How to sabotage training

There was a WWII Simple sabotage field manual, which was released in the 1940’s. It describes how workers and managers can subtly but effectively disrupt organisational performance as an act of . Much of the document concentrates on factory operations. Here are the sections that cover office work – many of which are alarmingly familiar!  [Hat Tip to Duncan Green @fptp for the link].

Many of us working in international education programs will recognise some of these behaviours – and it is instructive to see how many of these are rooted in sensible ideas that actually help us function. Ideas that we can (out of awareness?) start to sabotage our work with.

(a) Organizations and Conferences

  1. Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
  2. Make “speeches,” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length., Illustrate your. “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate patriotic comments,
  3. When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible – never less than five.
  4. Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  5. Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
  6. Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision, Advocate caution.
  7. Be “unreasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  8. Be worried about the propriety can any decision – raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated is within the jurisdiction of the group or ‘whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

b) Managers and Supervisors

  1. Demand written orders.
  2. Misunderstand” orders. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such orders. Quibble over them when you can.
  3. Do everything possible to delay -the delivery of orders. Even though parts of an order may be ready beforehand, don’t deliver it until it is completely ready.
  4. Don’t order new working’ materials.. until your current stocks have been virtually exhausted, so that .the slightest delay in filling your order will mean a shutdown.
  5. Order high-quality materials which are hard to get. If you don’t get them argue about it. Warn that inferior materials will mean inferior work.
  6. In making work assignments, always , sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that the important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers of poor machines.
  7. Insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those which have the least fiaw. Approve other defective parts whose flaws are not visible to the naked eye.
  8. Make mistakes in routing so that parts and materials will be sent to the wrong place in the plant.
  9. When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.
  10. To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.
  11. Hold conferences when there is more, critical work to be done.
  12. Multiply paper work in plausible ways. Start duplicate files.
  13. Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, and so on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.
  14. Apply all regulations to the last letter.
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Tim Harford —Three PowerPoint tips you really need to know

Tim Harford’s very brief but very insightful power point tips:

Tim Harford — Article — Three PowerPoint tips you really need to know.

design for online?

I have been teaching on a moodle course recently. Moodle is a technology to support class room and online learning. Many people were asking how to get started making online courses. One of the main thoughts they had was to transfer the content from their classroom course to the online environment.

This felt easier and cheaper to do while they explored what learning in an online environment might be like. I understand the pragmatic path that this represents. Many of them do no have allies within their organizations to help advocate for new ways of learning.

But there is something about starting from the beginning and designing for the online environment from the beginning that seems very important. Otherwise we might end up with a bunch of recorded lectures.

Yes take the course aims – the point behind the course, but then design for online.

Responsibility in class …

I recently facilitated a hour long session for meteorology instructors from around Europe.

The session took place part the way through a week long conference. So I had had time to get to know people, and people to get to know me a little. The session was a very open exploration of what helps students get engaged in a class room. I decided to give the group an experience of facilitation so that they would be able to see what one possible to lectures might be, and to be able to reflect openly on what keeps then engaged and learning during the process.

At the end of the session I was asked what my plan was .. I expressed it as boundary conditions:

We have till 4pm, and we will work together on something – or experiment and play.
We’ll do something on learning activities and what is possible in the class room.
Working on the issues people raise
Giving people the opportunity to reflect on a Group experience as it happens.
Giving people and experience of facilitation to reflect on.
My plan is to ask the group what they would like to work on and then see what happened next.

I was hoping that this would give an experience of engagement and some of the other issues that might be raised.

People said they enjoyed the experience and  being given the opportunity to reflect in the moment on how they were engaging and learning. It also sparked some discussion about learning in the workshop forum.

One of the areas I reflected most on after the event was what it was like letting people sit with open questions. At times I would ask people how they were doing, and some would state that they were frustrated waiting for the answer or someone to say what should happen next. The group was working it such a way that honest disclosure and feedback was possible, and happening.

Some participants noted that I was encouraging them to be responsible for what happens in the “class”, I was not taking responsibility away from them; which was quite unusual in our classrooms.