Monday, November 7, 2011

Striking a Chord With the SME

This is mostly how a `Request for an e learning module’ buds. Explaining the capabilities and convincing the possibilities have always been a challenge for IDs. So how do you usually break the ice?

Well, the easiest way would be to get started with a call.

What is the scope of the project?

Here is a blatant truth – People normally hate to do or take trainings, just because of the plain reason that anything outside the routine work means a burden. I would’nt say `most’, but at least `some’ of the requests we receive are just a way for the Manager to shed off his `training’ burden.

Do analyze if a virtual course would actually help them, or if the concepts are better understood in a face to face training set up. However, do not forget that you can go for a combo training, where there is a little bit of class room and virtual training. And yes, don’t forget to ask on the target audience.

Split the process and explain it phase by phase

Don’t make the whole process look like a black box. Don’t assume that your client knows the procedure. Divide the whole project into distinct chunk. Anything that splits the process into simple, trackable goals is good enough.

This once happened to me – I was explaining our module delivery project planner to my customer. And weird enough, I found his face looking scarier as I finish explaining each stage.

And at the end of it, he gasped – “Oh, so that’s a lot of work”.And I nodded. “But sorry, I don’t think I will be able to do them all. I have never even come across the term `storyboard’ in my life!”

Yes, it was all my fault. While explaining the planner, I should have stated who does what.  So it makes sense to add a `Who does what' column to your planner, so the SME has a clear understanding of his roles.

Watch out for jargons –

Once while working with an SME, I fell prey to a couple of abbreviations that had to be used frequently in the training. I assumed that the lingo must be a well familiar one, and did not care to question him on it. After rolling out the training, we received a lot of questions on what those abbreviations were supposed to mean. And then came the truth – Looks like the SME’s predecessors had used it, and was just `passed’ on to the next `generations’.

It was my fault that I did not care to ask him for the expansion in the beginning itself. Lesson learnt – I always make it a point to set my fingers on any ambiguous terms and straighten all the mysterious folds.

Measuring the Success

Most of the clients might want to know how to `measure’ the learning rate. Explain to them the various possibilities your LMS (Learning Management System) can offer. Can your team send a periodic test scores to the managers? Great!

Give a Realistic Picture

Don’t claim your training will churn out a super human in every employee. E learning, like anything else, has its boons and banes. And some trainings just simply follow the rule of osmosis.


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  2. Interesting post...!! Wonderful intro at the header and the scientific description is flabbergasting... (trying to speak the 'very strange language')