"We need ethics training," Ann says. "Our store managers are falsifying information on their weekly reports. For example, they say their team worked more hours than they really did, or they say that they made more sales than they really did. We've had to fire 9 people already this year for falsifying reports." What do you say? [[2 <- What have you tried so far?]] [[3 <- So you need to reduce the number of people who are fired for ethics violations?]] [[4 <- What format do you have in mind for the training, such as face-to-face or blended?]] [[5 <- Do you have any idea of why this is happening?]]Ann looks uncomfortable. "We did a lot of ethics training last year," she says, "but it didn't seem to work. We ran face-to-face sessions about ethics, but nothing improved. I think our mistake was doing it in person. Elearning might be better this time, since the store managers are mostly young." [[3 <- Let's look first at what you want to accomplish. Is your main goal to reduce the number of people you have to fire for ethics violations?]] [[11 <- It's possible that elearning would be a better approach, especially since you've already tried face-to-face.]] [[13 <- I'm beginning to wonder if training is really the answer here, since it didn't work before.]]"Yes, that's right," Ann says. "It costs a lot to hire and train replacements. If fewer store managers commit ethics violations, we'll have lower hiring costs. Plus all the firings affect morale." [[6 <- So your goal might be, "Hiring costs will decrease as store managers follow the ethics guidelines?"]] [[51 <- So your goal might be, "Hiring costs will decrease as fewer people are fired for ethics violations?"]] [[51 <- So your goal might be, "Morale will increase as fewer people are fired for ethics violations?"]]"The store managers are mostly in their twenties, and really busy," Ann says. "I think they'd like elearning. Since their attention span is short, it should be a series of short modules, preferably scenario-based. We really liked the elearning samples on your site." [[3 <- Elearning is certainly an option. First, let's make sure I understand: You want to reduce the number of people you fire for ethics violations?]] [[7 <- It's possible that elearning won't be the best format. We need to talk more about the problem before we decide on a solution.]] [[52 <- Elearning could be a good choice. Do the store managers have access to PCs in the store, or would they be accessing the learning somewhere else?]] [[2 <- Elearning could work well. But first, could you tell me what you've already tried to solve the problem?]]Luis answers, "We have a lot of theories. In my opinion, the store managers are under an immense amount of pressure. For example, the VPs have a lot of goals that they want the store managers to achieve, and it can be hard to meet all of them. So they fudge the numbers to make it look like they met goals that they didn't really meet." [[18 <- I'm wondering if this is really an ethics problem. Maybe the store managers need to improve their time management skills.]] [[15 <- That sounds like it could be an environmental problem. Is there any way to reduce the amount of pressure on store managers?]]"That's why we chose you," Ann says. "We loved the elearning samples on your site." Her phone buzzes and she checks its screen. "I'm sorry," she tells you. "A problem has come up and Luis and I should take care of it. As soon as I get a chance, I'll send you the PowerPoints from our training for you to convert." [[12 <- What happened?]]Ann looks annoyed. "I'm not saying training is the complete answer," she said. "But I know our audience, and the problem was that we used the wrong format." Her phone buzzes and she checks its screen. "I'm sorry," she tells you. "A problem has come up and Luis and I should take care of it. Um, we'll be in touch to reschedule." [[14 <- What happened?]]Ann looks worried. "I'm not sure I understand what you mean about elearning not being the best format. We're pretty set on elearning, and it's what Jake, our VP, wants to see." [[8 <- We'll be happy to create elearning, and it could be a great fit for your project. However, sometimes a client will decide to use a different format--our analysis can uncover some surprises.]] [[9 <- We generally avoid committing to a specific type of training until we've analyzed the problem more thoroughly. Often we uncover better solutions.]]The more you talk about elearning, the more convinced Ann becomes that it's the best solution. Soon, she suggests that she should send you the PowerPoints they used in some earlier ethics training and skip the analysis you've proposed. You're about to become the proud parent of an information dump. [[Start over|1]]"I don't see why we'd develop time management training when we have an ethics problem," Ann says. Her phone buzzes and she checks its screen. "I'm sorry," she tells you. "Luis and I need to go take care of something. Um, we'll be in touch to reschedule." [[19 <- What happened?]]"We don't have that kind of influence," Luis says. "Are you saying you can't help us?" [[3 <- I can help! First, let's