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Presented by Joe Sohkol at Documentation and Training West, May 6-9, 2008 in Vancouver, BC
Sometimes our customers think they know what they need and want.
Sadly, they don’t usually know. Too often, training and documentation requirements come from business line managers discussing projects in conference rooms. Instead, actual training consumers have different requirements.
The film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan begins with a seemingly impossible training challenge involving a rescue of the Kobayashi Maru (a spaceship in the fictional Starfleet Academy). The trainee fails the test and claims that the challenge is an impossible one—a no win situation for all involved. Later in the movie, Captain James T. Kirk reveals the secret to his unique solution as a cadet: He changed the rules.
The best way to change the rules is to focus the solution on the users receiving the training or doing their jobs. Instead of simply filling out checklists of project requirements, we can add key value by centering training and documentation plans on actual users.
This case study looks at an training development engagement where what the customer asked for was not what the users needed...or wanted. We’ll look at the initial requirements and how I changed the game to the benefit of the users and the delight of the customer. Initially, the customer asked for training...which, to them, consisted just of a PowerPoint deck and some stand-up lecturing.
Rather than simply provide that, I took a user-centered approach. I interviewed 12 people in their offices, labs, and cubicles. I also noted their environment and their habits of working. Then I created personas and scenarios along with analysis of existing documents and training materials.
Rather than delivering some Power Point files and boring lectures, I created an online, on-demand system focusing on key tasks that actual users would perform with the new software. Users appreciated the approach immensely, and the customer was ecstatic.