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Building an Organizational Appetite for Needs Assessment: Q&A With Lynn Lewis

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Wed Apr 27 2016

Building an Organizational Appetite for Needs Assessment: Q&A With Lynn Lewis
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In this Q&A podcast, I speak with Lynn Lewis, who facilitates ATD’s two-day Needs Assessment Certificate program.

Lynn Lewis is an author, consultant, and president and managing principal of Learning Solutions, LLC. Like many professionals in our industry, Lynn fell into this field by accident. Starting her career in broadcast journalism and newswriting, she taught those subjects at the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford. During this experience, she realized that she was meant to be a facilitator and consultant. 

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Over the course of her nearly 30-year career, she has been a corporate trainer, training manager, and director of project management. But again, like many in our field, she never received a formal degree in adult learning theory or education technologies. She has used ATD Education to buttress her knowledge, earning her CPLP and other industry-related credentials.   

In other words, Lynn knows a lot about managing learning and performance initiatives—and needs assessment is central to any project. I asked her to share some insights she has learned along the way, as well as what people can expect from the Needs Assessment Certificate program. 

For starters, Lynn is quick to acknowledge that many practitioners are forced to prepare learning solutions without being given the resources—time, money, or access to data—to conduct real upfront analysis. Instead, they conduct a “small needs assessment” and fall into what she calls “order-taker mode.” This means that developers must rely on information from the requester and take “on faith” the needs of the learners, such as “what content needs to be conveyed” or the proper “duration of the learning experience.” 

The ATD certificate program teaches participants how to conduct a systematic “big needs assessment” that will uncover the actual organizational and individual learning needs. This process doesn’t need to become cumbersome or take too much time, reminds Lynn. But a proper needs assessment is absolutely critical to be consultative and ensure that recommended solutions produce the desired results. As Lynn explains, “Ultimately, it is my credibility on the line.” 

Talent development professionals need to start by building an organizational “appetite” for needs analysis. And the certificate program can help. 

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According to Lynn, participants will learn how to have the “right conversations” with a client—whether internal or external—when they’re pressured to move quickly to create learning solutions without knowing all the facts. By reviewing a real-world case study from beginning to end, everyone learns how to apply assessment tools and strategies to their own projects. What’s more, each participant will walk away with a ready-made toolkit of strategies, checklists, and templates that they can start to use right away. 

For more insight into needs assessment and what to expect during the certificate program, listen to the complete podcast. Register for an upcoming Needs Assessment Certificate.

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