look at what you need. You want to reduce the number of people fired for ethics violations, right?]] [[16 <- I can help! I just want to make sure that training is the right solution to your problem. ]] [[2 <- I can help! First, could you tell me what you've already tried to solve the problem?]]"The cost of replacing people is only part of it," Luis says. "The firings are only for the worst violations. I'd like to see the total number of ethics violations decrease. So I'm not sure reducing hiring costs is the best goal." [[20 <- It might be best to focus on hiring costs, because ethics training can actually increase the number of violations reported.]] [[21 <- Is there someone else who should help decide this? For example, who requested the training?]] [[20 <- Please choose one measure for now, and later we can change it if necessary. The analysis will be essentially the same for hiring costs or total violations.]]"That sounds like we plan to let people get away with bad behavior," Ann says. "That's not our goal at all." [[6 <- Sorry, I wasn't clear. How about "Hiring costs will decrease as store managers follow the ethics guidelines?"]] [[53 <- Sorry, I wasn't clear. How about "Morale will increase as store managers follow the ethics guidelines?"]]Ann looks relieved. "Okay. I'm pretty sure elearning will be the end result, but I want to make sure. What's the first step?" [[3 <- Let's figure out the goal for your project. You want to reduce the number of people who are fired for ethics violations, right?]] [[2 <- Please tell me what you've tried so far to reduce the ethics violations.]]Ann's eyes narrow. "I see," she says. Her phone buzzes and she checks its screen. "I'm sorry," she tells you. "A problem has come up and Luis and I should take care of it. Um, we'll be in touch to reschedule." [[10 <- What happened?]]You made it sound like you would be making the design decisions, not your client. If you think a client might be making a bad decision, your best approach is to take them through a detailed analysis and let them see for themselves why their decision needs to change. [[7 <- Go back]]Ann's phone buzzes and she checks its screen. "I'm sorry," she tells you. "A problem has come up and Luis and I should take care of it. Um, we'll be in touch to reschedule." [[17 <- What happened?]]You challenged the validity of the client's entire project. If you think a client might be making a bad decision, your best approach is to take them through a detailed analysis and let them see for themselves why their decision needs to change. [[15 <- Go back]]You questioned the client's training decision too early. If you think a client might be making a bad decision, your best approach is to take them through a detailed analysis and let them see for themselves why their decision needs to change. [[5 <- Go back]]You offered an easy solution and the client was happy to grab it and end the meeting. Soon, you'll be the proud parent of another information dump. [[2 <- Go back]]You questioned your client's assumptions too bluntly and too soon. Let her see the issue for herself as you analyze the problem together. [[2 <- Go back]]Ann and Luis decide that the goal should be to decrease hiring costs. After you've worked on the project for a month, they mention the goal to their VP, Jake, who had requested the training. He's upset that they're focusing on staff costs when he wants to reduce all violations. He thinks they're taking shortcuts and takes the project away from them -- and you. [[6 <- Go back]]Ann says, "Jake, our VP, requested the training. He didn't really give a goal except I know he wants elearning." [[22 <- Please run the two draft goals by Jake and have him decide. We'll need to make sure we're measuring something that's important to him. ]]"Good idea," Ann says. "We should also make sure he reviews our initial solution. He can be quick to reject things that aren't clearly leading to better performance." [[23 <- OK. Since we need to have a clearly defined goal to continue the analysis, let's schedule another meeting after you've talked to Jake.]] [[24 <- OK. We can continue our session with either one of the goals we've talked about, and adjust things if necessary later on.]]Ann and Luis leave, and you don't hear from them for two weeks. When you finally reach them, you find out that they bought an off-the-shelf ethics course "because it seemed easier." [[22 <- Go back]]"Great," Ann says. "What do we do next?" [[25 <- Let's list the common violations that people are making. What are they doing wrong?]] [[26 <- Let's list the major actions that people need to take to reduce violations. What do they need to do?]]"The most common is the returns report," Luis says. "They're not reporting all the products that customers return." [[30 <- So you need them to "file an accurate returns report." What else?]] [[29 <- So they need training on completing the returns report. What else?]] "What do they need to do?" Luis repeats, looking confused. "They just need to tell the truth. That's what they need to do." [[25 <- OK, what are the most common violations that you're