“Why is Learning & Development so slow?” A client was recently asked this question. She and her team of employees and consultants are striving to create training for a massive, division-wide initiative. She was frustrated, and rightfully so.
My joking response was, “Well, put the answers in terms that the group of engineers will understand. Advise them that we need inputs to produce outputs – just like in all the engineering process flows they want us to train nearly 2,000 people on this fall!” She laughed, and responded, “the issue is, they don’t understand the importance of developing learning outcomes and then creating learning solutions to meet those outcomes.”
All joking aside, this is a common issue in the field of learning and development; the time spent up front to do a root cause analysis or align training solutions with the business goals is often seen as a) a waste of time; b) not necessary because ‘we just want an eLearning’ or c) slowing down the progress because ‘training needs to happen NOW’.
How would you answer the following questions?
1. When a construction firm builds a structure meant to hold thousands of people, does he/she begin without a detailed drawing from an architect? Are specific outcomes and impacts to the users are considered in the final approved plan, prior to construction?
2. When you plan a graduation party, wedding, or family reunion type event, would you do it without first listing out the what, where, who, why for the various items you need to organize? The number of guests might impact the location of the event, or the budget may determine how many appetizers, for example.
3. When determining compensation plans, is this done without outlining specific individual and team metrics and measures prior to launching the plan?
4. Would you expect an R&D team to create a product without critical product specifications and requirements? If the end product was “create a water bottle,” how likely is it that you’d get a water bottle that met all of your requirements?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of the questions above, you see the value of planning prior to investing hours and resources into an outcome that will impact many people. Additionally, the completion – or even prototype – of a plan is dependent upon getting information from the “expert” in the situation. The learning plan, the building, the party, the compensation plan – none can be completed without input from the ones impacted by the change.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, the training need wasn’t determined in a day, and nor will the finished training product be so. Set expectations for project owners, content experts, and learning professionals. Hold all parties accountable to deadlines set, and likely you’ll see that the process will increase speed. Creating successful behavior change by using training as a communication vehicle can be well done through a collaborative approach between the project owners and the learning and development team.