You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.
—Daniel Keys Moran, American computer programmer and science fiction writer
Companies spend millions of dollars on the launch of new products, from research and development to engineering, production, distribution, and marketing. It is then up to the sales force to sell the new product. It is no wonder that sales training is of great importance to these companies. A lot is riding on the quality of those learning interventions. So when a major U.S. auto company was launching its new and improved SUV, it invested in what the auto industry calls “ride and drive” experiential training. It was a traveling tour going to more than 30 cities over the course of a few months, providing some 8,000 sales consultants with the opportunity to drive the new product head-to-head against the competition on elaborate tracks or courses that simulated various driving conditions.
The learning objectives for the event were clear and the content was aligned, so when posttest results from the first session in the pilot city were less than stellar, a red flag went up. It seemed that sales consultants weren’t grasping the SUV’s new safety features. The initial thought was that the test’s answer grid must be wrong, or maybe the questions were poorly written. Under closer examination, the training team discovered that the physical displays for the safety module—a core hands-on activity—had ...