Breaking Bad, better known as the “Best TV Show Ever,” explored the possibilities of someone in an ordinary profession, (School Teacher), with extraordinary knowledge and skill, (Chemistry), to advance a nefarious criminal enterprise (Meth Dealer). Imagine if, instead of being a Chemistry teacher, Walter White was a Director of Learning, with extraordinary skills and knowledge in Performance Management. What would that show look like?
Scary learning and development situations, like monsters under our bed, simply don’t exist, right? I mean, compared to other professions, (law enforcement, snake wrangler, dinner buffet worker, etc.) we rarely find ourselves enveloped in fear or exposed to real danger. But when we do, we prefer to make the experiences memorable. Here are some fearful situations* experienced by this learning and development professional, in no particular order.
Warning: This post will make no sense if you’ve not seen “The Matrix.”
Among all the memorable effects, choreography and fashion in “The Matrix,” was the now famous line from Neo: “I know Kung Fu.” That scene and the montage that followed it have always felt to me like lessons in adult learning. Hear me out. Morpheus, for our purposes, is a determined and dedicated learning professional. He has the luxury of leaping past learning levels 1 (“Wow.”) and 2 (“I know kung fu.”) and can now focus entirely on behavior and results. When you think about it, much of the second half of this movie is an illustration of Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation.
Dig, if you will, this picture: You’re sitting at your desk, thinking about how to improve information chunking, and you notice the walking, talking embodiment of workplace drama rapidly moving towards you. You immediately imagine John Quiñones lurking somewhere nearby and prepare to respond appropriately to the hidden camera test about to start.