Last week I had the great pleasure of hearing Ram Charan speak at the Bay Area Executive Development Network meeting. The theme of Charan's talk was how the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) can add value and build a people engine that will help the business achieve its objectives.
In a recent issue of the Harvard Business Review, Rosabeth Moss Kanter discussed the importance of leaders knowing when to focus in on details and when to pull back to see the big picture. While good leaders are able to zoom in and out to help them make decisions, training designers should know how to do the same.
It's easy to get stuck in a design rut whenever there's too much to do and not enough time to do it. Re-using and re-purposing design elements that have served you well in the past is one great way to enhance your efficiency, but over time, it can lead to a course library that lacks visual identity or personality.
Although many learning professionals talk about the importance of conducting return on investment (ROI) analysis of training programs, few actually do it. Many reasons are given for not conducting this level of analysis. One reason is that time and resources are limited and learning professionals have many other programs to deliver. Fair enough. However, the question is not whether an ROI analysis should be conducted, but how time and resources can be freed up so it can be done.
In a society where "there's an app for that" is synonymous with quick problem-solving, who wants to read a book or take a class to learn something new when a simple keyword search or a dedicated application will do? This desire for self-directed, highly accessible and instantly applicable information is a defining characteristic of our convenience culture and it doesn't just vanish when we go to work. For most trainees (particularly millennials) this is an expectation -- and it means that we must embrace opportunities to replace old-school training content with new-era performance support tools.
Have you ever wished for a way to navigate a Website, live inside your training presentation, without having to leave PowerPoint and open up a Web browser? Have you ever struggled to give your trainees a clear, detailed rendering of a large diagram or a form in PowerPoint -- only to resort to cropping the image and spreading it across multiple slides? How many times have you shown up to lead a training workshop only to discover that you left your thumbdrive at home and don't have the supporting files or exhibits you need?
Whenever I feel like my training efforts will never scratch the surface of the real problems, or that I'll never make headway with a project stakeholder, win over that difficult SME, or build trust with an audience full of skeptics, I find that a little perspective goes a long way in helping to renew my focus and energize my thinking.
From time to time, we've all had to tap into our inner Perry Mason to convince a tough Subject Matter Expert (SME) to let us try something new. Many of us can attest to the challenges of working with skeptical, change-resistant, know-it-all, or overly-involved SMEs. And in many cases, these pesky SMEs are the very people whose strangle-hold over training content has perpetuated the very problems intended to be addressed by training!
Many organizations are considering implementing e-learning projects, but there are always stakeholders who are tough to convince. They have certain objections to e-learning, which makes trainers' jobs more difficult. You know e-learning is the way to go, but how to do you persuade these stakeholders that it needs to happen? Here are some tactics to consider that I've used with success:
Despite ample evidence supporting the bottom-line value of training and professional development, training budgets are almost always the first place business leaders target for cost-cutting. If you haven't had a chance to read Bill Cushard's recent post on smarter ways to demonstrate the value of training to the C-suite, I highly recommend it. His ideas for demonstrating value speak directly to this topic and provide a great framework for strategic training evaluation.