EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › It's not the consumers' job to know what they want
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

It's not the consumers' job to know what they want - Page 2

post #31 of 56

It is not a consumer's job to know what PRODUCTS they want. But consumers should be able to dictate the service(s) they want. A ski instructor with scruples can always "enlighten" a student, but ultimately the student decides what they want.

 

I am still not crazy about SDI.

post #32 of 56

The last generation Caprice was a great car.  Especially the Wagon and the Impala SS.  The only thing wrong with it was the salesmen wanted to make too much profit so it didn't sell well.  Ok, it didn't have the best gas milage.

post #33 of 56
Thread Starter 

The quote appears to be from an interview with Inc. Magazine: 

 

Quote:
You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new.

 

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs


Edited by nolo - 11/4/11 at 6:48pm
post #34 of 56

Oh-kay.  Let's just back up a little on this one. Let's just say, for discusion purposes,  that there are two fairly opposite ways to approach ski instruction:

 

- The SDI model, where the student says "I want to learn to to do x" and you try to make that happen.

 

- The Jobs model, where I know what you're going to want, so I'm going to lay some stuff on you that's going to lead you in that direction, and you'll love it, if not now, then certainly later.

 

In practice, it's usually not an either or thing. When I was teaching, I got never evers who had no clues, so for everybody's health and safety, they got the standard A cassette, where I tried to get them to learn to put their skis on, get up after a fall, slow down and maybe stop, and if things went really, really well, turn left and right, sort of.

 

Another day maybe I'd get some experienced parallel skiers who were obviously hot to trot, and so I'd say "What d y'all want to do?" And they'd say something like "Ski lots of bumps" or "go find some trees", or whatever, and we'd duly go do that.

 

But back to the either/or discussion, let's say that we're committed to the Jobs model. Remember, the Jobs model made sense for Apple because Jobs did turn out to be a visionary, he convinced a whole generation of consumers to buy into his vision, and Apple profited immensely from the results. What if he'd have had an equally great idea, but nobody paid any attention, and Apple didn't make a dime off of whatever he was proposing? Answer: History would remember him as just another Gyro Gearloose.  You're only a visionary if popular acclaim and money follow your vision, otherwise, you're just another crackpot. 

 

So, and this is not rhetorical, it's an honest question, If you want to follow the Jobs model with ski instruction...what's your vision of where the skiing public wants to go? Even if they don't know it yet? And how are you going to get them to at least head off in that direction...and pay for it?

 

- Nothing wrong with the SDI model, it's based on the age old concept that the customer is always right. So what do our customers want? Or, to cut it a little finer, what do they say they want? Maybe they don't actually want to ski better, maybe they just want to feel like they ski better...and so if we tell them they ski a whole lot better, even if they don't, is that satisfying the SDI model? 

 

So here we are, back to "What is ski instruction all about, anyway?" As I said, I don't do it any more, so you tell me.  Ski teaching is a service industry. It's probably closest to learning yoga, discovering pottery, getting a weekend's worth of kayaking instruction, and so forth. But it's still a service industry, and is not so distantly removed from pedestrian transactions like contracting somebody to come in and clean your carpets. So forgetting about the conceptual model for ski instruction, just think of it as a simple transaction:  A student pays you money, and you give the student a ski lesson. Great, end of transaction, but there has to be some closure. You taught a lesson, fine...and what was the result? Student learned to ski bumps? Didn't even come close to learning to ski bumps? Didn't even come close but wants to come back and try it again? Didn't learn to ski bumps, but had a swell time on vacation, and checked one more box on the Vacation Check List, which was "Take a Ski Lesson...Don't Know Why, Exactly, But It's Probably  About Time...Right?" Didn't even ski, but thoroughly enjoyed your PowerPoint pitch about the future of skiing in the year 2018?

 

So that's a focus on the results versus the process discussion, and while we can all argue that the process is the result, where somebody's skiing ends up, as the result of a lesson (or not) is a real indicator of something visible in the real world. So there it is. What do you think the results are of what you do on the hill, teaching students? Do you like what you see?  If not, what would you do differently?

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

This is good stuff. You guys are definitely helping me accommodate Steve Jobs's quote into my understanding of ski teaching. 

