How to Love Being a Training Professional…again

ADDIE, Agile, SAM, LLAMA, Aaahhh! It’s enough to make your head spin. Let it go. Training is not complicated. Simple solutions add business value, complicated solutions add… well… complications.

Instructional Design Legacy

After 20 years in the eLearning industry, I’ve experienced a lot.  I can tell you with confidence that it’s time to completely let go of the past. The legacy thinking that got us to “eLearning”, and million dollar enterprise systems, is over. It’s been over, but we collectively refuse to accept the certain death of our beloved models, processes, acronyms, and legacy systems.
Attempts at explaining how to adapt the old models to the 21st century workplace are futile. I continue to find blog posts and articles explaining how instructional designers should be embracing “agile methods”(even my own). And there are the many complicated explanations, complete with flowcharts, on how to adapt ADDIE to [insert your favorite process]. They simply complicate the issues even more. Does our work really need to be so complicated?
“Moving the industry forward is not anyone’s responsibility. It’s moving forward just fine on it’s own. You just need to get onboard.”
Okay, so we’re all pretty close to accepting that ADDIE is outdated. Hooray for us! But we still have far too many to choose from. Just google it. Or better yet check out my favorite head-spinning hoard of instructional design models, methods, theories, etc.
I will certainly not cast the first stone. I’ve embraced them all at one point or another. It always seemed like a good idea at the time. And models are a great tool for communicating. But they all fall short. We spend more time learning and crafting our new models then we do providing value to the business.
Far be it from me to approach the future of training without an open mind. But the corporate training industry has been far too open and embracing of academic theories at the expense of the business. It’s no wonder why, historically, training departments are the first to be cut when times are hard.

The Future of Training is Bright!


But here’s the good news! I’m wildly optimistic about our industry and where it’s headed. Training professionals are uniquely positioned to add more business value than ever before. But it starts with letting go of the past and embracing an attitude of Shoshin, beginner’s mind. I’ve seen, and heard, so many stories of average employees taking on training responsibilities successfully without any previous experience. And in several cases I’ve heard of those “get-it-done” employees displacing the over-educated learning professional. They succeed because they are unburdened by the bloat of an outdated industry mindset struggling to stay relevant.
21st century training departments understand that all employees and customers are both learner and teacher. They embrace that all content has the potential to be learning content for someone. And that content should be easy to access, created by anyone, and available at the right time.

How to Be a Happy Training Professional


The learning management systems you use should support, enhance, and amplify your efforts. They should make your life easier, and fun, not more complicated. If you insist on running a 20th century training department then there are plenty of other systems capable of helping you do that. But honestly, I don’t understand why. I work for Litmos because 15 years ago I began to see the training world we live today. And 8 years ago I saw Litmos and realized that they saw it too. Back then I had no idea I’d be working for them, but I was comforted to see a small company not only embracing the future of training but designing a system to support it.
You should enjoy your work.  You should enjoy being a training professional. And you should be proud of the business value you deliver. You shouldn’t feel like the training you produced in a week, a day, or an hour, is somehow unprofessional or otherwise “wrong” because you didn’t follow a prescribed instructional model. You are delivering training content at the speed of business with positive impact. And THAT trumps everything else!