Design A Learning Experience As You’d Build A Bridge With Dave Kerschbaum and Alejandro Ruelas

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Hello everyone! My name is Ladek and my guests for today are Dave Kerschbaum and Alejandro Ruelas, Learning Experience Designers at SAP with more than 20 years of combined experience.

In this ‘bridged’ conversation we talk about

00:00 › Start

02:22 › A Learning Sap—The roles Alejandro and David have at SAP Concur and how they partner with others in the organization to create learning experiences

10:00 › Bridging—Alejandro and David discuss the start of building the “bridge” in their learning experience design, what their framework looks like, and where ideas or decisions about what needs to be created come from

17:07 › Saying No—David and Alejandro relate how often they find themselves saying ‘no’ to a project that comes to them

20:55 › Mind Shift—We then discuss the mindset shift needed for someone entering the instructional design field, especially regarding the consultative process

27:23 › Management, Commitment—Alejandro and David talk about what managing people, budgets, and time, after committing to a project beyond creating learning materials and what the delivery process entails

43:31 › Looking out 2024—We end by looking towards 2024, and what David and Alejandro expect to shift in their career as  learning experience designers that they’re excited about.


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This is the eLearn podcast. If you’re passionate about the future of learning, you’re in the right place. The expert guests on this show provide insights into the latest strategies, practices,

and technologies for creating killer online learning outcomes. My name’s Ladek, and I’m your host from OpenLMS. The eLearn Podcast is sponsored by eLearn Magazine,

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a company leveraging open -source software to deliver effective, customized and engaging learning experiences for schools, universities, companies and government. around the world since 2005.

Learn more at OpenLMS .net. Hi there, my name’s Ladek, and my guests for today are Dave Kerschbaum and Alejandro Ruelas, who are learning experience designers at SAP with more than 20 years of combined experience in learning experience design.

In this bridged conversation, we talk about the roles Alejandro and David have at SAP and how they partner with each other. with others in the organization to create learning experiences. Alejandro and David then discuss the starting point of building the bridge in their learning experience design and what the framework looks like and where the ideas or decisions about what needs to be created in terms of instructional

materials originate from. David and Alejandro then relate how often they find themselves saying “no” to a project that comes to them just simply because it’s nice. a good fit or many other reasons.

We then discussed the mindset shift needed for someone entering the instructional design or learning and development field, especially regarding the consultative process. Alejandro and David then talk about what it’s like to manage people and budgets and time after committing to a project beyond creating learning materials and then what the delivery process entails.

We end our conversation by looking toward the next year and what David and Alejandro expect to shift in their career as learning experience designers that they’re excited about. And remember,

we record this podcast live so that we can interact with you, our listeners in real time. So if you’d like to join the fun every week on LinkedIn or Facebook or YouTube, just come over to elearnmagazine .com and subscribe.

Now I give you David and Alejandro. Hello everyone, welcome to the Elearn podcast. My name is Alejandro and I’m the host of the Elearn podcast. My name as you heard umpteen dines at this stage is Lattic and I’m coming from a company called OpenLMS.

My guests today who are the real show are Alejandro Ruelas and David Kershbaum. Sorry Dave, I apologize. I already I already botched.

Don’t worry. We just talked about it Dave Kershbaum and you’re both with SAP and so, you know, we’re gonna talk about learning experience design before Before we do that, I’d like to give, well,

first, let’s figure out where you are. Alejandro, where are you sitting in the world? So right now, I am based just outside of San Diego. So, you know, cloudy, cloudy, Southern California right now.

But yeah, that’s where I’m at. Excellent. Yeah. Now, that’s it. I actually just learned the other day. In my mind, I’ve always thought San Diego beach. beach, sun,

you know, never, sort of never winter, always summer kind of, but I was just, I was disabused of that. And people are like, no, it’s actually kind of cloudy and rainy a lot there. I didn’t know that anyway.

– Yeah, it’s a lot of doom gloom and all that, but it always clears up. So I’ll go ahead to the podcast, it’ll be nice. And I can go and take a break out in the sun. – Sounds great. Dave,

and Dave, where are you sitting? – I’m in Ann Arbor, Michigan. – Which is– – So like the polar opposite. – Ooh, nice. – Yeah, I should have known that.

You did it right there, yeah, nice. – Yeah, it’s a insufferable Michigan thing is we always show each other where we’re from. Interestingly,

today I think you and I have like almost exactly the same weather. – Yeah, it’s startlingly wet. today after three weeks or so of like a high of 51 Fahrenheit and just a one shade of gray and leaky skies.

So, yeah, San Diego, Ann Arbor, Michigan, basically the same place. That’s great. Well, I wonder if, exactly. I wonder if Mexico City is the same place as well. We’re unfortunately suffering from the hurricane.

