A Team of ONE? End-to-end Training Designers Might Be the Future

When is the last time a client said, “Let’s create this training program as slowly as possible”? That’s right: never.

Most executives understand that having a poorly trained workforce (or a group working on antiquated systems because they haven’t been trained on better ones) is very expensive. So when they want better training for their employees, they want it yesterday. To paraphrase Tom Wolfe — they feel the need for speed!

Of course, they also want the training to be inexpensive and high quality. Remember the old saw, “Cheap, fast, or good: pick two”? You can throw that out the window. The latest technology is important as well: AI, AR, and VR are just the start of the alphabet soup of current training must-haves.

To achieve this seemingly impossible combination, many organizations are considering radically changing their training development processes. Rather than stay within the traditional team model where an analyst analyzes, a designer designs, a graphic artist, um, “arts,” and so on, some companies are opting for a stripped-down approach with a single designer doing everything — a jack-of-all-trades, if you will.

Can this one-man band (or one-woman band) approach deliver solid training faster and more affordably? Maybe. Some projects certainly cry out for a quick, easy process and freedom from “analysis paralysis.” The single-designer approach even gives companies the option to use staff augmentation — bringing in a professional from outside of the organization on a project basis — to save payroll costs associated with long-term employees.

Is it time for a new process in training development? Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of using one end-to-end training designer.

Pro #1: Speed

If speed is what you need, there’s no substitute for a process that’s centered on one person. No more time wasted with analysts explaining to instructional designers, designers explaining to graphic artists, and everyone explaining to stand-up presenters. With an end-to-end designer approach, the designer can move quickly from one phase to the next since they’ll have all the knowledge needed to complete the project. No more internal hand-offs or “Oh, I forgot to tell you…” memos slowing down the works.

Pro #2: Less Expensive

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that hiring one person is less expensive than hiring a team. Even if our jack-of-all-trades puts in a lot of hours on a project, the costs will be far offset in savings on additional staff. Using staff augmentation from an outside training company can even eliminate all payroll costs for permanent training staff.

Pro #3: Single Ownership

There are many advantages to having one owner for a training project. The designer typically has all institutional knowledge about the project. A single person is likely to become more invested in the outcome when it’s “their baby.” Subject matter experts (SMEs) and HR professionals don’t have to wonder who to ask about the status of the project. And no finger-pointing — we know who to praise when things go well and who to blame when, well, you know.

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Con #1: Loss of Expertise

A single designer should have a pretty good grasp of all elements of the training development process. But what else do we say about a jack-of-all-trades? That’s right: master of none. Without a team approach, we lose the expertise of specialists. The graphics may not be quite as powerful, or the analysis may not be as comprehensive as we’d like. The program might be good, but could it be better?

Con #2: Limited Oversight

One of the advantages of a team approach is that the team members often keep each other in check. An instructional designer with a wild idea is likely to be reined in by an analyst who sees a bigger picture. Of course, end-to-end designers work closely with SMEs and HR, but the likelihood of wasting time and money by taking the project down a rabbit hole can be much higher with a one-person team.

Con #3: Less Reactive to Learning Styles

Every trainer and HR professional knows that people learn differently, and good designers work to accommodate all learning styles in a program. But let’s face it — we all favor our own style. Using a team approach brings a variety of learning styles to a project, often resulting in a more well-rounded final product.

Is using an end-to-end designer the answer for today’s fast-paced training needs? The answer seems to be, “sometimes.” Small, simple projects are probably best for the jack-of-all-trade approach, and we’ve all been involved in programs that would fit this bill. On the other hand, larger projects can easily overwhelm one designer, and using diverse media usually calls for more specialized expertise. Smart companies know that no single solution fits every project.

ttcInnovations offers training solutions on both ends of the spectrum, which is why we often recommend a blended approach to our clients. Combining our signature powerhouse project team with scalable Innovators on Demand™ staff augmentation brings our customers a comprehensive training solution that’s both affordable and effective. Whatever your need, be sure to carefully examine the project parameters before deciding on an approach. Don’t let the “need for speed” compromise the need for quality!


If you’re still unsure about deploying a team of one, contact Debbie today to learn more about staff augmentation and Innovators on Demand™ for your learning team!

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About the Author:

Allan Dodson is so much more than a writer and instructional designer. He’s helped develop strategy in Fortune 500 boardrooms, and he’s taught acting skills to 4th graders.  He’s developed training programs for everything from hair highlighting to pest control to DSL lines, and he’s made presentations to C-level execs, teachers (tough crowd!) and all workforce levels. In short, he has the experience, versatility, creativity, and energy to move projects large and small, and he’s ready for any challenge.

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