Learning Resolutions: Design Experiences, Not Content

What do you resolve to change or improve about your work in 2013?

This is a more important question for me this year than it was last year. Around this time last year I was working in Corporate America where I didn’t have much flexibility in terms of ‘resolving’ change. After launching my own elearning development company in early 2012, I have complete control on what I want my work to reflect and how I go about accomplishing that.

What I’ve learned in my meager infancy as a contractor is that most clients are similar to the workplace I just left. They push content without regard to performance, and everything to do with compliance. I get that. I lived it for over a decade. To no fault of their own, producing elearning content at a fast pace is part of the speed of business. It’s a difficult cycle to break. It takes change and that change takes a renegade leader from within to shake things up.

While I like the role of a renegade, I’m not in Corporate America anymore. I hear and read a lot in the general community of what we should or shouldn’t be doing, but not often do I see actual tangible products to support those conversations. I’ll just be a solo renegade…wait, isn’t that what it is anyway?

How can I resolve to change or improve? Answer: One client at a time. Here are three things that aren’t necessarily resolutions, but rather a continued effort to improve the quality of my work:

  1. Design experiences, not content. We have all heard or experienced a project request that needs to be designed and developed in a period of about two weeks. That’s all fine provided the few months of work leading up to that conversation has been accomplished. All too often it’s not, and we’re forced into producing ‘content’ as opposed to a properly designed experience.
  1. Lead clients in focusing on performance outcomes. This correlates to the above resolution. Properly designing elearning before the development stage can and does produce a much richer experience for learners. I’ve worked with some clients for whom designing elearning is their first stab at learning and development. They really have no idea how to get from point A to point B. I resolve to be more patient and offer guidance in how the whole process works from cradle to grave.
  1. Time and Project Management Efficiency – Is this ever resolved? I learn more and more with each project, and I keep refining my own practices. I want to resolve to have a more streamlined approach to project management – one that is easily understood by me and my clients.

In summary, my resolutions for 2013 revolve around processes as opposed to new skills or developing existing skills. That’s not to say a self-development plan is not also included for 2013, but I’m placing a higher importance on designing experiences, educating clients/SME’s, and being a better overall manager of time and projects.

Kevin Thorn is the Chief Nuggethead of NuggetHead Studioz where he creates and consults on learning, illustration and training.