Otis that just passed over Acapulco and created some pretty heavy damage down there. And so it is, I think we’re all in the clouds today, gentlemen, we’re all in the clouds. But let’s say, Ali,

why don’t you take like 30 seconds and tell us who you are, your background, your role at SAP and kind of just, how you showed up kind of at this conversation.

– Yeah, for sure. So my professional background is in the clouds. is all in education and instruction. I used to be a classroom educator. So I worked in public schools, private education.

I even taught abroad for a little bit. So during that pandemic, I was like, okay, what’s the next step in my career where I can leverage my educational chops in a new domain?

So it’s kind of funny where it’s like the physical world shut down, but the virtual windows open up. And I… I just saw instructional design on the other side of it. So I was just talking to folks in the industry,

and I landed at SAP, and it’s been a great spot so far, ’cause I’m an instructional designer now, at the learning experience team, and I have great mentors like Dave, and we work on just a lot of different projects across the organization,

where I specifically focus on onboarding, but I also focus on other parts or to connect learning. with business, but I won’t give away too much more. I’ll hand it over to my,

my, my conspirator and my, my teammate, Dave. Sounds good. Dave, what about yourself? But tell us, tell us about yourself. Yeah, I,

about a dozen, 13 years in the instructional design learning experience design field at several different places. This is some doing. doing the work as a vendor,

third party kind of a thing. And then some, most of the time we’re working as part of an instructional design or learning experience design team. Yeah,

came to that from tech writing. But yeah, it was one of those like a lot of people stumbled into it through some great fortune and luck and,

uh, people willing to take a chance and, uh, this is what we’ve been doing and yeah, uh, senior learnings, uh, learning experience designer at,

uh, SAP concur on same team with Ali. Fantastic. Hi there. I’m sorry to break into the show right now. But if you’re enjoying. this show, if you are challenged,

if you’re inspired, if you’re learning something, if you think that you’re going to be able to get something out of this to put into your practice, do me a quick favor. Pause right now and just hit subscribe on your podcast player right now. It doesn’t matter which one,

just hit subscribe because that way it’ll make sure that you never miss an episode in the future. Thanks. Now, back to the show. You both, I stalked you both because you both presented ATD earlier this year in 2023.

2023. And specifically, you presented about why learning design or learning experience design is like a bridge. And why is it really kind of sort of how does that vary or differentiate itself from traditional learning design or how we might think traditionally about education,

especially in the adult learner universe? Ali, let’s start with you. Set the stage for me. Like what? What was the the inspiration for your talk and what was the inspiration for this topic itself?

Like why, why was it important? – Yeah, sure. – Other than, other than you wanted to speak in gig. I mean, other than you wanted to like, you know. – Nah, nah, nah. It was, it was just a conversation between Dave and I where I was like,

okay, what, what do we want to talk about? And what do we think will be valuable for people now in full trance? Like we’re not, we didn’t create any of these concepts. We didn’t write any books.

We’re not like, like really like gurus in the industry, but we are practitioners. So what we, our specific way, how we position ourselves, is like, hey, these are our ideas, and this is how we have implemented them.

This is what we have learned, and this is some challenges, and some of the ways that we have addressed those challenges. So we were talking about like, okay, how do we present or package all this up? And we came up with the analogy of,

a bridge, where it’s like, there’s places that you want to go, this is where we are, and what do we do? What do we build with the materials and the techniques, concepts that we have to get ourselves to the other side?

It goes a little bit deeper than that, and we can get to these points as we go through this conversation. But one thing that I just wanna say up front, where it’s like, you know, being from the teaching world,

you see certain concepts in instructional design. some other strategies and techniques. And then the more we learn, it’s like, oh, the general concept, there’s a lot of overlap and a lot of different things.

So I think that that’s good for a lot of your audience. I assume we’ll be teachers or a good chunk could be teachers looking to learn more about instructional design, but there’s a lot of things, a lot of concepts that are like, oh, you can borrow from that.

That the overall idea is valid. It’s just how you apply it with an instructional design. I feel like that’s good for a lot of people. little bit different. The terms might be a little bit different. So those are some of the things that you want to cover in the talk of,

like, okay, how do we get from one place to the other, and how do we put it all together to get people across our little bridge? Nice. Dave, anything you want to add to that? Yeah.

So I was hearing sort of an odd, what I considered an odd debate within the instructional design field.

And it was, look, if it’s important, the most important thing is to focus on the needs of the learner. And then the weird thing was that it became a debate,

I heard the other side, no, no, no, no. The most important thing is to focus on the needs of the learner. business. Like if you don’t focus on what the business is all about,

what they want to get to, then it doesn’t matter how good you make your learners feel or whatever. And it seems like sort of a loser’s choice if that’s the right phrase.

