Tobias and Daniela Voss are the founders of Metalog Training Tools. They have worked in organizational learning for nearly 30 years first as freelance coaches and trainers, and now as the creative visionaries behind some of the world's most innovative training tools.
Metalog first emerged in the mid 1990s when Tobias and Daniela were working as trainers in Germany. They formed the Metalog Institute for the Communicative Arts in 1995, and led programs focused on team building, leadership, customer orientation and communication. Their clients included Audi and Lufthansa, and other leaders from the automotive and airline industries.
In time, Tobias and Daniela started to incorporate interactive learning methods such as games and experiential activities into their work. They discovered that using games ignited learning for their participants more efficiently than conventional training methods, and Tobias began to design his own games. He was also studying neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) with Californian Christina Hall at the time, and started to adapt Hall's strategy of creating learning experiences with embedded content for his own clients.
This multisensory, holistic approach to training triggered a sea change in the attitude of the learners who participated in Metalog workshops. Clients started to hear about the lively, collaborative and authentic learning experiences Tobias and Daniela were delivering, and requested them for their own internal training programs.
As their tools and exercises gained popularity, they realized they were facing a new business opportunity, and in 2000, turned to Daniela's father Erwin Voss for help. Erwin was a skilled craftsman with a workshop in his basement near Munich, and a recent retiree with time for a new venture. Erwin took a hands-on, pragmatic approach to the construction of their first tools, and it is his unique aesthetic that still defines the tools today.
In 2002, they moved the company out of Erwin's basement and formed a partnership (which is still strong today) with the non-profit, Caritas, to employ people with disabilities to produce the tools in local sheltered workshops. Erwin visited the workshops every day to support the expansion of production. He set up workflows, ordered new tools and machines, helped the lead carpenters with ideas, and built special frames and jigs to make production more suitable for the workers and their special skills.
Three years later, the small Metalog team launched their first catalog with eight tools, and by 2007, they had designed more than 20 tools. The subsequent years brought more innovative learning products, a growing network of international distributors, groundbreaking train-the-trainer workshops and in 2010, the publication of Tobias's book, Transform Your Training. Metalog Method. It was the culmination of all the insights and concepts Tobias had developed since he and Daniela first formed the Metalog Institute for the Communicative Arts in 1995, and is now the de facto guide for trainers everywhere who want to turn games into high-impact learning experiences for their learners.
Today, Metalog Training Tools is no longer the scrappy startup that started in Erwin's basement. Tobias and Daniela now lead a dynamic business team at their headquarters near Munich, and Erwin oversees the workshops in Bavaria that handcraft the tools (see how they're made). But they still find time to design new tools, and their passion – to create learning experiences that are fun, authentic and meaningful – remains the same.
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