Turn Your Product Knowledge Training into a “Hero’s Journey”


You need to deliver training to your employees and want it to be “engaging.” You’ve read articles and attended webinars that discuss making learning experiences engaging, yet most of the advice seems vague. What is an engaging learning solution? Why do some learners find a certain type of training engaging, while others do not?

The challenge you face is even more difficult when your content does not exactly jump off the page. Teaching call center employees how to follow a critical procedure or pushing product information to sales reps in an exciting way is not a simple task. And while learning solutions must include instructional design that purposely leads to retention of this type of content, retention cannot happen if learners are not motivated to learn.

…That is, unless we take a look at what truly motivates people. When we consider our learners as human beings—influenced by culture and driven by common goals—we can begin to see the approaches, stories and themes that truly motivate them.

One such theme is The Hero’s Journey.

What is the Hero’s Journey?

Mythologists (the people who study myths across cultures) will tell you that The Hero’s Journey has been repeated over and over again throughout human history. You’ve seen it before: the hero leaves the safety of home to face great challenges and ultimately overcomes those challenges. She returns home victorious and shares this victory with her people. We see The Hero’s Journey all around us: in movies, in books, in classical myths and modern stories. It’s a classic pattern where the individual inevitably identifies herself as the hero or protagonist.

The Hero’s Journey is retold over and over again because it is meaningful to people. It almost always leads to a powerful and inspirational story. That’s why when you are looking for a way to motivate employees to follow a process or learn about a new product, creating a “Hero’s Journey” for them to follow is a great place to start.

Here are three ways you can transform your next training initiative from required activity to heroic quest. The approaches work especially well for product knowledge training… and we have seen them used effectively with process training and customer-facing training as well.

1. Start With a Challenge

Instead of listing out learning objectives, start your next training experience with a challenge or goal. Every Knowledge Guru “Legend” or “Quest” game start with a goal or quest of some kind. In addition, many customers create a broader theme or narrative that they use within their LMS and throughout email communications sent to players.


Every Legend game theme starts with a challenge of some kind. Players begin a heroic journey to become a Knowledge Guru.



In the Quest app, players are on a journey to unlock knowledge. The game itself is structured as an extended quest where the learner is the hero.



This “Hazard Communication” course challenges learners to become a “Safety Sidekick.” This becomes their quest throughout the course. The course went on to win a 2014 Horizon Interactive award.


2. Make it Personal

While goals and challenges are motivating to learners, unnecessary content is the opposite. Make sure that you are presenting the right content to the right learners throughout the experience by personalizing the learning.



Our Drive App assesses the learner’s performance in order to adapt the content and deliver the most relevant reinforcement.



Many of the custom eLearning solutions we create allow learners to select their role and receive content tailored to their individual needs.


3. Make it Last

The Hero’s Journey is seldom complete in a day… let alone a 30 minute eLearning course. For example, Johnson & Johnson broke their “Talent Guru” game into a 5-week program with short gameplay sessions and competition each week. By extending your learner’s journey, you also increase the benefits of spaced repetition: learners retain more knowledge when they have the opportunity to apply it multiple times over several days or weeks.


Knowledge Guru’s “Quest” app allows users to lock worlds for a period of time and email players when the world is ready for play. This breaks gameplay into short, manageable chunks over an extended period of time.



We specifically designed the Drive app for repeat play over a period of time. Learner’s are given a “Daily Three” of minigames to complete in their drive towards mastery. The content changes, and only repeat play over several days or weeks will achieve mastery.