Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Maybe Learning Experience Designers Should be Outcome Engineers

Cushard Consequential: Learning Experience Designer Outcome Engineer
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ex_magician/5688071602

During the week of October 21, I attended the Technology Services World conference put on by the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA). TSIA launched a new book at the conference called B4B: How Technology and Big Data Are Reinventing the Customer-Supplier Relationship, which is disrupting the way technology services are sold.

I know it does not sound like anything a learning professional should care much about. However, the main message in the book and throughout the week at the conference is so staggeringly relevant to learning professionals that our future (like the future of the technology services industry) depends on adopting the lessons discussed in this book.

Here is that message:

In a B2B world, technology services companies sold a product or service TO a business customer. In a B4B world, technology services companies achieve an outcome FOR a business customer.

Your Stakeholder Wants Outcomes


The analogy here is that a hardware customer does not want a drill, she wants a hole in her wall. It is the same with a customer who buys a CRM software solution. A CRM customer wants to improve sales not buy a CRM. Technology services companies need to take on some of the risk in the transaction and help customers achieve some outcome.

Learning and development professionals should do the same thing. Instead of offering training programs, L&D professionals should offer outcomes in the form of improved performance.

Do Your Learning Programs Achieve Outcomes for Your Stakeholders?


A traditional training department follows the old model of delivering training programs to the organization and is held accountable for delivering programs that help people learn new skills (the drill). Rarely are training departments held accountable for contributing to improving performance (hole in the wall). However, if training managers do not adapt, they are going to wake up one morning and a Chief Operating Officer is going to say, “We invest in all these training programs, but productivity has not increased over the past three years. Why are we doing all this training?"


Be Proactive


One way to avoid this potentially very bad morning is to be proactive about taking on some of the risk by helping your stakeholders achieve outcomes. One way to start thinking this way is to conduct a brief exercise. Here is that exercise:

Review the examples below, then complete the sentence below the list.
  • My stakeholders don’t want a sales training program, they want to improve sales.
  • My stakeholders don’t want conflict management training, they want the number of HR complaints to fall.
  • My stakeholders don’t want leadership development training, they want team productivity to increase.
My customers don’t want ______________, they want _______________________.

If you can answer this question, and then figure out a way to help your customers achieve what they want, you will continue to deliver value to your stakeholders. If you do not, you may receive a call from your COO one morning that you will not like.

Please share one of your sentences below in the comments and let us know what your stakeholders want.

This post originally appeared on the humancapitalist blog.

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