In today’s environment, L&D organizations are under enormous pressure to meet the demands of the ever-changing and fast-paced needs of the business world. Performing an instructional analysis is more important than ever before as it can work to ensure good decision-making around the right solution and work to ensure training ROI. This is where you come in, the L&D partner and instructional expert. Let’s take a look at a typical client scenario with some practical solutions to a few common roadblocks to analysis.
Scenario: Your client emails and explains that they need training out the door and in the hands of their teams in less than 6 weeks in preparation for the latest version release of their top-selling widget. They are requesting a 60-minute eLearning module and would like to know the costs and how quickly you can get started. Order received.
Sound familiar? This is where many of us consultants find ourselves, and while it is tempting to ask a few tactical questions and hit go… don’t be so fast! Tight budgets and aggressive timelines are realities we must face but failed learning interventions that do little to build skills or improve performance are also a reality. When requests for training come in, we cannot skip what we know to be true… AKA, don’t skip analysis!
Roadblock #1: The client wants to launch right into development, skipping front-end analysis, and reiterating they are short on budget and time.
Consultant Considerations: Ask questions and begin to probe right away. We do not serve ourselves well by trying to sell a lengthy up-front analysis process. Get the client talking right out of the gate and see what you can uncover that checks off some of your analysis key questions. This opens the door to a two-way consultative and partnered approach.
- Consider these foundational pieces to the instructional process:
- What is the business and performance need around the request?
- Who is the audience and what are their needs?
- How do we know we need training? Tell me more about why and how you determined a 60-minute eLearning course is what is needed.
- How soon will the learners need to perform post-training?
- What performance support or other tools and resources will employees have access to at the time of the new release?
- Consider how you can adapt and adjust the upfront instructional process:
- What would happen if you condensed the analysis process? Could a leaner approach work? Why or why not?
- What are the key process steps and/or questions you absolutely need to be answered?
- How can you most efficiently gather the information you are looking for?
- What other models are out there that may offer an alternative path – could Action Mapping work instead?
- Consider how you can adapt and adjust the downstream instructional process:
- Are there any elements of the project plan further down into the development cycle that can get delayed or condensed to allow for the needed time upfront?
- Can you reduce feedback and revision cycles knowing you took the time needed to ensure proper solution design?
All right, so you’ve navigated a path forward with some form of analysis (formal or informal). Now you’re ready for a key follow-up conversation with the client that comes with the potential to encounter another roadblock. The topic of conversation: analysis findings don’t support the client’s initial vision of a 60-minute eLearning course.
Roadblock #2: Your analysis findings don’t support the solution the client is asking for.
- Start with a clear and succinct definition of the business need and the performance gap in your read-out.
- Connect the dots from the findings you collected directly to the solution needs.
- Align solution recommendations to a reality your client is willing to face. For example, we know our client is keenly focused on a fast-approaching timeline. Taking the first 45 mins of a call to present a long-term strategy and vision may not be the best tactic. Instead, show them something more palatable (with options) that is aligned with the budget and timeline realities they are facing. This can solve the immediate need upfront and allow them to relax into a future-forward conversation after you lead with a reasonable solution.
Ensuring you have a way to navigate solving your client’s need, but also honoring the instructional process requires strategy and planning. Take some time to anticipate roadblocks and think through your response before replying to that email. And remember, some analysis is better than no analysis. In the end, the client will remember that you partnered with them in finding a solution that fit their needs but also successfully closed a performance gap and helped move their business forward!