Quick! Design some elearning that has compelling activities and a real business impact!
How? Try action mapping.
I’ve been using a quick, visual process to design projects. I call it action mapping because it helps you change what people do, not just what they know. It helps you design action-packed materials that are 100% dedicated to improving business performance, and it can keep stakeholders from adding extraneous information.
Here’s a slideshow with an overview. You can also download a PDF of the slides. Updated May 2012.
How does it work in the real world?
For me, the map fills three roles:
- Design document
- Outline (obviously non-linear; if someone wants a linear approach, I write a short, high-level text outline or move the nodes so they form a list on one side of the goal)
- Content repository
The map is a content repository because I use Compendium, which lets you include PowerPoint slides, Word documents, and other files in the map. This means each information node actually contains the relevant source materials.
If you use a rapid tool, you could probably just dive into the tool after creating the map, using the map as an outline and tightening the source materials as you go.
Why use the map?
A tool like the action map makes everyone focus on the business reason for the project and keeps extraneous information out–it provides discipline.
Undisciplined communication is the third biggest source of harmful complexity in business, according to Bill Jensen in Simplicity: The New Competitive Advantage.
Time pressure allows people to justify behaviors they would not accept from others….Communication becomes a matter of disseminating information and taking any available e-shortcuts. When it comes to communication, business is facing major discipline and accountability problems.
Jensen says that communication becomes ineffective when we don’t identify the deep problem that the communication is supposed to solve. Instead, we say, “Let’s communicate more,” which, according to Jensen, “just creates noise and distracts from the original problem.”
How does this work at your organization? Do you have a design process that keeps everyone focused on the business goal for each elearning project? Or are you expected to include whatever information the stakeholders say you should include, and if so, how might you change this?