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Why Good Content Matters

Good content is, in many ways, like food that your business consumes to thrive. That is especially true for services-based businesses. Some of that content is in the form of raw information. Another important piece is learning and performance support information, to improve your people’s capabilities and to keep them at maximum performance. Smart companies recognize the need for a thoughtful approach to information management, including learning content, to respond to the following business needs:

  • Identify which information the company needs to have, for the skills it needs to develop.
  • Identify the programs, learning routes, specific courses, and reference information—both structured and unstructured required to advance and sustain employee productivity.
  • Promote collaborative (company-wide) definition of the required content to gain inputs from across the company.
  • Guide a proactive sourcing or development of learning content that will support priorities.
  • Identify the tools, skills and processes required to manage content dynamically and responsively.
  • Define the processes to place the required information at the hands of the company’s employees

What is a Learning Content Plan?

Learning content is the base stock of information to facilitate skills growth and sustain performance. It may be a subset of the company’s larger information plan. However, its distinct nature requires special attention. The thundering pace of information generation and voracious information needs for your company to deliver high quality service, means that a lack of structure will invariably lead to an information disaster. Accomplishing that requires the following:

  1. Establishing clear curriculum paths for structured learning, performance objectives.
  2. Applying appropriate quality/speed/cost development standards for timely delivery on content.
  3. Maximizing the use and flexibility of content development tools to develop an array of content types
  4. Creating the right mix of courses, from micro learning—lasting only for 60 seconds—to days.
  5. Tagging and versioning enables the repurposing of learning assets for similar and future learning.
  6. Making use of all relevant best practices in content design.

Where to Start

The content your company develops will support both training needs and broader knowledge support needs. Content planning should, as closely as possible, be a parallel activity with those efforts.  The core input for the content you need to create is first, your priority needs for training and then from a knowledge support standpoint.

Recommended Approach

Technological change, business dynamism and budgetary pressure have moved us away from the lengthy and inefficient training models of the past. Some companies have abandoned training entirely, which is an even worse mistake. Keep benefits #1 and #2 at top of mind, and ensure that #3 to #6 are done with an eye to cost and timeliness. Because of rapid technological change, the information half-life of what an individual learns is becoming ever shorter. So spend your ‘long training’ dollars on durable skills—typically soft-skills, and advanced technical competencies. Invest ‘short training’ dollars in a mix of information nuggets and micro learning to give learning content for ‘non-durable’ skills to your people quickly and cheaply. Sacrifice finely tuned quality for speed and cost-effectiveness.

Tip: Square pegs do not fit round holes.

Keep the content development objective in mind. Informational content informs; training content improves skill. Ensure that every content dollar has an associated informational or skill objective. For skill building, make maximum use of video for rapid training, Video matches the human mode of information absorption well.

■ Development of multi-modal company-specific course-ware for learning or customer-service
■ Creation of recorded content, edited and/or annotated for online learning (including mobile)
■ Creation of course manuals (print or electronic)
■ Creation of job aids, work guides and manuals (print or electronic)
■ Population of learning portals and customer service portals