Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sometimes it isn't about efficiency

"If we incorporate more activities we won't be able to teach as much"
A good point, and one I'm personally glad my customer came to on their own.  We were discussing the fact that one of their program simply had too much lecture (my conclusion).  They were discovering people were leaving the program with too many questions and thus were not paying attention (their conclusion). 

They made the mistake that almost every single organization make when developing a program.  They developed a list of things they wanted to cover and paired it with an allotted time.  In other words, they determined they had three days to cram in a long list of items.

Of course it was almost completely lecture driven.  They could not have covered as much in three days with any other vehicle.
To illustrate the point I took one of their sections that was, by their estimation, a ten minute presentation.  In my redesign the lecture was converted to an activity that clearly impressed the customer.  There was no question about that point being far more memorable - remember that's the goal of a learning program.
And then they furrowed their brow and uttered the opening quote.
"Exactly," I said.

Then I posed a question: "Do you want to complete a checklist or do you want your people to learn something?"

We had a good conversation about the options.  With a properly designed program comprehension and retention were great, but it was clearly less efficient from a topic/time perspective.  There are clearly two choices at this point - extend the program or cut out topics.  In the vast majority of cases three are a lot of "fat" topics that can be trimmed, replaced by job aid or reference materials.

In developing any learning or performance program you have to ask yourself, "What do people really need to know?" and then let the course define it's own length.

That is the recipe for success.

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