Oh God. Every developer just felt a chill go down their spine. 🥶
You see, effortful learning isn't always fun. It's hard! And we as humans generally don't like hard things, we prefer things to be easy.
"Please don't pick on me."
"Yeah, I'm not taking out a piece of paper. Give me a break."
"Seriously? I'm not standing up."
"No, I'm not going to pause the video."
We've all had these thoughts as we attend talks, sit in workshops, or do self-paced learning.
One time at An Event Apart, I was sitting in the audience of Mike Monteiro's talk. It could have been forgettable but it wasn't. First, Mike swears a lot. But second, halfway through, he made us stand up and take a pledge. Hand to heart. No – I don't remember what I said but I remember how I felt. Uncomfortable. Exposed. But that soon gave way to a rush, a giddyness, an excitement – surrounded by people saying this thing out loud (it was probably something to do with "I WILL NOT BE EVIL" or something, knowing Mike) and being around like-minded people. That's a memorable learning experience.
That part was designed by Mike. It was intentional. It's well-known that saying something out loud makes it stick better, like doing a rep, and it's a common way to reinforce learning in a workshop for example (that's cognitive science at work people).
What is happening here is the idea of want vs. need.
Neil Gaiman shared one time the following quote that has forever stuck with me:
"In my stories, my characters never get what they want. But they always get what they need."
In design thinking, we know that our audience wants something and it is our job to first, uncover what that is, but second, know that what they want may not be what they need.
To create a memorable learning experience for developers that reinforces your brand – it has to result in some kind of positive transformation in their personal or professional life (otherwise it's a forgettable learning experience, like doing the laundry). It has to satisfy a "want." And creativity is accomplishing it in such a way that motivates the learner to complete the journey to the end so they achieve that transformation. (There's no "trick" involved ((or an illusion, Michael)))
Uncovering and starting with what that exact desired transformation is for your developer audience is the basis for designing killer learning experiences.
Have a lovely day,