Use An Agile Process To Hit Key Business Objectives
Marijus Auruskevicius/

Hit Key Business Objectives With An Agile Design Process

There’s nothing better than that instant when learners connect the dots between cause and effect, and everything clicks. The eLearning industry has connected with the internet and mobile technology to our rapid growth and is set to surpass $275 billion by 2022. We can also connect the dots from corporate America’s race to innovation to the current plight of L&D professionals. L&D teams are tasked by their organizations with keeping the workforce trained for skills needed yesterday, today, and far into the future. What we need is an agile process where L&D professionals can, with every course, connect the dots from rapidly evolving business objectives to measurable learning outcomes.

“Dots are like pets; you can never have enough.” – Greg Kozera, creative director of ELM

We’ve come up with a design-thinking methodology for addressing the plight of L&D professionals everywhere that we call the Three C’s of Learning Consulting: Collect the dots, Connect the dots, and Correct the dots.

1. Collect The Dots (Discovery)

When leadership comes to L&D teams with a problem or an issue, for example, saying, "we need training on X, right now" many teams start scrambling. Under tight deadlines and minuscule budgets, most L&D professionals become order takers. We put our heads down and crank out the training. It feels like there’s no time to stop, think about, and plan out whether or not our course really solves the business objective.

Rather than take orders, we need to strategize and question whether or not we have the right solution. The first part of this methodology, Discovery, involves the most time and attention on the front end, which saves exponentially more time and resources on the back end. For an agile process to work, it’s crucial that we take time in Discovery to challenge assumptions and get to the heart of the problem. Why waste time and resources on a solution that won’t get anyone the outcomes they want?

In Discovery, we:

  • Define measurable outcomes by avoiding words like “master” and “understand” and stick to actions.
  • Put the right people in the right seats, as too many competing demands obstruct our goal.
  • Remember: learners always come first, so we get to know their unique needs and desires.
  • Map the process and learning objectives, writing down everything we want to get out of our heads.
  • Ask ourselves if there is anything preventing us from achieving our outcomes.
  • Agree on a technique for determining whether we’ve hit our measurable outcomes.
  • Look at our budget and prioritize the items that give us the highest impact with the least resources.

2. Connect The Dots

Here, it’s critical to take all of the information we’ve gathered throughout this process into account and brainstorm possible solutions. The methodologies we use to design our learning experience can be varied and bold. The only rule: The solution must align with our unique learners and our specific learning outcomes.

In a brainstorming exercise, we believe in letting imaginations run wild. A learning experience that’s not well-researched doesn’t consider the audience and—worst of all—is boring and predictable, which will fail to get us the learning outcomes we want.

3. Correct The Dots

This wouldn’t be a design-thinking, inspired methodology without low-fidelity prototypes. Here we test and validate our solution, making sure we can hit both our business objectives and our learning outcomes. This allows us to make corrections in a low-risk environment. The worst thing we can do is design and launch an entire training and see it miss the mark. In the race toward innovation, this puts the entire organization at risk.

Testing our solution allows us to be proactive versus being reactive. Focusing on an agile design process with stakeholders and learners will help us do that. If it’s a miss, we can generate another low-fidelity prototype rapidly and test again. If it’s a hit, then we have a low-risk model for moving forward.

The L&D industry is being challenged to meet the needs of a rapidly changing global economy. A race to innovation depends on keeping an entire workforce eager, willing, and able to learn quickly.

Our plight is to connect the dots from rapidly evolving business objectives to measurable learning outcomes. By using the three C’s: Collecting, Connecting and Correcting the dots, we can create learning experiences that make everyone happy.