Thursday, November 16, 2006

Making Your Case

What struck me most in our Thursday webinar on How to Get Management Buy-In for eLearning was the senior level of approval required to "green light" eLearning development projects. Most participants said that they had to get sign-off at a very high level. Some needed Vice-Presidential approval (e.g. VP of Organizational Development, or Marketing, or Sales, etc.), one needed Chief Financial Officer approval, and one even required Presidential sign-off. This can prove to be a daunting task. In my experience, the higher up in an organization that you have to go, the harder it is to make your case for your eLearning project. It faces much more critical scrutiny and many more competing priorities for attention and investment.

We focused on a three-pronged approach to "selling" senior management on the merits of your eLearning project idea.

1. Understand Management Motivations

You have to clearly understand organizational goals and priorities and know what motivational "buttons" to press to get senior management to stand up and take notice of your idea. In what ways can your eLearning intervention increase organizational gain (e.g. in terms of higher sales / revenue, service improvement, higher client satisfaction, etc.) and decrease organizational pain (e.g. in terms of decreased down time, less defects, less support calls, etc.)? If your solution speaks to management priorities you will get a fair hearing.

2. Use Measures that Speak to Motivations

Define success for your eLearning idea based on gathering and analyzing data directly related to the gains you are trying to realize or the pains you are trying to minimize. Senior management prefers to manage via facts, not conjecture. Show the ways that you will measure real outcomes from your eLearning intervention. Also, collect metrics that speak to the advantages of an eLearning approach to training (e.g. better reach, more convenience, improved consistency, lower costs per learner over time, etc.). Committing to measuring the effectiveness of your approach will win respect from management.

3. Communicate Your Vision Effectively

In the age of instant communications and information overload, attention spans are extremely limited. There is a very small window in which to make your point to senior management, so use it wisely. Boil down your value proposition for your proposed eLearning intervention to its essence. Can you sum it up in a few paragraphs? This takes time and practice. Remember, it is harder to say something of import and impact in a couple of pages, than it is to say nothing in 50 pages. And, please, at all costs, avoid slipping into overly-technical language. This will just create more confusion than clarity. Management wants to know what you are going to do, what benefit it will have, and how you will measure effectiveness in realizing that benefit. Period.

Finally, we discussed how it is far better to introduce eLearning incrementally, learning from experience, and scaling up intelligently as you grow. Nothing succeeds like success. This will make your next case that much easier to make.

Here is a link to the webinar recording.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this useful information, especially “Use Measures that Speak to Motivations".

On that topic, I am interested in hearing your views on how to (yourself or others) evaluate your eLearning content and collaboration through out a project.

How to conduct a lessons learning specifically for eLearning. If you have any tools that would great ;-)

2:05 PM  
Blogger Rick Nigol said...

Hi Mark Alan,

Thanks for your comments.

We use online survey tools to gauge learners' views on quality and usefullness of course content. We measure learner progress through their their demonstration of competencies (ie. being able to complete certain tasks). We monitor discussion board activity to gauge usefullness of interactive elements of the eLearning. And we meaure learner motivation and engagement via studying participation and completion rates.

Hope this helps.



9:39 AM  

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