Using crowdsourcing techniques, the Deloitte team has developed a learning design workshop encompassing a seven-step process that mirrors and accelerates initial design activities. The workshop includes critical prework tasks and approximately six hours of rapid design prototyping. The team has found that the most effective workshops include one or two members from the stakeholder’s organization. Typically, these members are subject matter resources who will be collaborating with the learning team on the development of the course. Because they are part of the workshop, they acquire a deeper understanding of the learning process and become more integrated with the work throughout the project.
Step 1: Baseline participants prior to the workshop. Face-to-face time in the workshop is condensed and accelerated. The learning professional responsible for the stakeholder relationship conducts a preliminary needs analysis and interviews the stakeholder regarding expectations for the course. Prior to arriving, participants review a stakeholder briefing that includes priorities, non-negotiables, and desired outcomes, as well as any other information that surfaced through the needs analysis. Participants also are expected to identify three to five innovative ideas that can range from learning approaches to what is exciting in popular culture. These ideas are used as fodder to brainstorm design concepts during the workshop.
Step 2: Identify design parameters. For the day-long workshop, learning professionals are consolidated by geographic region and connected via video conference. The Deloitte team typically has three to five teams of six people each spread across the country. There is a lead facilitator in one location, with room facilitators in the other locations. The teams remain in sync throughout the day and follow the same agenda.
At the beginning of the workshop, participants are given their first assignment to define the design parameters. This involves identifying factors that will influence their design or cannot be changed. These may consist of audience attributes, environmental factors, and stakeholder specifications. To encourage brainstorming and innovation, considerations of cost and duration often are taken out of the equation. After a short time, participants report out in a rapid round-robin. The lead facilitator then consolidates the major themes for discussion, and the group agrees on the final set of influencing factors before moving forward. This helps ensure that each design reflects the same parameters.
Step 3: Create performance objectives. Each team spends a short time crafting critical measurable performance objectives specific to the workshop project. These objectives reflect stakeholder input and are focused on business outcomes. Teams conduct a round-robin report out, and receive critique of the quality of their objectives, as well as challenge of the content. At the end of the discussion, the entire group comes to a consensus on the final set of objectives so there is a baseline for the design as they move forward.
Step 4: Create the outline. Teams consolidate all inputs (baseline work, design parameters, and performance objectives). They begin to flesh out topics, content areas, and flow. During this step teams are allowed to diverge to foster a variety of ideas. There is no report out on the outline; rather, teams are brought back together to ask clarifying questions.
Step 5: Create the design concept. Participants use the innovative ideas they each researched and collected during Step 1 to spark new approaches and generate a design concept, or approach, to the program. Each participant describes her unique idea and the team discusses how it may be useful in the design. Often, teams will use their ideas as a springboard to come to a different innovative approach. The design concept integrates all the activities of the workshop into an approach and flow for the program. It combines content with delivery mechanism, and outlines the connections and flow throughout the course.
Step 6: Exchange design concepts. All teams are reconvened and quickly walk through their concepts. Other teams ask questions, make suggestions, and challenge portions of the concept based on the design parameters and objectives. Teams are encouraged to “borrow” leading ideas and incorporate them into their designs. After the exchange, teams have time to update their design concepts and prepare for the stakeholder presentation. An additional benefit is that team members have an opportunity to practice their presentation and positioning skills with colleagues in a nonthreatening environment.
Step 7: Present to stakeholder. An important component of crowdsourcing is the competition aspect and identifying and rewarding the “winner.” For the workshop, the reward comes in the form of recognition as teams present to the program’s stakeholder. Because the stakeholder is a senior leader in the organization, participants have an opportunity to showcase their innovative thinking, as well as their presentation and proposal skills.
Typically stakeholders will highlight elements of the design concepts they like and want to pursue. Sometimes they will select one design for the program. This immediate feedback cycle helps to hone in on what resonates with the stakeholder and how far he is willing to push the boundaries of innovation, and establishes a reliable path forward as the design is finalized and accepted.