Business Needs: Your Guiding Light For Creating Results Oriented Learning Experiences

About DSA

Darryl L. Sink and Associates, Inc. (DSA) helps organizations design and develop learning and performance solutions that get results. DSA works cooperatively with organizations to:

  • accomplish internal custom projects
  • train and educate their internal staff in Instructional Systems Development.

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What perspective do you take when designing a learning/training program?

We have found that starting with answering the question of why the business or organization cares to have the program can serve as your guiding light through the entire instructional design process is crucial.

We call the answer to that question the Business Need Statement. “The business need describes why organizations have employees participate in a course or training program” The Business Need Statement summarizes the business problem or opportunity that the training will address (at least in part). The business need statement should be described from the point of view of the company or manager who is “paying” for the learner to attend training (internally or externally). This should be distinguished from why individual employees go to the program”.

The individual employee’s needs and desires are important, but too often by focusing on individual needs we miss the point of the training for the host organization. An individual may, for example, decide to attend a course/program to further advance their career in general. They may be going for a certain type of certification. They may have simply found the topics for the program interesting and decided to sign up.

By focusing instead on the business drivers and needs for the program we can create learning experiences that are tied directly to attaining business results.

This distinction between business needs and individual needs was highlighted for me recently. DSA has been designing and redesigning management courses (31 titles now) for a very large training company. The training company provides hundreds of public and in-company deliveries of their courses each year worldwide. We noticed that the course authors were very focused on satisfying the needs of each individual that attended their courses and designed their courses accordingly.

As instructional designers, the needs and desires of the individuals are important to try to address. But those needs are not very helpful when deciding:

A better focus, rather than focusing on individual needs, is to focus on why the company/organization needs the learning program.

Once the business need is established, we believe you will be better able to select content and instructional strategies that will meet the sponsor’s business needs and you will be seen as a real business partner.

Want some examples of a business need statement? Send me an email at, to receive a variety of examples.

See you next time,