How-To Articles

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How To Actually Generate Customers On Professional Networks: Part 1

Asked by Julbert Abraham from AGM - LinkedIn Marketing & LinkedIn Training

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If you're wondering if you can get clients from a professional network such as LinkedIn or Alignable (or any... Read Full Answer

Data & Insights

Tagged in Engineering & IT

10 Actually Actionable Benefits Of List Building

Asked by Juan Manuel Colome from Top Response Marketing

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What is List Building all about?

List building refers to a continuous process of adding new and updated subscribers to your list.... Read Full Answer

Local Business Stories

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Celebrating Small And Locally-owned Businesses With Bill Brunelle of Independent We Stand

Asked by Alan Belniak from Alignable

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Today's special edition of the Local Business Stories by Alignable podcast highlights... Read Full Answer

Training With Analogies: The Wheelbarrow Story

By Chris Dixon · Posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 · Tagged in General Discussion



If you have been in management for any length of time, you've likely experienced how difficult it can be to actually train a team. In business, you are either growing or dying as no company can be set up with a cruise control. Growth happens only when managers and team members continuously work to improve both themselves and the processes they use.

So, what happens when a very smart manager comes up with a new concept and then sends it out to team leaders to implement the new program? Nine times out of ten that idea dies before it gets implemented.

Conceptual ideas rarely become actual actionable processes unless the lowest positioned person on the team understands and buys into the idea the upper management is trying to implement.

Years ago, a District Manager of mine shared a story he had heard as a young manager called the "Wheelbarrow Story". It goes a little something like this…

"There was once a huge bridge building company up north that oversaw all the new construction in their state. They had an employee named George whose only responsibility was to take larger rocks from a pile.He took these rocks, placed them in his wheelbarrow, and rolled them over to a conveyer belt that took them to the plant to be processed. Day in and day out George did his job and never complained.

After years of doing this and never hearing anything from managers or anyone else he got bored and started slacking off. A few days later George decided that his job had little importance and he would just take the day off and relax. Mid-afternoon the entire plant shut down as they no longer had rocks to process. The plant manager was named John and he drove out to see what was wrong and found George taking an extended break. John was taken back to see George sitting around when the entire plant had just shut down.

John asks George "Why are you just sitting around?" George explains, "My job is so boring and after years of working here I do not see the benefit of my job. All I do is haul rocks from the pile to the conveyor belt."

John could see that George did not see the bigger picture.John then said, "George you are the most important person I have working for me. We are in the business of building bridges and to do that we need lots of concrete. Our plant is the one that furnishes all the concrete to build these bridges. George, you are the first person in the process as the rocks you send down the conveyer are crushed into smaller stones that are used in the concrete mix. Without you doing your part the entire process breaks down."

George's entire expression changed as he learned the important part he played. He was not hauling rock he was an important part of a bridge building team."

The moral here is that, unless your team members understand their importance in the overall process, any idea you try to implement will break down. Every clerk, salesperson, etc needs to understand that they are representatives of your company and they impact what customers think about your business.

If you want to implement new ideas and have those ideas embraced at all levels you need to share with your employees how important they actually are and how their actions will impact the success of your company.

Training with analogies allow us to share stories that do a better job of explaining than just telling someone to do something. They help people understand an abstract concept in a more visual, realistic way and can often introduce new perspectives, and break down preconceived notions.

Not sure if teaching with analogies will work? The Bible has been around for at least 2000 years and the latter half of the Bible is full of analogies used to educate people. These stories helped to explain, clarify, and bring life to valuable lessons. If Jesus found analogies to be a useful teaching tool then they might just work for you as well.

Have you tried training with analogies? Let me know in the comments!

Most Liked Comment

David J Dunworth International Best Selling Author from Marketing Partners
39 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Take the time and read AND discuss the book "Who Moved My Cheese?" If you wish to impart the wisdom of explaining how to accept change in business or in personal life, this is the metaphor book to utilize. The same holds true for Wheelbarrow stories. Unless the broader picture comes to light, people will become complacent, resentful, disengaged and disinterested no matter the size of the organization.

Stories paint pictures, and analogies are great picture painting tools.

Most Engaging Comment

Sean Williams from Williams Software Consulting, LLC
2 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Most of the time, I live and die by analogies. As someone who's been working in I.T. for a few decades, I know and understand that we speak an entirely different language than non-techies / business people. At the same time, each business/industry also has its own vernacular for every process. As a result, I've found it much simpler to put things into analogies and/or generic terms in order to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Let's take conversations with my wife for example (who is a self-professed non-techie / technophobe). I remember years ago she asked... (more)


Mark Mehling (Mark@TakeControlMarketing.com) from Take Control Marketing
38 Locals Recommend Them • Replied on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

C'mon Sean- what do you need analogies for in the IT world? Everyone knows computers work on smoke and mirrors- and I can prove it. Every time the smoke escapes from my computer, it stops working! Of course, I'm kidding...

It's people like you who can take the technical 'hay' and bring it out of the hayloft so us cows can eat it. Great response!!


Joanna Mastrocola from Alignable
134 Locals Recommend Them • Replied on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Great example, Sean. Thanks for sharing!



Sean Williams from Williams Software Consulting, LLC
2 Locals Recommend Them • Replied on Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mark - Your reply takes me back to college when I was working as tech support in one of the labs one evening. A person called me and said "there are flames coming out of the top of my monitor! What do I do?" My reply was "Uh, get the hell out of there comes to mind!".

As for demystifying IT, I do what I can for my customers. I give them enough detail to explain what I'll do and how, without truly pulling them into the weeds with me. That being said, I'll make you a deal. I'll explain I.T. as simply as I can for you, and you take the Marketing piece out of my... (more)

Marina Dimitrov from Mentis Group
2 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

As a previous training manager for G-Suite (Google Apps for Work) I can tell you I definitely had to use analogies, but also storytelling, roleplays and examples. It's the only way the sales team could learn complicated technologies. Tables and drawings also helped... people learn differently so you have to use as many techniques as possible to make sure everyone can grasp the topic (unless you are training only person at a time and have learned what the best way is to get through to them). Good luck!

Travis Yates from Remington Agency
5 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Analogies work well because most people are visual learners. When they hear a story they see the pictures of that story in their minds, (another reason why video is the most popular marketing tool).

But that doesn't change the fact that analogies won't fix stupid management practices. Such as when incentives are offered for good work by employees and equally hard working employees are continually overlooked because of personality or favoritism; especially if someone the company deems difficult to replace but also makes huge mistakes is given awards. This type... (more)

Mark Mehling (Mark@TakeControlMarketing.com) from Take Control Marketing
38 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Analogies make "Oh, I get it!"more memorable and happen sooner. Nice post!




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