Design Thinking for Training and Development: Creating Learning Journeys That Get Results | Sharon Boller - Laura Fletcher
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Better Learning Solutions Through Better Learning Experiences
When training and development initiatives treat learning as something that occurs as a one-time event, the learner and the business suffer. Using design thinking can help talent development professionals ensure learning sticks to drive improved performance.
Design Thinking for Training and Development offers a primer on design thinking, a human-centered process and problem-solving methodology that focuses on involving users of a solution in its design. For effective design thinking, talent development professionals need to go beyond the UX, the user experience, and incorporate the LX, the learner experience.
In this how-to guide for applying design thinking tools and techniques, Sharon Boller and Laura Fletcher share how they adapted the traditional design thinking process for training and development projects. Their process involves steps to:
- Get perspective.
- Refine the problem.
- Ideate and prototype.
- Iterate (develop, test, pilot, and refine).
Design thinking is about balancing the three forces on training and development programs: learner wants and needs, business needs, and constraints. Learn how to get buy-in from skeptical stakeholders. Discover why taking requests for training, gathering the perspective of stakeholders and learners, and crafting problem statements will uncover the true issue at hand.
Two in-depth case studies show how the authors made design thinking work. Job aids and tools featured in this book include:
- a strategy blueprint to uncover what a stakeholder is trying to solve
- an empathy map to capture the learner's thoughts, actions, motivators, and challenges
- an experience map to better understand how the learner performs.
With its hands-on, use-it-today approach, this book will get you started on your own journey to applying design thinking.
"If you're a learning professional, I strongly recommend the book, Design Thinking for Training and Development by Sharon Boller and Laura Fletcher. (I also wonder why LinkedIn makes words in italicslook so much bigger...)
Sharon and Laura must have put a lot of sweat (and editing) into this book because it is a hands-on, practical workbook; a workbook for those who want to incorporate the concept of design thinking into your own rigorous work as a learning professional. Here. Now. Today. Instead of wondering about the future of learning.
I loved the balance of business needs, learner needs, and let's be real, messy workplace constraints. It comes with plenty of worksheets, templates, and tools to support the process. Of course, as you expect, the authors even included some mistakes they made so you don't have to.
What I like about this book is the approach of balancing learner needs, business needs, and constraints. The thing is "learners" are employees before, during, and after any learning journey. Therefore, for a successful implementation of any journey (not to mention post-implementation support, evaluation, and measurement), we must collaborate with other cross-functional teams. Collaboration also brings constraints. Read some of the examples and case studies in the book how they are part of the plan from the beginning."
From Zsolt Olaph, Digital Learning Strategist, Kineo
"Right from the start, I really liked how accessible this book is. From the opening pages, I was drawn in with the stories that illuminate the value of design thinking and further energized by the numerous tools Sharon and Laura have included that help you actually apply what you're learning. I love the "Work On Your Own" sections that offer opportunities to put these techniques into practice in the context of your own work."
From Mike Taylor, Learning Consultant: mike-taylor.org/2020/06/10/book-review-design-thinking-for-training-and-development/
"Sharon Boller and Laura Fletcher have long been believers in evidence-based practice. Just as importantly, they spent years utilizing and fine-tuning their learning development processes to include design-thinking principles and techniques. In Design Thinking for Training and Development: Creating Learning Journeys that Get Results, Sharon and Laura blend evidence and practice into workable and pragmatic guidelines for using design thinking. They integrate the power of design thinking and eliminate the wrong turns that happen when research and evidence is ignored."
Dr. Will Thalheimer, Work-Learning Research: worklearning.com/2020/06/08/new-book-design-thinking-for-training-and-development/
From the Author
I've been in training and development a l-o-o-o-ng time. I got my Master's in instructional systems technology back in the 90s because I fell in love with learning science and the idea that I could learn how to "design" instruction so that people learned. I'm a lover of learning - I wanted to create experiences others would love.
My career has spanned many roles and situations. I started out working as a "training consultant" in a government agency. I had a baby, took time off, got my Master's, went into consulting, decided I could start my own business, did so, grew it to $4M+, and sold it to a bigger consulting company that enabled me to become part of a much deeper pool of expertise. All that time, I was driven by a passion to "design" learning experiences that worked: they delivered business results and people learned from the experience.
