By Jack HM Wong, Director, WHM Consulting Pte Ltd, Singapore  17.05.19

I have been speaking on platform for almost 20 years but I only came across program design 7 years ago. The first person who taught me program design was my teacher and mentor, Blair Singer, who was a student of Marshall Thurber, the creator of the program “Money & You”.  The key takeaway from Blair was that good program design requires us to explore different ways to help the participants to maximise the learning in the room.

If you have been subject to the traditional education system like me, you will probably agree that lectures create the minimum learning impact because it is passive.  So, what Blair has taught me is to “get the participants to do something” to increase the learning impacts on them.  That’s all I have learned and in my own training programs, I focus heavily on activities and games regardless of what topics I am training.

You may think life is good!  Unfortunately, I still have a challenge, that is, I am not able to articulate the process of program design.  In particular, I have started doing speaker’s training since 2018 and one of the elements in this training is about program design.  How do I create a system that is transferable, replicable and duplicable? 

It’s until I have attended my second CTF Workshop as a refresher that I finally came to this realisation that I can use TetraMap to explain my system.  Credits go to Master TetraMap Facilitator, Raymond Yap, who is so passionate about TetraMap and continues demonstrating how he uses TetraMap in his personal life and business.

The following is a snapshot of my latest version of my program design methodology (disclaimer – this is not the final version as I will continue fine tuning it because Version 1 is always better than Version 0).

Earth Element

  • What’s the learning outcome of your training program?
  • Who do your participants want to ‘become’?

Air Element

  • What is your proven process or system to transform your participants from where they are to where they want to be?
  • What is the program duration – 2 days, 3 days or more?
  • Will the training program be conducted in modular basis?  How        many modules?

Water Element

  • Who are your participants and where are they from? Will the participants be required to work in groups/ teams?
  • Do you have any concern on cultural differences or learning preferences?

Fire Element

  • What do you want them to have after your training and what can they do after you
  • What must you do to bring the training environment to have more fun and high energy?
  • Will you have alternative processes as a back-up just in case your original plan cannot work out for some reasons?

I use this approach to train my first batch of students in a speaker’s training in Yangon, Myanmar in May 2018.  And the good news is that all 26 participants understood my process and somehow had designed their own training program on the spot. 

Of course, I have to emphasise that the above are merely guiding questions and are not exhaustive. Having said that, as a person with high Air Element, this approach has given me a better context within which I am able to articulate my process, so that it can be transferred to my participants in my speakers’ training.

To me, this is one of my biggest wins after becoming a Certified TetraMap Facilitators since Sep 2017. 

8 - Comments on “A New Dimension of My Approach to Program Design”

  • Hi Jack,

    Great blog topic! I’m looking at designing a couple of new courses at the moment and I’m going to test out the framework you have shared. Thank you!

    Look forward to version 1 as you keep developing it from here!

  • Hi Jack, thank you for sharing this blog. Your use of TetraMap in this way, reinforces that the TetraMap approach can be applied to anything in life! A core part of my professional world is learning and development so I am going to start applying the TetraMap approach to my programme design. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • Thanks Anna. It’s my pleasure to share my experience with the group. After discussing with Louise, Jon and Yoshimi, this project I am working on may go even bigger than what I originally have expected. I am not worrying about the exact details now. One step at a time.

  • That’s great Jack! Many thanks. Blair and I were on the same running team at Excellerated Business School in Hawaii, 1992(!). It was then we learned from Amy Edmundson, etc and were further inspired by Bucky’s work. Outcome and precessional results? TetraMap.
    Look forward to meeting you next week at the webinar.

    • Thank you so much, Yoshimi. Yes, Blair is a great teacher and I am glad to have learned a lot of the way he teaches and facilitates. I look forward to meeting you in next week’s webinar too.

  • Great to hear Jack how you’ve applied TetraMap and used it as a framework and applied it to a problem you were facing. You made it easy for your participants to use and understand – the foundation of good facilitation. More experience, less theory – I find it works every time!

    • Thanks so much, Louise. Yes, I love the fact that we advocate not training but facilitation and I just emailed you a win about my “Why Is Customer Like That” workshop that I completed in Kuching, Malaysia. The good news is that the whole class understands how the four Elements of Nature work at the basic level, and it’s a good start.

      With positive intention and continuous improvement on the facilitation skill, I know, as you said, it works every time!

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