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Overcoming Analysis Paralysis

Putting together training can be a lot of fun. Creativity blossoms when you’re coming up with jokes to warm up a room or developing exciting games to engage learners online. Getting the evaluation at the end of the training with high reviews is rewarding and validating. After all, what you designed was pretty cool, right?

But six months down the road, have your learners changed any of their behaviors? Have sales or customer satisfaction increased? Have on the job accidents decreased? Do employees feel passionate about your brand?

Creating a flashy and fun training is important but unless you initially target the right needs and reinforce the key concepts post training, then all you’ll be left with is a stack of training evaluations that validate you, rather than change the behaviors of your learners.

Okay, so we all know we should conduct a needs analysis before we begin designing our training. But, what comes to your mind when you think about engaging in this phase of training development?

  • I’d rather go to the dentist for a root canal
  • Sure, right after I respond to the 523,782 emails in my inbox
  • What is this needs analysis that you speak of?

You’re not alone. Most of us dread this initial phase. Where do I begin? I don’t have time to do all that, this training was due yesterday! I’m not even sure what a needs analysis is!

Analysis paralysis is all too common in our industry, but using a rapid needs analysis approach with targeted questions will enable you to efficiently and effectively zero in on the skills you want to change. This will move your training from something that is simply engaging and fun to something transformative and long lasting.

Thoughtful questions provide answers that guide the training you’re developing. For example, you may ask about the gender ratio of your participants while designing a course on prenatal care. You understand that a majority of your audience will be women, but you also want to make sure you adequately represent men and their roles in the process as well. The key to a successful rapid needs analysis is to know the ANSWER before you begin.

Asking targeted questions within the following topics will enable you to gather the information you need quickly. Below you will find a few examples of the types of enquiries you want to consider and what you may do with the answers once you receive them.


What You Ask Why you Ask
What is their typical educational background? Know how easy or how difficult you need to make the content.
What does the business culture look like? Uncover motivational factors you may need to address.


What You Ask Why you Ask
What is a measurable business goal this training will impact? Helps you create alignment between training results and business needs.
What is the gap between the current and desired behavior of the employee? Identifying the most critical and difficult gaps ensures training is addressing the most needed changes.


What You Ask Why you Ask
What training has worked well in the past? Don’t recreate the wheel if you don’t have to. Use what works.
What are the greatest skills of your audience? Build on prior knowledge and use current skill sets.


What You Ask Why you Ask
What hasn’t worked in the past? Learn from past mistakes.
What areas should be avoided? There may be sensitivity around specific language or approaches that you should be aware of.


What You Ask Why you Ask
What source material already exists? Capitalize on what has already been created and done.
Who are the decision makers? Knowing who your key decision makers are will speed along the sign-off process.


What You Ask Why you Ask
What will be measured? Understanding the key analytics will enable you to design training that meets those needs.
How will measurement be implemented beyond the training? Understanding this allows you to create training that supports long term retention.

Analysis doesn’t have to be a difficult, long process, it only has to be targeted and thoughtful. Using the framework above, capture answers that will help you in designing a training that is impactful and useful. From there, keep doing what you’re doing and blow people away with the fun and creative designs you are already producing. Finally, review our blog Fighting the Forgetting Curve to reinforce why you need to support key concepts post training completion.