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Designing for Results[1]

This chapter focuses on designing the technology-based learning program to deliver results. Program design has an important connection to the results achieved. This concept involves designing the appropriate communication about the program, changing the role of participants, creating expectations, and designing specific tools and content to make the project results based. This final chapter of the ROI Methodology focuses on these tools for the designer.


When a learning program is implemented, a chain of communications begins. These communications describe what is expected from the program, for all who are involved. The principal audience for communication is the individuals who will make the program successful; they are often labeled as the participants. The managers of these participants, who are expecting results in return for the participants' involvement in the program, are also a target for information. At least four areas of communication are important.


Any announcement for the program—whether a verbal announcement, online blurb, ad, email, or blog—should include expectations of results. In the past, the focus of the announcement may have been on the program's content or learning objectives; this is no longer the case. The focus now is on what individuals will accomplish with a project and the business impact that it will deliver. The measure should be clearly articulated so it will answer the participant's first question, “What's in it for me?” This clearly captures the results-based philosophy of a particular program.


If the project is ongoing or involves a significant number of participants, a brochure (digital or paper) may be developed. A brochure is typical for programs that are very important, strategic, and expensive. These brochures are often cleverly written from a marketing perspective and are engaging and attractive. An added feature should be a description of the results that will be or have been achieved from the program, detailing specific outcomes at the application level (what individuals will accomplish) and the impact level, as well as the consequences of the application. These additions can be powerful and make a tremendous difference on the outcome of the program.


Correspondence to participants before they become fully engaged with their program is critical. These memos and instructions should outline the results described in the announcements and brochures, and focus on what individuals should expect when they become involved in the project. When prework is necessary for participants to connect with the program, the focus should be on the results expected. Sometimes participants are asked to bring specific examples, case studies, problems, measures, or business challenges. Communications should be consistent with the results-based philosophy, underscore the expectations and requirements, and explain what must be achieved and accomplished. Also, the request to provide feedback and document results is explained to participants, emphasizing how they will benefit from responding.


Workbooks are designed with higher-level objectives in mind. Application and impact objectives influence the design of exercises and activities as they emphasize results. Application tools are spaced throughout the workbook to encourage and facilitate action. Impact measures, and the context around them, appear in problems, case studies, learning checks, and skill practices.

  • [1] For more detail on this methodology, see The Value of Learning: How Organizations Capture Value and ROI and Translate Them Into Support, Improvement, Funds (Phillips and Phillips, 2007, Pfeiffer)
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