It’s been a while since I’ve been out on a date. I’m awfully busy, I can’t find the right person — but mostly because my wife takes a really dim view of me dating.
Back in the days when I was a young pup, I remember that the big question next morning at the water cooler was “Did you get a kiss goodnight?” Now, depending on how precocious you were, that might have varied a bit — but this midwestern boy evaluated a first date as quite successful if it ended in a peck on the lips.
It told me that what I’d been doing had been met with approval, and that the object of my affection was satisfied with my performance as a suitor. Eventually, I found a woman so satisfied with those little pecks that she actually married me — but it took quite a while, and that’s another story entirely.
If you’re providing information for clients, you probably have some concerns whether you’re going to meet their needs and go on another date. In the Business Of Learning, we call that “assessment” and spend huge amounts of money on it. We do surveys, tests, evaluations, focus groups, interviews and consult psychics to try to find out if we’ve achieved our goals. Well, most of us do.
I recently spent some time talking to a Large Federal Agency about doing some work for them — involving Instructional Design of online learning material that would help people understand how we were going to get out from under this huge mortgage mess that Sumdood has gotten us into. I looked at what they had on their site — it was little PowerPoint slides with voice-overs, lots of bullets, and they’d ported it into Eluminate so they could call it “e-learning”.
We talked a bit about how that wasn’t really a very effective way to communicate complex technical content. We talked about the fact that they “were just getting started” and wanted to do better. I asked if they were doing assessments to see how well the content was working, and was told that wasn’t happening.
(Quick review. You did it cheap and dirty. You know it won’t work. And you aren’t bothering to actually measure how bad things are.)
So Are There Other Options?
Since I was trying to sell them on my amazing services, I talked about several other models that they might consider. What I heard was that they had little budget, things changed often, and they didn’t want to employ any technology that every single person in the unit didn’t know how to use.
OK. I thanked them for the call. The next day, I talked to another person in the group. His major concern was that I’d be willing to spend my days constantly updating the PPT decks with new regulations, specifications, and details. (Those decks that they know aren’t working, and are afraid to actually measure.)
I later sent him a nice thank-you mail, suggesting that they could do some of this work inside a simple WordPress template (for projection in the classroom) and allow students and instructors to provide feedback within the “comments” mechanism. It would allow for real-time improvement, collection of best practice teaching tips, and be updatable by any Luddite in the group who owned a keyboard. (Yeah, I was poking at them. I’ll admit it.)
Today I got a polite message in response saying that although my qualifications were amazing, they’d decided to go a different direction. I’m guessing that the guy they kissed was perfectly ok with not bothering to measure if what they were doing had any effect at all.
And This Means To Me…?
If you’re providing conference calls to potential buyers, what’s your measurement of success? If they sign up? If they buy the book / session / coaching / macrame that you’re offering? Or are you measuring if they’ve actually learned anything of value that will stay with them?
I can show you how to do that, if you’ve got the balls.