“Shaken, Not Stirred.”

I like to use the famous James Bond quote, “shaken, not stirred,” when ordering a martini.

As a learning mixologist, I regularly question whether a training experience needs to be “shaken or stirred.”

Cognitive science suggests that “stirred” is the best method for learning and remembering due to the “spacing effect.” Rather than our normal approach of cramming learning into a short time span, studies show that recall is greatly improved by studying a few times over a long time span. Stirred learning experiences provide repeated exposure and practice over time in the form of regular workshops, elearning courses, or some other combination of ongoing performance support.

But, there are times when we want to shake things up. Especially well-paired to new or change initiatives, shaken training experiences contain a sense of urgency and emotional impact. These take the form of days-long, even weeks-long, workshops made up of compelling stories, active individual and group exercises, and intensive reflection on the learning goals. Actually, the blender works well too — mixing up intensive classroom-based experiences followed by reinforcement of new skills and behaviors with personalized computer-based training. That is an engaging blend I’ve used effectively on several different occasions.

In our fast-changing work environments, training experiences too often resemble a “drink from the firehose” approach. Instead, consider a more measured and sophisticated approach. Ask the learning mixologist, “shaken or stirred?”