Instructional Design

Using Role-Based Playbooks to Improve On-the-Job Performance

All the world’s a game, to borrow a phrase. Notice how the elements of life, games and eLearning intersect. Learners learn through games and receive badges for completion. Badges aside, the standard measure of effectiveness is how well the learner translates the material to on-the-job performance after the course. Performance is the ultimate measure of an instructional designer’s worth, and a role-based playbook or cheat sheet at learning’s end improves the learner’s performance and increases the instructional designer’s worth.

Your Life or Your Playbook?

Imagine the number of steps pilots must complete in a precise order for every flight in commercial and military aviation. Each pilot works through a physical, role-based checklist—leaving nothing to memory or chance. In an emergency, a euphemism for “we’re going down,” do you want to rely on your captain’s memory? These role-based playbooks have worked so well in the air that John Nance, a former Air Force pilot and aviation consultant, brought the same role-based playbook (checklist) idea to operating rooms across the country with the same results—improved performance and saved lives.

Occam’s Razor—The Holy Grail

When did instructional design get so complicated—and why? There’s plenty of work to go around without duplicating steps in the checklist after designing the eLearning course (read without making up work). The perfect example of how to build a playbook exists—right under your nose. Software engineers changed their M.O. when Windows came on the scene. They no longer wrote programs from scratch. They mix and match modules (.dlls, as one example) and write code to connect them into a cohesive program. Create once; use many.

Putting it All Together

Instructional designers use outlines and storybooks to develop their courses. The playbook contains the real-world results that bridges learning and life. Doesn’t it make sense to create the playbook from the outline when you have unfettered access to resources such as SMEs? Isn’t the outline the rough draft of the playbook? When I saw the number of steps ‘experts’ advocate to create a playbook as a separate entity after the fact instead of as a single-sourced component, my head exploded. It’s like a Yogi Berra quote gone even worse. If you “keep it simple stupid” by “single-sourcing” your course and playbook, you might just start a trend of saving time, money and sanity throughout your enterprise. Imagine that!