seeing?]] [[27 <- Do you have a copy of your ethical behavior policy that we could look at?]]"I've got it on my laptop," Ann says. "It's 17 pages long." [[28 <- Let's have a look. It will help us identify some behaviors that we want store managers to perform.]] [[25 <- Instead, let's list the major mistakes people are making. What are the most common violations?]]Ann and Luis spend the next 30 minutes identifying the most common violations, which you write as positive actions on the map. There's an hour left in your meeting. [[31 <- Now let's look at why people aren't taking these actions. For example, could there be something in the company culture that's encouraging people to be less than honest? Maybe some sort of social pressure, or stress from not having the right tools?]] [[32 <- Now let's look at why people aren't taking these actions. Let's start with filing return reports. Is there something in the environment that might influence how accurate people are on these reports? Is the form difficult? Is there social pressure of some sort?]]You eventually create a dismally dull online course on how to complete forms. The narrator you hired ponderously emphasizes the importance of accuracy and honesty. Ann and Luis never hire you again. [[25 <- Go back]]Ann and Luis spend the rest of the meeting trying to pull specific, observable behaviors out of a document that talks only about what people shouldn't do. They never schedule a second meeting. [[27 <- Go back]]"The company is very strict about honesty," Luis says, looking a little offended. "That's why we're here. I guess I don't understand your question." [[32 <- I'm sorry, I wasn't clear. Let's look just at completing the returns report. Why do people mis-report returns?]] [[33 <- I'm sorry, I wasn't clear. I'm trying to understand why people might not be as forthcoming as they should be in their reports.]]"The form itself is simple," Luis says. "But there's a lot of pressure to keep returns low. The stores even compete to have the lowest return rate. And that's just one competition we have. We have a competitive culture." [[34 <- If I were a store manager, what could I do to win the returns competition fairly?]] [[35 <- If I were a store manager, what would happen if I reported a lot of returns?]]Ann looks annoyed. "It's because they need ethics training," she says, slowly and clearly. "I have to say I don't understand why we're doing all this work. " [[30 <- Go back]]"Not much," Luis says. "You're supposed to train your sales staff to sell people the right product, but store managers are supposed to meet so many goals that they usually don't have time to train anyone." [[32 <- Go back]]"That depends on your boss, the district manager," Luis says. "Unfortunately, a lot of them are hardcore, so you'd probably get your head bitten off." [[36 <- So the district managers push the store managers pretty hard?]] [[37 <- It sounds like motivation isn't a problem for the store managers. Is that right?]]"The DMs push pretty hard," Luis says. "And they don't want to hear any whining. They think that being a good boss means having high expectations, and that includes expecting team members to solve their own problems." [[38 <- Do some DMs have fewer ethics violations on their team than others?]] [[39 <- Do the store managers know that they should complete the returns report accurately?]] [[42 <- What kind of preparation have the DMs received for their managerial role?]]"They're definitely motivated," Luis says. "By desperation," he adds half-jokingly. [[36 <- How do the district managers treat the store managers, in general?]] [[40 <- I'm wondering if your store managers might need training in prioritization and time management rather than ethics.]]"I've been thinking the same thing," Ann says, "Our current time management training is face-to-face. I think we need elearning. I saw some great content on time management the other day. Let me send it to you." She looks at her watch. "We're done early! We can get to our 2 o'clock with plenty of time to spare." [[54 <- What happened?]]"Yeah, there are five DMs who haven't had any violations by their team members," Luis says. "That's out of 22 DMs total. Those five are doing something right. I don't know what it is." [[58 <- It might be a good idea to interview them to find out what they do differently.]] [[42 <- What kind of managerial training have district managers received?]] [[43 <- You might want to ask them how they hire their store managers. They seem to be choosing the right people.]]"They definitely know it," Ann says. "We covered it in the training we did last year, and they see their colleagues get fired for misreporting things." [[40 <- I'm wondering if your store managers might need training in prioritization and time management rather than ethics.]] [[43 <- I'm wondering if this is an issue in the hiring process. Maybe the district managers are having trouble identifying ethical candidates for store management positions.]]"Most district managers rose through the ranks," Luis says. "Often they started as stock boys. They get the usual training on how to