Tuesday, September 20, 2016

To “Get There” Instructional Designers Need a Clear Plan

A man is drawing steps leading upward

Whatever the goal, we who have worked in the instructional design consulting field for decades know that you are much more likely to achieve success if you have a clear plan. This goes for individuals as well as for teams. Know where you want to go and then plan the instructional design steps to get there.

To be set up for success, follow these instructional design consulting best practices:

  • Don’t design training alone
    There is nothing to be gained by working in a vacuum. When it comes to instructional design, do not guess.  Work with the target audience, their bosses and executive leadership to identify what matters most to all three levels.  And do not forget to use trusted subject matter experts for their advice. Involving others in your research, instructional design and subsequent plan gives you a support system and a system of accountability. And, if you have trouble getting input or help from any key stakeholders, it is a credible sign that you may be off course.
  • Be specific about your goals
    “Becoming a better manager” is not a specific enough goal to begin the instructional design process. First, identify the critical few metrics that are used to measure manager effectiveness in your specific situation.  For example, effective managers usually excel at increasing performance and employee engagement while decreasing attrition and employee relations issues. Then narrow down the field of what it takes to be a “better manager” and focus on the critical few traits and scenarios that will have the greatest impact. Perhaps managers need to be better communicators during times of change. Then you need to develop better listening skills and learn how to speak more effectively and persuasively. If this is the case, you might well focus your instructional design on a workshop that helps managers learn how to listen, reflect back what they think they have heard and check for understanding across the big organizational changes taking place. 
  • Set up a step-by-step plan to mark progress
    Put an instructional design plan and schedule in place that specifies exactly what steps you will take and when. The steps should include the basics of training needs assessment, design, delivery and training measurement.

For an instructional design to succeed, you need to use all resources available, identify your goal, specify your focus and mark your progress step-by-step. Good luck!

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