 

If there's one universal feature in a ski lesson, it is asking the student what he or she wants to learn. As an experienced ski instructor once said, "I can tell what someone needs to work on by watching him or her walk across the parking lot in ski boots." The information that your waiter gets when you are seated at his table is not nearly so informative. The instructor's boast is simply saying that all students will display some signature movements that will (or should) determine the lesson plan. They may ask the question, "What do you want from the lesson?" but the answer is not going to affect the plan unless it's wildly out of sync with the movement deficiencies the student presents initially. In which case, the plan needs be delayed to bring the student's expectations in scale with reality. As long as the teacher is cooperating with the student to achieve mutually agreed-upon and realistic goals, it's student-centered teaching: mutual cooperation in a learning partnership. 

 

Sometimes we get student-centered teaching mixed up with mastery teaching in skiing. Mastery learning/teaching is what race competitors and coaches do. Very few ski instructors get the opportunity to teach all the way to student mastery. That requires a longer partnership than most students are willing to support. 

 

Student Directed Instruction is a style of teaching suitable for advanced students and implies independent study in consultation with master teacher(s). Graduate students are expected to be proficient at SDI, undergrads, not so much. OJT is a form of self-directed learning as is certification training, where it's on you, the student, to do the learning, to determine what to practice, to decide whom to choose as a professional mentor, which clinics to attend, etc.  

 

What would Steve Jobs do, had he gone into ski instruction? I believe he would give the students what they need and by the end of the lesson they would believe they got (more than) what they wanted. 

 



 

post #35 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatoldman View Post

Anyone know the context of this quote?

It is not a misquote. It was Jobs's reply when asked what market research Apple had done for the iPad. He said, "None. It's not the consumer's job to know what they want." (The 1989 Inc Magazine interview preceded it by nearly twenty years, but it demonstrates a consistent philosophical approach that defined Jobs for much of his career.)

It is a sort of corollary to one of Jobs's own favorite quotes--of Wayne Gretzky: "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it is or has been" (or something very close to that, if I recall correctly).

Best regards,
Bob
post #36 of 56
Thread Starter 

Here's another quote (from you, Bob): "As the great skater Elvis Stojko once said, "discipline will set you free!" Old-fashioned discipline is the key to new-school freedom!"

 

post #37 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbinder View Post

The problem arises when a less than genius person alienates the student this is being taught by not ending up giving them what they truly need and/or leaving them feeling like they were taught according to an agenda that was determined by the ski school, etc



Yes, unfortunately this is EXACTLY what happened to me one day late last season when I decided on the spur of the moment, after about five years without any formal coaching, to spring for a private lesson. What an utter waste of time and money. I realized only afterward what should have been obvious from the beginning, which is that the first step in taking a lesson - for me, anyway - is shopping carefully for a good coach. I did not do that, and I paid the price. We all know that some teachers are better than others. The thing I didn't realize at all, in my naivete, was that some are simply not helpful at all. What really annoyed me was the way this guy neither LISTENED CAREFULLY to what I told him - explicitly and implicitly -  about what I was looking for, nor did he bother to really WATCH ME SKI with patience and attention before launching into his canned speech about some basic elements of good skiing that I could have recited in my sleep years before I ever met this dude. I could just tell that this was the "black diamond" speech from page three of his recipe book. You know, like when you call tech support with a problem and they try to fit it into one of their FAQ pigeonholes, when all along the WHOLE REASON you bothered to call tech support in the first place was precisely that your problem did not fit any of the well-known FAQ pigeonholes? About 3/4 of the way through the lesson he finally woke up and started paying attention, and abruptly advised me that I already had the basics down. Yeah. That was my starting point, now can re rewind an hour so you can listen to what I told you the first time about what I wanted to work on?

 

 So, now that I know that the first step is shopping for a good coach, does anyone have any tips on how to do that effectively? Signed - a consumer  redface.gif

post #38 of 56

We know what the beginner wants, they want to know how to NOT GO THAT WAY!

 

We as teachers need to realize this but know what they really want but do not grasp yet!  How to use their skis to flirt and play with gravity!  We just have to guide them along that path by instilling the right intent in why they turn their skis.  

 

Student centered yes in the sense of teaching to their learning style, yes with respect to being aware of their basic physiological and psychological needs of warmth, potty breaks, etc.,  yes in the sense of gaining their trust,  But NO in assuming they know what the best path or approach or skill to learn is for them.  

 

We hold the secret!  That's what they want even though they don't know what it is yet!

