2.1 - That's Needs Analysis!


Instructional designer and podcast host, Amy Petricek, joins me to talk about needs analysis. Amy shares what the term means to her, how she and her team use it in their work, and the consequences of what can happen if this stage is skipped over in the design process.


Listen to the "Share Whatcha Learned" podcast at amypetricek.com.


Connect with Amy on Linkedin.

The following transcript was auto-generated and may contain typos.


Leslie Early

Okay, today we have the lovely Amy Petricek back on the show and the very first episode of season two. Thank you so much for joining me, Amy.


Amy Petricek

Oh my goodness, what a pleasure, Leslie.


Leslie Early

For me too. Amy is an instructional designer, as well as the host of share what you learned a lovely podcast, which I also got to be a guest on. Thank you for having me there. And so today, we are here to talk about needs analysis, which is a pretty big topic in the world of instructional design, learning and development. And I'm surprised I haven't actually spoken to a guest about this yet. So this is amazing. Let's get into it. I'm super excited. For listeners who may not know what that means yet, what needs analysis is do you want to go ahead and take a moment to maybe give an overview of what a needs analysis is and or what it means to you?


Amy Petricek

Sure, I do not have any kind of textbook definition. So we're just going to get an Amy patristic original right here right now. But I would say for me a needs analysis has a lot to do with in the learning and development world, a lot of time we get training requests from stakeholders, asking, I need training for this, I need training for that. And at times, the things they're requesting are absolutely appropriate and necessary. And at times they're not it's really a structural issue. It's a process issue. It's a managerial issue. Like, it can be a variety of things. But there are times the request just comes to us. And I think I've just really started to unpack more the value of taking the time to pause when that request comes in. And really talking to all of the stakeholders involved talking to the Smithies and really getting an idea of what is the request? What is the source of the request? Why does this request feel important? How is this going to change behaviors or workflows within a particular line of the business? And so I think it just it gets to be really easy, I think is to be an order taker as element world. And so needs analysis comes in as you're really starting to evaluate, wait, wait, should we be taking this on? Is this even our thing is this elsewhere, and I think when you invest the time and energy into really diving deep into needs analysis, I've found for myself that I actually create way better deliverables in the end, that they've actually tapped into deeper or truer, whatever you might call it needs instead of just scratching the surface on the request. And so needs analysis to me is just kind of that determination is, is this one appropriate for learning and development to be taking on, and then to really diving into the requests to get a history and context for it, which in turn will help you create even better deliverables?


Leslie Early

Yes, yes to all of that. I like the idea of like, is this really even a learning and development question or issue that needs to be addressed? Also, to me, needs analysis is like, you really need to understand what the ask is, before you can deliver. Like you said, Yeah, you don't want to just like make a course that sort of like, or come up with a learning solution that sort of addresses it, or like gets close to it or sort of, you know, is tangentially related but when you really look at the final outcome of like, what are people getting out of this is actually not what the real need is. So and you don't want to waste a lot of time building something only to get to the end of it and say actually, we are a little left of where we need to right now.


Amy Petricek

And I'll say too, I think that there is some luxury, I might even call it privilege in like the size of your learning and development work. So there's so many companies out there who it is a one person show that is spearheading the learning and development. So if that's you and that's a situation you're in or it's a very small team, maybe it's not one person, your ability based on all the things you're juggling, you're an LMS administrator, your content creator, your course development, you're doing all of the taking in all the needs analysis, like you're doing all of these pieces that I could see it being the needs analysis piece diving in, in the way that has the most impact could be really hard if you have a small team. And if you have a larger team there's a little bit of luxury in that the the workload is spread out, are there specific people assigned to particular roles or parts of the learning and development process that make it a little bit easier for that. So that was just a call out that was coming to mind as you were talking.


Leslie Early

And I assume, I mean, we actually both have very different types of positions, because you're an instructional designer, within a company within a relatively large company, a startup, but still pretty, pretty big. I'm in a tiny company, and we provide instructional design and ELearning Development in all different types of things, learning solutions, as a service to other companies that are as like your company. So it is interesting, I wonder how the needs analysis differs in that way? Because, you know, I, a lot of times when clients come to projects, and they sort of have already defined what they think their learning need is, I mean, there's, there's still room for us to dig a little deeper and say, Okay, let's get real here. What are we really trying to accomplish? Right, but sometimes it's just like, they just say, this is what we need. And there's not really long conversation about it. So yeah, I'm just curious how that differs from your experience? Well, yeah,