And as we began to kind of start thinking about how does learning experience design, differ from say your traditional L &D,

maybe L &D from 20 years ago. Instructional design.

I have a, with the term instructional design just because I think it focuses on the product that you’re building, you know, the instructional product. But with learning experience design,

it seems to marry those two sides of the argument. Niels Floor is the one who is known for coining the term,

learning experience design that really comes out of user experience and customers, all the XD fields. says, the learning experience design is the process of creating learning experiences that enable the learner to achieve the desired learning outcome in a human -centered and goal -oriented way.

And so we thought, you know, it’s like two sides of a bridge, the human -centered side, the goal -oriented side, and, you know, building that bridge.

As Ollie said, you know, he… he, he took, what was it, middle school, took a class where he learned about bridge building.

And he said, what he learned is that you start building it from the two different sides and work towards the middle. So it was kind of the framework that we, as Ale said,

we didn’t invent anything, but we picked some tools that others have really I’ll say perfected and leaned on their knowledge and put them together in a way that’s been working for us at SAP Concert.

Yeah, so that’s the gist of it. – All right, so Ali, take me there. So take me to the beginning as you started building this and as you,

you put this sort of bridge idea together, what’s this framework look like? What are the different parts and the different pieces that you have put together in order to start constructing this bridge?

– Yeah, so the first thing is we look, we just put the like an idea, the metaphor over like, we’re standing at a bay, a body of water, and wanna get to the other side. The first part of building our bridge is how we approach the bridge.

building our bridge is you look to the other side and you have conversations with your stakeholders and you start prepping that side of the bridge. And we have conversations with folks about what are the right metrics,

the needles that we’re trying to influence. And we have conversations with stakeholders and we help them through that process because a lot of five percent of our learners to complete this certification.

Well, that’s, that’s, it’s a start was like, what’s the impact of that? What are we actually trying to do? Let’s say people 75 % of people do complete that certification, but nothing changes. Like,

what, what then? And we get, we, we facilitate the conversation with folks. We have a nice meteor, I guess, goal, like a true north start.

And in that helps guide us for the rest of the process. And we lean on techniques like action mapping to help us create that goal statement.

And then from there, we look back to the other side of the bridge and start preparing here where the next challenge is like, OK, cool, we have a goal. But now, who are our learners? Because if you don’t know who they are,

we can have this goal, we can design for this goal. But if we’re not designing for the needs of where our learners are, how can we take them to where they need to be in the most efficient way and best use of resources and the best use of time?

Dave, I don’t know if there’s anything you want to add to that. That’s perfect. Yeah. It’s well said. So, Dave, then let me ask you this weird.

Where, you know, before, even before that process, where do your, um, not the ideas, but the, the decisions about what needs to be,

you know, like the next piece of instructional material you’re going to create or the, you know, the, I guess the, the instructional need, like, where did those bubble up from? Um, is that, are they coming from all different parts of the company?

Is it, do you, do you usually find your funnels coming in from sort of like a, leadership thing? I like are you out there as your team out there discovering pieces like you’re kind of walking the halls and And in those kinds of things or what’s the answer there got it?

So in our for our team specifically we have We have a kind of we’ve got a process. We have an intake process where we are are a part of a larger enablement org and our audience is the sales and sales adjacent people within our company.

So when a need comes, so maybe it is a need where there’s going to be an initiative towards, I’m just making this up, but towards renewals or something like that.

that or maybe a new product comes online or an update to a product. Those conversations happen with some other people in our enablement organization who then bring the request request through our request system we use right works well for us and then that comes to us.

Or somebody else will then vet that request. We’ll have those conversations, those initial conversations where we start to find out. They might come to us with an idea like,

well, we need eLearning on this thing. Or we want a six -session virtual held instructor -led training on this thing.

And it’s– it’s great that they come to us in mind with some ideas. And then our job is to find out, what is it about those solutions,

what is it about those particular solutions you’ve thought of that makes sense and why to this particular problem? But then we’ll start asking more questions about what would you like to see?

Like what does success look like for you? What does it matter to you? the organization? That’s where we start building that first part of that bridge is looking at those organizational goals. And really we’re not,

we know we’re ready to start talking design once we get those goals well documented.

What does it do want to change? How would that change? you know you’re successful? How are you going to measure that? And even why is it important? Sure. Yeah, if I can just add just a couple things.

This process is pretty new for our organization. Before we had this tool, this project management tool, and this kind of process outlined with all our organization,

it was pretty much anybody just kind of reached out to me or someone else on the team and they could be like, “Hey, I have an idea, but I want to do this project.” And sometimes it will be, and I was relatively new to the organization,

and that’s why I didn’t really know who people were, if they were leaders or if this idea had a lot of backing. So I worked on some initiatives early on where it was just, I just learned it was actually someone’s just kind of side project.