delegate and review people and all that." [[44 <- I'm beginning to wonder if the management style of the district managers is influencing the decisions of the store managers.]] [[55 <- Since they were store managers once themselves, it seems like the DMs must be able to empathize with their team members. Maybe the store managers need better time management skills.]] [[57 <- I suspect that the competitive culture in the company is affecting the problem, but since it's hard to change a culture, we might want to focus on how we can help the store managers cope.]]"Maybe," Ann says doubtfully. "That sounds like a lot of work when really, all we need to do is develop training for the ones who seem to think that cheating is OK." Luis looks like he wants to say something but stays silent. [[38 <- Go back]]"I'm not sure about that," Luis says. "I know some of our DMs think the problem is that some dishonest people have been hired, and maybe that's the case, but I've also seen some great guys get caught cheating. It's not that simple." [[38 <- Go back]]You offered a simple answer that appealed to the client's determination to use elearning. You missed the symptoms of a more complex problem, and now your client is speeding on the highway to an information dump. [[37 <- Go back]]"That's definitely a possibility," Luis says. "We're known for our hard-driving company culture." [[41 <- Let's keep that in mind as we look at why people might be committing the other violations on our list.]]"I've been thinking the same thing," Ann says, "Our current time management training is face-to-face. I think we need elearning. I saw some great content on time management the other day. Let me send it to you." She looks at her watch. "We're done early! We can get to our 2 o'clock with plenty of time to spare." [[56 <- What happened?]]"It's pretty clear that they need more coping skills," Ann says. "Otherwise they wouldn't be cheating." [[41 <- Let's keep that in mind as we look at why they might be committing the other violations on our list.]]Ann and Luis discuss more ethics violations. You notice that for each one, the store manager is expected to deliver top results without asking for help, the DM punishes poor results, and the store manager doesn't have the time to solve performance problems. [[45 <- I'm seeing a pattern here. Do you see one, too?]] [[46 <- It looks like the store managers need to improve their time and stress management skills.]] [[47 <- I think the district managers are the ones who need training, and it should be management training.]] [[48 <- I think we need to help store managers resist the pressures that convince them to cheat, such as by showing them the bad results.]]"The district managers keep looking like a big part of the problem," Luis says. "And it's true they're pretty hardcore. I'm wondering if there's a way we can get them to support the store managers more, like helping them prioritize or solve problems, so they'll be less likely to cheat." [[49 <- I think that's a great idea. Are you thinking of training the district managers, rather than the store managers?]] [[46 <- That's a great point, but it can be hard to change company culture through training. I think it might be easier to improve the store managers' coping skills.]]Ann eagerly agrees, and as soon as she gets back to her office, she sends you 93 PowerPoint slides on time management and priority setting that she wants you to convert to elearning. Six months later, all the store managers have clicked through the training, and ethics violations continue unabated. [[41 <- Go back]]"That's possible," Ann says doubtfully. Luis seems to be more interested but then looks at Ann and says nothing. Ann eventually insists on the ethics training she originally planned. Six months later, all the store managers have clicked through the training but the violations continue unabated. [[41 <- Go back]]"Yes, that's what I was originally picturing," Ann says eagerly. Six months later, all the store managers have clicked through the training but the violations continue unabated. [[41 <- Go back]]"That's an interesting possibility," Ann says, "and it fits in with another initiative that Jake has. He found a model of consultative management that he wants the district managers to use. I wonder if we could combine the two projects somehow?" [[50 <- See what happened]]After showing Jake the analysis they did with you, Ann and Luis get approval to design management training for the district managers. They set up another appointment with you to discuss the revised project. This is the best result. [[Start over|1]]You offered a simple answer that appealed to the client's determination to use elearning. You missed the symptoms of a more complex problem, and now your client is speeding on the highway to an information dump. [[42 <- Go back]]"I don't think the connection is that direct," Ann says. "Morale could be affected by almost anything. And I'm not sure how we'd measure it." [[6 <- Since you're already measuring hiring costs, how about "Hiring costs will decrease as store managers follow the ethics guidelines?"]]