Amy Petricek

and I was gonna call out to that your clients are external clients. My clients are internal clients. And so there are teams within my my organization that we serve again and again and again, and have had partnerships with over extended periods of time. And so there is maybe you could, I'm, I don't like these words, but maybe use the words like cut some corners with needs analysis, because you understand that line of business, because you've been serving that line of business for years upon years, where sometimes the or I don't, I don't know what what kind of frequency but your clients are coming in as new clients and saying, here's this project,


Leslie Early

right? Yeah, yeah, it's it's all we have clients that we've had for years and years and years, and we also get brand new ones coming in. So that's what I like about it. So a lot of variety. But anyway, getting off track. So I guess, I'm curious as to what, you know, usually, I asked my guests what what's awesome right now in ID, what is it that you would like to talk about and and you came up with needs analysis? And you know, again, as I said, at the top of the episode, it's a really big part of instructional design. It's a big part of what we do. But it's maybe not the most, you know, trendy topic.


Amy Petricek

Nerd alert, like, let's talk about needs analysis.


Leslie Early

So yeah, so why is this? You know, why is this something awesome? Why is this top of mind for you? Right now,


Amy Petricek

I think, you know, I've worked in a lot of different sectors. I've been a public educator, I've worked at higher ed, I've worked in corporate. And so I've kind of seen a breath of learning and what that looks like throughout those different sectors. And I think, to me, that just feels like the common thread in all of it, in learning as a whole as we look at it. And I mean, I think the thread being finished by centers, the thread being really diving into those needs analysis, and like what's really going to serve the learner, like I even have memories of being a classroom teacher, and doing all of these assessments on students, but then ultimately, having this other curriculum pushed on me and prioritized. And I'm trying to highlight to administration, no, these are the true needs of my learners. And they're saying, Well, this is the curriculum we've adopted, and we're going from ABCD. Like, we're just working through it. That's one example. But that theme has been woven in out and through learning that, I guess, in essence, their agendas. And, and I think I don't I don't say that as that's a bad thing. But I think one of the things we miss in having an agenda in learning generally, is that we miss out on what the learners really need. And for me, I'm all about impacting people, teams and helping them and so for me, personally, my work feels irrelevant. If I'm not doing the job to really dive into a needs analysis. And I feel like I have the most impact. And I feel most proud of the work I'm doing when I really taken the time to dive into that needs analysis.


Leslie Early

Yeah. So is there a particular methodology that you guys are using? Yeah,


Amy Petricek

my we, I'm gonna come from a learner standpoint here, not the expert by any means. But one of the things we're really diving into is what's called human performance improvement or HPI, which is basically a systematic approach to design gathering and analyzing performance gaps and planning for future improvements or needs within a team or org. So instead of I was talking earlier about order taking, and how that's sometimes how we as learning and development professionals describe the work we do in the day to day, it looks more what I would say upstream, and looks at some of the systems and processes coming downstream. And so it's a much more proactive approach. I think a lot of times in any organization, no matter what you're doing, it's really easy to just kind of be attentive to what's happening in your line of business. And what this HPI requires of us as a team is to start or to really ask ourselves, are we invested in the teams that we're serving? And are we really supporting them? And so, you know, sometimes that looks like participating in some of the teams, we partner with their team meetings or other things like that, to really get a sense of what's going on for them, and what actually has the most value for them? And what's coming down the stream that maybe we can proactively help or support. Before this becomes an AU cred? I forgot to put in my learning and development request. Yeah,


Leslie Early

yeah. So can you repeat that? What's the name of this methodology? Again?


Amy Petricek

Yeah, it's called human performance improvement, or HPI. And there is a certification for it through ATD.


Leslie Early

Okay, yeah, I actually, I don't know if I had heard that before, to be honest. But now I can look it up. Yeah,


Amy Petricek

I hadn't heard it either. And it's something I'm just really curious about and learning a lot about in the process.


Leslie Early

Can you give me an example of maybe you're talking about going a little bit upstream? So can you give me an example of where you might use this methodology, that's not just somebody saying, hey, we need this, you know, in a 48 hour turnaround.


