Find the need, demonstrate the value

In order to understand a tool, you have to use it. In order to understand its value you have to apply its use to something to see whether it improves a task or an issue. Until you do this it is just a tool, a technology that can be perceived hard to use, complicated and doesn’t add value.

One of the challenges I’ve faced when building communities or using new tools and technologies is answering the question “what’s in it for me?”. How is this (whatever IT is) going to make my life easier? So we need to understand the tools ourselves before we can demonstrate value and then we need to take people on a journey to enable them to see the value themselves so they adopt its use and become advocates.

First you must establish a need, without a need there is no point in looking at a new tool as what you have must already cut the mustard and allows you to get the job done.

Take live online learning, for months I was trying to build momentum around delivering traditional face to face sessions through a well known online training tool. I spent time to understand the tool becoming a confident user in the process as I felt this was important to demonstrate its’ full potential. No-one would take that plunge and it was left to me to drive adoption and bring the value of the tool to life. I delivered team meetings, problem solving sessions as well as facilitating project meetings using the tool but still no real buy-in. Shortly after this I became learning & development project manager supporting a new business launch and was responsible for developing all the learning solutions and induction programmes from products to a brand new system.

As this was a new set up we were recruiting significantly higher numbers than a standard induction programme , in this case it was 24 people. We had 2 trainers and one room with 10 computers, “er Mike we’re going to have a problem” I was told, “We don’t have room to deliver the system training for 24 people”.

I had discovered a need! I demonstrated how using the online tool would enable them to facilitate the system demonstrations to ALL 24 people at the same time, I showed them how to record the sessions so people could review them afterwards….it even meant that the groups could all sit together on the floor and use their headsets so they could listen intently and watch the demo from the comfort of their own desk.

Bingo – value had been demonstrated! I spent time developing the trainers confidence with the tool and supported them when needed. The problem had been solved and in actual fact we had improved the learning experience as feedback was great as the group could use the chat function to ask questions and chat between themselves AND they could watch any part of the system demo again whenever they wanted.

Find the need then choose the right tool that meets that need….sounds easier than it is in real life though.

Does this sound familiar?

How have you had to demonstrate the value of new tools and technologies before you get buy-in?

Could you share any examples that could benefit others?

4 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for sharing this Mike. What this demonstrates to me is the importance of thoroughly knowing the potential use of the product/tool. Most tools have a principal purpose, but often its some of the more subtle features that can be of tremendous “value” to an organisation. It reminds me of situations in the past where organisations have expressed interest in an LMS because they see one going hand-in-hand with the deliveryof e-learning. But when it comes down to it, it’s often the “extras” available in the areas of record keeping and data analysis that provide the real “wow” factors.

  2. Hi Bob, thanks for your comment and I agree that value isn’t provided by the tools themselves but in having people who understand them and then of course understanding the business they work in. Only through this will we be able to apply what the tool can do in a work context – finding the need and demonstrating the value. I think the example you give around LMS is interesting as during our own implementation journey we have been looking at all the *benefits*.
    > E-learning platform – tick
    > Tracking completion – tick
    > Complete learner history – tick
    > Reports to satisfy regulators – tick
    > Easy access – tick

    All the usual suspects you can think of were present and accounted for but apart from meeting our regulators requirements (which of course is important) where was the business value?

    It was then through a conversation I had with our resource planners I discovered they were looking for ways to check the length of time people were spending completing regulatory training versus how long they had been planned away from their role to take it. There was a disconnect between the two and the planning team needed to get smarter to ensure more accurate planning and scheduling.

    Enter LMS and coding in the elearning module that would provide the time spent in the actual module. This could then be shared with the team to help them identify what was going wrong so they could improve it. This was of huge value to this area but probably not one you’d associate with LMS straight away. Discovering the need is the critical part and we need to get better at this, being able to meet that need with the tools is something we all need to get better at but understanding the businesses we work in is of equal importance.

  3. Hi Mike,

    Here is my example, I was scheduled to deliver some training around having value add performance discussions within teams. I was delivering to a team that were based in different locations all over the country. A few days before the session I discovered the tool that the team were to be using to have these performance discussions was a virtual tool!

    Eureka! A perfect opportunity to do some virtual training. However the downside to that solution as a self confessed no-tech with little experience in virtual training was I needed help and quick.

    I had a call with the project manager to propose the new method of training for this particular team. Using a mix of influencing skills, cost and time benefits to the business and to the participants, he was sold! I then had a call with the team to see if they were happy with the new arrangements. Needless to say no one protested about losing out on a very early start and 400 mile round trip!

    That only left one thing to do, get skilled in virtual meetings. This is when I called you, after a very patient couple of hours coaching from your good self I felt confident enough to take that virtual step!

    So I found the need, applied the virtual training method and the outcome was that I facilitated a very engaging interactive session that was positively highlighted in the team’s feedback. More importantly for me though I took a step out of my ususal comfort zone and appllied the best solution to the need!

  4. Thanks for sharing Lesley!

    It’s interesting that you mention coming out of your comfort zone. I think because technologies that can be used within learning challenge the traditional ways of L&D there is resistance to this change. It’s essential that we as learning professionals (change agents I’ve heard apparently) welcome changes to our industry and start to understand how technology is enabling us to enhance experiences and create greater engagement in new and different ways. This does mean coming out of our comfort zone and challenging our existing beliefs but life would be boring if we didn’t do this.

    The second point that’s worth mentioning is the performance support you received at point of need, no long and formal training session just a phone call and demonstration and then some practice and a “let’s do it” attitude was all that was needed.

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