Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The top learning miss-steps that start-ups make. Part 2

Living and working as a Learning Pro out in Northern California I see and hear about a lot of training that is not serving an organization in the way it should.

So I've put together a list of the most common miss steps and mistakes I've seen and some thoughts on how these can be course corrected. 

The first posting on this was about how Founders think that their systems are more obvious and intuitive than they may be.

Here is the second. 
More to come

2. There is a lot they need to know.

Start-ups put years of development time into producing software with a wide array of features and functionality. Product managers have put long hours into conversations with existing and potential customers to define what the software needs to do. It is quite likely that the software has been enhanced multiple times based on the wishes, or needs, of specific customers. It is quite understandable then that you want your users to know about all these great features and options that have been painstakingly built into the product to give it the depth and fullness that you are so rightly proud of. However as this list gets longer and longer the time taken to introduce these to a new user in a way that is useful to them when they come to use the product, starts creeping up and up.  
How long is reasonable for an online training class? 15 minutes?  4 hours? 
How many modules of self paced learning is it reasonable to expect a new user to sit through to be able to use your product? 5? 10? 50?

I've seen classes grow and grow. What started out as a 90 minute web class grew to 2 hours, then 3. And then into a pair of 2 hour sessions. 

I'd ask you to think back to the last time you learned something for work. How long was your company prepared to invest in your learning time?

As Learning Professionals we love creating courses. The more the merrier. The longer the better. But if we are going to be honest advisers and partners in our businesses, we do need to ask if all this content needs to be in the training.
I take the 80:20 rule as my guide. 

I've seen that time and again 80% or more of the use of any piece of software uses 20% or less of the functionality. To be truly effective training you need to identify that 20% and get your learners a chance to learn it and do it. 

What about the rest?
  • Would a single page job aid work instead? 
  • Is your user manual set out in such a way that the information is easy to find? 
  • Do you have a social platform that your users might go to like a LinkedIn or Facebook group? Or a YouTube channel?  
  • Have you tried Googling the question? 
  • If you are building eLearning, can these be optional modules?
It's way too easy to overwhelm your learners. When that happens, they miss the 20% that they need to be able to use the product. If you are lucky that means they call support for help. If not they just give up, or tell their bosses, colleagues and peers that your software just doesn't do what they need it to do.

So decide what really needs to be in that precious time you get with a new learner, and find other ways to get the rest to them.

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