Choose Your Own Adventure in HR


March 9, 2011

*Re-sharing post from January 2010…

I am addicted to reading.  I think I always have been.  One great thing my parents did from an early age was take me to storytime at our local library every week.  I had my first library card at age 3 when I learned to write my name.  They continued to fuel my addiction by buying me books as often as they could afford to.

Choose Your Own Adventure

By the time I reached elementary school, one of my favorite book series was Choose Your Own Adventure.  It was a series of “gamebooks” where the reader becomes the main character of the story and at the end of every page, or every few pages, there is a decision to make.  Some choices lead you to a happy ending where you receive riches or a wonderful reward.  Some of the choices the reader makes end in death or other less desirable outcomes.  You could read the same book over and over and never have the same outcome.

For example, the story might have you in the middle of the Amazon rainforest.  You see  a tribe of people running toward you with daggers and other weapons.  If you decide to stay put and see what they want, turn to page 17.  If you turn and run away as fast as you can, turn to page 28.  If you decide to clap your hands together and make noise to scare them away, turn to page 31.  Once you choose the next step you are going to take, more choices will await you at the end of that section.  It’s a great way to try out different options.

Wouldn’t it be great if HR had books like that?

Maybe we’d have “Journey to FMLA” where the story of an employee who has an illness they are trying to deal with is told.  The HR pro would then get facts throughout the story and each time some new information surfaced, the HR pro would have to make a choice.  Maybe something like:  If you believe the employee qualifies for FMLA, turn to page 12.  If you think this employee is faking their illness, turn to page 20.  You get the idea.

How about a story like “The Secret of the Manager from Space”.  In this story, the reader would not know the manager was from space and would be getting clues that the manager is just not very good at giving feedback, at managing a project, or managing a group of employees.  The HR pro would have a great time of deciding whether to do nothing, coach the manager, figure out WHY the manager works in this way, etc.

What do you think?  Great training tool, or just great fun?  I don’t know, but I’m suddenly in the mood to head over to Borders and buy my old favorite Choose Your Own Adventure book….’By Balloon to the Sahara.’


  • I would say both. After all, when you are training someone and they’re having fun whilst being trained, it doesn’t seem like an inane waste of time like most training classes are.

    You probably shouldn’t have published this thought, as you probably could retire from being in HR and become a best-selling business author. Next idea should probably be kept close to your vest, Trish…

  • I do this in training now – and it’s great. Most people have a fond remembrance for the choose your own adventure books and it takes the trainees out of their “me” thought process.

    One thing I do is make sure to show what happens with all of the choices to everyone. Depending on the size of the group, I’ll divide the group up into Manager A, Manager B, etc. Then, Manager A will take “if you believe this employee qualifies for FMLA”; and Manager B will take “believes employee is faking illness.”

    Later, when we talk about different situations in the future, managers who’ve had the training remember the lessons.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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