Clive Shepherd: it’s not a competition

It’s not only Mayorga Coffee’s Café Cubano that has me going this morning; I’ve just read a pair of posts by Clive Shepherd.

Last June, he wrote about “Three tiers in the content pyramid.” He was modifying an earlier idea that e-learning would develop two tiers: a high end top tie for complex, high-impact projects, and a lower tier of “good enough” contend “designed to communicate simple information or provide basic knowledge.”

In that post, he said he’d failed to consider the impact of web 2.0 tools. He also felt that as you move further down the tier, you get more user-generated content, a kind of bottom-up initiative.

[The bottom-up stuff] occurs because managers are not the only ones with an interest in learning and performance improvement — it is to every individual’s advantage that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out their current jobs effectively, to take advantage of opportunities for advancement, and to remain competitive in the marketplace.

Clive goes to to say that the three tiers — high end, rapid development, and user-generated — are not in competition with each other. In fact, the more experience people have with creating content for themselves, the more they can appreciate the skills that professional bring to bear.

In a post last Friday, Clive revisited the topic. He’s now thinking that the boundaries between the tiers are less distinct, and that what may be more important is agile development (a term from Nicola Foster). Agility is “a combination of strength, coordination, responsiveness, speed, and balance.” Put another way, “agile development is about getting the right content to the right people in a timely fashion.”

I’ve been involved in the early stages of a project related to flood insurance. Clive’s posts have help clarify a notion that’s loitered near the back burner for a while. Imagine using the insight of experts and the tight focus of the Common Craft videos.

I don’t mean “use whiteboards, drawings on paper, and Lee LeFever,” though you could do worse. I mean: target a crucial outcome and use it as a compass to guide your development.

Notice that there is no interactivity whatsoever in the Common Craft products (unless you count “click here to start”). What makes them “good enough,” to use Clive’s terms, is that they make clear what they can do (e.g., explain social networking in plain English) and deliver on that in under four minutes. What happens after that is up to you (which is pretty much the way learning has always been).