Scenario example: AutoLoon ethics training

This scenario helps training designers practice the initial meeting with the client. I created it in Twine, a free editor for interactive fiction. Participants in my scenario design course practice their client management skills with similar scenarios.

Your challenge

You're an independent training designer. Business has been slow lately, and it's starting to look like ramen noodles will play a prominent role in family dinners if you don't win a big project soon.

Today you have a chance to turn things around.

Last week, you were contacted by the L&D manager at AutoLoon, an auto parts franchise that has several stores in your region. It sounded like the manager, Ann, was interested in having you create some custom training. You invited her to your office for a two-hour meeting to learn more about the project and do some initial action mapping.

Now Ann is in your office, accompanied by Luis, the subject matter expert. Can you win Ann and Luis as clients, help them identify the best solution for their problem, and avoid creating a useless information dump?

Explore! Don't be afraid to click what looks like a wrong answer. You can always go back.

In case it's not glaringly obvious, this story is fiction.

Photo by Complete Interior Design via Compfight cc

What do you think? Are you satisfied with your work so far with Ann and Luis?

Points I wanted to make

First, please explore the scenario. Don't hesitate to make "bad" decisions and see how they play out. I designed this as an exploratory scenario, not an assessment. Every misstep lets you go back at least one decision. Then read below to see what I wanted you to learn, and judge for yourself if I was successful.

Points I wanted to make:

  • Don't challenge the client's training decision at first. If you think they're making a poor decision, let them see it for themselves in the analysis.
  • It's a great idea to ask early on, "What have you tried so far to solve the problem?" If I were scoring the scenario, you'd get a big pile of points for selecting that, because you'd discover that training has already failed to solve the problem.
  • Don't insist on having a 100% perfectly phrased goal before continuing the analysis, especially if you suspect that the project could change significantly before you complete the action mapping.
  • Do everything you can to make the process easy for the client.
  • If you suspect that the client wants a quick, ineffective fix, avoid giving them any openings that they can use to justify that solution.
  • Be sure to get the approval of stakeholders who have veto power before beginning any design work. Have them check the goal at least, and possibly also the basic ideas about why people aren't doing what they need to do.
  • When looking for causes on the flowchart (environment, knowledge, skills, motivation), do it for each task, not in general. You'll uncover far more solutions that way, such as job aids, and you'll avoid statements that can seem like global condemnations of the company culture or its workforce.
  • When you think you see the real cause of a problem, avoid telling the client. Instead, help the client discover it for themselves. They'll be more receptive to it if they see it as their idea.

For more ideas on how to run a kickoff meeting, see this blog post.

Let me tell you all about the development!

The scenario has 57 decision points or endings. It took me 8 hours to write, edit, and produce it, which is far less time than any scenario I've created with a client. For client work, 20-30 hours just to write a script and get it approved was more typical, without including production.

I had a big advantage this time because I was the client, designer, and SME all in one person. It also helped immensely to have a tool that combines plotting, script, and production in one place.