Thursday, April 28, 2011

Addressing Stakeholders Who “Want It Now” #LCBQ

The Learning Circuits Big Question for April is: How do we address the “I want it now” demand from stakeholders?

It is easy to see where this question comes from: Business leaders can mull over strategy decisions for a while, but once they decide on a course of action, they want to move forward as quickly as possible. You, as their learning partner, will want to accommodate the need for speed, but the demand for quick action often does cause some tension. Having worked in corporate learning for 20+ years, this is a situation that I have often faced. Assuming there is a real learning need behind the request, there are usually three questions that need to be answered before you can respond to your stakeholder.
  1. Can the target audience learn what they need to learn quickly?  For example, there is a difference between helping a transaction-oriented salesperson to learn a new procedure for processing a sales order vs. helping her learn how to become a consultative seller. You can get started on the latter quickly, but it will take time, practice and experience to fully achieve the learning outcome.
  2. Will you have access to the content, tools and Subject Matter Experts needed for a quick turnaround?  Much of the work that instructional designers do is dependent on having what is needed to develop the learning solution. Sometimes training requests come along too early in a project to be actionable. When that happens, the good news is that you are at the table with the team working on the project in its early stages. This gives you the opportunity to influence the development of tools and communication materials in ways that can be helpful to learning.
  3. Can other learning projects be delayed or put on hold while the learning team is redeployed to take care of this urgent request?   Most of us work in environments where there are multiple projects going on at the same time. Business leaders and/or learning governance boards will sometimes have to intervene to help the learning team sort out the priorities.
If the answer to these questions is “Yes” then go ahead, tell your stakeholder, “You can have that right away!”

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