My friend and fellow Toastmaster Mike Hayes, wrote an article this week titled, Strong Opinions Make Your PR Campaign Great! The basic premise being that you need to take a stand and have a position in order for your message to be heard in a crowded marketplace. This got me thinking about how this basic premise should be applied to online training application for businesses. The e-learning world tends to be run by academics and instructional design theory. Those principles certainly have their place, but without focus on a sound business objectives results may be hard to come by, much like having your marketing or PR message heard when you fail to take a firm stance or have an opinion.
E-learning, whether you are looking at it from a big picture view or down to a specific course must focus on the business objective in order to achieve a business result. Resolutions has had the good fortune of working with many different types of clients all of whom have different objectives when it comes to the development of online training applications, but the constant message we preach to them is, “what is the business objective ?” It seems like a simple question that should warrant a simple answer, but that is not always the case. You would be surprised how difficult it can be to answer if it was not the focus in the first place.
When I talk about a business objective I am not talking about the specific learning objectives of a course. Every online training module has its learning objectives, I am talking about the big picture. The things that keep the CEO up at night like major citations, fines, accidents, bad press, declining revenue… the list goes on. E-learning applications built for a company should consider how they can positively affect the actual BUSINESS of their business. If a client comes to me and says, “I need to build a course on ladder safety.” My first question is, “What happened? Did someone get hurt?” Chances are their is a hidden business objective behind the launch of a ladder safety course that the person put in charge of execution may not have been made aware. My guess is there was an accident, someone got hurt and either sued the company or made an extremely costly insurance claim that leadership would like to avoid in the future. Simply understanding that will make a dramatic difference in the development of the training.
Think about it. If you go to work and all of a sudden you are asked to take a course on ladder safety, what is your first thought? Most likely, “This is ridiculous I know how to climb a ladder.” You are probably right, you do know how to climb a ladder, but if the person developing the training presents ladder safety with an clear understanding of the business objective it can be framed in such a way that is valuable to the user. When you present something of value there is a much higher likelihood of retention and behavior change over time.
A clear focus on the business objective can help trainers and e-learning developers build training that can have a real impact on their company. Take a stance, have an opinion and meet a specific business objective. It will help the company and the user achieve and actual result.