And I worked really hard on it. And at the end, it was like, oh, that was really cute, Alejandro, like, thank you for doing that. But did it make some impact? Maybe. But it didn’t have high sponsorship backing from leaders.

So now with this new process, we know that every time something comes through the pipeline, it’s something more formal. There’s a request, there’s a process, a bit more, you know, people are looking at, like, they– it actually deters a lot of folks.

Oh, I’ve got to fill something out? Well, you know what, I don’t really want to. to get into it, you know? Yeah, we get they do a little bit of prework. So we have a better starting place.

And then we can kind of kick off the conversation with a bit more of data and knowledge. It also helps us get more sponsorships. We know like we want to build the bridge, you want to make sure people who are high up in sales or in the Oracle,

like, yep, that’s the right bit, the bridge to focus on. Or someone will be like, actually, maybe not right. but now maybe we just focus on a different area. So it really has helped us become more efficient as a learning organization.

So it’s like, yes, we are doing a lot of things to improve our instructional design, like processes and chops, but it’s a lot of also developing as an, as an org and how to kind of carry through,

carry out, deliver on the actual projects, which have been very interesting. How often do you find, you know, I’d love to hear like the pre and the post of this new system that you guys are using now.

How often do you say no? How often does something make its way through the filter and it lands on your desk and you’re like, this doesn’t make sense, or this isn’t going to really align with where we’re going,

or maybe you don’t say no, or but maybe somebody up the leadership chain as well kind of says, no, let’s let’s not do that. that one Well a phrase that our boss loves to Loves to return to and I love it too is We can help you with that problem right so If we’re not going to be building an eLearning or or or you know building something training we can We will throw out our process of vetting and figuring out

this isn’t a this isn’t a training initiative or or it’s it’s not really Aligned with any of our business goals We we can help them to figure out like well,

what really is that priority then, you know, and and I think this is a big thing that is really important to someone in our field is just being able to be comfortable with the idea of becoming a consultant and helping people walk through the questions that they really should be asking themselves or others,

identifying the information that’s like, well, I don’t yet have this, but it’s going to be really important to figure this out if we’re going to be meaningful impact. Or,

hey, we figured out that this actually isn’t a need right now. Maybe it’s a need next year, whatever. But that allows everybody to kind of free their resources up towards, redirecting towards that North Star of what is that stated business goal.

– Yeah, that’s nice. – I like that. It’s like, there’s times where it’s like, haven’t exactly said no. I mean, haven’t exactly said, yeah. It’s like, we’re not saying yes. So it’s two different examples from the last couple months.

A project came in and the team wanted a eLearning enablement by the end of the year. So it was super short timeline. We had a really quick call and it turns out that the best thing for that situation,

was just a communication. communication plan, just emails and a couple other things to save people time. And there’s like, well, we didn’t do any more work, really, we didn’t build anything,

but like they walked away from that conversation, not with a yes, but like, oh, here’s, there’s a better way to solve this. And then went along happy. And I think they still found value with approaching us,

could we help them identify what the right solution or right direction to go in? So that’s one, we didn’t say yes, we didn’t say yes. but we redirected it a little bit. It still delivered value. And the other one was two projects came in from different parts of the organization that weren’t talking to each other and happened to come in relatively at the same time.

So we were willing to say, yes, let’s do all what you both want, but there was an opportunity to combine those two initiatives into one initiative. So it was in that way, we looked at it with a critical eye,

provided some consultations. saying, actually what you’re both trying to do could be done with one stone instead of two. So that’s another way. Another example of when we didn’t see,

I can say yes, but this new process helps us deliver a value in some learning solutions for folks. – I really like that a lot,

that’s great. And I appreciate as well the mindset shift into, being a consultant or participating in a consultative process.

– Yeah. – Let me pose that as a question then. So what’s the mindset you think that, you know, somebody who is embodying either the instructional designer kind of feeling or,

you know, career or the turning career in general, the learning and development career, do you still find that, you know, not a mindset that’s there or is that something that is not,

you kind of got to learn it on the job like it’s not something that people are coming into this profession with? So just making sure I’m answering the right question, the question is,

do people become instructional designers not aware of… of, or maybe not practiced in that art of consultation? – Yeah,

I guess, I guess, is do, or maybe, maybe is it, do you find the people who are coming into instructional design or, you know, like Ali, who, you know, found this path, do they,

do they generally gravitate and have this sort of natural, not, you know, attraction to that consulted process? Or is there an expectation that it’s like, nope, I’m going to be instructional designers? We’re going to get requests.

I’m going to build out things in articulate, and I’m going to deliver.” That’s a great question. I would say, and Ali,

I want to hear your answer on this too. But when I started in the instructional design field, it would be, I guess,

13 years now, I had no idea that they’re, like I came from a tech writing background. I wasn’t sure really exactly what I was getting into.

