Have a read and be inspired.

Improving your learning design team.

By John Lord | 13th April 2022

At Lord Learning Co. we don’t just enjoy designing great training, we also love helping L&D teams to improve their own design standards with our Design Accelerator Programme.

I recently facilitated a Design Accelerator kick-off workshop with a fantastic corporate L&D team to help them to improve their learning design standards.

It went really well, the team had many lightbulb moments and they gave me some great feedback.

It isn’t all about the shiny eLearning module…

Allow me to rewind a couple of months to the original request from my client.

They initially asked for my support to improve the standard of the eLearning that their team produce. And why wouldn’t they? eLearning is hot right now as many organisations have moved their training online and most authoring tools are easy to use.

I could have given the team loads of ideas on how to make an eLearning module more “interactive” and improve the look, feel and UX.

But I haven’t done that. Not yet anyway.

Why? Because I took some time to talk to my client and their team to discover their unique challenges before suggesting solutions.

And you know what? eLearning standards were only a small part of their challenge. I also found that they needed support with their entire methodology and development process so they can efficiently design solutions that focus on performance improvement and not just the transfer of information.

This got me thinking…

As L&D professionals, we need to make sure that any learning interventions we develop and deliver genuinely support people to succeed, and ultimately support business performance.

But this isn’t achieved through a shiny eLearning module alone. For example, I could have created an eLearning about creating great eLearning!

No, this is achieved through using a robust, action and performance focussed learning design methodology; something like Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping model combined with a robust design and review process.

There are many benefits, one of which is the opportunity to complete a discovery phase before a project even begins rather than just saying “yes” to all training requests.

A stakeholder says: “We need an eLearning module”

Here’s a little scenario:

Let’s say you don’t know anything about cars. You notice that your own car is making a strange noise when changing gear. Would you rock up at your local garage and tell them that the gearbox needs replacing? Generally, no, because you aren’t a mechanic and cars aren’t your area of expertise.

Instead, the garage will consult, ask you questions about the problem, take your car into the workshop and follow a process to identify the cause and recommend a solution to fix it.

It should be the same with L&D.

But how?

Similar to the mechanic analogy, before we even decide that training is the solution to the problem, we should follow a process that guides us to discover the problems faced by our stakeholders, find out how they are measuring success and learn about the target audience and what they need to do on the job to increase performance.

We can then recommend solutions, tools and experiences that will genuinely help people.

I know, it’s so easy to get caught up in the super fast-paced corporate environment and jump straight to solution mode.

Believe me I’ve done it. You just deliver because you are told to.

But, as I told the people in my recent workshop, just having a short discovery meeting with a stakeholder when they say “we need training” and not jumping straight to solution mode can have massive benefits.

It not only saves time and money, it also empowers us as L&D professionals to actually BE the L&D experts that we are.

Early in my career I was told by a stakeholder that “anyone can design training” and that my job was “to make it interactive and enjoyable”.

As a designer that was quite demoralising and left me wondering why L&D teams exist.

But, over time I discovered that we exist because we are the experts in our field. We should feel empowered to be specialists and be trusted by our stakeholders to deliver results that support them and their goals.

That is exactly what I have shown my client’s team the benefits of doing.

But don’t worry, I haven’t just dumped a load of information on them and run away.

The Design Accelerator programme

Our Design Accelerator programme provides bespoke Instructional Design and simple Project Management templates, processes and implementation workshops to support you with this change in mindset and ways of working.

Having been through this change myself and supporting others in the past, it is hard work and takes time and practice.

And yes, I will be providing some eLearning best practice guidelines for those times when eLearning is the answer!

In summary

If you don’t have a strong action and performance focussed learning design methodology then it won’t matter how good-looking and interactive your eLearning module is.

You should always work through a simple discovery process to fully understand the goals and learning needs and then recommend solutions that actually support people and the business to succeed.