Needs assessment doesn't have to be a drawn-out, months-long process.
by Site Staff
February 6, 2013
By Dana Kaminstein and Helen Materazzi
Accelerated needs assessment and diagnosis tools can help learning leaders make everyday decisions. Here are three ways to do so.
1. Conduct short, limited conversations rather than lengthy surveys.
• Select a small sample of individuals to interview.
• Ask probing questions to uncover what is happening in the business that needs to be addressed.
• Be on the lookout for broadly stated objectives, such as “we need to be more strategic,” and break them down into a clear problem statement that will drive measurable results.
Initial need: “A session on innovative thinking to energize the team to bring fresh ideas to our annual business planning process.”
Targeted need: “It is taking too long to bring new, innovative offerings to clients. A new approach is needed to strengthen the capability of a cross-functional team to identify new offerings and develop accelerated plans to bring them to market. This new approach will be an integral part of the upcoming business planning process.”
2. Prioritize rather than “boil the ocean.”
• Avoid trying to address everything at once or overstuffing an agenda with too many topics.
• Summarize themes from data gathering, prioritize and address only the top one or two needs.
• Design solutions aimed at getting traction on just those needs so that the business can benefit from an immediate, tangible result.
Initial need: “A half-day of learning as part of a three-day offsite to cover building and leading virtual teams, project management, managing conflicting demands and influencing skills.”
Targeted need: “An overarching objective is to unify a group of 50 global leaders with a standard framework for prioritizing the work done by their network of virtual project teams. It is essential that the teams meet deadlines and deliver the expected results over the next 100 days. The new framework will help reduce the level of anxiety and confusion being voiced by project team members around the world.”
3. When identifying a gap, look for pockets of strength.
• Avoid assuming that certain gaps are “universal.”
• Ask if there are any examples where individuals are demonstrating the desired skill or behavior.
• Observe or interview those individuals to learn what they are doing that’s working.
Gap: “Weak project management skills.”
Pocket of strength: “One team has created an online project management tool that has increased their ability to track and monitor key milestones and deliverables, as well enhance cross-functional collaboration.”