I don’t know that it was as, I guess, as much in the forefront than for people like me and something that we just like I learned it on the job,

I think part of is growing up as an adult as well, learning how to have those nuanced conversations with people and ask the right questions. But I’d be curious,

Ale, when you switched from that career in teaching to to instructional design, were you aware of the consultive nature of being successful at it?

– It was a very intentional process, a journey from teaching to instructional design. So I did a lot of research, was a lot of podcasts. So if this podcast was around back then,

or maybe it was and I just didn’t know about it, this is the kind of stuff that I would be doing or just the kind of stuff that I would be doing. get these insights and these kind of ideas. So I learned that, I heard a lot about like, yeah, you gotta be a consultant,

you gotta really get to the core of the issue, you’re not just building things. And I think like, even though, right, maybe it’s more top of mind and more and more on the forefront, I think it’s always been there. Like, I think a really good instructional designer maybe 10 years ago,

20 years ago, was still doing things like consulting, asking those critical questions. I just think there’s just more explicit now, maybe more interest in the industry nowadays.

But even I think about teachers, like good teachers are asking good questions and they’re not just getting the curriculum and then just creating activities based off the curriculum. They’re looking at it, looking at it with a critical eye and asking,

well, what would we really want our people to learn? And after they graduate from the school, what are the things they need to do in the real world? So, and then, building off that, reverse engineering what the learning activities need to be.

So I think there’s just a lot of overlap there. I think these consultant skills, leadership skills, facilitation skills, these are all really key skills in instructional design. And also just good skills to have,

’cause I don’t know after I get promoted or move or something, these are transferable skills where we’re all gonna be able to carry them over to our next position. position, whether it’s up in leadership or another organization.

These are just key skills to have in our role now, but also prepare ourselves to build bridges to the next phase of our career. – Well, then take me to the next, maybe what we’re gonna consider these.

Oh, sorry, go ahead, Dave, if you had something to add on there. – Oh, I was just gonna say, yeah, and in fact, I’m now just for accuracy and clarity.

– Okay. I’m thinking about my initial foray into instructional design. It was really more sort of– it was more specific towards course writing.

There were other people who were asking all these great questions. So I kind of grew up watching them. Right. I grew in– into of an instructional designer really from being a course writer.

So had I gone from a different background into and straight into instructional design, my answer might be closer to Alice. So but it’s a great question.

I didn’t really thought about it. The question is, yeah, it’s also contextualized because it depends on the team, how many people on your team, the resource, you have, the organization. So it’s like if you’re one man shop,

you’ve got to do a lot more things versus if you’re just one person on a bigger team, you can kind of niche down and focus. And also what are your interests? I know there’s some people who are like, you know what, what I’d like to do is build things.

So I like focusing on those two, the TVs and adages, designing and development. Other folks are like, you know what, I want to do more of the analysis. So yeah, it depends on the individual.

as well, but great question. – Yeah, well, so then let me follow up with what is hopefully a equally great question. In that, so the consultative process before,

you know, kind of like, let’s just say you sign the internal contract to say, you know, okay, look, we’ve decided on a goal, we know our learners and we’re gonna start building and create this thing. And take me to that sort of that second half of the day.

Okay, now we’ve got our design plans or we’ve got our sort of our agreement about what it looks like. I would say even kind of pre blueprint, let’s just keep the bridge analogy going here, right? Take me then and flip me over to your skills and how much time you spend managing people,

managing budget, managing time, and, you know, not actually building learning, but just sort of then being that other side of the consulting, you know, like maybe turning your consulting head around and being like,

okay, now I got to manage this thing and make it happen. Over to you. Like that’s my question. Dave, I’m going to start with you. Sorry. I didn’t actually ask one of you.

No. And I feel like I’ve jumped in too many times here. I wanted to decide and let Ali, if he had it, if he had the thought, but okay. okay so that’s a yeah so on our team the the Alex designers we don’t we don’t manage budget but we do the one things that I am finding is a lot of times so we have project team meetings I do on most of my projects like weekly ish and depending on is a lot of times it’s a

lot of times it’s a lot of times it’s a lot of times it’s a lot of times there’s been a stated project manager or not, I will often step in as that project manager role. Maybe it’s a lowercase p and a lowercase m.

I don’t know. I don’t have a certification in project management. But it is using, as I mentioned, RIKE or whatever it is that you have in previous jobs,

it was a GRO. to kind of manage things from a Larger project down to breaking it down into Smaller chunks into sprints or what have you so there’s a lot of that our team learned from Megan Torrance The principles of Llama.

I actually in fact I’ve been mentioning, you know, people who were, um, gracious enough to give me my first shot and that sort of thing, uh, person who gave me my first shot at instructional design job was Megan Torrance.

