I’ve tried to get out of the habit of being on top of the news. I get the headlines. I keep up to date. But I don’t immerse myself in it. It was never really a problem to be on top of it until the world went crazy. Every time I open the news now, I feel like just as I thought the world couldn’t be any more unsure, it’s just got a little bit more unsure. Around the world we are all battling huge environmental, political, social and economic changes and let’s be honest – we really were not ready for it. We’d become used to the stability we took for granted in the noughties and the tried & tested solutions to longstanding issues we had; for the most part, things just worked.
It’s not that way anymore. It is no understatement to say that everything has changed. Everything. Yet, when I look out in the field, it’s astonishing to see how poor so much of the response has been. Too many organisations are trying to ‘get back’ to where they were and often by using the same training formats they used ten years ago. If they are integrating video and animation, it’s often poorly concepted and executed. Just today as I write this, Elon Musk announces that home working will end in his controversial takeover of Twitter. It’s caused by a toxic self-focus on oneself; when you’re at the helm of a business, you’re blinded by results and targets. The tunnel vision that self-focused lens provides convinces you you’re making the right decisions – but it completely shuts out the view of your workers and the world in which they live.
We need to respond to change much more intelligently than this. We need to open up the aperture of the lens through which we make decisions. We may feel lost at sea, but by making decisions from the bridge rather than a windowless compartment, we can properly map the topography of the terrain around us. We can see where different actors are coming from and why they are choosing that path – and crucially, we can ensure we are in the optimum position to create the right content for those in our field of vision, whether video, animation, learning modules or even in-person content.
So, let’s start there. The first thing we can see is that people want to have fun. They’re probably not too focused on their homework, whatever that may be, but they are doom scrolling through Instagram and making plans for drinks tonight with their friends. Good for them. Too often we have taken the ‘teacherly’ approach of trying to force learners to concentrate and punishing them when they don’t. Of course, the intelligent approach made with our widened lens would be to create some fun animations or video clips that they’ll scroll past in their Instagram feed or podcasts that can be listened to on the way out for drinks.
It might feel wrong to you – almost cheating? It’s a sad reality that we’ve been brought up in a work culture that’s more fit for 1950s schooling rather than the dynamic world of constant video, animation and social media that we live our lives in today. If we make life easy for ourselves by creating easy-to-consume, on-demand content, we’ll also prioritise people. They can go ahead and enjoy their lives but continue to be trained up in a much more fluid and effective way.
At Synima, we call this ‘turning mountains into molehills’. Most information can be repackaged or restructured by better considering the audience and their needs. Far too often, we see overengineered content dumps where a series of rambling hour-long modules cover little more than a few key points. There is no problem with a long module if the module is packed with information and the learner is benefitting from it – but a Christmas temp does not need to be drowned in high level bureaucratic information in order to hit the ground running on day one. That’s where a series of videos and animations can really help in conveying different levels of information to different audiences based upon need.
People consume more content than ever before. It’s just that that content is often video, image or animation sitting on social media formats in less formal formats than what we have been used to in the work world. It’s time we got into gear and plugged in to this exciting world full of opportunities – should we choose to seize them.
Jason Lowe, Head of Learning