Axe-sharpening (or how to cut without hurting the SME’s feelings)

Design processes, What I do

I’ll be up front about this. I don’t always get my way when it comes to cutting content. More than one client/SME has taken my beautifully crafted draft and packed it with vital phrases like ‘reaching out to synergise…blah…blah…”, or added some extra message from a senior manager because it’s there.

I'm revising my rule about stock photos when I find something bizarre or just plain freaky. Just what is going on here?

I’m revising my rule about stock photos when I find something bizarre or just plain freaky. Just what is going on here?

However, I try to head off such issues before they get to be a problem. Where I can, I try to involve the SME and the product manager in the drafting process. I try to sit down with them and work out the top two or three takeaways or learning outcomes. So, by the end of a module, a learner has to know what they need to do to create a leave request, or add analysis to a chart.

Once we’ve established the learning outcomes, we work out the key tasks involved in getting to that outcome. So, for example, where do you go to create a leave request, is the request form online, what information do you need, etc. Once the process tasks are in place, we can look at the extra information.

Next comes the issue of style. A standard presentation-style walkthrough sometimes works to get the message across, but it’s often not quite engaging enough. A scenario may work better; or perhaps a quick summary of the steps and then a scenario that requires the learner to make decisions. If possible, I’ll record a webex or Captivate with the SME so that I can get as much information about the process as it happens.

Using that information, we have enough to create a draft. The SME gets to review the draft, but we’ve usually decided on the approach in our meetings and the SME is onboard.  They’re usually keen to get the  project underway and see some visuals.

Because we’ve taken a collaborative approach, the initial alpha stage usually goes smoothly and the changes are minor. Getting the SME on board at an early stage  saves time, tears and tantrums later.

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