The Success Case Method
implications are raised and confronted, and we try to lead the group of
stakeholders to arrive at an agreement to take action—assuming, of
course, that some such action is warranted by the findings.
Chapter Seven includes an outline for a Success Case study report,
highlighting the major categories of findings, conclusions, and recom-
mendations. This chapter also includes illustrations and examples of
actual Success Case reports as well as example agendas for stakeholder
meetings to review the findings.
Where the Steps Came From—
The Accidental SCM Study
I have chosen to close this chapter with a story of my own about an
evaluation I conducted before I had created and named the Success
Case Method. This incident was the point at which I turned in frustra-
tion away from the more traditional evaluation methods I had been
using and began to create the steps and procedures of the Success
The client was a large pharmaceutical corporation that developed and
marketed prescription drugs. Driven by shifting market demands and the
need for more profitable sales, the company had initiated a new sales
process wherein field sales representatives would employ a more targeted
selling approach. The new sales method was quite complex and required
sales reps to analyze major current and potential accounts using a number
of sophisticated tools and methods. As part of the shift to the new sales
strategy, sales reps had been involved in a training program to learn the
new tools and methods.
The evaluation questions the client had were quite simple: Is the training
good enough to change actual selling behavior in the field, and what if any-
thing should we do to improve it? The rationale for the evaluation was
equally simple. The sales strategy was part of a larger strategy to improve
profits and market penetration for key products and was seen as critical to
competitive advantage. If sales actions and results didn’t change, then the
overall strategy would not succeed. The training was therefore important. It
had to work. It was also early in the deployment of the training program, thus
the client needed to know what, if anything, should be done to improve the
training and be sure it worked as well as it needed to.
My charge was simple: I was to assess the impact of the training, and
make recommendations to the client as to how it could be improved.
I started by reviewing records from the training program that was con-
ducted as a part of the initiative. To my surprise, I learned that there was a
considerable database from the training program and that there was already
evidence that the training was quite effective, at least in an immediate sense.
The training department had created and administered a performance test at
the conclusion of the program to assess whether sales reps had really mastered
the new analysis techniques and how to use the various planning tools. My
review of the test itself showed that it was an excellent measuring process (it
had been developed in conjunction with a local university using graduate stu-
dents from a highly regarded human performance technology program). Not
only was the test excellent, but it was clear from the scores of trainee sales
reps that the training worked very well—at the conclusion of training, at least
all of the sales reps had achieved mastery scores in excess of 85%.
Given the fact that, at the end of the training, all of the sales reps were
fully capable of using the new, targeted selling tools and methods, it was clear
that the client’s question really focused on the transfer of the training. That is,
the issue was whether the new methods and tools were being used effectively
on the job after the training was completed.
Time was very short in this evaluation. The client needed results quickly.
There was no time for a survey of all, or even a lot of, the participants. I
decided, then, to just begin by interviewing some of the program’s participants,
The Success Case Method: Step by Step