Understanding when and how to give information to stakeholders outside of L&D can be critical in the success or failure of a project. Again, it often boils down to messaging the Right Person, with the Right Issues. Executives will likely want a high-level brief of the problem, solution, and approximate cost, whereas a Key Partner like IT may want specifics of the systems, technology and data.
No matter who you’re communicating with, brevity will almost always be preferred. Impart just enough information to get to an agreement with your audience, which usually means keeping the message pertinent to them. What type and the detail of information is important as well. The Harvard Business Review article Change The Way You Persuade by Gary A. Williams and Robert B. Miller is a good read on the five styles of executives.
If you want organizational momentum behind your project, you have to find a way to build excitement for your initiative. Again, information alone isn’t always going to cut it. High-end consulting firms often train personnel to communicate their message through storytelling. Our minds are structured to make sense of the world in terms of stories. By building a compelling narrative around your data, you can accomplish a lot of your audience’s cognitive work for them, getting you that much closer to a “yes.”
Though many detailed storytelling methodologies exist, most business stories follow roughly the same structure:
Fortunately, the components of the Learning Model Canvas fit well into this storytelling format, and can be interwoven into the story you want to tell, as you can see in the following example.
Employees’ learning expectations (Customer Segment) are evolving as information is becoming available everywhere due to rapid advances in technology. Just as in their consumer life, they expect meaningful, on-demand (Customer Relationship) experiences (Value Proposition) in their business life delivered directly (Delivery) to applications and devices they already use.
We know this because employee attrition is up X% in the last two years. Exit interviews show a primary reason for voluntary termination is lack of learning and development opportunities to grow within their positions.
Our L&D department is structured (Learning Model) for producing informational content (Information Dissemination pattern) focused on maintaining company compliance (Value Proposition - Company).
This model is a constraint to improving employee satisfaction (Getting Information - That One Thing) for meaningful learning experiences (Value Proposition - Employee) within their jobs.
We need to align our assets (Key Resources) around the employee (Customer Segment) with on-demand access to internally developed learning experiences (Design) as well as curated learning experiences (Relationship - Broker) found on third party providers like Lynda.com (Key Partners).
Call to Action:
“The estimated impact on the business is X (Business Outcome), and the estimated investment is Y (Cost Structure). To move this forward I need to confirm your support of this initiative and agree on next steps (Gain Commitment).”
Learning how to tell the right story is a way to give voice to the data and information you've gathered. In an ideal world, numbers would speak for themselves and L&D would be handed all the resources it needs to get the job done. Until then, you have to become adept at Giving Information. If you want to learn more about how approach storytelling in L&D, drop me a line or leave a comment below.
Supporting documents will often be a welcome addition to your story. These might include a completed LMC, a list of key dependencies, or detailed budget prepared as handouts, or added as appendices to your primary document. If you encounter someone that thinks your story is a “tall tale,” you will be able to rely on these documents to reinforce your proposed solution.