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Using Case Studies in Training Programs

Training programs benefit employees when those employees are able to apply what they are learning in real-life situations. This is where case studies come in. Case studies, based on real-life situations within the organization and related to the employee’s responsibilities, enables for practicing new concepts learned in the classroom environment.

Here is how Abudi Consulting Group has utilized case studies at one of our client’s sites.

A Client Story – A Threaded Case Study

A financial services firm has partnered with Abudi Consulting Group to roll out a variety of critical skills training programs over the last year and a half. These workshops are delivered on-site and are private, open enrollment sessions. (Private, open enrollment means that anyone in the organization can register to attend a workshop.) Workshops are varied and include topics such as emotional intelligence, conflict management, time management and delegation and project management. In this post, we’ll use a recently held project management workshop as an example.

The last project management session held at this client included employees from a variety of areas within the organization, including – application developers, customer service personnel, marketing associates, internal communications, financial analysts, and accountants. We designed a threaded case study that focused on launching a customer appreciation event. Something that everyone would be able to relate to but was not too technical.

The employees in the session were presented with a project charter for the session that provided some background information and requirements for the project. It was meant to be incomplete, thereby giving the employees the experience of analyzing information received about a potential project and asking questions that enables them to truly understand the scope of the project and its objectives.

As we progressed through the class, the employees used that case study scenario to develop planning components of the project, such as a scope statement, communication plan, a schedule for the project, risk identification and management, and a stakeholder matrix (to name a few items.) Additionally, at some point, I threw the class a change to their project, thereby enabling them to learn how to think through how to manage a change to a project. This was aligned to the topic of managing changes to projects and stakeholder expectations of change.

At the end of the session, employees were able to see how to apply each of the topics covered in the classroom to a “real life” project.

In this example, I used a threaded case study throughout the one day workshop to apply a variety of project management techniques and best practices to planning a project. In this next example, I example how we use mini case studies in training programs.

A Client Story – A Mini Case Study

For a retail client, we utilize a variety of mini case studies in each of the leadership training workshops we run in order to enable participants to apply what they are learning to solve real business problems. For example, in a conflict management workshop, we developed a mini case study that required participants to think through how they would solve a significant conflict on a global team.

Similarly, in a time management and delegation workshop, we asked participants to solve a variety of problems presented in delegating to staff. These mini problem solving scenarios included situations where:

  • An employee pushed back on any delegated work, claiming to “have no time to do more.”
  • An employee who asked many questions, never making any decisions about the work delegated on her own.

Each of these situations required the participants in the class to consider how to address the situation to ensure they could delegate work to the “employee.”

In summary…

Using case studies, whether threaded or mini problem solving situations, that are common situations they would encounter or situations they can relate to, enables participants to apply what they are learning in “real life” situations. New skills are best applied in a situation that makes sense to the students in the class. Case studies require thinking through the situation and determining how they can apply what they are learning to “solve” the situation with which they are presented.

These team activities, as well as a number of individual reflective or planning activities are used in all of our workshops to help practice what is being learned. Action planning, at the end of each workshop, further enables participants to map out how they will apply what they have learned back on the job.

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