Um, so I owe my career trajectory very much towards, uh, to her and just any time you get a chance to, uh,

soak in her knowledge, do so, but she’s taught us, uh, as a team . . . we went out and had a big team retreat, and she taught all of us Lama.

And so trying to use those agile methodologies, or a lot like Agile, towards our projects in terms of project management,

in terms of task estimating, assigning, chunking, that sort of thing. And sometimes you do kind of feel like you’re just playing point guard if you’re not the one on the team who is building something in Articulate Storyline or Rise,

or if you’re not the one building something in Canva or on SharePoint, whatever. And but I feel like there’s a lot of joy in that because you leave those.

those sessions and you’re like, we’re all on the same page. We came up with ideas, sometimes things came out in those discussions of like, oh, this really is another way to attack this larger problem,

we can break it down this way, or there’s an alternate way to iterate or something like that. I did not expect that that was where I was going to find a lot of my joy.

I thought that joy was going to be in building cool things and sometimes doing voiceover. And obviously that is fun, right? Do you have a voiceover,

like a word or something in your background, don’t you? I did. I was part of a team at a previous stop that I was on.

on a team, I lent voice to it to a project for that. So, yeah. Sorry for that. He has a great voice. No, that’s okay. It’s okay. Thank you. Yeah.

It’s something I’ve always loved doing. My joy comes from. So, yeah. I hope that answers your question. I feel like I may have kind of took it in a…

I love it. No, I love it. Thank you. ‘Cause ultimately, I’m asking about, there’s the conceptualization process with, and I feel like the consultant to process has a number of phases to it,

right? And that conceptualization phase, and that’s where I was asking, it’s like sometimes you need to be able to, and I love the two examples you gave Alejandro, where it’s like, look, maybe we’re not gonna say no, but have you thought about it this way,

and you don’t really need training, or you don’t need instruction. What you need is maybe just like a team adjustment or a different management or maybe a different approach or process. And then you said as well, you had another opportunity where it was like,

“Wow, we’ve actually got two people who are coming basically at the same thing. Why don’t we kill tubers with one some kind of thing?” I love that. But then on the other side of it is we’ve committed, our team’s committed.

We have some agreements and now we’ve actually got to get it done. done And so what what does it take to get it done? And and we’ve heard on the podcast many times before about That whole project management role that I think a lot of people did not expect When they decided to become instructional designers or they’re they’re like look,

I’m an educator I didn’t want yeah, I don’t want to have to like I don’t have to manage up and I don’t want to have to like You know the pull teeth with SMEs, you know and whatnot, right? So Ali, what’s your answer there?

Yeah – Yeah, a couple of things that I can add. One big thing is like there’s almost like a certain level of like negotiation that needs to happen.

So say a project comes through and you say, cool, there’s something we can work on. And then it’s like, how do we actually get it done? You essentially create a plan or propose something. And there might be some constraints in there because there’s your need to work with people who are in sales need to be on the line.

the phones and you as a the designer like well I would love to talk to this many people uh for a conversation that this this long and folks are like whoa whoa whoa like they need to reach their quota they need to go I got two minutes for you bro yeah yeah so it’s like okay so negotiating what do I need and how do I what’s the best way to get it um and then you need to at almost like at every step of the

process you need to have your sponsors the your your stakeholders kind of on board with that. ‘Cause you can’t say something at the beginning and like, cool, we’re gonna deliver this thing. Awesome, see you in a couple months. And then you circle back and it’s like totally different ’cause you need to adjust.

And that’s the whole thing about being agile. You gotta adjust to those things that come along the way and still be able to deliver what you promised. So at every point,

you need to have that conversation with your stakeholders and like, okay. this is how we get how you want to do it Actually, that’s not the best way. Okay, cool What’s some other ways that you can do it and you can still kind of move move along the project?

That’s that’s that’s that’s that the first thing that that came to mind was negotiation The other thing is focusing more on learners and we did touch upon personas in our talk at ATD but we’re trying to loop in in our learners and learn directly from them as much as possible.

And when that’s not an option, we have created some personas that we can lean into. Again, we have learned from Megan Torrance,

but we have applied, I’ll just give an example of one story where we actually applied personas in our practice. We were called to, actually both Dave and I to do,

to help consult on a project launch. And we’re like, awesome, cool. We would love, in this negotiation again, we would love to talk to this many people. And they’re like, actually, this thing needs to launch like next month.

There’s no way we can get anybody that, like for you to interview or observe or anything. And we’re like, dang. Like, we don’t really know who these people are. Like, what can we do? Luckily, our team has been doing,

have been doing, some work on personas and there was a folder in our SharePoint where we’re like it was like a Hail Mary we typed in in the search bar of their positions and we got I think two yielded two personas and we’re like there were one pagers but it still was enough to for us to like look and be like hey these two people are totally different roles.

