This story has remained with me for over a year and seems particularly relevant in my current situation. It illustrates an example of when a stakeholder calls you up, knows exactly what solution they want, and doesn't want to listen to any alternative solutions.
In my current situation, a key stakeholder has decided that he wants to implement a certification program that includes a difficult SAT-like examination. I am firmly opposed to any multiple-choice tests in the workplace (a topic for another day)! I do not believe they accurately measure performance. Since the vast majority of performance problems result from environmental problems (like a lack of clear expectations and feedback, inadequate tools and compensation models), why does it make sense to test people?
The test will be used not only to assess individual's skill gaps but also to identify gaps in training offerings. It seems to me that if we have to create this test, we should create learning solutions from which people can study first. I am concerned about the self-esteem (or worse, employment) issues that may result from people "failing" the test. I am worried that it will be a waste of time because we do not have a clear plan of what we'll do with the data or how to communicate scores and gaps to the learners.
And yet, the stakeholder says we must do it, so we will.