Disaster preparation and training often suffer from the same unfortunate flaw. You’re supposed to have them in place and ready to go for when they’re needed. That means they should be planned for in advance, not at the last minute. But how many people or organizations actually do that?
Stay away from windows if there’s a tornado. In case of a building fire, keep low to avoid smoke. Seek high ground during a flood.
Throw a PowerPoint together; it’ll be better than nothing. Hurry, find a contractor! We’ll make instructions for this later.
It’s common for stores to run out of emergency supplies right before a hurricane. Many people wait until the last minute to stock up and then they panic when there are shortages. That same panic kicks in when there’s a new product on the way, a new software program rolling out, etc. and the project team suddenly realizes that it’s almost ready but no one is going to have a clue how it works.
This tends to result in rush jobs of “we need something yesterday.” And those are usually low quality, poorly planned, and not terribly effective. Even the best designers and trainers will struggle to produce solid learning materials when there’s no time and, often, little to no budget. These situations are also highly stressful for everyone involved. And that’s not to mention that the results are often minimally helpful to learners and, even when they are technically useful, they’re seldom engaging.
Here are a few proactive alternatives to last minute mayhem:
Have an emergency evacuation plan in place. Periodically test smoke detectors to ensure they’re working. Purchase essential supplies at the beginning of hurricane season.
Keep learning and development (L&D) informed about new initiatives or, better yet, consult with them along the way. Align the learning objectives to organizational goals and learner needs. Anticipate training costs and build them into the project budget from the start.
In short, consider disaster preparation and training in advance, not at the last minute when it may be too late.
If you’d like to read more about training, learning, and instructional design check out the rest of this author’s blogs.
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