & Delicious Training Video.
Most training videos fall somewhere on the continuum between the two extremes of Empty Calories and Nutritious & Delicious, but it makes sense to highlight a few good websites and steer potential video purchasers (or downloaders) toward videos that meet the mark of being in the latter category. Below are a few examples of sites to check out, if you haven’t already.
Best Selling Training Video of All Time: ChartHouse, Inc. has a good selection of fun, moderately educating, and in some cases extremely popular videos. “FISH!” the John Christensen film that was produced in 1999, is the best-selling training video of all time. In fact, “FISH!” has been translated into 23 languages, including 3 dialects of Chinese. Despite being 13 years old, it doesn’t have the dated feel one might expect.
Go to http://www.charthouse.com/productdetail.aspx?nodeid=24103 to watch the full preview of “FISH!”.
There is no doubt that the charismatic, fish-throwing, and fun loving young men who star in the “FISH!” film are entertaining. But do they educate? At face value, the four skills proposed by the fish mongers – Play! Make Their Day! Choose Your Attitude! and Be There! – are lacking academic underpinnings. However, my vote is that while no organizational behavior topics are openly discussed within the film, there are at least two lying just beneath the surface. Job enrichment, a long-held motivational concept, and worker engagement are both touched upon within “FISH!” without hitting anyone over the head. Score: Nutritious= B- Delicious= A
Video with Smartest Star – Also found on the ChartHouse, Inc. website is Harvard fellow Shawn Achor’s training video “The Happiness Advantage,” which is based on his book by the same name. Achor uses humor and good ‘ole fashioned storytelling to convince viewers that 1) happiness is a choice; 2) happiness raises performance; and 3) happiness can quickly become contagious.
The beauty of this video is that it has implications for life as well as work. Achor claims that some workers are more in need of happiness “skills” because their focus is inherently shifted toward the negative while at work (think accountants, lawyers, and customer service representatives). And while this is true, almost any organization could benefit from Achor’s tips. The downside is that there is very little entertainment value. Achor is a prof you like, but he’s still a prof. Score: Nutritious= A Delicious= B-
Go to http://www.charthouse.com/productdetail.aspx?nodeid=29319 to watch the preview of “The Happiness Advantage.”
For the C-level – Unlike the films above that are a bit pricey ($800 or more to purchase), the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) has a selection of short animated films for FREE. The most viewed of this selection is the “Drive” video with over 9 million views on YouTube. The video is adapted from economist Dan Pink’s TED talk (see below) where he explains what motivates us – and what doesn’t.
The entire film is produced using the animate style – fun cartoon drawings which give viewers an entertaining visual. The information presented in “Drive” is fascinating since it bucks the traditional “money is the best motivator” wisdom. Unfortunately, there are no prescribed steps to help organizations tap into the hidden motivations of employees. However, this movie could help corporate decision makers think more creatively about drive and motivation in the workplace. Score: Nutritious=A- Delicious=B+
Site with Diverse Topics: TED – Ideas Worth Spreading The TED site is well-known for providing an abundance of interesting videos free of charge. More than one-billion people have tuned into TED to watch talented speakers from across the globe present for 18-minutes or less on topics such as technology, entertainment, design, business, science and global issues. Clips from TED can be used in a variety of business training situations because the themes of creativity, inspiration, humor, and courageousness are brilliantly captured and easily inserted into prepared presentations. With more than 1400 TED Talks available, it may take a bit of hunting to find the clip that works best for your needs, but the search is half the fun. Below is the link to my favorite video this week – the story is compelling because it leads one to believe that with enough determination and ingenuity, anything is possible. Score: Nutritious A Delicious=A-.
We’ve all watched our share of empty calorie videos. In the future, think of the long-term health of your organization and its employees and select a nutritious and delicious video. You’ll be glad you did.