Raising the bar

Continuing with the game of The Politics of Quality, the receiving side imposes a limit on what can be agreed to -- by the tradeoff they are considering (1 vs 0). To move toward a higher consensus, the delivery side needs to raise the bar. The tradeoff already under consideration (3 vs 2) is high enough. The receiving side needs to raise their sights and consider a higher tradeoff. This post explores how to get that bar raised.

Admit to different timing:
When we (instructional designers, eLearning consultants, etc) say to management "Now may not be the best time for a quality learning program", we engage their curiosity. We open the door to a discussion of evolving trends and changing constraints. We allow for the time when a SME with Powerpoint slides may be the right solution. We let go of always being right about the need for participation, immersion and experiential components. We set the stage for the receiving end to consider a higher tradeoff (2 vs 1).

Confess own limitations: In a comment on yesterday's post, Dave wisely suggested using a Johari window to develop trust between the two sides. When we admit we don't have all the answers, the other side will soften their stance too. It may prove helpful to admit how staff, budgets and time are limited, how rapport with the SME still needs to be developed, or how dependent the outcomes are on long term follow through and evaluations. When we lead this way, the receiving side may join in and reveal their uncertainty, vulnerabilities, limitations and dependencies.

Speak the enemy's mind: When encountering strong resistance to quality learning programs, it's usually time to practice empathy. Instead of trying to make our own points more convincingly, it often works to "shoot ourselves in the foot". We can say things like: "we don't know the material as well as the SME does", "it may look like we're trying to build an empire and deliberately engage in turf battles", or "you must get tired of hearing us relentlessly advocate higher quality when you know something faster is often good enough". Speaking the enemy's mind lowers barriers, opens closed minds and de-escalates adversarial tensions.

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