• Katie Inouye

The One Question to Ask Before Beginning Any Training Project




What problem are we trying to solve?

If you are a training professional, you likely have experienced being approached with a prescribed solution to a perceived training need. For example, requests like, “I need a one hour course on X” or “I need a you to put together a 30 minute classroom program on Y”. The audience, content, time frame, and delivery method have already been determined before the project even reaches the training professional's desk.


Let’s first take a step back and ask the question, "What is the problem we are trying to solve?"


Before beginning training design, it is important we identify why we are training employees in the first place. What is the performance issue? And, is that performance issue a result of employees having a lack of knowledge, skill, or ability?


Typically 80% of performance issues will not be solved by training solutions. This means these problems stem from something in the organizational culture, management styles, work load, personal problems seeping into the workplace, employee morale, etc. And while it might make sense in the short-term to just complete a training project, I believe it hurts the training department's credibility when the analysis is not completed before beginning the project. If a lack of knowledge, skill, and ability is not causing the problem, then training is not the solution – and no matter how amazing the training program turns out – it is just a waste of organizational resources.


However – 20% of the time training IS the solution!


And the good news is that when we first understand the performance issue we are solving, we can demonstrate the effectiveness and value of training as a solution. By starting with analyzing the problem, we can create measurable objectives that can become the foundation for the project. A foundation we can later use to evaluate the project’s success. Once we have measurable objectives, we can start answering questions like: Who is the audience? What content and activities should be included? How should we deliver the training? And lastly, how long is required to deliver the training?


Become an organizational resource.


The more we understand the why behind projects, the more valuable training will become in organizations. Here are some questions to ask to help a training project kick-off successfully:

What is the problem we are trying to solve?

  • Do we know what caused the problem? How do we know?

  • Is the problem with only a few employees, one department, or is it systemic?

  • How will we know the training project is successful?

At Spark Training Solutions, we believe training should be designed around the learner but always directed towards solving an organizational performance problem; that is why we begin projects by first asking, "What is the problem we are trying to solve?"

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