Beauty and the Beast

Thank you for your patience!

It’s been four months since my last post. And what a four months it has been!

I earned a 3-month contract with a learning experience design company out of Washington state to work with, what, the 4th largest company (by market capitalization) in the world! So that was exciting. The name recognition aloneā€¦ Honestly, I’m still not sure what to do with that.

The most challenging part of this was getting used to the communication style, of both my contracting company and our client. The No. 1 issue was the time zone difference, as both companies functioned on PST, 10 hours behind me. Thankfully, 98% of meetings were before lunch their time, so it wasn’t a huge deal. But just imagine working half a graveyard shift 5 days a week on a project that does require creative thinking and a lot of moving parts.

My teammates were very understanding, and actually, it was great working alone during the day and then coming together at night. I worked while they slept and they did the same. We met all deadlines and our course had The Fewest Bugs. Also, there was a side project that required someone in European time, so I was able to step in.

Also in terms of communication style, I had to get used to the pithiness of communication. Now, I actually do appreciate and deploy things like bullet points and tables when I’m organizing changing information. But this just happened to be on a larger scale. Emails and DMs and group chats needed to be concise and objective. The company strives for universality and inclusion, so no idioms or slang in documents. I really got behind this because such tenets are important to me, too. The learner, sometimes one whose first language isn’t English, should not have to work to understand directions, and if you do want the learner to research, that should be planned. Even verbally, in our meetings, we had to say quickly what was happening and in the clearest most boring way possible. That said, with internal chats, I did appreciate the very occasional levity.

This is also one of the first times I’ve worked with SMEs, and even then, I had very limited access to them. One of the side projects was designing live training calls. I was charged with helping the sellers with their scripting. These are busy, knowledgeable people. And I felt that. I gave them pointers/advice and then let them write what they thought worked, and then edited and made suggestions for improvement/clarity. Their supervisors dictated the content, but I was there to make it sound good, to make them sound good.

Sometimes my help was not as welcome as it should have been, but it was my job to give it anyway (and I actually told this to one of the SMEs). Depending on the stakes, maybe next time, there will be less pushback, or more! The point is that we all, ideally, will appreciate what each of us brings to the table. And, of course, if we can focus on giving the learner an optimal experience, then we’re all winners.

The most interesting part of this contract was the software used. This blog explores the use of Captivate and Articulate and Rise and I’ve even worked with Canvas, but wouldn’t you know it, the company uses something I’d never heard of before: Intrepid. So I can now say that I have a fair amount of Intrepid experience! This may be the most valuable thing I take from here, and I’m grateful. The company doesn’t utilize all the functionality of Intrepid, and I think the learners could have benefited from a wider variety of interactions, but I got plenty of the basics down.

Also, and maybe the most surprising thing about this contract, was that I collaborated on dozens of 365 Word docs and PowerPoints. Again, the lack of LXD authoring tools was unexpected, but refreshing. It just shows how much you can do with a decent LMS and some well-designed PPTs and concise, well-edited videos.

Finally, I met some cool folks. The personalities and interaction styles were all over the place, and that made for an exciting working environment. I saw interactions that I would have handled differently, and I saw some that inspired me. I saw quirks and jabs and burns and triumphs. It was all that and more.

I’m so grateful for the experience, and hope I get to have another one soon!