Amy Petricek

If you work for a company that has frequent systematic or process changes, I think of small companies that are ever evolving, that maybe they start with one process or way of doing things or even like a software, and then like down the line, as their company grows and expands, they realize, oh, my gosh, now we need to transition all of this to this software transition our procedures in this way. Those can be examples where people are not aware of learning and development, and are the capabilities and ways in which we can support them in those processes. And so we get roped into those, I say roped in, I don't mean that in a negative way, but roped into those conversations, a lot of times towards the tail end of those transitions or changes that are being made? Like we're switching software's Can you put out a new training on this new software now. And so the HPI mentality is more so building partnerships with these teams, maybe even before there's a need, and really starting to analyze beyond just project analysis, but analyzing teams or systems or processes within an organization to say, Where are the performance gaps, and could training help this facilitate, improve whatever the thing might be? So I the thing, the example that comes to mind is, in summation is like a smaller company, potentially, that's evolving. And HPI would be great to have early on, it would be an opportunity to start building relationships with business holders start to just kind of share these are things learning and development could do. These are the resources we could have to support you or for someone to say, Ah, this issue exists. Oh, well, I don't know what to do with it and someone to pipe in and say, well, that that's the thing you could put in a request with learning and development for before then snowballs into this other thing?


Leslie Early

Yeah, I like that. And especially because I don't know if it's like this in every company. But I think there's potential for learning and development to be involved a lot sooner and a lot of these decisions and to be involved in change management. I think what you're describing is the change management process. I heard someone recently refer to it as changed leadership, which I think is a maybe a better way to describe that, because it is trying to get ahead of it. Like if we all know this big change is coming and it's going to affect everybody in the company. And we want it to be adopted and we want behaviors to change. Once you're talking about changing behaviors, that is then learning and developments realm of influence. So


Amy Petricek

in the learning and development industry, I say there's like a caveat to this but like is so young. Yeah, I think so. So many companies, their learning and development teams are not 20 years old 15, you know, like, they're generally speaking very broadly, but like, they're generally younger teams. And so in the company, like, it's nice, you know, when when a company starts, they're like, well, let's make sure we have a financial team, let's make sure we have like an IT team. Usually, that learning and development team comes a lot later in the building of a business. And at the point that they add learning and development, so many systems processes, things have already been built out. And so I think there's a lot of education we as learning and development professionals have an need to own within our business in terms of sharing out opportunities, resources, and also helping to identify what actually is a training need.


Leslie Early

Now you're hitting a touchy subject? Is this really a training need? I think this is the entire subject matter of Kathy Moore's Mapit. book about, you know, is this? Well, not maybe not the entire subject matter? But a large chunk of the beginning of the book is about is this really a training need? Yeah. So I guess, to wrap up, if, if listeners are interested in learning more about needs analysis, particularly HPI, do you have any resources you can recommend?


Amy Petricek

Yes, you can get certified in HPI through a TD, which is, I've heard is a great course. But my caveat is I haven't taken it. So yes, like, I've just like, that's fine. And the newbie here like learning along the way. But that's a great place to go for HPI specific certification. I also love analyzing performance problems, which is by Robert, major Magar. I'm not sure how you say his last name and a hater. Yeah. Sure. And Peter pipe, but that that's one I read early on. In my career, I'll say, that was just like a really good high level overview of like, needs analysis, and how to actually analyze the requests that are coming in kind of giving you some ways of thinking about it, and tips and tricks. Yes,


Leslie Early

wonderful. Well, I feel like we can all do with a little bit more time for needs analysis. You know, like, I feel like this, this part of the development process always gets a little shortchanged. So


Amy Petricek

yeah, it's I agree, I think it's one of the first things to go is like, we have like, we know what they want, okay, let's build it. And like I said earlier, the times I've felt most proud or like, the work I've created has been most impactful is when I've really taken that time to do that needs analysis. And maybe, I mean, maybe it's a week, maybe it's two weeks, you know, whatever it looks like for the particular project at hand. But I just think there's such a huge value.


Leslie Early

Well, thank you so much, Amy, for being the first guest of season two here on that awesome ID. If listeners would like to reach out or continue the conversation, what's a good way to get in touch with you?


Amy Petricek

LinkedIn. I love connecting with people there. The trick is my last name is patristic. And it's spelled like the word pet the word rice in the letter K. But Amy, Patrice, Ik, I'm out there. I'm active and I love meeting new people. So please don't be bashful about reaching out.


Leslie Early

Yeah, and that's true. That is true. She's very, very outgoing on LinkedIn. I have to say. It is definitely reached out to Amy. And that's it. Thank you so much again, Amy for joining me.


Amy Petricek

It's been a treat


Transcribed by https://otter.ai