80/20 Rule: Defining Learner Outcomes

Last week, I worked with a client project team charged with designing a two-day guest care training program. We had two days to build the content wheels (4MAT speak for “instructional design” frames).  The process we follow in designing training is:

1-Define the learner outcomes.

2-Mindmap the content

3-Brainstorm Activities

4-Build your design by intentionally placing activities in the 4MAT design wheel.


As we began the design process, I was reminded of Pareto’s Principle–the 80/20 rule. Pareto illustrated the impact of the Vital Few. 20% of your customers provide 80% of your revenue. 20% of your activity generates 80% of the results. In designing training, more is not more. 20% of the content is truly important. Figuring out what the vital few behaviors are that will generate 80% of the outcome we are looking for is the single, most important part of the design process.

I am convinced that the first 20% of the design process—defining the outcomes and vital behaviors–contributes 80% of the success of the design.

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