In this week’s post, Ken Cooke, Nextenture’s Product Architect sits down with Dave Crisante, a Training Content Developer who led efforts at some of New York’s most successful healthcare unicorns. We share three things that every educator should keep in mind when discussing training outcomes within a business.
Your customer and your learner are different.
Ken Cooke: We run into this all the time. We, at Nextenture, want to build training that is effective and meaningful for the learner, but we have to contend with the fact that the learners are not the ones in the boardroom.
Dave Crisante: Yeah. There’s a lot of considerations that go into a company’s and stakeholder’s point of view when it comes to what great training is. It depends on who the stakeholders are. Someone in marketing may be looking for increased adoption, while a product manager might be looking for a particular feature to be used more.
KC: Right. At the end of the day, we have to win over those who hold the checkbook, while supporting those who will receive and need to learn from the content. Ultimately, something a Project Manager or Change Management Lead loves may not play well with a learner and vice versa.
DC: Yep. And all these people recognize that education is important, but may not necessarily focus on the same outcomes that an educator would. Success looks different depending on who you are. The core of what I try to do as an educator may be only tangentially related to a stakeholder’s goals.
ROI is a vacuum.
KC: Right. And ultimately those stakeholders will be the ones to define and determine your success within the organization. ROI is a vacuum you need to fill before they do. If you don’t walk in the door with your own success criteria, you’ll be subject to those “tangential” measurements of success.
DC: Putting metrics around education can be tricky. Whether it’s training internal employees or driving an external customer’s success, many startups don’t always have systems in place to track concrete measurements.
KC: And there’s still a lot of debate regarding what can and can’t be measured effectively. There are well respected books that will tell you not to waste your time bothering with level 4 evaluation of dollar-based ROI. Regardless of where you stand on that, I do know it’s every educators job in a business to remove ambiguity around outcomes whenever possible.
DC: Yeah, If I’m a manager of an employee that I’m onboarding, success might be passing the final to get them up and running. But if I’m higher up in the organization, I might be more focused on retention and lowering turnover. Often times, when working in smaller companies and startups, your rush isn’t to implement education. It’s to build a better product. On day one, you probably aren’t thinking about how you’re going to measure success for this.
KC: Well this goes back to being a savvy educator. Walk in with a plan on day one. Resist that urge to just hop onboard with no sense of where the train is headed. How do you manage these competing forces: project needs and education needs?
DC: In my current world, when we can work closely with the product team, like if we’re designing content to help users upgrade to the latest version of a product, our education efforts become part of a larger whole. Suddenly success and upgrades to the current version in this case, can be measured.
KC: I like that. In a sense, it’s the key to anything: find out what matters to someone and look to improve it on the way to your goal.
Demystify the process.
KC: This one always gets me. Since we often work with stakeholders who don’t specialize in education, we generally receive one of two initial responses: the believer who says “I don’t how you do it, but I know education is important,” or the skeptic who says “I know we have to have an education plan, but does it really make a difference how we do it.”
DC: Yeah, the best way I’ve learned to approach the skeptic is with thoughtful questions. With the right questions, you can extract the underlying doubt they may have about the education process. They probably have skepticism that they’ve picked up along the way about how education does or doesn’t solve problems.
KC: Definitely. I always bring it back to “when is the last time this stakeholder had a meaningful education experience in a business?” It’s often that they haven’t. I would like to point out though that it’s also a mistake to think the believer truly supports your work until you’ve defined and agreed upon evaluation points.
DC: Yeah. In both cases, the goal is to shift their thoughts away from numbers and towards observable behaviors. For example, asking “talk me through the outcomes you want from this project,” or “what would ROI look like?” is very powerful.
KC: Yeah, that’s perfect. At the end of the day, great educators have to be fearless in having these down-to-earth conversations about what education in a business can and can’t achieve. Harder still, we have to be prepared to talk about what can be achieved but perhaps not measured.
Once again, thanks to Dave for spending some time with us. Check back regularly for new content.