Learnt it on the grapevine – Pat Mock, Jenny Kirkwood #open17

Lots of e-resources that need certain amount of skills to use. But don’t have a trainer so implementing training isn’t manageable – fitting into schedules is hard. Training isn’t always motivating – especially hard for the trainer when trainees forget everything they’ve been told – only remember who the expert was “and it wasn’t them”.

Did research and found brain is designed to shed information. 50% of what you hear will be gone on within an hour. Unless you can convince your brain you’re going to need it again – this is the key to their new system, “grapevine training”.

Short 10-15min sessions where person A trains B -> C -> D … -> A. Different topic starting a chain every few weeks. Done for technical issues, work processes, etc.

Staff like the format – get engaged working one-on-one. Often work together longer than session intended and first staff member gets more out than put in. More confident demonstrating to public because they’ve already demo’d to each other.

Not perfect each time. One problem is that once a train sets off it’s hard to track how far it’s progressed – so create a document where staff tick when training is received and passed on.

Usually reference staff are responsible for training so they started kicking off the training but when they got a bit tired of this, other staff got asked to kick off chains. Staff are now using chains when they want to use a skill.

Takes the expert out of the equation so staff are now more empowered. Doing better with familiarity with resources by engaging staff.


Did they check this doesn’t end up like Chinese Whispers? Actually didn’t. Theoretically the last person gives it back to person A but in practice the chains broke first. But didn’t find that it got distorted. Sometimes you get something different but not wrong – they’d just gone off on a tangent.

May not work in big systems – online document to track helped but easier in smaller organisation.

For a short thing, can have one person teach two and spreads faster – pyramid style.

Who initiates? Still mostly the reference team. But very successful when others start. Requires one of the reference team to push it at the start.

Have considered trying it with school classes too – haven’t had a chance to try that yet.

What about capturing notes from people along the chain?

What happens when the chain breaks? You can prod people. But if people really don’t want to learn, so be it. Has worked better and for longer than anything else.

They set a time limit, not always met.

Is there a structured chain? In the start, yes, but really labour-intensive and would break when someone went on leave. More flexible when there’s an online form as staff can find someone available.

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