7 Learning Experience Design Fundamentals

Design Xperiences guidelines are rooted and grounded in the ADDIE learning design & development process framework and Design Thinking methodology. Systematically apply the guidelines to execute an organizational learning strategy for building agnostic skills, such as communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making, skills demanded to address the ambiguous challenges that surface in our everyday work when completing just about any task or process.

Consistently practicing 7 design fundamentals enables the development and drives the execution of an agile and continually evolving comprehensive blended learning strategy:

1. Design an overarching curriculum framework based on what is required to successfully complete strategically identified critical processes, from start to finish, across enterprise functions.

  • A critical business process typically demands demonstration of a variety of technical, product knowledge, sales, leadership, critical thinking, and decision making skills exercised by different roles at different skill levels across the organization. Often individual functions are not fully aware of the impact their actions have on other functions in the organization.
  • Analyze previously captured performance metrics for each of the contributing functional roles.
  • Based on a holistic cross-functional view of the process, assess the existing curriculum and identify what performance support gaps need to be filled to optimize the process.

2a. In collaboration with a cross-functional team of subject matter experts (SMEs), complete a thorough performance support needs analysis for each critical process.

  • Verify that existing documentation of the step-by-step process is accurate and thorough enough to provide sufficient context to fully understand best practices and challenges. For some processes, step-by-step procedures may not be well documented simply because people think the structure may stifle creativity. Operating within consistent processes (guidelines) and clearly defined performance expectations enables learning and development which fuels creativity.
  • Carefully review existing resources designed to support the performance of the process to identify gaps that need to be filled or messaging that needs to be reinforced or revised. Keep in mind: Support is currently being implemented and deployed across existing curriculum, not in a single learning, coaching, or performance support resource.
  • Identify the functional roles that execute or support execution of the task or process to tailor learning experiences and resources to unique performance requirements.

Tailor learning experiences and performance support resources to clearly target unique performance needs.

2b. Learn more about how the process really gets done by listening to stories straight from people that perform the task(s).

  • Conduct one-on-one interviews with individuals from different segments of the target audience representing diverse ranks, functional roles, and tenure in the organization.
  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to share their point of view of best practices and challenges.
  • Document insights shared. Capture direct quotes to avoid misinterpreting what was said. Identify quotes by role and function or service line to make it easier to analyze the data captured over time.
  • Note inconsistencies in how and why similar tasks are being done across roles, functions, or service lines to analyze what seems to be going right, what seems to be going wrong and why, from different perspectives.

3. Define clear and concise messaging that communicates the knowledge people need to know to complete the process effectively.

  • Identify existing documentation to reference that communicates key concepts and process frameworks that need to be reinforced. If the messaging or process is being changed, to support change management efforts it is important to recognize what is different.
  • In collaboration with the SMEs, identify essential topics and experiment to determine the best order to present topics as well as the best content platform (text, audio, video, graphic organizer)

4. Develop performance support tools and resources to help people quickly access what they need to know when they need to know it.

  • Avoid creating resources to support learning and coaching experiences rather than designing resources to support performance in real time.
  • Target resources to specific roles and tasks to enable quick references to clear and concise guidance to apply at the time of need.
  • Approach development of resources with an experimental and skeptical mindset. Feedback from the target audience help refine the resources. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.
  • Break down content focused on specific key concepts into reusable modules. Integrate reusable modules in a variety of learning interventions to be delivered for reinforcement spaced over time.
  • Identify and retire existing resources distributed within functional silos that communicate key concepts in a way that doesn’t align to the cross-functional messaging. Inconsistent messaging will contribute to unnecessary cognitive overload for different segments of the target audience.

5. Design learning experiences that facilitate sharing different point of views (POVs) of the same business challenges, enable sharing best practices and problem solving strategies, provide opportunities for skill building practice and the initial pilot of performance support resources tailored to the specific process.

  • Leverage stories shared in one-on-one interviews to create relevant scenario-based interactive skill building exercises.
  • Implement performance support resources for quick reference during practice exercises.
  • Simulate experiences that require the target audience to look at identified challenge(s) from the perspective of different roles and functions.
  • Clearly describe context and compare and contrast practices that have resulted in optimal and not so optimal outcomes.
  • Provide opportunities for individuals to practice empathetic listening by listening to each other share insights, lessons learned, and challenges.
  • Cultivate an environment in which different points of view are respectfully listened to, heard, and valued to promote dialogue and provide safe learning spaces for exploring conflicts of interests.

6. Using features of a Learning Management System (LMS) specify timing and sequencing for the delivery of identified learning paths through the curriculum. Learning paths can be based on a variety of individual characteristics. Individual characteristics might include results of assessments, role, tenure in the organization, years of sector or functional experience, and identified career path ambitions.

  • Integrate sufficient time between learning/coaching sessions to demand spaced retrieval practice from the target audience.
  • Minimize cognitive load by allowing sufficient time for practical application of new ways of working in the workflow before scheduling a follow-up session designed to reinforce key concepts.

7. Evaluate the effectiveness of learning experiences and resources by continuing to learn through story listening.

  • Empower the target audience to collaborate in the learning design process by utilizing their feedback to iterate on the design of learning experiences and resources as needed.
  • Align the periodic review of related documentation to the frequency feedback is solicited from segments of the target audience.
  • As your knowledge base evolves, take full advantage of generative artificial intelligence to quickly share new ideas and controversial approaches to fuel healthy discussion and debate across the organization.

Learning occurs when people become aware of opposing ideas. Recognizing the value of competing functional outlooks and alternative worldviews increases energy and motivation, sparks fresh thinking, and prevents lethargy and drift.

Is yours a learning organization?