I feel truly privileged to have worked with some great people over
the years. From both the vendor side and the supplier side, I have
been inspired by and have learned from talented, smart, and driven
folks. But I am still amazed by two things: first, otherwise savvy
organizations failing to recognize the importance of effectively
evaluating their HPI initiatives, and second, the lack of overall
alignment between those initiatives and the organization's business
Remember CPT Standard #1: Focus On Results And Help Clients
Focus On Results
This primary standard has to do with keying in on the outcomes
generated by a performance improvement initiative. By assuring
business goals are incorporated into the design of an intervention
and then measuring the results, we are in the vanguard in creating
a metric that can improve performance company-wide and reinforce
the importance of the performance improvement function to the
organization's health, competitiveness, and growth.
Though all stages of a project's lifecycle are vital to its success
and impact, it is in the earlier upstream phases of the HPT Model
that the most profound effects on outcomes can occur.
Here's how our team stayed focused on business goals during the
Intervention Selection and Design phase of a specific training
course. In March of 2003, we were challenged with the task of
rewriting a sizable and outdated inventory management Web-based
course for an automotive company. This course was part of a
broader, blended performance improvement intervention that also
included instructor-led workshops and asynchronous interactive
To rewrite the course, we had the following inputs:
- A mostly outdated Web course
- A more recently written multi-module workshop binder
- SME interviews
Our client's data from its own internal needs analysis pointed to a
lack of knowledge of newer personnel as being a barrier to
attaining their business goals. Therefore, an effective training
solution to enhance the knowledge of these employees was a valid
intervention. Knowing who the audience was not only told us what we
needed to write, but just as important, how we needed to write it.
Further, a Web-based delivery would ultimately be the most
effective medium because it allowed employees the opportunity to
study on their own time, when being away from their desk would not
affect customer satisfaction, or their paycheck.
How to Determine Business Goals--Just Ask!
As part of the assessment phase of the project, we asked our client
to share their business goals. For the fiscal year 2003, three
principal business goals were identified:
- Increasing customer business
- Contributing to profitability
- Increasing customer satisfaction
These business goals set the foundation upon which to build our
courseware. All learning objectives specifically aligned with at
least one of these business outcomes.
Through proper assessment, we identified the business goals and the
audience. Our instructional design and development then followed
this chronological process:
- List the business goals
- Identify the subject matter
- Write the learning objectives
- Develop content
The strength of this simple process is that it is rooted in the
business goals, thereby aligning the entire design and development
of the course on the focused results of the audience to attain
We had a chance to have some fun by aligning a specific learning
element to a business goal. In the workshop binder there was a nice
laminated job aid, a Dealership Receiving Guide, which walked
personnel through the process of receiving, tracking discrepancies,
and returning received materials as needed. Using this piece as a
template, we created a Web-based Virtual Receiving Guide job aid
which, through a series of algorithmic "yes-no" questions, walked
employees through any possible situation when receiving an item.
In order to apply this virtual job aid in an experiential learning
environment, we utilized it in a simulation in which the student
role plays as an employee within a hypothetical store and must
solve a complicated shipping scenario. The student then uses the
interactive Virtual Receiving Guide to help solve the problem. We
also created downloadable versions of the Virtual Receiving Guide
for students' desktops and a printable version for the wall of
their offices or receiving areas.
As a tool, the Virtual Receiving Guide improved efficiency by
reducing guesswork (and subsequent errors and corrections) and
research, thus saving time. This increased efficiency allowed
workers to accomplish more tasks per shift, which had a positive
effect on profitability (business goal #2).
As performance improvement professionals, we are constantly
challenged to look beyond the many processes, theories, and
deliverables that most of us deal with on a daily basis and to
describe specifically what we offer to achieving the business goals
of the companies that give us our daily bread.
When the time comes for budgets to be cut, performance improvement
initiatives are often near the top of the list. It would behoove us
all to be able defend their value appropriately. By assuring that
these interventions are aligned to business goals, have a positive
impact on some aspect of the bottom line, and are
measurable during the evaluation phase, we are armed with
the data that justifies our efforts.
2005 ASTD, Alexandria, VA. All rights reserved.