One of the problems in blog-writing is that some of the most important ideas are written about once and then never seen again. Such is the case with our “buying process” discussion, which first appeared three years ago. So, because it is such an important subject — and, because I will be out of the country for the next two weeks, here are the salient steps (with up-to-date revisions) you should undertake in “The Buying Process” — once again.

More “live to regret it” decisions are made during the buying process than you can probably imagine. Worse, the wasted money that your company will spend — and, the wasted time your workers will invest in ineffective training initiatives — will do far more harm than good.

Let’s start with the previewing process. A process that is routine with almost all training purchases — whether it involves preview portal access with E-Learning or sample demo CD-ROM or text products.

During this initial step in the buying process, one of the biggest of all mistakes is made. And, it’s made time and time again — because the decision makers do not thoroughly grasp the ultimate goal of training initiatives: “To bring less-skilled workers to greater proficiency levels or to cross-train workers who need to move from ‘little knowledge’ to ‘proficiency skills’.”

To accomplish the above objective you need to understand the ideal “previewing committee” process: “Individuals in your organization who understand Learning, plus one content expert should evaluate the previews you are considering.”

Unfortunately, many preview evaluations are seldom performed this ideal way. For a lack of understanding of “The Learning Process,” committees composed exclusively of content experts are given the task of selecting the “best” preview product. A guaranteed way to continually make the wrong choice!

Content experts, too often, get excited about learning something from the preview that they, themselves, did not already know — totally forgetting the objective of the preview evaluation. And then — mistakenly — endorsing that preview as their number one choice.

Oops! The less-skilled or unskilled workers are going to suffer because of those misguided choices made by that content experts committee.

What you need is a committee of individuals who: 1) understand Learning; 2) the skill level of the workers to be trained; and 3) the skills required for the tasks they will be expected to perform on-the-job. Plus, one content expert to validate the information presented.

Previews should never be evaluated by an exclusive team of content experts simply because those individuals are looking at “information knowledge” and not at “basic skills training requirements for the less-skilled.”

You would be wise to think through your own situation to determine what voices will serve you well. Remember, we’re not playing “Jeopardy” here. We’re attempting to increase skills in order for your workforce to become more contributive to your organization. You will successfully do that only if your selection committee can recognize the difference between Skills Training (the simulated “Doing” of a task) and non-applicable Information Knowledge that, often, cannot be transferred to the actual job.

Step two on Thursday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning
www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
e-Mail: bwalton@itclearning.com