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Seeking Alternatives to Training

One of my first blog posts on Train Like A Champion began with the following:

“The conversations around the need for training can sometimes seem like they’re take out of a book a Mad Libs.” As part of that post, I shared the following Mad Lib-style activity, along with 7 questions you might want to ask to determine if training is the right solution:

mad lib 51

The fact is that training can be one way to help people learn, but there are a lot of other ways that organizations can help their employees learn key knowledge and skills without the need for time-consuming formal training programs.

Last October, Jeff Kortenbosch published a free e-book to his blog entitled 20 Questions L&D Should Ask Before Talking About Training! The point of these questions is simple: anyone in the L&D field should see themselves as a consultant who partners with others to determine the best way to help people learn.

When someone says: “I need you to help me develop a training,” the question should be: do you see yourself as an order taker or as a consultative partner?

It’s quite possible that training could be the appropriate solution.

It’s also quite possible that there are better, faster, less expensive and less time consuming ways to help someone gain the knowledge or skills they need. Figuring out whether formal training is the answer or whether something else will do the trick is all part of the due diligence and needs assessment that should take place before saying: “Yes, I can build that training for you.”

While I highly recommend downloading Jeff’s full, 100-page book using the link above (because he goes into more depth on each of these questions), here is an at-a-glance list of his 20 questions:

  1. What is the problem or change you are trying to address?
  2. What is the business reason for this request?
  3. Do you have an idea for a solution in mind already?
  4. Who are the stakeholders and what are their roles?
  5. Have you done a root cause analysis for the problem or change? What is the result?
  6. What is the impact on the organization if we do nothing?
  7. What does success look like?
  8. How can we measure the impact of the solution (with existing means)?
  9. Are there existing or immediate issues and/or behaviors that need addressing?
  10. What areas affect the desired outcome?
  11. What are the risks/challenges we need to consider?
  12. What is the desired timeline and why?
  13. Is there a budget (range) known?
  14. What does the target audience look like?
  15. Are other groups affected by this problem or change?
  16. Which employees can we talk to that experience or are impacted by the problem or change?
  17. What materials are available already and where?
  18. Which technical requirements and limitations do we need to consider?
  19. Which means are available for implementation?
  20. Is there anything relevant to this project I should know that I haven’t asked about?

On Monday, we’ll post a podcast with Jeni Johnson, during which she shares some details of a recent project she worked on in which she initially thought training was the solution, but upon further inspection, she realized the better answer was, in her words, “resources, not courses.”

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