 

How cool would it be to put on a headset and connect some wires to our bodies, stand on a moving platform, looking through special goggles with video input and feel what great skiing feels like without ever getting cold or driving to the mountains?........on second thought, that would suck!

post #39 of 56

Yep, good reflections. An additional thought (I always have at least one of those) is that maybe it isn't necessary for us to choose betwen SDI and the Jobs model.  There are tons of other models, I'll get to that in a minute. What I was trying to say in my previous post was that teaching skiing is a service job, and you never want to forget that, but it's also a teacher/student scenario.  We've been talking, I think about what the student does, or wants, or gets out of ski teaching. To me, any teacher/student relationship is more than that. You'd want to believe that both participants are getting something out of it, maybe something tangible, maybe something esoteric, maybe both. We don't have to teach skiing, we could all go do something else. Yes, it's very important that the student get something out of it...what he or she wants, what he or she needs but doesn't realize he or she needs, something totally unexpected and enlightening...but, just taking the local viewpoint, I'm not gonna continue to be the teacher if there isn't some reward in it for me.  And for me, that reward isn't the bucks, because I still teach and coach, I just no longer do it for money, it's in getting skiers to Aim High, as they say in the Air Force, and actually make it happen. 

 

I think what I'm hearing from Nolo is a need to resolve the Jobs philosophy with Nolo's concept of teaching skiing.  Maybe that's not necessary. PSIA, and I hate to say it, but as an observer rather than a participant these days, seems to want to come up with the party line du jour, and then the membership either falls into line with that vision, challenges it, morphs it, or whatever, but there seems to be this assumption, but in terms of concept and technical aspects, that there's One Way. To an extent, maybe there is. Forget about what carving is, or whether or not it makes sense. Somebody once asked Stu Campbell to explain the essence of skiing in five words or less, and he said "make the ski bend", doing it in 4. I would have said "Make the edged ski bend." And yep, I know, rockered skis don't necessarily meet that definition, but in the multiplicity of choices we have, I think you have to start somewhere down the path, and maybe the shaped ski is the first building block.  And to make the shaped ski do what it's engineered to do...forget about whether that's called carving or not...a good approach is to put it on edge and get the thing to bend. So hopefully we all agree that that's a good image, and maybe we can even agree on how you make that kind of stuff happen, but those aren't the same things as coaching another skier to get that stuff going on. 

 

To an extent, then, whatever conceptual model you use to inform your teaching and get your student and you to achieve your collective and separate goals, then that's the conceptual model that works, no matter how far off the grid it may seem.  Wanna know what my conceptual model, as a ski racer, happens to be? I call it the "Tooth Fairy Swap." If you remember, the first time you lost a tooth when you were a kid, it was a scary and disorienting experience, and your folks told you that, Well, life is like that, but sometimes a little rain falls, and then the wheel comes around again. So you put the lost tooth under your pillow, and presto, the next morning, the Tooth Fairy made it all up by dropping off something appropriate like a Mars bar.

 

Works for me. I have a bunch of teammates who no longer race because they've been so decimated by injuries that they can hardly walk any more, let alone strap on skis and get in the gates yet again. I've been a whole lot luckier than that, but like every racer, I've taken my share of dings. Last half way serious one was, lemme think, three years ago this December, I had to get out of denial and finally admit I couldn't straighten my right knee.  Fortunately, it was no big deal...the joint wasn't compromised, the ligaments were as good as could be expected, I just had some damaged cartilage, which a very good surgeon snipped out, and 3 weeks later I was rehabbed and back on skis.

 

This year, I ended up 8th in DH, 11th in SL in my class at the Masters Nationals. Thank you, Tooth Fairy! Not for handing me those results, but for giving me one more chance to get out and ski and make those results happen.  So that's also my philosophy when I coach people.  Not that I want them to get hurt, but I want them to understand two things:

 

- (1) It ain't for free. I can show you some stuff that can help, but you have to make the effort. Be thankful that you can make the effort, and give it your best, always. Every day you get on the hill is a freebie. 

 

- (2) Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you. I'm not talking about getting injured, and I hope you don't. But not all of getting better is going to be fun, but if you really want to be the best you can, you'll take whatever lumps you have to and drive on.  The Tooth Fairy is for real, I'm pretty sure of that.

 

So there it is. Probably sounds nutty, but it works for me...so what's your Tooth Fairy?

 

biggrin.gif

 

 

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post

We know what the beginner wants, they want to know how to NOT GO THAT WAY!

 

We as teachers need to realize this but know what they really want but do not grasp yet!  How to use their skis to flirt and play with gravity!  We just have to guide them along that path by instilling the right intent in why they turn their skis.  

 

Student centered yes in the sense of teaching to their learning style, yes with respect to being aware of their basic physiological and psychological needs of warmth, potty breaks, etc.,  yes in the sense of gaining their trust,  But NO in assuming they know what the best path or approach or skill to learn is for them.  

