Creating Training Course Content: Good, Fast, or Cheap?

Back in my early days of taking on training responsibilities, I signed up for as many free webinars as possible to learn more about creating material for my new online learning library. During one particular webinar, the audience was polled on how long they suspected it took the webinar host to put together one well thought-out, highly visual, rehearsed webinar. Participants all underestimated and the host bragged at the fact that he goes by a 40:1 ratio. For a 1 hour webinar, he spends 40 hours preparing.

“I’m doomed,” I thought to myself. At that time I was starting to build up course content for my online training library at a fast-growing company. Each day that my resources were not posted was costing me time and my employees were missing out on learning opportunities. I eventually came to realize that the webinar host had very different goals than I did for content creation.

He focused on crafting every image and example to relate back to his points. For me, I wanted to explain to people how to get from point A to point B in a software platform, and what to do when situation C is in the mix. I was focused on creating guidance for my employees.

In the discipline of project management, there is a great lesson to be learned in understanding the “Project Management Triangle.” This triangle incorporates the concepts of cost, scope, and schedule (time). The modern day version uses more widely known concepts: good, cheap, fast. With both the triangle and the modern-day version, the rule in place is that on any given project, you can only pick two concepts at a time.

The project is done fast and good, but it isn’t going to come out cheap (rush fees, overtime pay, etc.)

The project is done good and cheap, but that isn’t going to be done fast or on my ideal timeline (outsourcing, working with subcontractors, etc.)

The project is done fast and cheap, but it isn’t going to be good (quality, polished, etc.)

Ask yourself, “What are the priorities in creating training content for my team?”

What if I said you could have more than the original “pick two” rule? In my experience as a bootstrapping trainer, I came to the conclusion that I could pick three when creating course content given that the options were:

Fast, Cheap, and Good Enough

Perfectionists are cringing at this idea and the adult learning theory gurus are going to berate me. When it comes down to my personal experience, I did not have the time to make my training content the crème de la crème of virtual learning videos. I wanted my employees to have the proper training resources at their fingertips as soon as possible. Each day that they would interact with our clients without fully understanding the operations procedures and the best practices of our business was posing a risk. It was because of this situation that I decided “good enough” was going to do.

Not all situations are going to fit the “good enough” concept. I would encourage you to weigh out the options and alternatives based on your training demands. Ask yourself if good enough might be the best solution to get your training content done fast, and cheap.

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