What’s the flavor of your training?

This forum is a melting pot for those that are passionate about instructional design. Oftentimes learning can be bland, with the right spices you can cook up a more flavorful learning experience. We hope that by sharing our experiences, we are stirring the pot so that we can swap recipes for developing training solutions. We are providing basic ingredients from which you can select to make your own great learning recipe.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Getting Everyone to Read from the Same Recipe

Department X assumes that Department Y is doing Z to make sure that the project achieves A. Department Y expects Department X to be doing Z to make sure that the project achieves A. This all ready is starting to sound like a recipe for disaster.

It’s not uncommon to have a chocolate chip cookie recipe that varies in ingredients, amounts, mixing methods, cooking temperature and time; much like it’s not uncommon to have two different departments in a company wanting the same end result but having different requirements, assumptions, and expectations.

More commonly our understanding of what a requirement, an assumption, and an expectation to a project are invariably different. So let’s look at a recipe from the aspects of requirements, assumptions, and expectations.

Requirements – Recipes require specific ingredients in certain amounts. The recipe also has instructions for how to mix together the ingredients. Recipes also require a specific cooking temperature and time.

Assumption – We assume that the recipe is written accurately from the amounts, the instructions, and the cooking time and temperature. We assume that if we if we follow the recipe it will result in the dish we were expecting.

Expectations – Our expectation that we will achieve the dish we set out to make is based on the requirements and the assumptions. Assuming that we followed the requirements we expect our dish to be a certain way.

Below is a list of times when a conversation around requirements, assumptions, and expectations may be needed:

  • When fleshing out a training goal.

  • When creating a training plan.

  • When writing a Request for Proposal (RFP).

  • When kicking off a project with a vendor.

  • When discussing a goal with your team.

  • When discussing a goal that will be shared by multiple departments/divisions.

The unspoken word here is risk. Risk inevitably follows these three words when they are not communicated to achieve a common understanding. Risk is the cookie that is too hard to eat or over-cooked. Mitigate risk and have a perfect batch of project success more often by discussing requirements, assumptions, and expectations as part of the project kick-off (if not during project development).

Below are examples of requirements, assumptions, and expectations as they relate to a project.

Web-based training that is 508 compliant for ABC Company
Requirement The training module must be compatible with Flash 6.0.
AssumptionEveryone has Flash 6.0 (or compatible version) on their computers.
ExpectationThe piece of training runs on everyone’s computer.

Web-based training that is 508 compliant for ABC Company
Requirement All training for ABC Company must comply with section 508 standards.
Assumption The multimedia developer is familiar with the company’s 508 compliance standards and will create alt text and d-links as required.
Expectation The training is delivered with all interactions and graphics containing alt text and d-links.