 

We hold the secret!  That's what they want even though they don't know what it is yet!

 

How cool would it be to put on a headset and connect some wires to our bodies, stand on a moving platform, looking through special goggles with video input and feel what great skiing feels like without ever getting cold or driving to the mountains?........on second thought, that would suck!



 

post #40 of 56

Recently I had a discussion with a friend of mine who told me a few years ago he took a ski lesson.  He wanted to improve in the bumps.  The teacher proceeded to take them on some groomer runs and tell them something about hugging a tree, which made absolutely no sense to them.  After following him around for an hour and getting nowhere, they finally just said let's go just ski for fun and they did, the lesson ended, they never want another PSIA lesson and to this day they joke around about "hugging the tree" whenever they are about to do something daring.   I still have no idea what the instructor was trying to tell them and they obviously didn't get anything useful from it either.

 

Steve Jobs and Software Development

 

I want to say about Jobs, having worked in the software industry myself for 20 years, we often threw that quote around during our own design discussions.  We were half joking, giving ourselves a reason to do things our own way.  But on the other hand, we were also half serious.  Maybe 60/40 to the serious side.  The truth is, that an awful lot of the time, consumers think they know what they want, but they quite often ask for ridiculous things that somehow makes sense to them in their limited thinking as a consumer.  

 

This is particularly a problem when they start requesting very specific functionality, they want us to deliver a certain feature that works like this and that, with details about it.

 

They don't have any software design experience, they often have short range thinking in mind.  Solve an immediate problem in the easiest way possible that they can think of.  They buy in to their own idea about how to solve their problem.  But they don't realize that the software has to serve the greater good of many customers and has to fit in together with hundreds or thousands of other features as well, some things dependent on others, etc..  They may not even realize there is even a more elegant way to serve their need that they didn't even think of, perhaps even a drastically different approach then they thought of.  There are many aspects to it that experienced software developers can think of and they can't think of.  

 

All that being said, they are the ones that know their business and the "requirements" of their business, the things where their business could improve in some way if they had a better hardware or software solution.  I promise you that Jobs had armies of product marketing gurus that spent loads of time and resources investigating what the business requirements (we call it business requirements, but it doesn't have to involve actual business, that's just a word for it) of potential consumers are.  What is a business requirement?  That would be something like "Need to be able to easily meet with my client in a private room and review their private records".  Notice there is nothing specified necessarily about how to solve that problem.

 

I am quite sure that Apple has spent millions of dollars trying to figure out what consumers will be willing to buy.  But the key is that they don't necessarily involve consumers in the decisions about nuts and bolts or the details of what they will deliver.  They often surprise everyone with what they deliver, it seems new and innovative, unexpected, etc.  But nonetheless it is still delivering some kind of platform that seems to solve the business requirements for an awful lot of people.  By the way, one business requirement could easily be "I want something that will impress my friends", "I want a way to watch movies on the plane"  Etc..  They try to figure out the desires of consumers, but they leave the design of the "thing" that will make them pull out their credit card; to the designers in their camp that think about all that complicated aspects, all the conflicting consumer desires, and try to come up with something they can sell a lot of.

 

Ski Instruction

 

Anyway, a lot of interesting points being made here.  I guess the main point I'm trying to make is that we can't just give the student what we think they need to get and ignore what they are asking for.  But on the other hand, I do think we need to use our thinking caps and try to figure out the "business requirement" they are asking for and find a way to teach them something that will really help them, while also making them feel we have delivered on that requirement.  

 

The interesting point that stands out to me the most while reading this thread is the big difference between ski instruction and mastery instruction, pointed out by a few people in different words.  As a ski instructor we get a few hours only sometimes to provide a service to the student, and its quite likely we will never see them again.  Some of them may want to improve, some may just want a glorified tour guide.  Some may want to improve but not if its too painful.  They want a few quick tips.  Some others may have unrealistic expectations that you can fix their problem in an hour.  Some may have read too many posts on Epic and have piles of techno jargon falling out of their mouth, etc.. There are all different types of situations and at the end of the day we also have to be realistic that with this type of lesson there is actually a very limited amount of improvement that can be attained in a 2 hour lesson.  We can raise some awareness about particular issues.  We can perhaps get a breakthrough on something if we're really lucky.  But if we want them to come back for another lesson, we have to make sure they walk away thinking they had fun, that the lesson was worth the money because they learned something, and to a certain extent they want to know that we listened to them, responded to their questions, at least attempted to provide a lesson that addresses the thing they were hoping to address.  Yes that is SDI, but we also may want to surprise them sometimes with a solution to their problem that they hadn't thought of before.  The key is listening to find out what is the "business requirement" and then delivering some kind of solution, if possible in 2 hours.  If nothing else  you might only be able to play around with various things related to their business requirement, raise their awareness of it, hope for some improvement of course.  

