logo image

ATD Blog

Early Thinking Equals Impactful Results


Wed Sep 18 2019

Early Thinking Equals Impactful Results

Keep your eyes on the prize. For learning and development professionals, the prize can be summed up in one word: results. Organizational results, which result from better performance, which results from learner experience including knowledge and skills, engagement, and a positive encounter. The learner experience also comes from effective learning products, which are the result of a strong process.

How does this come to be?


Results Come First

In the Results Come First framework designed by Chris Adams and Beth Hughes, “You identify the desired results for a training initiative up front and then maintain a purposeful focus on those results through the project’s course.” This is achieved through a determined collaboration with clients and requires L&D practitioners to ask probing questions of the clients to determine the desired end results.

Questions that may be asked include:

  • What are the risks if the organizational goals aren’t met?

  • What performance goals or factors are most important to you?

  • How are employees currently onboarded through HR and on their teams? Are these processes aligned?

  • Describe the desired learning experience you would like employees to have (such as acceptance, engagement, promotion).

  • Are other initiatives occurring that may affect the training program?

It is through this querying that clients and learning professionals understand the organization and what is really required of the development product. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of organizational success.

It Likely Won’t Be Smooth Sailing

In the ideal learning project, the talent development professional would be able to focus on the results, using a process to create the learning process for great learner results, leading to exceptional performance and awesome organizational results.

But, it’ll come as no surprise to most learning mavens that this doesn’t often happen.


Even with probing for the real crux of the performance issue, not all answers will manifest themselves. Clients may not understand the underlying reasons for skills gaps or performance shortfalls or they may not be forthcoming, and—let’s face it—situations change. Or, a tricky situation may be known—such as a tight time frame—and the L&D practitioner will simply need to make the best out of it and adjust accordingly.

These snags can be characterized as either leading forces or emergent forces.

Leading forces are the ones that are known and for which the L&D pro needs to adjust. As Adams and Hughes write, “These are areas where you place intentional added weight based on given parameters such as business needs, performance needs, or environmental constraints.” For example, a new system that is scheduled to be rolled out three months from now will require an emphasis on the process results to accelerate the work of training.

Emergent forces, on the other hand, are ones that are unexpected going in to the project. During the course of a project, it may be determined that a designed solution is incompatible with a client’s current system, for example. Or perhaps a business process changes that affects training content.

Knowing in advance that issues will likely arise as you progress with your learning and development solution may not make them go away, but it can help the L&D pro approach the challenge with greater aplomb.


Not a New Model But a Reinforcement of Focus

Considering the desired outcomes and results for a learning project from the onset is not a new idea, as Adams and Hughes write in “Focus First on Results,” but it is an approach that may help shift the mindset of both the learning pro and those within the organization who are seeking the solution. Learning, after all, is not about a deliverable. It’s about results.

You've Reached ATD Member-only Content

Become an ATD member to continue

Already a member?Sign In


Copyright © 2024 ATD

ASTD changed its name to ATD to meet the growing needs of a dynamic, global profession.

Terms of UsePrivacy NoticeCookie Policy