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Friday, January 19, 2007

Big Question Follow-up - Are There Trade-Offs?

The Big Question for January - Quality vs. Speed received some responses that caught me a bit off-guard. Several people have stated in various ways that they question the question (with language that ranges from "implicit assumption" to "dumb" to "insane"). I posted on LCB a follow-up set of questions that gets at some of the contention. But let me drill down a bit on some of the bigger issues being raised.

First - a lot of the complaints stem from the word "Quality" (and even more so, the definition of a "Quality Learning Experience" in the original post). Some of the responses say that Quality is "changing a person" or "achieve a performance goal" ... I hate to say it, but these folks are theoretically correct, but they are ignoring the reality of most situations. I'd suggest that Quality gets defined by the client (see What Clients Really Want). The reality is that while we are aiming to achieve the theoretical definition of quality they give, the actual definition of quality is negotiated with the client at the start of a project and their definitions fail to take that into account. However, while I think that they've provided a short-sighted definition of quality, I actually don't disagree with the fact that the industry accepted definition of what makes something a Quality eLearning piece (e.g., wins awards) is really off-base. Just because it has lots of interactivity, looks sexy, etc. doesn't mean it's really meeting client needs. Could something that was produced much more quickly at a lower cost have achieved the same thing or even more for the client? Maybe? But it wouldn't win the award. We may not like this, but that's the reality.

Second - there seems to be disagreement that speed vs. quality is a trade-off. I don't believe we've overcome the old adage of "fast, cheap, good - choose two." Yes, the cost of development for some kinds of eLearning Solutions has been reduced considerably over the past few years. Yes, I believe we've matured as an industry where we are looking at focusing our higher-cost solutions at the most important parts of the intervention and using lower-cost, support type solutions in other places. And yes, there are types of solutions that have a dramatically different cost-effect curve. But, I'd like to meet the person who feels that they aren't forced to make hard decisions about where to spend their time and money on solutions - and that doesn't feel they could create a solution that would have greater impact on performance (their definition of quality) if they had more time and money. After all, if we hired individual professional coaches who were experts at the job and stuck them 24x7 with the person to guide them, wouldn't that achieve a better result than what you did the last time?

1 comment:

Dave Lee, LCB Blogmeister said...

The comments on this post are being tracked and aggregated as part of Learning Circuits Blog's The Big Question for January. Thanks for participating, Tony!