 

Example for discussion

 

Here's a classic example, student wants to learn the bumps.  They tried it a few times, but so hard.  After watching them ski one run, you're wondering whether they don't have a dozen other issues to address before they should ever tackle the bumps.  What do you do?  Their business requirement is to learn the bumps.  Nuts and bolts wise, they have other problems to solve before you can have any kind of effective bump lesson.  

 

 

 

 

post #41 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post

Student centered yes in the sense of teaching to their learning style, yes with respect to being aware of their basic physiological and psychological needs of warmth, potty breaks, etc.,  yes in the sense of gaining their trust,  But NO in assuming they know what the best path or approach or skill to learn is for them.  

 


icon14.gif

 

 

post #42 of 56

Some of the stuff posted in this thread is really quite amusing.

 

I think the Jobs quote espouses a perspective that holds true where you are developing a product for a customer who doesn't really know what they want or how its supposed to work. Its easier to apply if you are making a mass market product. (e.g. a group lesson)

 

However when you are developing a specific personalized product for a specific consumer not asking what the customer wants or simply ignoring their goals is a big risk. If the customer is seeking a personalized service or product it behooves you as a product developer to inquire about the specific needs of the customer and customize the product to meet their needs -- if possible. Perhaps the customer might not know what they want or what they need. Or may have conflicting goals and be confused about what they can really achieve. In these situations its worth while to present a range of options for the customer to choose from or make a recommendation on what you as an expert think is the best option.  And if they disagree or want something unreasonable then decide if you really want their business or not.

post #43 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post

 Its easier to apply if you are making a mass market product.

 

However when you are developing a specific personalized product for a specific consumer not asking what the customer wants or simply ignoring their goals is a big risk

 

Another very good point!  icon14.gif

post #44 of 56

I wanted to add that I think the word consumer in the topic quote is very telling and very appropriate. People who want general instruction on how does this work are passive lesson consumers. They want  by the book lesson.

 

People who have a specific problem or goal are looking to consult an expert, not to passively consume a lesson. They need to be treated differently than consumers. From their perspective, if you don't address their goal they probabbly won't be happy. If you want them to buy in on a different goal you will need to sell them on that.

 

Also, we have our first Valley Snow here in UT. Woot!!!


Edited by tromano - 11/4/11 at 10:35pm
post #45 of 56

Steve Jobs also said "We're all naked."

 

I guess the boys at Squaw better recalculate the GNAR points, because everyone got 10,000 points just for showing up and skiing.

 

 

 

I think we place too much emphasis on quotes... they are just some of millions of words uttered by a person. 

post #46 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by borntoski683 View Post


Example for discussion

 

Here's a classic example, student wants to learn the bumps.  They tried it a few times, but so hard.  After watching them ski one run, you're wondering whether they don't have a dozen other issues to address before they should ever tackle the bumps.  What do you do?  Their business requirement is to learn the bumps.  Nuts and bolts wise, they have other problems to solve before you can have any kind of effective bump lesson.  

 

If you have an engineer for a student, it should be a fairly simple task.  After watching them ski, "Here are some reasons you are finding moguls so difficult,  A,B,C.  This is what we are going to do to help improve A,B,C.  Let's start with A.  We need to do this on a slope with enough grade to get you moving, but slow enough so you can feel what's going on and we will do it without the added complication of balancing in the bumps.  Once you get these problems under control we can take it to the bumps.  You may only see a little improvement at first, but it will come if you keep at it." 

 

Don't know what you can do if your student is an arts major.wink.gif
 

 

post #47 of 56
Thread Starter 

 

 

Quote:
I think we place too much emphasis on quotes... they are just some of millions of words uttered by a person. 

Sometimes a famous quote poses a good opening question for this type of discussion. 

post #48 of 56

Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

If you have an engineer for a student, it should be a fairly simple task.  After watching them ski, "Here are some reasons you are finding moguls so difficult,  A,B,C.  This is what we are going to do to help improve A,B,C.  Let's start with A.  We need to do this on a slope with enough grade to get you moving, but slow enough so you can feel what's going on and we will do it without the added complication of balancing in the bumps.  Once you get these problems under control we can take it to the bumps.  You may only see a little improvement at first, but it will come if you keep at it." 

