The best part of my “job” as a Consultant is working with people. The power of collaboration is basis of civilization, and I feel it is my gift and talent to unearth and catalyze this power. The history of mankind is a litany of examples of people working together to make the world move faster, grow bigger, work smarter, and build higher. But just as there have been many triumphs of cooperative achievement, there have been many failures.
The root cause of most cooperative failure is communication or rather, mis-communication. We’ve seen it play out countless times in professional and personal environments. At this time that I’d like to invoke the Biblical example of the Tower of Babel. As long as the people had a shared vision and a common language, there was no limit to what they could accomplish. As soon as they spoke different languages, the endeavor failed. Languages are not limited to our geographic and national tongues i.e. Spanish, English, German, Twi, etc… but also the linguistic and etymological peculiarities of our crafts and professions.
The language peculiarities of these craftsmen and professionals are hallmarks of the expertise that Instructional Designers seek when working with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)….and it can also make it incredibly difficult to work with them. This is the double-edged sword of working with SMEs. They may know what they’re doing and know what they’re talking about – but they don’t communicate it in terms that may be readily understood and applied. It’s the job of the Instructional Designer to fashion the nebulous brilliance of the SME into a system of learning. The Instructional Designer transforms the expert-level experience of the SME into a roadmap for predictable outcomes.
This transformation is not a simple as the wave of a magic wand. When it is done well, it will seem as if magic has been performed, but it is actually the careful application of learning theory and technology that performs the deed. Methods of analysis, development, and validation are employed….Styles of learning, content curation, and modeling are applied. And all of this is done collaboratively so that the Sorcerer (Instructional Designer) and Source (SME) stay in sync.
Having a tool to aid in collaboration – to overcome the barrier of language is critical. Historically, these tools were steeped in the methodological experience of the Instructional Designer. Today, as platforms evolve to lower barriers we are finding that there are technological solutions as well.
One such solution that I’ve found is Synapse. Synapse automates the instructional design process. It allows the learning team and subject matter experts to collaborate seamlessly to design, develop, manage, and scale training needs. It creates an ecosystem for designers and stakeholders to collaborate on design, content, objectives and best practices. As far as I can tell, Synapse is alone in this space.
I’m hoping to find more tools to help me to be an effective “translator.” Please feel free to share your thoughts about standout products and platforms in the comments. Thank you.