Honing Your Craft: The Anti-strategy Strategy

By on November 29th, 2017 in Managed Learning Services

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.

Britney Cole

Britney Cole

Britney is a learning leader with experience in organization development, human performance, and corporate learning and has worked remotely, managing virtual teams for more than a decade. Britney lives in Minnesota with her husband and three small children (ages 5, 7 and 8) where she keeps warm with plenty of blankets and cozy hats. She likes to talk, so you might see her at learning conferences as a speaker. Britney has provided consulting for clients in the financial services, pharmaceutical, steel, chemical, media, technology, retail, manufacturing, and aerospace industries. She forms lasting partnerships with her clients helping them with learning design and architecture, content development, leadership and professional development, performance consulting, technology implementation, and change management. Most recently, she is helping pioneer new experiential learning methods and defining learning 3.0 taxonomy.
Britney Cole
One comment on “Honing Your Craft: The Anti-strategy Strategy
  1. Scott Weersing says:

    I would like to share an analogy. We need to play in the sandbox and get our hands dirty. If we just spend our time evaluating the shape and sizes of different sandboxes (being strategic), then we lack the experiences that come from playing in the sand. So I would agree that we learn and grow as leaders by doing.

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