When Training is NOT the Answer

Apr 18, 2016

I need some advice from the experts:

When conducting a needs analysis, what are the red flags that indicate training may not be the answer to the business problem? As an instructional designer, how do you navigate that conversation with your client?

Thanks in advance!

6 Replies
Mike Taylor

Great question Alyssa! Here are a couple of my favorites for guiding that conversation:

The first is a list of 21 good questions to ask before starting a training project (I've combined these into a single document so its easier to access/use)   https://tmiket.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/21-questions-to-ask-before-designing-any-training-program/

This Performance Analysis flowchart from Mager's book "Analyzing Performance Problems: Or, You Really Oughta Wanna--How to Figure out Why People Aren't Doing What They Should Be, and What to do About It"  is awesome: 

GIlbert's BEM model is also useful is to help explain what training can and can't fix. 

Mat Beecher

Probably not helpful to your original inquiry, but I just wanted to say Mike and Cathy are too of my favorites, always go to resources for just about anything training, design, and eLearning related. You're in good hands with the suggestions in this thread! And thanks for posting it, I've shared it with a few of my workmates (as we too have the great pleasure of performing training needs analysis, creating lesson plans, working with SMEs, and suffering the same thing we all do, being training and therefore, always being the answer!

Richard Presley

A less elegant test was provided by a former Director. It went something like this, "If I hold a gun to their head and ask them to perform the procedure and they do it flawlessly, then it is not a training problem."

I don't believe he actually expected us to employ this analytical tool in the literal sense, but it does get to the root of the problem - finding out why staff don't perform as expected, if they have a clear understanding of what the expectations are.

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