Help forecast challenges and provide solutions by getting
involved early in decisions related to the scope of design
Today you woke up with your mind full of ideas, almost mentally
rehearsing your speech for the big event. After months going
through instructional design models, theories, principles, and
methodologies, and making sure that all information relevant to the
project was in-depth, researched, and compiled during the analysis
phases, you are certain this project is flawless. There is no way
you will need to do any type of rework, the subject matter experts
(SMEs) were pleased with the way you assembled the content for the
course, and only a few changes were recommended after your last
tabletop review with them.
Two hours after the meeting you seem to be distressed, tired, and
somehow upset. You go straight to your managers office to break the
news. "I have a lot of rework to do. They liked it so much that
they have new ideas for almost every topic of the project."
But how? You did everything right. You followed the principles
taught in the ADDIE methodology; you had biweekly meetings with the
SMEs and no red flags were raised; you even thought this would be
one of your best jobs ever.
I am not sure what went wrong in this meeting. But I am well aware
that we instructional designers have a complete aversion to the
word "rework." It is our worst enemypotentially a reflection of a
clumsy job or evidence to inattention to details. So what can we
do? A strategic plan is in order.
What is it?
To design learning and performance solutions, instructional
designers have to step out of the instructional systems design box
and get more involved in the entire project. We need to think
strategically and be involved during the early stages of the
project and own part of the decisions made related to the project
scope. The instructional designer should be responsible for the
management of strategic planning meetings throughout the life of
Some of you may think that change will not be necessary if a good
analysis assessment and research are deployed at the beginning of
the project. I used to be one of you. But the world is turning
faster than usual. We have to open our hearts and minds and prepare
for changes. Forget about the word rework; think of it as
As an instructional designer, you should lead the strategic
planning of the project. You should be the one forecasting the
challenges and the strengths of the project and recommending and
implementing solutions when a continuous improvement request comes
For example, if you are designing a blended learning solution for
the new software upgrade that requires developing web-based
training, and you find out the day before go live that all screens
used in the final material are outdated, what would you do? You
certainly wouldnt send out inaccurate content to the learners. The
shift here is that you would need to do rework and make sure all
the screens were current with the one in the system.
Strategic planning will help you to forecast such issues. The
solution for this case would be to open a continuous improvement
slot in the project scope and recommend that instead of pictures of
the systems screen, everybody in the project should use an "image
holder" and have the current screen shots inserted in the holders
once you have the final decision on the most current appearance of
the software user interface.
While some learning functions are increasingly adept at strategic
planning, plan execution is still a significant challenge. This is
especially true given market demands to be agile and to be prepared
for unexpected change such as volatile economic conditions or
disruptive technologies that can upset an otherwise fast-paced but
more predictable marketplace. You need not only to be able to focus
on developing your plans, but also be capable of executing them.
Request time during the scope of the project for these strategic
planning meetings where you, SMEs, and stakeholders will determine
and establish the projects strategic objectives to address its
challenges and leverage its advantages. You will need to be
extremely honest with your stakeholder if he chooses to move
forward with the project toward a more risqu direction.
Once upon a time, we instructional designers were just building
PowerPoint presentations and writing scripts for trainers. That era
is long gone. We have to step up in the game and show stakeholders
what it takes to achieve successful results.
Dont get me wrong; there will be reworks out there. If a
stakeholder decided to change the template colors of your material
two days before go live, that still will be rework. However,
replacing the screen image of a software user interface due to its
new appearance will not be necessary if you have identified that as
during your strategic planning sessions.
The use of strategic thinking and strategic planning wont stop the
problems we face daily in our careers, but it will help us to be
prepared when it happens and give options to everyone involved in