Chain of fools

by Viv Cole on May 9, 2013

I chose the title for this blogpost because I like the tune, not because I wanted to offend… Anyway, here’s a chain of events that’s been played out in hundreds of organisations. Often it has pretty depressing outcomes, but in case you get too despondent, let me assure you there is a happy ending, especially if you like flowcharts.

Management have a problem that they don’t want to or can’t solve personally. So they give a budget to L&D. L&D say “thank you very much” and wake up the following morning realising they’ve been given an issue or topic that no sane trainer would want to stand up in front of a classroom full of people to deal with. So they think “let’s make this into e-learning”.

They give the budget to an e-learning company. The e-learnign company’s sales director loves the idea, but someone has to design it. The instructional designer is given a turgid pack of slides and is tasked with magically turning it into an engaging learning experience. L&D can’t answer any of the ID’s questions about the content. It’s not L&D’s fault that this is impossible, it’s just that the content has no real link with the business priorities so there’s no way to prioritise what’s important or not. Management is not interested in re-visiting a problem they thought they had got off their tasklists.

The alpha version of the e-learning is achingly dull.  The e-learning company spends all its profit margin making edits. The beta version is slightly less dull, but deadlines are deadlines so the final version gets rushed out.

The net result: losers all round. Management have in the short term offloaded a knotty problem, but the business performance issue still remains with mid term consequences and the money to deal with it has gone. L&D has lost reputation and political capital for not commissioning a solution that meets requirements. The e-learning company has made a loss and L&D will regard them less favourably on the next tender. And last but by no means least, hundreds of learners have experienced a boring waste of time.

Sounds familiar?

Countless learning professionals bear the scars from this kind of situation. This is where I’d like to introduce a flowchart from Cathy Moore. For those of you who are unfamiliar with her, Cathy’s genius is to take a situation that really annoys e-learning practitioners and turn it into something positive that provides a workable solution.

As Karl Marx might have said: “L&D professionals of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.”



Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: