What happens when instructional designers are partners, not order takers?

When a long-time friend and I decided to leave the safety and comfort of our respective jobs to start our own instructional design company, Endurance Learning, we made a conscious decision that we were going to be different. We didn’t simply want to bring our clients’ initial ideas to life, we wanted to make sure our clients ended up with the best learning experience possible.

It was a nice theory. In reality, it proved to be a risky proposition. After all, pushing back on a client could mean that they take their training project (and their budget) to someone else who will do exactly as they say.

Recently, Michelin presented our Endurance Learning team with their Dealer Experience Partner Award. As he presented this award, Tim Cunningham, Michelin’s Director of Customer Training and Development, cited our ability to be a partner with his team and to push back as necessary as some of the reasons he found our instructional design contributions to his team so valuable.

Endurance Learning receiving Partner Award

Following are four takeaways from our experiences with Michelin that could be applied by instructional designers everywhere – whether you’re internal to the organization or coming to work on a project from outside the organization.   Continue reading

Case Study: The Impact of Training One Year After Launch

A year ago I found myself in Birmingham, AL, helping to lead a train the trainer session as part of the launch and roll-out of a new sales training program.

A year later, we’ve been able to look at the impact of training through the lens of Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation and see the results and impact on each level, including a double-digit growth in sales for those stores who have implemented this program compared to those who haven’t.   Continue reading

Case Study: Continuing the Learning after a Conference Session

Last fall I had an opportunity to deliver a pair of presentation skills sessions at the Arkansas Early Childhood Association Annual Conference in Little Rock. Everyone I encountered during the few days that I was in Arkansas showed me an amazing time, the session participants were engaged throughout, and then I got on a plane and returned home. What did the participants do with the concepts I’d taught?

Recently, I exchanged a few messages with one of the conference organizers – Michelle Pounds – and was amazed to hear how they had extended the learning from my sessions. It can serve as a model for how organizations can get the most out of their investment in sending people to a conference, maximizing the possibility that the learning is applied in the real world. Following is a brief description of what Michelle and her team did to keep the learning going, written in Michelle’s words:   Continue reading

Case Study: Get Training to Stick

A few weeks ago I was exchanging messages via LinkedIn with someone who had reached out to connect with me. As she began sharing more about her work, it was obvious she had a story to tell. Following is a guest post from Betty Dannewitz, who generously offered to share her experiences with the Train Like a Champion community. Be sure to share your thoughts about this case study with her in the comment section.

The Scenario

We know how the story goes.

Step 1: Trainee hears about a great class.

Step 2: Trainee shows up ready to learn.

Step 3: Trainee loves the class and soaks up all the knowledge like a sponge.

Step 4: Trainee leaves class excited and energized.

Step 5: After class, all content falls out of trainee’s head.

Step 6: Trainee does nothing with the new skill set.

Step 7: Cycle repeats.

Techniques to Get Training to Stick

How do we stop the madness?  How do we make training stick?  How can we help them remember?  We have all asked these exact questions.

Continue reading

Case Study: Add Staff to Improve Training ROI

On November 5, 2015, I happened to be speaking with a training colleague from another department when she began telling me the story of how she was finally able to add a .5 FTE to her training team. I asked how it was working out for her, and she began rattling off all the benefits she was seeing.

It had helped lighten her workload. She had a new partner in crime with whom she could kick ideas around. This new training person was super-high quality.

“This is exciting,” I said, “but have you seen any impact… as in anything you can quantify?”  Continue reading

Make End-of-Training Action Plans Obsolete

Transfer of training: the Holy Grail for training professionals. So how do we get there?

Traditional training design includes a rockin’ presentation followed by an action plan and finally an evaluation form.

I’ve been reading a lot of Will Thalheimer’s blog lately. If you’re a training professional and you’re not familiar with Dr. Thalheimer’s work, you ought to be. He’s dedicated to the integration of evidence- and research-based training methods while de-bunking models, theories and traditional practices that fly in the face of scientific research (such as Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels of evaluation).

