Training departments generate volumes of content. What do you have in your library? Is it up-to-date? Useful? Relevant? Do your people know how to find it?
Many of us are standing on twin peaks of learning content. The first peak is instructor-led materials, representing years of education and classroom training. The second peak is an LMS or a collaboration site with yards of titles.
Does all of this content really help our employees learn, perform, and connect with what they are doing?
I am both a Learning professional and a home renovator and I see very similar pain points when it comes to too much clutter for content’s sake. As a renovator, I curate what works in a room in a timeless way, but remains completely relevant for taking up that space. As a Learning professional, when I am asked to figure out a way to review or redesign a curriculum, it’s really important to look at what is already there and take the opportunity to see if the content still meets goals and objectives and is relevant to the employees’ success, and find a fresh way to share and access the content and make it actionable.
1. The rapid speed of business quickly ages content or even makes it obsolete.
You may spend more time updating content than you did to buy it or create it. Your team is constantly trying to keep up with innovation, competition, and regulation. Content is packaged in smaller units these days, often meant to be a quick reference rather than a deep dive. The speed of business is more aggressive and there is less time on the job or off the floor to learn, but there is more need to apply and achieve.
Instead of having volumes of courses that now feel too heavy with old information that needs continual maintenance, it’s time to edit the learner experience to the critical pieces and set up employees for immediate success. Less is more.
2. The volume of content can become difficult to navigate.
You know what it feels like to enter a home that has too much stuff. Items spilling out to the hallway, growing across the counter. Items have lost their sense of purpose; a room loses its system. There are things in everyone’s home that will just not belong anymore, or we never quite figured out how to use it but it seemed like a good idea at the time. It just becomes overwhelming.
The same is true with your LMS, SharePoint, or any other place where content may reside. It becomes so much so that you don’t even want to visit there anymore. How can learners really find what they need when they have some professional development time or a requirement to complete?
Employees don’t have time to digest it all, and even if they did, they would need it spaced out over time, learning what they need closer to the time they need it. We need to help them understand what’s important, when it’s important, and how to get to it when they need it. As I have seen in sales executive development, turning on the firehose of onboarding content has not helped them be successful at selling.
You need a clear purpose and plan for each content piece. If it doesn’t fit in your steady state of business and if it isn’t directly tied to your employees’ success, then it’s time to either recycle it or remove it.
3. The value of content is often focused on its past, not on relevance.
You have a coat in your closet that is fifteen years old because it’s still in good shape, but you haven’t worn it in five years. It’s okay, we all do. But it is taking up the space that belongs to your new coat You also have content that was a great investment, and has served its purpose, but it is no longer addresses a critical business need. Is there a way to reorganize or repurpose that content rather than just to keep it on the shelf taking up space? Or should the content be removed to make way for a more relevant learner experience? Sometimes content doesn’t need to be refreshed; it needs to be trashed.
4. Duplicate or overlapping content goes unmanaged.
Have you ever wondered why you have five sets of white linens when you never get past the two on the top? We want a safety net and to make sure the other three sets are there “just in case.” Or your roommate has four pans and you have four pans and now those eight pans take up so much space that you waste time constantly stacking and unstacking them?
This can go on for years, just like having titles pile up in your LMS, often for the same reasons. Organizations change frequently, and often new versions of training get created so someone can put a personal stamp on it. Some training teams have dozens of versions of the same thing, and nobody really knows what the differences are. If everything comes in, but nothing goes out, then eventually duplication or overlap happens. Sometimes content acquisition gets priority over content curation.
As both a renovator and a learning solution designer, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize what was popular. Content can be simply ignored or dismissed if it doesn’t make an instant connection and if it doesn’t inspire. Remember to keep the content that works and find a way to understand why it works and how to curate or replicate that experience to address other initiatives.
It is time to start clearing out the clutter and make sure your learning content is working for your organization and employees!
Kristine Stables is Director, Sales Enablement for Performance Development Group.