Category Archives: Training

How to Fail at Developing Training Courses and Products

I’m reading the second edition of Marty Cagan’s Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love. In chapter six, Cagan describes what he believes are the root causes of failed product efforts. As I read the chapter, I could see parallels to bad training programs and courses. Let’s work through the list:

Ideas – Ideas can come from internal stakeholders or executives. Sometimes, ideas come from customers. Wherever ideas come from, there usually is not a strategic vision or mission that can help determine which ideas to implement. Even if there is a strategic vision/mission, many organizations lack a way to assess the best ideas to pursue.

“Biz Case” – But, let’s say there is a way to determine objectively the best ideas to pursue. The idea is suggested, and then the management wants to see a business case. The purpose of the business case is to determine how much the design will cost and how much money the idea will make. The problem is that it is too early to decide on the costs or revenues. Other than past performance from similar courses or programs, there is no data to justify the projections of the business case.

Roadmap – After an optimistic business case, marketing and sales hurry into listing features to attract customers. Cagan writes that in the Roadmap Phase there are two inconvenient truths. The first truth is that half of the ideas will not work. The second truth is that it takes several iterations for many of the features to work.

Requirements – The Roadmap features drive the requirements, and this is when the instructional design team is brought in. Design decisions that should have been made by the instructional design team at the beginning of the process are instead made halfway through the process when the major feature decisions and business requirements have been made.

Design, Build, and Test – Assumptions made in the business case and the Roadmap have come back to haunt the team. Customer feedback is giving mixed signals and the instructional design team is most likely fighting with the marketing team. I can tell you from experience that clashes between the marketing team and the instructional design team are brutal and counterproductive.

Deploy – Now is the time to deploy the training program and/or course(s). As a usual practice, the evaluations are added on at the last minute and without much thought. Typically, Kirkpatrick Levels One and Two which measure if the learner like the training and if the learner believed they had learned anything. If you are lucky, there may be an attempt at a Kirkpatrick Level Three which is often a survey of the learner’s supervisor to see if the learner’s behavior has changed.

SAM Model

The above is why I moved from the standard Instructional System Design (ISD) to the Successive Approximation Method (SAM). Like agile project management, SAM uses iterations to prototype the programs and courses. Each iteration is checked against customer demands and refined as the instructional design team gathers feedback. Having built courses using traditional ISD, I much prefer SAM. I believe that you will too once you have created a training program or course that meets the needs of your learners.

Launching Three Online Courses in the Fall

One free introductory course to project management, a paid course in advanced agile project management, and a paid course in marketing training courses in your organization.

After a successful training at the 2019 Drupal GovCon, I had several emails asking if I could send the training slides and materials to the people who missed the session. It was then that it hit me. And I am surprised why I didn’t think of this before.

Especially after teaching online for four different universities and training other instructors in online teaching for over 15 years. I suppose what led to my hesitation was not finding the appropriate teaching platform.

However, I have recently found a good online teaching platform and am ready to release three courses based on my books, articles, and presentations. Look for the course launches in late August/early September.

Hand pushing pin into a board that has cards connected by strings.

Small Project Management – My gentle introduction to project management. This free course is great for those who want to get into project management but don’t know where to start. This course is based on a free guide that I authored in 2012. Since then, I have given this course to government offices and nonprofits.

Lean Scope Project Management – I created this project management method by combining design thinking with agile project management. This is an extreme project management to create novel products or services quickly and with heavy customer input.

I first designed this method in 2014 and continually update it as I continue to learn from managing projects. Participants will this course useful in helping execute on their world-changing ideas.

New Ways to Market Training – This training is based on my experiences in marketing training courses in organizations. It was surprising to me that there is very little guidance on how to market training courses to internal audiences. What is unique about my training course it deals with using the latest social media and workplace digital collaboration tools for marketing.

More details as we come closer to the course launch dates.