But...I got disillusioned and frustrated, too. I valued instructional design and performance models and frameworks (such as ADDIE, the 5 moments of need, the Wile model). I used those models as guides. I promoted them with clients. I taught them to others. But...when it came right down to it, we sometimes struggled to create the most optimal learning experience possible.
- Too often, learners' perspectives were absent from our design process. Our customers would tell us that learners were too busy. Or that the "subject matter expert" could represent the learner. Or some other reason.
- Learning was viewed as an event, not a process. Business leaders too often wanted to produce courses rather than designing an entire experience that might include a course. They over-estimated the ease with which "training" can be produced and under-estimated what it takes to truly get someone to change their behavior.
- The problem to be solved was poorly defined; we were asked to create solutions for which we did not have a clearly articulated and validated problem or any verification that the training design we created would actually resolve the problem if it was defined well.
As I became aware of - and then dove deeper into - the problem-solving approach known as "design thinking," it resonated deeply. As I read stories of products and software designed with - gasp - input and involvement from their target users, something deep within me responded "yes." As I experimented with creating journey maps, empathy maps, and personas - and seeing how those things changed clients' perspectives and the solutions we devised - I became encouraged.
Design thinking's myriad tools and techniques mean we aren't married to just "one" approach to get through a particular analysis or design step. Its focus on rapid prototyping and iteration means we can test things before investing heavily and identify adjustments that can make a big difference to learners' responses to what we create.
And so, I enlisted my colleague and design thinking ally, Laura Fletcher, to write a book with me on the experiments we were trying with design thinking tools and techniques. I wanted to document our learnings and our efforts to weave design thinking principles, tools, and techniques into a book that others might find useful. Laura and I have learned by doing, by failing, and by course-correcting. We gleaned our knowledge in the trenches of actual projects. We continue to learn from others every day (including my amazing new colleagues at TiER1 Performance who are masters at design thinking techniques).
And now, we hope, you can learn from us. We've written Design Thinking for Training and Development to help others embrace the concepts of design thinking and incorporate them into their own work creating learning experiences. It's been a hard book to write. It's been an exhilarating book to write. Now, we're excited to share it with you.
As we say in the book: learning is a journey, not an event. We've enjoyed our journey creating this book. We hope you enjoy yours reading the book and applying the principles, tools, and techniques within it.
About the Author
Sharon Boller Sharon Boller is a managing director at TiER1 Performance where she focuses on helping clients figure out how to activate their business strategies through their people. She partners with her colleagues at Tier1 to bring together the disciplines of learning, change, communication, technology, and creativity to create blended solutions that enable people to do their best work. Prior to joining TiER1 Performance, Sharon was the CEO and president of Bottom-Line Performance (BLP), a learning solutions firm she founded in 1995. She and her partner/co-owner Kirk Boller grew BLP from a single-woman sole proprietorship to a $4 million-plus company with a highly skilled team of diverse capabilities. Under the direction of Sharon and Kirk, BLP produced communication, education, and training solutions for life science companies, manufacturing, energy companies, and more. Sharon is a frequent speaker at industry conferences on topics such as performance-focused learning design, UX, technology and trends, learning game design, and design thinking. She is the author of two other books published by ATD Press: Teamwork Training was published in 1995, and Play to Learn: Everything You Need to Know About Designing Effective Learning Games was published in 2017 with co-author Karl Kapp. Her company is the recipient of more than 30 awards from organizations such as Brandon Hall, Horizon Interactive Awards, and Life Science Trainers and Educators Network. Her industry interests are wide-ranging and include storytelling, emerging technologies, business strategy, leadership, learning, and experience design. Laura Fletcher Laura Fletcher is a seasoned learning consultant with 15 years' experience in learning and development. She served the clients of Bottom-Line Performance for over seven years, where she designed and developed award-winning solutions ranging from instructor-led workshops to mobile apps. It was during her tenure as manager of Instructional Design at Bottom-Line Performance that her ID team became something of a design-thinking incubation lab, experimenting with design thinking techniques and integrating them into the design process. Today she works for a global technology company where she applies the same principles of design thinking to develop future leaders in the tech industry. She has a master's degree in Human Resource Development from the University of Illinois, and lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children.