The importance of learning and development

Jess Robinson - 16th October 2019

Remember the feeling you had during your very first driving lesson?

Sat in the driver’s seat, with a plethora of buttons to press, levers to pull, and pedals to push. But over time, with practice and (hopefully) a good teacher, it became such second-nature that you can now drive without even really thinking about it.

Now, imagine what would have happened if you’d had no lessons before getting on the road by yourself. If someone had just sat you in the car and said, “OK, all the tools are here - now drive!” You might have eventually figured out that you need to press down the clutch to change gear, or how to find the biting point - but it would have taken much, much longer, and you probably would have stalled a lot.

Managing Risk

That situation is exactly what happens when you put an IT tool in front of someone without explaining it. ServiceNow is a phenomenal tool with so much potential - but with potential comes the possibility of confusion. It’s a waste to sacrifice all the effort put into a successful implementation if the key end users don’t agree to the change and don’t end up using it to its full potential.

This risk can be lessened and almost eliminated in two key ways:

  • Configuring the tool to be as user-friendly and intuitive as possible
  • To communicate, teach, and assist the user until they are at ease with the tool

The first of these should be a primary focus of any development implementation; all too often, usability is sacrificed (either in place of functionality covering fringe cases, or work is directed to less useful areas).

The latter is an integral part of the change process to ensure uptake. As human beings, we hate change, so expecting uptake with no communication or adoption techniques is destined to fail. Communications and training is such a fundamental part of the process that should not be overlooked, and requires its own workshops and design.

Communication should be frequent without being overly so and should be given in a variety of methods most familiar to the impacted user - usually, this will be via email. It might also include social media updates, show-and-tells, drop-in sessions, flyers and posters, or announcements.

Helping people to learn their way

Training, like communications, should be varied to accommodate all types of learning. At Engage ESM, we have found great success with a three-pronged approach:

There are various competing theories around how people learn - it’s very much a personalised process for each company and each person affected. It will depend both on the individual’s personality, as well as their workload and whether any time has been set aside specifically for training. Because of this, it’s key to offer a wide variety of formats (also known as connectivism learning), including but not limited to:

  • Short documentation, e.g. Quick Reference Guides (QRGs) which can be converted to Knowledge Articles
  • Long documentation e.g. user manuals, step-by-step documents
  • Short videos, 5-10 minutes long, demonstrating the highlights of key aspects of the tool;
  • Long videos, usually recorded demonstrations
  • In-person training sessions, led by an experienced trainer, heavily focusing on show-and-tell;
  • Informal drop-in sessions, to ask quick questions about pain points or difficulties;
  • Presentation slides, for use after the training sessions;
  • Remote training sessions
  • Lab exercises or quizzes, to ensure information is retained.

With a combination of careful workshops at the beginning of the project, a usability focus, communications sent out throughout the project keeping users in the loop, and personalised training after implementation, the uptake of users can be increased dramatically - and the new driver will be gliding down the motorway in no time at all.