Monday, June 29, 2009

Murder Was The Case

Lately, I've been seeing a lot of press in our industry about the death of ID and how it signals so many negative trends, such as deficits in end product quality. The scholar that resides inside of me says of course - that's logical. The more time you take to map out and plan things, the more time you take in analyzing your audience and their tasks, the better your end training product will be. It's good to be methodical about laying out a blueprint, of sorts, but how many times do you have to put it on the page (in preparation for the stage) when placing it directly on the stage, after rehearsing it for years, would prove much more economical, efficient, and effective?

I'm here today to fess up to a crime...a grave and serious one in our industry. I show no remorse for what I've done, and I would do it again and again - I have killed Instructional Design (in my little microcosm, anyway).

I can hear all the academics screaming, saying that each product is a unique chance to address a unique group of learners. And that's where academia separates vastly from real world design/development. I've been doing my gig (which I've started lovingly referring to as "Hyper Development (c)") for coming up on 5 years. In the beginning, I went to each of the 'sub-teams' I was doing development work for and I started getting the same basic concept back. I created a module template, my team created a PowerPoint template for the 'SME's we were to work with, and, really, the analysis work was in the client's lap. They came to us and said "We need 'x'", being familiar with what we do and how it was to come out looking. The results have been nothing less than stellar, the ROI's beyond impressive, and the case studies the same (when little old me can rapid prototype better, faster, and cheaper than a major automotive company, there's good things going on here).

So, ID's dead to me...I said it. I don't miss it, and I certainly don't mourn its passing. I will however say this - if you are just starting conversions to CBT, or don't have a system-wide standard template in place, it might be too soon to remove ID from your process. There's a reason analyses are such a backbone to our practice - they're smart, they're good, and they're meaningful. Of course, it would also be nice to gather up all the doctors to sit around the table and talk about the best course of treatment for every patient that comes through our doors. But if someone comes in, bleeding out and crashing fast...well, hopefully you see my point. While these analyses are valid and valuable, they are not always practical or feasible(increasingly moreso as our field develops better, stronger, faster practices).

If you love your analyses, and you cling to the information they provide - great. But if your management catches wind as to how fast, say, a group like mine can turn product around, be ready to justify your 80 hours of analyses for a 2 hour project. Be ready to explain how the pages upon pages of information you've compiled helps to make your training unique. Be ready to explain how understanding the learner helps the learner to feel better, and how those feelings translate to a positive ROI...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Leave it to the pros...seriously.

I apologize, once again, for my spotty (at best) attendance on this wonderful platform. Things are, shall we say, crazy with work and personal (we're expecting #2...due date Christmas Eve), but I'll try to stay focused on the work-based, as there's a lesson that I already knew, but is being learned by many. And it all starts with a simple analogy:

Take your favorite car that you own, give the keys to someone who's never driven before, and tell them to travel from point A to point B. Without my saying anything further, what would you expect to happen? Simple, right? CRASH, BOOM, BANG...repeat as necessary. If someone doesn't know the inherent workings of something (they know that cars transport people, beyond that...), how can you possibly expect them to take good care and be a safe 'driver'.

Some of you in the industry are probably putting it together...maybe some aren't. I'll speak in vague terms, so as not to draw professional flak, nor to be unprofessional (I'm going for caustic, not 'cost-you-your-job'-ic). Let's say a certain training organization has handled a regulary scheduled yearly influx of new staff members. And LET'S JUST SAY this training/onboarding was 1 day and that these new starts were coming from different 'departments'. LET'S JUST SAY this group has brought these folks on board for four years going, and everything was working well enough.

Enter your people in the respective departments who now say "We want to train these new starts. We want to do it our way, with our spin on things, but you (the training team in question) need to do it all for us." So, these departments design what they think is solid training and what they THINK is education, only to have the original training team be forced to be the messenger - to carry out this ill-thought, ill-prepared agenda. And now, instead of one day of the training team being devoted to training, they are pulled from their regularly scheduled duties for more than TWO WEEKS to work with each 'client', if you will.

Those of you quick on the calculators can probably figure, pretty quickly at that, the increase of 'cost' when you go from one 8-hour day to eleven of them. Those of you that develop and deliver training KNOW what happens when an over-eager SME tries to yank control on a project/module/etc. And those of you who have ever done classroom training know that it's a much more attainable task to teach to the middle line, specializing instruction afterwards, then it is to as you go along.

This HYPOTHETICAL situation I'm sure/I know is all too common in the industry, and it happens when you've worked with a group long enough that they begin to get that glazed look in their eye that equals "Training sure looks easy...I bet I could do it". It's only when they try to that they realize CBT doesn't just randomly generate from a computer program, lessons take time to plan (and that's from ME...king of rapid proto), and training takes panache, if I may be so bold. It takes a trainer to train.

Bottom line, kids - Leave it to the experts. We get it done more quickly, more efficiently, and more cost-effectively. Stick to your areas of expertise, we'll stick to ours.