People are thinking like we’ll have one enablement for these two personas and then the next conversation we come in we’re like hey, folks, we just, we found these personas, what do you guys think? Is this valid?

And they’re like, yeah, that’s pretty much our people. We’re like, well, it looks like we have two different needs. We’re gonna, one, having one enablement session where we have outlined, it’s not gonna fit the bill here.

We need to have two sessions. So that was helpful because we weren’t able to actually talk to anybody in person, but we were able to give insights with just a couple of clicks. We’re still in the process of having one enablement.

I think we’re always iterating on personas and on our materials. So we’re in a much better position than we were last year. And next year, I’m sure we’ll be in a better position. On top of that, we’re still trying, we’re always looking to connect with our learners.

But it’s nice to have a lot of different resources and things we can reach in the back pocket if we ever need to. – Dave, you sound like you wanna add something there. – Yeah. – Yeah? – Well,

I was partially doing that. clearing my throat. But then what I want to do and what I want to say is, was what you’re both describing as well, and Ali,

especially with that example, that I find personally fascinating. And I’m not sure who has written about it, or if anybody’s really articulated super well, is it’s all those little spaces that you fit in,

right, while you’re managing a project, or you know when a project comes to you Because we it’s not an engineering role where it’s like look There there are physics here that we have to solve for right like if if though,

you know The weight or the the the tensile structure or whatever, you know like the those things and it’s it’s it’s really that malleability of that Conversation of saying just like what you’re saying you want us to build something.

You’ve got an extreme timeline We can’t talk to learners so we’ve got to figure out out a way to do something. But we want to make sure it has some kind of value. So you validated your process by bringing those personas there and whatnot.

But I’m absolutely just fascinated by that. Gentlemen, I cannot believe that we’ve already been talking for almost 40 minutes here. I have one more question for you, both, that I would love to go into.

And that is something that I don’t think actually we’ve talked about on the podcast. podcast all that much, and that’s delivery. So we kind of talked about making the blueprint.

We’ve talked a little bit right now about managing that project, but as learning experience designers, what does it look like and feel like, and how do you get to that point where, okay, look,

here’s the ribbon -cutting ceremony, the actual handover where you’re kind of like, okay, we’re done, does that ever happen? And if so, how does it happen? happen? Ali, I’m going to let you go first.

Yeah. So yeah, it happens. We deliver. And I’m enjoying the sharing examples. And I feel like it adds a lot of color and context.

I don’t know what’s that. Two examples. One was we need to need an update of traditional eLearning. And the delivery there was a very boring just email where it’s like,

yep, it’s live. Awesome. great it’s new it’s more like a maintenance of something that already existed so that wasn’t anything exciting right the other one was a larger initiative which was a self -enablement project which was something we never tried before but there was a lot more intention and design around change management of like we create something now how are we going to drive awareness of this new thing thing,

desire, buy -in, adoption, and then reinforcements? So there was, we had a launch date and that was great. And then afterwards, there were conversations kept going,

like, okay, cool, what’s the best way to communicate this to the stakeholders? How do we communicate it to the leaders so that they can then cascade it down so we needed to write paragraphs where the leaders could just take it and make it super easy for them to just– change a couple words,

change the tone and communicate it out. So there’s a lot of work to help ensure the success of the thing after you got delivered.

So a lot more work. So it’s like now I’m learning all these things and techniques to help ensure the success of something after I have designed it, after I have delivered it. So that’s been something that’s been kind of top of mine for a long time.

If wasn’t that specific thing successful, it didn’t reach the mark. But now we’re having conversations about, okay, cool. What happened? These were the metrics that we established. They’re reaching them. Why?

Why not for the next time? What are we gonna do differently? So yeah, there’s still many more conversations that happened after the delivery date. Dave, I’ll hand it over to you to see if anything,

I’m sure you have lots of things that you’d like to talk to. add. – Oh, I just like you hit on two things that are just perfect. One, which direction do I go with this first?

So one, the idea of done, that’s what made me laugh, that’s what made me originally laugh is, because I think down is a dangerous word. – I mean, I’m,

you know, it’s a baited question, right? – No, exactly, no, and I think you know it today. (laughs) – Yeah, exactly. And it’s dangerous because you’ve worked on something for so long,

so hard. You’ve had so many people and you’ve been looking forward to this finish line, right? You do cut the ribbon and that’s good and it should be celebrated, but the danger is in saying that’s it,

we’re done. Let’s forget about it, right? Because what if you just built the perfect solution to, you know, to something, but you don’t find out until you get it in front of those first groups of learners that,

“Oh, you were off by just like three or four degrees,” right? Once you learn that, like, like Ali said, was it a perfect solution? You know, it’s not always going to be a perfect solution.

