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Three Magic Questions to Ask in order to Map Out a Learning Program

Some meetings could benefit from a highly structured agenda and facilitation plan. Other meetings can be kept focused and productive with three simple questions.


Today’s the day.

The new employee orientation at my organization has been in existence for a while now, but everyone seems to be in agreement that it needs a fairly significant overhaul.

A little later today, I’ll be meeting with a variety of colleagues in order to talk about this overhaul. As we jump into this conversation, I’ll be using the following three questions – which can be used for most training programs (not just new employee orientation) – to lend some structure to this dialogue:  

  1. What would happen if we didn’t bother having a new hire orientation program? This question is an essential place for our conversation to begin. There’s been some questions as to whether new employee orientation holds any value at all. Our staff is driven and our teams are leanly staffed (meaning that managers want their new hires at their desks and contributing as soon as possible). If we don’t have a good answer for this question, our meeting about new hire orientation should probably be a short one!
  2. How will we know our new hire orientation program is successful? I have a friend who calls this “the money question.” It’s easy to say: “Let’s have a training program.” But if you don’t know what success will look like, how will you ever know that your investment in the initiative has paid off? Ideally, the answer(s) to this question will have both qualitative and quantitative measures.
  3. What do we need to do in order to get to “success” for this program? The order in which these questions are asked and answered matters. Without an answer to the Question #1 (why bother?), the conversation need not go any further. Without an answer to Question #2 (“the money question”), you can’t be sure what you’re trying to achieve. Once you know what you’d like to achieve, and only once you know what you’d like to achieve, then you can jump into question #3 (how do we get there?). I have a lot of creative ideas floating around in my mind, but they’re going to need to somehow fit into a strategy that will support “the money question”, otherwise my creative ideas become superfluous.

I like to keep it simple, and three guiding questions will help to keep today’s conversation simple and focused.

What am I missing? Are there other questions you would be asking if you were in my shoes?

Going to the Online Learning Conference this week? Don’t forget to check out Mike Taylor and I as we present some ideas that marketing and advertising experts use and that training professionals should steal. We’ll take the stage on Wednesday at 8:15am!

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