 

Don't know what you can do if your student is an arts major.wink.gif
 

 

 

I like your description of how to teach skiing.  In real life I teach art (drawing, painting, etc).  I do the A,B,C thing with my art students as you describe above.  But you are so right, the art education establishment certainly leans the other way and caters to students who have little tolerance for sequential thinking.  I call that other way the "Whatever-You-Want" art education method.

 

The proof is in the pudding.  My art students learn to draw, paint, etc.  Their advanced work displays strong personal expression expressed through a high level of technical skill.  If they should decide later in their professional careers to back away from that technical stuff, they certainly can do that without instruction.

 

Often, the "Whatever-You-Want" process teaches personal expression without the skills necessary to make the art work convincing.  These young artists are full of ideas, but....  sometimes (not always) the work just doesn't have any power.   If these artists later, after they have left school, find a need for technical skills they may need instruction to gain it.

 

 

post #49 of 56


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

Here's another quote (from you, Bob): "As the great skater Elvis Stojko once said, "discipline will set you free!" Old-fashioned discipline is the key to new-school freedom!"

 

 

Doesn't apply to just snowsports:


“Master your instrument, master the music, and then forget all that bullshit and just play.” -- Charlie Parker

 

Back on software development for a minute:

 

Quote:
Hey Matthias, good points all. I'm by no means saying that I don't have issues with many things that Apple does - just pointing out that he had the chutzpah to do what he thought was right and to not rely on asking his customers what THEY thought was right. Trying to explain the thread title quote in his context.

 

Sorry, not trying to pick on you specifically, just a little sick of all the Steve Jobs hero-worship as of late.  He did a lot of great things, but Apple under his watch also did lots of things that were designed to make more money for Apple while explicitly not serving the needs of some of their current or potential customers.  OTOH, many people LOVE their products with an almost fanatical devotion, so they must be doing something right in the minds of those people.  He certainly had chutzpah and a vision, no argument there...

 

Quote:

The truth is, that an awful lot of the time, consumers think they know what they want, but they quite often ask for ridiculous things that somehow makes sense to them in their limited thinking as a consumer....

 

This is particularly a problem when they start requesting very specific functionality, they want us to deliver a certain feature that works like this and that, with details about it.

 

They don't have any software design experience, they often have short range thinking in mind.  Solve an immediate problem in the easiest way possible that they can think of.  They buy in to their own idea about how to solve their problem.  ... They may not even realize there is even a more elegant way to serve their need that they didn't even think of, perhaps even a drastically different approach then they thought of.

 

I run into this even with experienced software developers sometimes.  I work on a team that provides internal services to other developers working on a very large piece of embedded software.  I recently had someone ask me, basically, "Doing <X> is too slow.  How do I make <X> faster?".  And while yes, there was a way to do X marginally faster, their real problem is that doing X was an ugly hack given what they were really trying to do.  It involved a lot of redundant processing, which is why their code was really slow.  But they didn't want to hear that, because it meant that they had to rewrite a bunch of other code so that it didn't rely on doing X.

 

Also, this is (part of) the issue with people who show up for ski lessons.  It's not that they "don't know what they want".  They do want something (or they wouldn't be there), and they know what that thing is, even if they maybe can't express it very well or it's an unrealistic goal for an hour lesson.  But they may not be thinking long-term, or may be focused too tightly on one aspect of the problem(s) they're currently having.

 

Back on skiing:

 

From just a practical 'keep my job' perspective, I want people to feel like they got their money's worth and to enjoy their lesson experience, so that they'll come back again.  To make them feel like they got their money's worth, they need to feel like they met their goals, or at least that I helped them move towards them (whatever they are -- and they may not be what the customer says they want if you ask them!)

 

Quote:
I guess the main point I'm trying to make is that we can't just give the student what we think they need to get and ignore what they are asking for.  But on the other hand, I do think we need to use our thinking caps and try to figure out the "business requirement" they are asking for and find a way to teach them something that will really help them, while also making them feel we have delivered on that requirement.

 

I think this is getting at something.  Assuming you're actually capable of teaching the student something that will help them, you need to get them to buy in to what you are teaching them as part of a bigger skill progression.  Sometimes that buy-in is easy or automatic, if what you're doing makes an immediate difference in their skiing.  If it's more subtle, or something they need to practice for a while before it will pay dividends, this gets trickier.

