Thursday, 27 June 2013

The No-No's of LMS; how not to launch your LMS

Other than sounding like a bad 50s sci-fi B-movie, the no nos of LMS is a warning to all who take responsibility (or want to) their Learning Management System (or LMS from the title!).  These are the sort of mishaps that, running my B-movie them, would set loose the aliens in a mad frenzy for human flesh.  In the world of LMS that essentially means a one-way street to the end of LMS as we know it and that's not the direction we really want to go.

  1. The first no-no is simple; don't go it alone.  If you want to beat a horde of aliens or bring a new system into your organisation, it takes help.  No man is an island (except the Isle of Man ironically enough) and everyone needs help.  Don't get me wrong, there's always one driving force who takes the lead in these types of missions, but a supporting cast is an absolute must if you're going to achieve your aims.  If you are the lead yourself then you probably want to sit somewhere in the middle (unless you're the CEO - if you are good for you, a CEO that values L&D and training!).  What I mean is much as you need people to do work for you (cannon fodder for the aliens?) you absolutely need people as high in the organisation as you can to fight for you; the General on your side is a powerful ally when you meet resistance from the other humans (it's not just the aliens you fight you know).
  2. Don't have a vision.  Seriously, don't bother with any picture of what success looks like to make absolutely sure you can never achieve it.  You have to be working towards something right, otherwise you're just carrying out a bit of R&D (research and development) or trying to avoid doing the real work you have to do.  Successful outcomes need something that you can strive towards, they rarely happen by accident.  Your vision could be as simple as 'making it out of here alive' or 'get back down to earth' but is more likely to be around what a successful LMS implementation would be like - and be bold here (BHAG anyone?).
  3. Don't bother with a plan.  If you really want to make it easy for the aliens and your human adversaries then don't bother with anything resembling a plan just 'wing it' all the way.  You need to be thinking at least a step or two ahead; what's coming up, what obstacles are you going to face and how are you going to deal with them.  You don't need a million milestones, but a few here and there will tell you if you're on the right track.
  4. Keep it quiet.  Whatever you do don't tell anyone about it, just keep it entirely to yourself right till the end of the movie.  A sure fire way of requiring a whole new project at the end is to have not spread the word - then when you do get where (ever) you are going you'll find you're alone there.  It's no good defeating the apes if you're only back where you began - you'll have to have a sequel or two to put that right.
  5. Remember it's an IT system and nothing to do with learning.  If you want an IT system buy one but don't expect it to care about learning.  If you want a learning system then you need to treat it like one and involve everyone around.  A sci-fi movie is about sci-fi not about movies if it's the right stuff (sorry, irony again).  L&D need to be big-style in and leading on this one, it's for learning and belongs there.
  6. It's all about learning and doesn't need IT.  Okay, not contradicting the previous at all, but if you do want to make it a successful learning project you need to involve IT and involve them early.  It's a learning system, but it's still a system that you will need support for.  You make be making a sci-fi movie, but you're still making a movie so you need producers involved.  The lead sits in learning but IT (and other key stakeholders need to be in it too).
  7. Don't worry about content, the system itself will be enough to wow everyone.  Yikes!  If you really want to reach the aims you need to have something for people to see and do.  I work in the learning systems rather than elearning content but without content of any sort even the best LMS is more like a pretty shell.  It's like fighting the mutant insects without any weapons and announcing to everyone 'this is the battle… let's go!' - you may be alone at this point!
  8. Let it go.  I wrote in an earlier blog there's a time to love and let go of your LMS - the launch isn't it.  During your launch and early stages of the LMS you need to lock it down as tight as something I probably can't say in the blog.  Long and short is if you don't have control you're out of control and the aliens will feast on your state of confusion.

As a final not if I translated this into Kiwi I would have retitled it the yeah but nah of LMS; as always know your audience :)