Learning Strategy


Are You a Learning Consultant or a PowerPoint Builder?

Over the last week I have been approached by a senior leader within our business and asked to give guidance on the structor and delivery of a particular training session for contracts and the rules that govern them. I asked one question of them, ‘what can I do for you?’

What I received in return was a lengthly powerpoint presentation and a request to alter it to create impact. The intentions were honest and I understand that there is a perception of internal learning and development functions to fulfil this role, and realistically I could make an impact on the training session by reviewing the content along. Remove any over-used slides, suggest subliminal colours for particular sections, use simpler language & images, I could do this with no problem and little effort. However, upon receiving this information I began to ponder… wouldn’t a better approach be if I simply knew the motivation for the request.

I found my self reflecting on the above statement ‘am I a learning consultant, or just a powerpoint builder’. Do I act as a business a business partner? Now this is not an attempt at doubting my ability, far from it. I am simply drawing attention to the fact that L&D falls into two categories, consultive in approach or reactive in delivery.

So, I stripped the request back, way back to determine the real need and motivators that would drive a request like this, a request to review a PowerPoint. First, a couple of questions of the requester of the training.

  1. What is the problem you wish to address with this training solution you’re suggesting?
  2. Where have we been tracking in relation to this problem?
  3. Where would we be tracking if the problem was address… correctly?
  4. Why would this training bridge this defined gap?

Understand the problem, how it was identified, and the expectation once a solution was in place. With this information you have you can digress down the path of understanding what training events could take place, or if the problem can really be addressed with training alone.

Once you have an understanding of the motivators and the environment that drives a request for training, then you can enter into a genuine training needs analysis and start to assertion the following:

  1. Who is the target audience, what business unit, how many, different roles they play?
  2. What is their motivation for being at the training? why do they need to know, why do they want to know?
  3. What is the training commitment, how long do you have the audience for?
  4. What are the three key points you want the target audience achieve from the training?
  5. What is the outcome you would like to receive from the training? how could this be measured?
  6. When are you intending to run these sessions?
  7. What would happen if you didn’t do this training? What would happen if you did this training as is?

To derive the most valuable link between the learning and development teams and the business you must act as a consultive agent. This approach is time demanding, however is the most beneficial to the business and to your professional judgement. Historically L&D doesn’t engage with the business problems at the very front-end, and we tend to receive enquires for training events or offer a solution before we fully understand the problem

A failure to engage, question and challenge the status quo can lead to a culture of training events, a problem that can be fatal to you and the company.

Happy learning,

Problem – Opportunity


One module left to teach then the system fails – this an opportunity!

Delivering SAP (software program for warehouse inventory) training to a group of warehouse employees has been progressing well during this three week training program. The pre go-live training is coming to a close after three weeks, we can all see the light at the end of the tunnel – there is only one more module to teach.

Today seemed to be the day for it all. Many challenges were faced during this particular session, however the one challenge that takes the cake would be the fact that the system failed to load the last module at all. The trainees could simply not access the required areas of the program. Now, Im not one to complain, in fact I am far from it. This has happened before during training and I simply pushed it off to the side and diverted training onto another module that needed to be covered. Not this time though, there were no new module to teach.

I could tell that the trainees were starting to get frustrated, and rightly so, they would be the ones using this system once it was launched. So I decided to tackle the issue head one, there was a problem and it needed to get resolved. I decided to have them solve the issue during the training. What an opportunity for learning I proclaimed!

Problems are everywhere during training, do you take advantage of them for a learning opportunity?

The group, now divided into two, started dissecting the issue and discussing the problem in detail. They digressed into testing, exploring, and presenting possible solutions to each other until eventually both groups came to some conclusions. They not only found what the problem was, but they explored until they discovered two separate work arounds.

This is a success story, an opportunity in training when we were all faced with an issue and resolved it together. The solutions found were all different, yet all correct. Ultimately the  this came from being agile and responsive in the face of adversity. Grappling with a problem presented during a session and using it to our advantage.

A problem faced is an opportunity discovered, use it to enable effective learning.

My key takeaways from today:
1. In training you can be prepared, but nothing will go as you expected it to
2. When a student asks ‘why did that happen?’ don’t shy away from an opportunity to explore it together

Happy learning,

Training Needs Analysis


Tonight I reflect on my current approach to conducting a training needs analysis within my organisation. The process I have used such as surveys, one on one interviews, and course evaluations have been extremely helpful to identify where training is effective and where training can be invested to give the greatest return. It is this process that has always given me visibility of training across all the departments.

What I believe to be an area that I can improve is the creation of a standardised departmental training needs questionnaire. As mentioned above this is conducted through many different streams including surveys, and one on one interviews. However, standardising some of the questions to use could assist in a speedier and accurate training needs analysis.

When there is a need for a training needs analysis to be conducted, whether identified through a manager or employee, this questionnaire should be used to collect relevant information.

Training Needs Analysis Questionnaire:

The learning and development team is currently reviewing all training events to ensure they are meeting the objectives of the individual, department and the organisation. Your input will not only be of considerable assistance in collecting this information, but it will also assist in identifying additional training requirements. Please answer the following questions and return to the Learning & Development Manager.

1. List below the courses that are currently being conducted for you and/or your department, then indicate how satisfied you are with the results of each course. (1 = Not Satisfied, 2= Satisfied, 3 = Very Satisfied).
Training Course: Satisfaction:
…Induction…. 2
…Negotiation Skills… 1

2. List below any of your departments and/or specific training needs to improve current job performance.

3. List below any additional training that you or your employees require. Please rank in order of need.

4. List below any training requirements you believe will develop within the next year.

5. List below any other areas in which you believe training can be of assistance to you and your department/employees.

The five questions are likely to generate allot of interest and can be used to assist in one on one interviews. It is intended for managers within departments, however can be used for anyone within a small team. After all, it is the students that determine the need for training.

If the questionnaire is used effectively it will generate information on:
– How well the current training courses are meeting the business requirements
– How employees feel about the training and their own individual training needs
– Identification of additional training required
– Training requirements that maybe required in the future
– and, other areas where training can build competence.

Happy training,

Training Delivery


Date: 31/05/2013

What an amazing opportunity!

Lately I have been conducting training for warehouse employees about to embark on the use of SAP (Inventory management system) for their day-to-day use to record the goods coming in and goods going out. The changes this team have to undertake would be considered extreme to put it kindly. Systems, process, environment – you name it they are having it changed.

My reflection today is based on the awareness I have to advanced facilitation and the tools and techniques I am adopting into my facilitation. In particular the approach to delivery, pedagogy, for these adult learners.

This opportunity I wish to reflect on it the delivery of training over the three weeks before the change is ‘live’ and they must engage in it every day. The intention, as always, is to have the students competent enough to use the program so that they can still manage their key performance indexes (KPI) for stock coming in and stock going out.

I am determined to use my learning from the studies I am undertaking from RMIT to make this the best learning exercise for the staff involved. As you can see from the video I have aimed to incorporate problem based learning and behavioural exercises inside and out of the system to achieve the greatest impact. The determination of my chosen pedagogy from selected from a detailed training needs analysis and learning strategy.

Reflection on my facilitation would warrant to term ‘demanding’ as it takes allot of effort and input from myself as facilitator. However the excitement and results that this approach to facilitation achieves from the trainees demonstrates to me that I am approaching this learning correctly.

Happy learning,