 

 

Quote:

Example for discussion

 

Here's a classic example, student wants to learn the bumps.  They tried it a few times, but so hard.  After watching them ski one run, you're wondering whether they don't have a dozen other issues to address before they should ever tackle the bumps.  What do you do?  Their business requirement is to learn the bumps.  Nuts and bolts wise, they have other problems to solve before you can have any kind of effective bump lesson.

 

As a general principle, I'd try to spend the first part of the lesson working on something that should help them in the bumps (and ideally help their general skiing as well, if they have that much work to do).  Then I'd try to work them into some easier moguls and apply what we just worked on, to show them the difference that it makes.  But there will have to be some tempering of expectations if they think I'll be able to have them ripping down the zipper line in an hour.

post #50 of 56

Okay, now we're getting to where I was heading. Mathias99 says "Back on skiing. From just a practical 'keep my job' perspective, I want people to feel like they got their money's worth and to enjoy their lesson experience, so that they'll come back again.  To make them feel like they got their money's worth, they need to feel like they met their goals, or at least that I helped them move towards them (whatever they are -- and they may not be what the customer says they want if you ask them!)".

 

Sounds reasonable, and that's where I was heading in an earlier post. As I also said in that post, the "keep your job" aspect of customer sat is an immediate concern, but not a long term one...you can always do something else to put a roof over your head and food in your mouth.  So I think, as I said earlier, that it's not only providing customer sat...customer achieved goals or moved in that direction...but achieving your goals, where are probably something like "felt really good today, because I helped one of my students achieve his or her goals."  And I have a funny feeling that those are the kinds of goals Mathias99 and a whole bunch others have, and that's the kind of success y'all have. 

 

So my take on this discussion was 'That's all nice in theory, but why don't you tell me what really happens when you give a group or private lesson?"  We can change the names to protect the guilty or the innocent, but let's share what happens to y'all out in the real world, on the hill. What are your goals, and what are your student's goals, and how do you achieve them?  If it's by following the Steve Jobs philosophy, I'm fine with that...just tell me how it works. If it's by following SDI, that's fine, too...just tell me how you make it happen.  And they don't have to be polar opposites, and mutually exclusive.  I probably have a little Jobs and a little SDI in my approach when I coach racers, but as I said above, what works for me...and the athletes I work with...is the "Tooth Fairy Exchange" method...so what's yours, and how does it work?

 

smile.gif

 

post #51 of 56
Thread Starter 

 

 

Quote:
what works for me...and the athletes I work with...is the "Tooth Fairy Exchange" method...so what's yours, and how does it work?

Who cares what anyone else does -- I want to know more about this TFE method of which you espouse!

 

--------------------------------Anyway--------------------------------

I've said before and I'll say again that Dick Dorworth had it right when he said this in an article in The Professional Skier:

 

Quote:
What comes from the heart cannot be bought, though it can be sold. And its presence is a necessity for success and health and worth of every relationship...A love of the action of skiing is the foundation of what we, as professionals, do...But in skiing as in all things, the best comes from the heart. Always straight from the heart.

 

You have to be a lover to be a great teacher. Love in the Socratic sense of never quite knowing the beloved (skiing) as well as one would hope. That is to say, you can never get enough of learning more about skiing. In this view, the biggest part of teaching is who you are and not any method or technique. 

post #52 of 56

See Post #39 for more info about the TFE, which is basically, "You have to bring some if you want to get some."  Yep, good teaching...and learning...comes from the heart, and the center of that is a shared love of the sport itself. A way that's gotten better, for me is "coaching athletes" as opposed to "teaching students" or being a "ski instructor." If I'm a teacher...a master...and you're the pupil, then I know something more than you.  That might be true, but it tends to put the student in the situation of having to push a rock up a hill.  Coaching is more like "I'm not above you, you're over there, and I'm over here.  We're both looking at skiing, which is like two people looking through two different windows at the same thing in one room. Here's something I see that maybe you don't.  Try this, and if it works, fine.  If not, we'll go look through another window." 

 

The coach/athlete thing tends to be much more of a shared search. In my Masters program, we have coaches (I'm not officially a coach, but I'm Coaching L100 certified, and a lot of my teammates ask me to work with them because I have a good eye and can get things across to them with the KISS principle). But we all coach each other. My head coach, who is a phenomenal skier, races FIS as well as Masters and has something like 60 points in slalom, always asks me what I saw in his runs when we're hanging out after a race.  The coach/athlete thing also feeds right into TFE. Where a key element of that whole way of looking at that stuff is essentially me, as the coach, saying "Okay...here's some stuff that I think can help you, let's try it, if that doesn't work, we'll come up with something else.  I'll help, but you gotta make the effort and you gotta make it happen, because once your poles are on the other side of the start wand, it's all up to you."

