Visualizing For A Better Needs Assessment

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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:

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In our workshops and needs analysis studies we give the easy-to-remember mnemonic of:

M – A = D

The Model or Mastery Situation minus the Actual situation (current situation) equals the Differences (needs).

We call it the MAD model.

I was recently reminded of how important it is to really understand the actual or current situation part of the model when doing needs assessment. I picked up a very useful book about problem solving through visualization: The Back Of A Napkin; Problem Solving and Selling Ideas With Pictures by Dan Roam. Many of you may have already read it and probably every one of you have doodled on the back of a napkin.

Dan Roam puts the concept of understanding the current situation when solving a problem this way: he says "Sometimes a clear picture of the status quo is all that a project needs to get it moving." He also said we must go further though: "we need to find the answers."

Sound like needs assessment and needs analysis to you? It did to me.

What a great idea…after gathering all relevant materials and data on a problem or opportunity (e.g. introducing a new system or technology), get your team together and lay out the status quo visually, (perhaps on a white board).

The whole team can get into the act. The idea is to simplify and organize the problem enough to see what is wrong. As we all know seeing the problem or opportunity clearly is an important place to start before deciding on causes and matching plausible solutions.

I recommend you give this a try the next time you are doing a needs assessment. Better yet — get a copy of the book and get your whole team involved. It is a fun and different way to LOOK at a problem or opportunity when doing needs assessment and needs analysis.

The Back of a Napkin; Problem Solving and Selling Ideas With Pictures. by Dan Roam

See you next time,