Organizational training and Fruit Loops®

on November 28, 2007

Strange as it sounds, training and Fruit Loops® have much in common. When considering training, we often think of instructional design models, learning management systems, curriculum structures, and learning theory. We ask ourselves, “Should training be mandatory?” More often than not, our answer is “Yes, otherwise employees won’t bother taking it.”

Can you imagine asking the question, “Should we make Fruit Loops® mandatory?” Consumer outrage would be overwhelming! Obviously, purchasing and consuming Fruit Loops® will never be mandatory. Still, millions of consumers still buy Fruit Loops® and enjoy eating them on a daily basis (just ask my kids!). They may not be the healthiest choice, but they meet the nutritional standards, and more importantly, they are consumed without anyone making them mandatory. How can this be?

Popular consumer products share a few characteristics. First, they are high in quality, they have strong consumer awareness, and they provide value and satisfaction. These qualities create a pull by the consumer and greatly increase the desire to use and reuse. For those of you who are more academic in nature, there are many marketing models that support this notion, including the Expectation Confirmation Model (ECM). I pose the question: Why are training departments so slow to adopt this same thinking into the design of training?

Who wouldn’t want a training program that learners enjoy, find valuable, and more importantly, WANT to take part in? If you answer, “I want a training program like that,” please move to the front of the class!

So what can we learn from Fruit Loops®?

First, design training with the end-user in mind. Content matters, but how the end-user connects with that content is more important. Apologies to all those subject matter experts out there, but you place second to the end-user.

Second, make the training more engaging for the learner. If the end-users want to be challenged, then challenge them with more difficult activities. If they want more gaming, then add in some simple games to convey content. If they want text-heavy power points, then give it to them. The goal is to create a high-quality product – yes, I called training a product!

Third, market the training. This doesn’t mean a multi-million dollar advertising campaign, nor does it mean an email advising about a new training program. If you think of your training as a product and your end-users as consumers, ask yourself, “What can I do to get our end-users excited about the training?” The answer could range from simple electronic communications (or teasers) to an article in the company newsletter. However you approach it, the goal is to raise the end-users’ expectations about the training program.

Fourth, ensure that your training program exceeds the end-user’s expectations. Use surveys and focus groups to collect the data. Make modifications to your training program. If you look over the history of Fruit Loops®, the recipe for success has not remained constant, for there are always mid-course corrections.

The bottom line is that training and Fruit Loops® are the same thing. Both are products that rely on a target end-user. Both are meant to create satisfaction. Both are meant to be enjoyable. Both are meant to provide value, nutritional or otherwise.

One last question: “Is your training similar to Fruit Loops® or Bran Flakes without milk?”

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