 

Make sense?

cool.gif



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

 

 

Who cares what anyone else does -- I want to know more about this TFE method of which you espouse!

 

--------------------------------Anyway--------------------------------

I've said before and I'll say again that Dick Dorworth had it right when he said this in an article in The Professional Skier:

 

 

You have to be a lover to be a great teacher. Love in the Socratic sense of never quite knowing the beloved (skiing) as well as one would hope. That is to say, you can never get enough of learning more about skiing. In this view, the biggest part of teaching is who you are and not any method or technique. 



 

post #53 of 56
Thread Starter 

I think you get this stuff at a very high level, SkiRacer55. It's a pleasure to read your thoughts. 

post #54 of 56

Thanks, let's make some turns one of these days...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

I think you get this stuff at a very high level, SkiRacer55. It's a pleasure to read your thoughts. 



 

post #55 of 56

As others have mentioned, if ski instruction had consistent continuity, you could probably apply more of Steve Job's line. I've had clients for years but teach each of them at most a week or two per season. Some I've even developed from first timers. However as the seasons wore on, frustration grew. The more they developed as skiers, the slower their progress. Now's that very understandable in the learning of any given discipline. But skiing in particular had further drawbacks in continual development. Due to its seasonality, distance and high cost, most students just aren't able to commit the increased time to train to improve their skiing. They as much as the instructor want to improve. They just aren't allowed the optimum opportunities to after a certain level. Both parties (instructor and student) are stunted by this state of circumstances. While I always tried my best, I soon saw my job become more of a guide and an entertainer rather than an instructor. I contrast it to training instructors whom I have the whole season to work with. The satisfaction achieved by both parties is much more pronounced simply because of the real leaps in skiing gained. Even yoga instructors, golf and tennis coaches have exposure to their students regularly over an extended time. They would more be able to dictate to the student 'what they wanted'.

 

 

Applying the 'Keep my job perspective' from Matthias99, a ski school and the instructor has to adopt a 'let's get them to return for more' approach. Good instructors will recognise how to do so with different clients. Whether you show them a good time on the mountain, make them feel like they learnt something or show them enough that they want to come back to learn more etc the approach is that you need to give them what they want to get them to come back. Great instructors actually manage to improve their skiing at least a little while doing one of the above. And while what Skiracer55 states that 'we can always do something else to put a roof over our heads' is true, the ski school as an entity cannot. It has to survive as a business. It recognises the short term nature of its customer base and creates a product that caters to that. It is doing everything in its power to make a as much revenue from the short 4 to 5 month operation period. The ski instructor plays a big part in delivering that product. Just my thoughts. This is my experience with the ski schools I've worked for and specifically programs catered to the general public, not season long race coaching or freestyle programs.

 

While the natural progression for an instructor is to head towards coaching racers, it's a pity that the nature of the industry doesn't allow professional instructors to stay at the grassroots level and grow the regular joe into a 'pretty damn good' skier. Not everybody who wants to ski well wants to race. I sometimes secretly wish that ski instruction had the stability and regularity of other coaching/ instructing professions. But if it ever did, I would probably do something else :)

 

post #56 of 56
Thread Starter 

Nice post, Gigatoh. Welcome to EpicSki! I agree that the ski school student is much more likely to be stunted in their development over the racer because of less than optimal time on task, continuity, and the depth of the relationship or partnership between teacher/coach and student/athlete. Perhaps a question to the student on the first meeting should be, do you want coaching or instruction? I always kept in the back of my mind the thought that, this is just the first of many lessons we'll spend together, which allowed me to pace myself and always leave more for "the next time we meet." Some came back for 10 years and more. It's the relationship that makes or breaks the deal. 

 

Quote:
Both parties (instructor and student) are stunted by this state of circumstances. While I always tried my best, I soon saw my job become more of a guide and an entertainer rather than an instructor. I contrast it to training instructors whom I have the whole season to work with. The satisfaction achieved by both parties is much more pronounced simply because of the real leaps in skiing gained. Even yoga instructors, golf and tennis coaches have exposure to their students regularly over an extended time. They would more be able to dictate to the student 'what they wanted'.

 


Edited by nolo - 11/11/11 at 6:54am
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › It's not the consumers' job to know what they want