Step 4: Move With The Market

The world is constantly changing—look at the ways technology has evolved in just the last decade! What was cutting-edge a moment ago is quickly surpassed by something newer, better, and faster.

No surprise, the e-learning world is no different: authoring tools grow and evolve to become even more powerful, more intuitive, and create a richer experience for learners. Design trends come and go, as do new discoveries in learning theory and methods. It means the only constant in our field is change – and as e-learning designers, it’s our job to be ready for it.

Step Back And Observe What’s Happening

There’s a saying that if you’re too close to the trees, you can’t see the forest: you miss the beauty, or significance, of the big picture. In e-learning, that larger view is where we can see shifts taking place in our business that could be opportunities – or threats. To stay ahead of the curve, I make it a practice to do some research every night: reading blogs and articles, checking Tweets from peers, catching up on industry publications, and browsing discussion threads in ELH and elsewhere. Sometimes I’m so intrigued that I lose track of time!

Building that practice into my daily routine helps me stay current with what’s happening in the industry. You never know when a chat with a client will turn into an opportunity to share what you’re seeing and draw them forward into the next e-learning wave. They’ll be grateful to be out ahead, and you’ll look smart –  it’s a win-win!

Keep Learning – Always

Along with keeping a wide perspective is the idea of staying curious – about what’s going on, what else you can learn, about trying something new and different. A healthy dose of curiosity keeps you exploring and learning new things. In e-learning, as in life, there’s always something new to learn that can diversify and strengthen your skillset, that can add a depth and breadth to what you can offer your clients.

It’s no secret that I’m a big believer in the Articulate suite of authoring tools for my e-learning work… but sometimes my projects need that extra degree of specialization in a certain area so I’ve made it my priority to find niche tools that dovetail nicely with Storyline. For example, I recently discovered a tool from Pixel Film Studios – ProExplainer – and Motion5, which helped me create some really nifty animations and explainer characters for a project. Supplemental tools like these hit the market all the time, so I try to find and learn about new ones that can add an extra refinement to my projects.

You know another great thing about a learning mindset? It keeps me connecting with people! Whether it’s in my client work or the pieces I share in E-Learning Heroes, new ideas, techniques, processes, or efficiencies are a starting point for discussions that have led to some unexpectedly positive places, like new projects or new people in my network. I like to use a 360° mindset on my learning sources—people can be more-experienced, or my peers, or e-learning newbies, or outside of our industry altogether. And maybe I can teach them something new too! The key is to stay open, ready to discover and share wherever I am.

I realize that change can happen lightning-fast and these two daily practices of actively seeking and absorbing new ideas are not the only ways to grow a business. But, I’d say that for me, they’re two of the things that have really accelerated the growth of my business over the last decade, and have given me more satisfaction and success than ever in my work.

Next week I’ll finish out this series on How I Grew My Business in 5 Simple Steps with Step 5: Giving Back.

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