Maybe it rarely is. Yes, but if you use that, if you use your evaluation afterwards. like if you have an evaluation afterwards, then cutting ribbon isn’t done.

And that gives you some insight into where do we need to make a little bit of an adjustment. So the other thing, though, that Ale, you mentioned, I’m really glad that you mentioned it,

because I don’t hear it spoken of enough, I think, within the instructional design, the learning experience design circles, is change management. And it’s something that just within the past year or two,

our team learned the pro -sci method and really understanding that reinforcement is so key,

which is not surprising, reinforcement is so key to successful change management and who reinforces it is key.

really important. You need leadership buy -in, you need buy -in, you need like visible reinforcement from people who carry weight,

you know, people on the leadership level, people who are seen as credible within the organization. And I think for a learning initiative, there’s no difference between that and any other initiative within an organization.

organization. If it’s going to impact your KPIs, your metrics that your business cares about, you need that change management built into your plans.

Fantastic. Gentlemen, this has been a fantastic conversation, and what I love about these conversations is we kind of knew where we wanted to go,

but I can’t we’re able to talk around this learning experience design process. I really appreciate the specific examples that you put on the table, especially Ali.

That was really fantastic. Any closing thoughts? As you are looking towards 2024, what’s one thing that you’re shifting in your career as a learning experience designer that maybe a new muscle that you want to grow?

a new technique that you want to bring into your practice, anything that’s shifting that you’re excited about? Dave, maybe start with you. – I’m hoping I’m not stealing yours,

Ale. (laughs) – All right, we share a lot of interest in that. – Ale and I both have had a chance to go through the ATDs, MPC,

the master performer consultant certification. Certification. We’re actually in the middle of it still because we need to do our capstone and that sort of thing. But it’s gonna help us to really become even better at that performance consultancy,

which I think is just a skill that, especially for what we do, but in so many, so many areas. so many areas of business of life what have you is just really important getting to the you know hey what what really matters here and who’s doing this well what are they doing well that’s different from other people and and how do we use that information to make some recommendations like just to all of that,

I’m excited about our team having the chance to build some of that muscle. Personally, I’m excited about building that myself.

Ali? Cool. You didn’t steal anything from me, Dave. Still, it’s still important, but I just have two quick things. One is improving my data skills.

Implementation and the learning data strategy of our organization is maturing right now, and I want to be one of the ones who is a leader in that role, but I don’t have the analysis skills,

spreadsheet, tableau and all these things. There’s people on our team, like greater team, there’s two of them who are amazing, but we need to kind of upskill those specific skills specifically within our learning experience.

team. So we can be a bit more independent and that can go in and do those those calculators. I think that’s going to be great for evaluating the impact of our of our learning initiatives to the business. And the second thing is thinking about consultation and how like instruction design before how it is now and like new folks coming into instructional design.

What are some things to think about outside of development of the actual assets is establishing what’s going on outside of development. business stature. And that’s language that I have stolen from my salespeople,

that my learners that have actually taught me something from the sales world that I think is important is when you are for like a salesperson talking to like a CEO, you actually get nervous to like, oh, they have no time for me,

they’re really important, I’m just a salesperson. I see myself sometimes going into calls with general managers or high leadership and I’m just an instructional designer. I sometimes feel that same thing,

I’m just an instructional designer, I want this, they don’t have time for me, or if they do, it’s very little bit, but it’s like, you gotta establish that precedence of like, actually you’re both on the equal level. Yes, they have a higher title than you,

but if the goal of the project is valid and you’re trying to move legit metrics here, and it’s important to the business, then you’re actually on the same level for that conversation.

conversation. And that has like a mental shift when you come in and you’re more comfortable and talking to people, asking them critical questions, pushing back on some folks.

And I think at the end of the day, they appreciate that because the insights you take out are more insightful. And I think you also elevate the brand of your organization and yourself as a worker and instructional design.

And so. So, and those are the two things that I’m looking to develop. – I’m gonna leave us on that note. That was absolutely fantastic. Thanks so much. Dave Kerschbaum and Alejandro Ruiz, you’re both with SAP Concur.

Learning experience design is your thing and I can’t thank you enough for taking almost a full hour out of your day to talk with me today and everybody who’s listening. Thank you so much. – Thank you, Lattic. – Yeah, it was fun.

– Yeah, thank you. – Thank you again for listening to the Healer and Podcast. here from OpenLMS. I just wanted to ask one more time, if you enjoyed this show, if you learned something, if you were inspired,

if you were challenged, if you feel like this is something you can take into your practice, please do me a favor. And right now on your podcast player, hit subscribe. That way you’re never going to miss a future episode.

Also, come over to elearnmagazine .com and subscribe there as well, because we have tons of great information about how to create killer online learning outcomes. Thanks.

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