May 09, 2016
A previous company I worked for had customers leaving in droves. The software company was once the big fish in a small pond, but now there was little we could do to win our customers back because they were already convinced our software had fallen short of their expectations.
Instead of building compartmentalized code, we spent the last 10 years adding to the original, making it impossible to “undo” one aspect of code without impacting the others. As a result, we not only lost a huge -and I mean HUGE- chunk of our customer base, we also lost key internal talent, and were divested by the Fortune 100 company that purchased us a few years before. True story.
In business and life, it’s okay to make mistakes as long as we learn from them. The one thing I learned from this experience is in order for a software company to be the top competitor, it has to put the customer first, be able to pivot on a dime, and most importantly, be excited -not willing, but excited- to evolve its service. Organizational Learning and Development (L&D) should be no different.
As the Learning and Development Manager for Collaborative Solutions with over eight years of experience in eLearning, training, curriculum development, and instructional design in the corporate environment, I’ve collaborated with L&D experts throughout my career. I’ve also worked for companies in the software industry, where clear insights can be drawn from the above situation and applied to L&D efforts.
There are three simple practices commonplace to the software world that can easily translate to L&D. Incorporating them into your daily regimen will make the difference between creating standard training and standup training.
- Tech Definition: A design approach in which software is comprised of separate components, or “modules,” that can be connected or disconnected at any time. Different applications and data sets exist together as a unified whole.
- L&D Translation: Training content needs to be comprised of small parts that equal a greater whole. Not only will people digest more information when it’s presented in short, meaningful chunks, but it’ll also be easier to update in the future.
- Your Challenge: Next time you create training content (virtual or not), identify ways to construct it in silos, or independent units, so sections can easily be extracted, modified, then reinserted.
- Tech Definition: Testing and applying an immediate solution to a known gap within a service minus the long, drawn out planning meetings.
- L&D Translation: Don’t be afraid to take frequent, calculated risks when it comes to improving your training experience. The phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply in today’s training world. Toss it.
- Your Challenge: Revisit one of your existing training designs and identify two small changes that will make an immediate improvement to your learner experience- THEN DO IT.
- Tech Definition: Iterative work streams, or “sprints,” that allow continuous assessment of a service’s direction.
- L&D Translation: If rapid experimentation focuses on addressing known gaps within a service, then agile development focuses on avoiding them altogether. Agile development requires regular, proactive revisions to a training design whereas the ‘waterfall’ approach of yesterday requires a laundry list of changes and only one shot at applying them correctly. Spare yourself the pressure.
- Your Challenge: Next time you build a training plan from scratch, make it a point to revisit it on a bi-weekly or monthly basis with the intention of enhancing the learner experience. Don’t just focus on the content either. Consider the training’s overall direction, structure, and delivery method.
The key is to view trainings as living, breathing experiences that not only teach learners how to do their job, but inspire them to do it well. So drop the ‘set it and forget it’ mentality and proactively seek ways to improve your learner experiences at frequent, low-impact intervals. If something doesn’t work, don’t panic. Pivot quickly and iterate until you accomplish your desired outcome.
At Collaborative Solutions, we know workplace learning involves short pieces of training information, rapid experimentation, and agile development. Imagine the ability to upload training videos and content using these three tactics in one place, that your employees can consume, create, and share on any device. That’s just one way the learning solutions we implement can benefit your company. Stay tuned for my next L&D blog on socializing your learning content!
So, go ahead! Give these tactics a shot, then teach us all by sharing your experience in the comment box below.
To connect with Stacy, reach out to her via LinkedIn.