Content was Never King: Part Two - Turning Business Goals into Measurable Learning Outcomes
Shaping the future of learning
Part two in our five part series asks, how important is your charter? Part one is available here.
The Cheshire Cat said it best to Alice: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any way will get you there.” One of the most important steps in creating an eLearning solution that produces optimum results is identifying the clear business problem and both the desired organizational and business outcomes.
At Kineo we push our clients to think outside the boundaries of traditional learning and development practices to enable them to develop solutions that precisely meet their organizational and business objectives. That means ensuring project sponsors and stakeholders can articulate the current state and desired outcomes in concrete, measurable terms. It’s broadening your perspective beyond the training context and spending a lot of time asking “why”. If sponsors and stakeholders can’t articulate their need in these terms, it’s a red flag, and they’re likely not to develop a solution.
Problem + outcome = solution?
Whether converting a curriculum from instructor-led to online, or building a new online or blended curriculum, the key to success is articulating the problem and desired result(s). And this doesn’t mean fluffy statements like: our managers take on too much, so we’ll train 100 managers in delegation, or we’ve developed a new process and need product managers to understand the 8 steps of our new process.
A well-stated business outcome has three parts to it:
Problem Statement: What is the impetus for the initiative and what are the associated symptoms?
Business Goal(s): What will change if the initiative (both training and other activities) is successful?
Criteria for Success: How will you measure change?
There may be more than one goal, and if so, each goal should have its own definition of success. Let’s take the following example.
XYZ Fire Association is a network of fire chiefs, emergency officers, and support staff from around the world. The association’s mission is to provide thought leadership, best practices, training, and other services to enhance the capabilities of fire-rescue organzations.
Through their network, they identified a business problem: higher than expected volunteer turnover jeopardizes financial stability, quality of service, and ultimately, public safety. Below we share how this business problem is fleshed out using the points above:
BUSINESS PROBLEM: Running a fire station is like running a business: it requires business acumen and operational skills, which volunteers often do not have.
When it’s not run effectively, the morale among volunteer and career staff drops, resulting in high turnover. This high turnover then requires recruiting and training new volunteers and addressing concerns of existing volunteers/staff.
Every decision and action of volunteers in key positions affects morale. Therefore, it is essential for these volunteers to have the knowledge and skills to do their job efficiently; and in doing so, keep the morale high and turnover low at the fire stations.
In addition, important “business operations” steps are missed like required tax filings. Mistakes in business operations can result in a lot of extra work when something has evolved into a major problem, taking time away from the real work of fighting fires.
While these don’t need to be perfect (they’ll likely get refined over the course of the project) the more clarity and specificity you have on the business outcome, the easier it will be for all team members and stakeholders to make project-based decisions that move in the right direction.