Recently, he wrote about building a better action plan. He calls it “triggered action planning”, and he cites research that suggests this method may “double the likelihood that our learners actually apply what they’ve learned.” Double the likelihood that learners will apply what they’ve learned! Not too shabby.

When I shared this idea with a co-worker, she told me that she liked this idea… though she didn’t like this idea as much as the idea of eliminating the action plan altogether. She asked: why not send our trainees on their way with a work product they’ll be able to use as soon as they get back to their offices?

She reminded me of our organization’s Presentation Skills training. We don’t ask the participants to complete an action plan, we ask them to put everything they learned during the day’s session together in order to craft a lesson plan they’ll be able to use when they return to their offices.

The traditional action plan is well-intentioned, but not very effective. With the Triggered Action Plan, Will Thalheimer has built a much better and potentially more effective mouse trap. Giving your learners an opportunity to build something they’ll use as soon as they get back to the office, well, that might just be the key to ensuring new skills are transferred directly onto the job.

Interested in a transfer of training case study? Read this: Transfer of Training: A Case Study

Case Study: Technology Fails

Last week, a colleague had an unfortunate run-in with technology at the start of his presentation. What’s one piece of advice you’d share with this subject matter expert?

The Scenario

“I had been asked to deliver a 30-minute lecture on the anatomy of the eye and I was concerned about two things:

1)      How on Earth would I fill up a 30-minute block of time on this subject?

2)      How on Earth am I supposed to present on this topic when there will be eye surgeons in the audience? They’ve forgotten more about the eye than I could ever teach.

I put together a slide deck and I rehearsed my session. Continue reading

You Can Lead Them To Elearning, But You Can’t Make Them Learn

Elearning modules can be as instructionally-sound, engaging and slick as possible, but if staff aren’t using these modules then these well-designed and packaged learning experiences make as much noise for your organization as a tree that falls in the forest without anyone around to hear it.

Companies spend thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars on elearning development each year. Yesterday I shared a case study about the struggles of my own organization in getting people to enroll and complete courses that we’ve invested in. It’s not just the story of my own organization, but similar stories can be told across the country and around the world by project managers and human resource departments responsible for elearning roll-outs.

In an effort to take a closer look on how to make the investment in the design and roll-out of elearning programs, I have asked several experts with deep elearning background to share their insights on my case study. Yesterday, Mike Culligan, Director, Last Mile Learning at LINGOs took a page from effective dieting strategies to offer three strategies for more effective elearning adoption.

Today, Nicole Legault, Community Manager for Articulate has weighed in:

When, as e-learning developers, we ask ourselves “why” employees don’t complete an e-learning course it’s important to look at factors that drive job performance; this means identifying the specific reasons why the e-learning is not being completed. By addressing the “why”, you address the root cause of the problem. There could be several reasons why the e-learning is not being completed, but based on the scenario presented, here are a few possibilities:

  • Lack of motivation or incentive: How strong is the incentive to complete the e-learning, and how much do the incentives really matter to the employee. What are the consequences for not completing the e-learning? In this case, if the supervisor is also struggling to fulfill his commitment to complete the elearning, intentionally or not, he is sending a message that there are higher priorities.
  • Lack of time: Do the employees have the necessary time available to perform this task? Professional development can’t be an afterthought. If the task keeps getting pushed back or re-scheduled due to other commitments and meetings, this could indicate that there is a lack of time to get everything done. Again, it also indicates it is not a high priority. And once professional development becomes an actual priority, employees need to be provided with the time to complete it.
  • Lack of feedback: The original case study revolved around a series of elearning modules focused on project management. Are the learners ever given feedback about how they are doing with regards to their current project management performance?  Sometimes receiving feedback from the right person can really drive job performance.

