Wearing all the hats and picking your favorite...

As with many other Articulate Heroes, I am a one-woman show.  I'm a project manager, subject matter expert, creator of documentation, system administrator for keeping the documentation, instructional designer, and developer.  After about 2 years of "doing it all", it's time to try to focus a bit, and get help where I can. 

Looking at three major roles - project manager, instructional designer, and developer - I am trying to identify where I truly want to focus my attention so we can pitch a proposal for help (whether it's hiring someone or contracting is TBD).  The problem is that I love doing certain things in each role, and because I've been doing so much for so long, I'm having a hard time stepping back to separate the functions in each. 

I'd love to hear from the community on this... has anyone had a similar experience?  Anything you particularly love or hate about each role?  Have you found a comfortable balance if you serve more than one?  What's the best part for you of being a PM, an ID, or a developer?  The most dreaded?  Words to the wise?

I'm putting together a creative visual presentation, and you all are always great at helping me to get the creative juices flowing when I've hit a block.

13 Replies
Brendan Strong

I *hate* project management. Although, it is usually the best rewarded role of the lot. My favourite role is somewhere between SME/ID space.

I'm naturally curious and have an interest in multimedia, so enjoy learning things, then trying  to put them out there in interesting ways. I also enjoy reading about how people learn and best practices (and of course Tom Kuhlman's blog for those all-important tips, etc). Ironically, my least favourite part of the ID role is designing (as in the graphic). I feel my eye is not as good as someone who has been trained and has practiced this skill for years. Consequently as much as I try hard, etc. I always end up thinking "I'm sure that could have looked better".

Kim Hannan

Thanks, Brendan! 

Like you, I love learning about the learning and seeing all that's possible, and then throwing my ideas in some electronic form as a draft.  I think my challenge is then flushing it all out... I get bored with some of the details required, but love seeing that end result.  I have a hard time calling something final because I'm always trying to tweak it and make it better.  The worst nightmare for me is publishing a course, and the day after it "goes live", I come up with some brilliant idea that would have been soooooo much better.  Trying to remember not to let perfect get in the way of good.   Glad to know I'm not the only one!

Di van Santen

I'm a one-woman band usually working with SMEs and an easy-to-work-with professional cinematographer. I love ID as I've done on-site workplace training and resource development for many years. I also love the creative aspect of design and development, but don't feel very confident and am constantly on the lookout for tutorials and examples to learn from. Tom's Rapid E-Learning blog and the Articulate Community are awesome with their sharing. I would love to work beside someone like Tom or some of the other Articulate experts to learn as I go. I have a part-time job managing an LMS and developing basic online courses and have an IT person working beside me. That is so exciting as I learn new things every day! Just-in-time learning is definitely very useful and inspiring.

Bruce Graham

Kim Hannan said:

Thanks, Brendan! 

The worst nightmare for me is publishing a course, and the day after it "goes live", I come up with some brilliant idea that would have been soooooo much better.  Trying to remember not to let perfect get in the way of good.   Glad to know I'm not the only one!


SO, make sure you write it down when it happens, decide, (and write down) what SHOULD have happened, and then put that into your next course if and when possible.

Keep a notebook of some sort - in our "non-ID" lives it's calle an "action plan"

Bruce

David Anderson

Bruce Graham said:

SO, make sure you write it down when it happens, decide, (and write down) what SHOULD have happened, and then put that into your next course if and when possible.

Keep a notebook of some sort - in our "non-ID" lives it's calle an "action plan"


Bruce that's such a great idea! I was just talking with another user the other day about this same issue. She'd mentioned that their projects always looked better during the analysis and early design phase, but something between that time and delivery, things changed and projects didn't turn out as expected.

Keeping notes for both successful and less-successful projects is a great idea. Project risks like fatigue, time constraints, priority changes and project reassignments can all impact the the final project. If you can recognize and track what worked and didn't work, you'll be in a better position to manage those risks.

Bruce Graham

David Anderson said:

Keeping notes for both successful and less-successful projects is a great idea. Project risks like fatigue, time constraints, priority changes and project reassignments can all impact the the final project. If you can recognize and track what worked and didn't work, you'll be in a better position to manage those risks.

David - keeping a notebook in this situation is exactly the same as working any close-up magic gig

Bruce

Bruce Graham

Many activities; (close-up magic, instructional design, gardening etc). involve such a huge amount of "doing" that when the doing is over, we tend to forget what we "did", and focus on the output, (did I get paid, did the audience clap, did the LMS run the course successfully using SCORM, did the rose bloom?).

Unless we write a "performance diary", or "notebook" immediately, we forget things such as "I wish I'd used that sleight", or "I wish I had used that font", so I keep a notebook for performance and for projects.

Just my 2p worth.

Bruce

Steve Flowers

That's a really great idea Bruce. It adds a force of priority to the things that are already done. Too often we don't celebrate successes or reflect on potential improvement opportunities that could contribute to *better stuff* and growth. It's on to the next challenge and there's no time to look back. Taking this time, in my opinion, would be really therapeutic and beneficial. 

Bruce Graham

Steve Flowers said:

Taking this time, in my opinion, would be really therapeutic and beneficial. 


We are "human beings" not "human doings".

One of the ways we get to be better Instructional Designers, (or anything IMHO) is by reflection, and this method pays great dividends. There is probably a good "standard" list of questions that should be asked, (it does tend to be the same things over and over...); thinking aloud I would have:

  • What would I have done differently?
  • Why would I have done it differently - and would the benefits transfer to other projects?
  • What worked really well, and should be considered for future projects?
  • Any formatting and/or graphics that I liked?
  • Any sources that can be re-used?

Above, Di said "...but don't feel very confident and am constantly on the lookout for tutorials and examples to learn from."

We have to remember that in addition to all the online sources of help and growth, (a volume which can be occasionally overwhelming...), one of the best places we have to learn to "lookout" and find solutions is ourselves.

Bruce

Kevin Thorn

I wear the one on the left when I'm designing/developing: ID, Project Management, Visual Design, graphics, etc.

I wear the one in the middle when I'm doing administration stuff: user management, asset management, reporting, database, etc.

I wear the one on the right when my head hurts from wearing the above two...

Kim Hannan

Bruce Graham said:

Many activities; (close-up magic, instructional design, gardening etc). involve such a huge amount of "doing" that when the doing is over, we tend to forget what we "did", and focus on the output, (did I get paid, did the audience clap, did the LMS run the course successfully using SCORM, did the rose bloom?)

This is SO true.  I love the idea of a performance journal.  I always hold a debrief meeting to discuss project successes and opportunities, and looking at that now, we do tend to focus on the deliverables and still lose those brilliant ideas that didn't make it into production.

Kim Hannan

Kevin Thorn said:

I wear the one on the left when I'm designing/developing: ID, Project Management, Visual Design, graphics, etc.

I wear the one in the middle when I'm doing administration stuff: user management, asset management, reporting, database, etc.

I wear the one on the right when my head hurts from wearing the above two...


HA!  Kevin, I love it!