What Pokémon can teach us about effective learning pathways
As a little kid growing up in Japan, Satoshi Tajiri loved to catch and collect insects. And his hobby evolved into something bigger, on a scale he never could have imagined.
In 1989, when the original Gameboy came out, he had an idea for a video game that incorporated themes of collecting, training and battling, inspired by the bugs of his youth, which he pitched to Nintendo as ‘Capsules Monsters’.
Six years in development, it finally hit the shelves, albeit with a different name: Pocket Monsters. Or Pokémon for short. And a global phenomenon was born.
A spin-off cartoon and trading cards followed and more than 20 years later, Pokémon is still going strong. Adopted by each generation, it maintains an affectionate hold on grown-ups who really ought to know better…
So much so, the first live action Pokémon movie recently hit cinema screens all over the world. Detective Pikachu – now playing at your local multiplex.
So, what’s it all about, and what’s it got to do with learning?
Well, the premise is pretty simple. Catch these monsters to fill your ‘Pokedex’ – kind of like filling up a sticker album. Hence the slogan – ‘Gotta Catch ‘Em All’.
So, do you just grab ‘em by the tail or what? Not quite. You throw a ‘pokeball’, which stores and tames these critters. Then you train up the squad you’ve assembled to battle other teams in the Pokémon League. And this is where things get interesting for us folks in L&D.
Just like our colleagues at work, there are lots of different types of Pokémon. All with individual strengths and weaknesses. To begin with a Pokémon’s attributes are modest. But, with the correct training, they can evolve into something more powerful.
Put the hours in and the humble little reptile Charmander becomes the mighty dragon Charizard by way of Charmeleon. Same goes for the trainee who might one day sit on the board…
And unlike some learning programmes at work, which treat everyone the same, regardless of experience or ability. “I don’t care if you don’t need this training, all managers at this grade are required to take this course”.
Top players don’t ‘sheep dip’ their Pokémon with a standard approach to training them.
Oh no. They carefully assess their prospects, and then devise specific programmes to build strength and develop to improve performance. By mapping a custom build, the trainer gives each Pokémon the chance to evolve into the best version of itself.
And it’s the design of these training programmes that sets elite players apart. Just like organisations who power up their employees the exact same way. Taking the time and trouble to unlock their full potential.
Here at OnTrack, we’re not ashamed to say we’re big Pokémon fans. We understand, when it comes to learning goals, abilities and styles – people are different. And this drives our learning design:
Goals: improving in a current role, or an aspiration to move up the ladder. First things first, we’ll define each learner’s aim.
Assessment: a capability audit for each individual creates a pathway for progress.
Learning styles: we want people to build their knowledge, how they get there is up to them. Face to face, self-directed, just in time, on the job. Our toolbox caters to all.
Plus we’ll check back regularly to keep the learning “OnTrack”. We don’t just offer learning and ask you push everyone through it. Like an elite Pokémon trainer, we map out a path for each learner.
So they can be the best they can be.