Update Your Systems Thinking to Avoid Bottlenecks in Your Training Content Creation
When thinking about building training content, we often tend to view it as an individual piece of media. For most of us, our current processes are built around creating a single piece of content. But what happens when you’re tasked with making a series of training videos, or microlearning content? There is an entirely different process when you’re trying to create quality content in bulk quantity. We need to rely on systems thinking to evolve and adapt processes to coordinate more efficiently and streamline production.
I look at systems thinking by shifting focus to the who and the how all your processes are connected and related. For a series of videos that includes several scripts, storyboards, video shoots, etc., it’s easy to look at each element independently of each other. When you’re working on this much content, we want to be looking at how we can start grouping processes together to find better efficiencies.
If you’re only creating one video a month, it’s much easier to forget the hiccups and the pain points you experience. When you start creating more and more content more frequently, you become so immersed in the creative process that an accelerated learning phenomenon occurs. The positives and negatives are emphasized when repeating a process so often that you can easily identify any gaps or pain points in your current processes.
Try incorporating these tips to improve your thinking and help evolve your processes to be more streamlined and efficient.
- Big picture: We often get focused on creating each video as its own piece of content, but we need to always be thinking about the bigger picture. Do a deep planning session and start looking ahead by taking a more holistic view of the bulk content you’re creating. You’ll want to look at your processes to find opportunities to do things more efficiently. Ask yourself questions such as: “What’s really the best way to write and shoot this much content?” or “Could we save ourselves some effort by shooting different videos together?”
For example, if you’re creating three different videos, does it make sense to shoot them in succession, or does it make more sense to shoot all three together based on location and talent availability? Shooting scenes for multiple videos at once can help save a significant amount of time. It’s much easier to have the talent change outfits than it is to set up and tear down the production equipment multiple times.
- Embrace change: It’s not enough to just identify the gaps and pain points in your processes—you need to make a deliberate effort to change the current process in that moment. When you’re immersed in your process creating lots of content, all your mistakes are fresh. You can easily identify specific pain points and challenges in the process. We’re missing an opportunity not to take advantage of this.
When you start making changes to your process, you may notice the quality of your content skewing a bit. For example, if you created the first two videos in a series using old systems processes and the last two videos with new changes in the process, the first two videos may look a little less refined and polished compared to the final two in the series. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in most scenarios, but it’s something to be mindful of depending on your audience, goals and objectives for the content.
- Tie it together: When planning to create several videos, we need to start thinking about how we tie these all together. We need to shift our perspective to start thinking about how we can make more video content that fits with all the other pieces. In the early planning stages, you’ll want to consider things such as:
- What is the next video I need to make?
- How do these pieces come together and interact?
- How will I make this (what resources, equipment, talent, etc.)?
- What are the breaking points?
When you view your workflow through this perspective, you can start to accelerate the process, allowing you to become much stronger at your craft.
By thinking about your process as a larger system and keeping these tips in mind as you embark on your next e-learning course or microlearning series, make sure you’re looking ahead and focusing on the big picture. As you focus on the big picture, look for opportunities that will leverage your system to bring more effectiveness and efficiency to your overall creation process.
Matt Pierce is Learning & Video ambassador at TechSmith Corp., the go-to company for visual communication. TechSmith empowers people to create remarkable content to share knowledge and information. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Education’s Department of Instructional Systems Technology, Pierce has more than 10 years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training, user assistance, video, and other teams for TechSmith.