Mostly, the projects and learning interventions under my oversight are delegated to handpicked and highly talented teams of learning architects, instructional designers, and creative specialists. But there are a select few projects that I secretly hoard to myself. Yes, it was me who designed that logo or constructed that interactive PDF (via PowerPoint) or wrote that pithy video script. It might have been me who created that highly visual learning journey or crafted that scenario. And not only do I keep this secret from my customers, I also sometimes keep it from my leaders (surprise!).
To be honest, I like to get in the weeds. I fully admit it. And I don’t see that ever changing. It’s gratifying to create something that helps people thrive in their work. I love playing around with new tools and technologies so I can figure them out—being “dangerous enough” is the phrase I’ve used. Understanding a learning strategy or platform well enough that you can estimate (or scope) with confidence and certainty is critical. As learning leaders (and leaders of learners), we must understand the level of effort it will take to diagnose a business problem, design a learning intervention, build it efficiently and effectively, and then deploy it the way the design intended. So, shouldn’t we know, to an extent, what our practitioners are practicing?
I know the arguments against me by holding on to a practitioner mindset. Some might say, “She has a hard time letting go” or “She’s not being strategic enough.” And it stings a bit. Because I really enjoy being close to the work and understanding what’s involved in the design and development of our solutions. It’s challenging and meaningful. It’s where the we actually can make an impact to the business. Does being strategic mean getting pushed farther and farther away from the work itself? I argue that there should be a balance.
I would say it is strategic for leaders to stay current on their craft. It’s vital to know and differentiate the emerging technologies that are entering the space of HR and learning so we can, artfully, explain the benefits and drawbacks of each within the context of our learners working environments. If we cannot articulate how a solution might be designed or deployed, how can we truly consult on the best solution?
So, I say to all of those learning leaders out there—lean in sometimes. Get your hands dirty. It can be rewarding.
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