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Why Aren’t We Sexy, Too?

cool1Sometime within the past few years, it became cool to be a designer!.

Web and graphic designers have earned a youthfully hip, “what tribal tattoo do you have on your hips” measure of cultural cachet. Interior and home designers have their own television network and a following of something approaching a religion. One of my co-workers can name the designer of every golf course that hosts a PGA Major, but occasionally forgets that he has a daughter.

As a training designer, this should be an exciting time. The world has finally awakened to the fact that elegant, focused design is not only beneficial, it is exciting and sexy. – But not for us!

In fact, while the rest of the design community has the red carpet rolling out before them, training designers have all the workplace allure of a dental hygienist: necessary, vaguely uncomfortable and all-too- willing to define your current processes as insufficient.

Training designers have worked for decades under strictly-defined processes and guidelines, which—if executed properly—can consistently and measurably prove their worth. Unfortunately, the work-world has shifted dramatically. Budget constraints have compressed project timelines. Vital tasks are often completed hours before go-live dates. Change is managed ‘on the fly’ and updated processes are implemented immediately.

Unfortunately, nobody sent the e-mail about this change to the training design community. As a result, we offer our standard request to “build more time for analysis” into the project. “A little more time spent analyzing up-front will save a lot of money down the road,” we exhort our bewildered project managers, who glower back with the kind of look given by peasants in the Middle Ages, right before they drowned the village lunatic in a nearby creek.

Proper training design is a detailed, time-consuming process. When done correctly, it creates truly valuable training. But the Information Age moves exponentially faster than the Industrial Age, and maintaining an artisan’s detailed, methodical approach is a surefire method for failure.

We should be examining methods to design effective learning in an Information Age, without compromising our results. Shortcuts, half-measures, and excuses are no longer acceptable. It is time to begin exploring new methodological paradigms that will bring us back to being a “sexy must have!”

A.D. Detrick, is a Senior Technology Lead for JPMorgan Chase.