There have been many books over the years that have inspired and motivated me in my career. But, there is one in particular that stands out due mainly to a single piece of advice that is offered in it.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by the late Dr. Stephen R. Covey really rocked my world as a young professional.
I knew even back then that resources like time and money were limited, and that the best way to advance in an organization and make a positive contribution to the bottom line was to be effective – highly effective.
One of the habits Dr. Covey describes is that effective people “begin with the end in mind.” I subscribe to this concept to this day with every project I take on. I like to say that “form follows function” which is related to the “begin with the end in mind” concept that Covey wrote about. In the book, Covey suggests that successful projects are designed based on what you want the end result to be.
This habit, of basically thinking backwards, helps to create clarity and focus for the design team. It ultimately drives every decision that goes into the project.
One of the best ways I can describe this approach is to look at an example. Let’s take the design of a training program. If your team is beginning with the end in mind, they are establishing what the staff should be able to do at the conclusion of the seminar or workshop.
Establishing what you want the staff to be able to do is critical in determining the content of each training module, whether or not you will use slides to present the material, the exercises you’ll want to incorporate, if you’ll design a workbook to go along with the presentation, and what medium you’ll use to produce that workbook (print or electronic).
Establishing the skill set you want to teach will also guide you in determining if follow-up training sessions are warranted, and if you want to periodically spot-check content retention and skill level proficiency by mystery shopping your organization.
Bottom line? Thinking backwards will keep you and your staff from going in circles.
It’s the best approach I know of to be highly effective no matter what you’re working on. Keep coming back to your purpose, and the questions you have about the project will almost answer themselves.
How about you? How do you approach the task of designing training programs in your organization?
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