Elearning offers a flexible way to deliver professional development, but simply making it available to employees will not necessarily lead to completion or transfer of learning. Motivation, time and specific, meaningful feedback are just a few factors that could be driving the lack of completion of the e-learning modules.

Case Study: eLearning Engagement

My boss and I have been wanting to attend a course on project management for some time and were looking forward to a week-long workshop later this month. Until it was canceled. So we made a pact to complete a series of eLearning modules that covered the same content. We agreed to meet weekly to check in and share key learnings from the various modules until we completed the course and passed the accompanying exam for certification. Following is a recap of our experience plus expert commentary on how to move forward.

The Situation

Realizing we wouldn’t be able to attend a specific project management course, my boss and I chose to enroll in an 8-module eLearning course that covered the same content. At the end of the course, a certification exam would be waiting for us.

More than “certification,” our motivation for completing this course was twofold:

Continue reading

Transfer of Training: A Case Study

I had an opportunity to attend a day-long training session called Hiring Winners which was delivered by a facilitator from Washington Employers. And over the next month, an amazing thing happened. I found that I was immediately using concepts and skills developed during this session. Following is a brief description of how this course seems to have hit upon the Holy Grail of training and development: actual skills transfer from the training room to everyday practice.

The Situation

Working for a rapidly growing organization, our HR team offered the opportunity for hiring managers to spend a day focused on our recruiting and hiring skills. This presented two immediate benefits:

1)      general professional development on an immediate need, and

2)      development of a common, organization-wide experience and language when it comes to recruiting and hiring as we go forward

The Training

Every participant was given a manual as the day started and we spent the day working our way through the manual. The course design included lecture, small group activities, large group discussions and role-plays.

The Transfer of the Training

Probably the most essential element of the session was a series of small group activities in which we were asked to develop a hiring plan and to develop behavior-based interview questions for an actual job for which we would soon be recruiting and hiring. The real-life nature of this activity and opportunity to leave the workshop with an actual plan that could be implemented right away led me to use these tools the following week.

A colleague of mine from India happened to be in town when this course was offered and brought some of her key learnings back to share with our co-workers in New Delhi. Immediately upon her return, she led a 60-minute session in the Delhi office to share highlights and to begin finding ways to transfer the lessons for our India-based context. The team then decided on and implemented several improvements to our ongoing hiring process in India. The team will have a longer session to discuss key concepts from this course after the new year.

What made this Course Sticky?

When so many other courses and workshop manuals simply gather dust on someone’s desk or bookshelf, what made this course achieve transfer of training?

There were several key factors that led to the immediate application and transfer of skills from our training room to our day-to-day routine.

Supervisor Support

My supervisor also attended this session and asked our team to begin using these new skills. He also set the expectation that lessons learned would be shared with other team members – both in the US and in India – who were unable to attend this session.

Immediacy

In espousing his theory on how adults learn best, Malcolm Knowles insisted that adult learners thrive when the education they receive can solve an immediate problem. As our organization (and more specifically, as my team) grows, we’re using hiring skills every day. This course allowed us an opportunity to re-visit our current process and make improvements in the moment during the actual training session. And with interviews already on my Outlook calendar, this was the perfect time to develop more effective interview questions.

Facilitation and Course Design

The facilitator was prepared, had obviously given this presentation in the past, provided a smooth delivery, and offered plenty of time for small and large group discussions. She delivered a course that was designed to offer three things that were of immense value to us: new content, a forum for staff from across the entire organization to discuss issues and align on processes, and an opportunity to either revise or create new ways to recruit and hire top-notch candidates.

Will our organization realize the return on the investment we were seeking when we brought Washington Employers in to facilitate this workshop? It’s too early to tell. But if an early indicator is whether or not people actually use the skills they learned in the training room, then we seem to be off to an unusually good start.

Know someone who could use some help designing learning experiences that will transfer of training from the training room into the real world? Get in touch with us.