Crisis Tips for Learning Professionals

This is a longform addition to a post on what L&D teams should be doing during the COVID crisis. Apologies in advance for some repeat advice but including it in case this is shared without the original context.

Full disclosure – I am not an expert in crisis management, only an L&D professional. The content below is coming from my own experience and based on the situation as of March 22, 2020, when this article was written.

Here goes:

  1. Leave Coronavirus content to the experts. Stop building content on the pandemic. It is already out of date. Curate from the experts. Update it twice, three times, a day. I had an InMail ask on the best video software to use to build a learning video on how to properly wash hands. I wanted to weep. Pick from the thousands online, FFS.
  2. Update also means having a plan to decommission out of date content. Experts are still learning about the situation and it is critical people only see the latest content.
  3. If you are working furiously on how to convert your leadership (or project management, or whatever) curriculum to virtual classroom, STOP. These long form programs are not adding any benefit and we need to contribute now, not in six months. Likewise, it is not the time for employees to be sat in front of an Adobe Connect screen learning how to give constructive feedback. Bin it.
  4. Work with IT to determine what is the new infrastructure now that people are working remotely. What is stable and what do people no longer have access to? Before you resort to video, IT might have other thoughts about bandwidth. Streamline where you can. 
  5. Take a hard look at your learning platform. If you have less than 80% DAU (daily active users) then it is not a viable conduit of information right now. Put content where people are already going. Ask IT for the most visited pages and work with comms and marketing to put valuable assets there. You can revive your LMS when this is over. 
  6. Yes, you need to work with comms and marketing. Don’t care if you don’t like them and if they don’t understand Bloom’s Taxonomy. They are your allies. Coordinate with them to prevent duplication of efforts and to ensure there is a simple stream of information to employees. In 18 months, you can go back to hissing at each other over branding 🙂
  7. SCORM and courses. Putting your content into these constraints and messing about is not helpful right now. Think articles, infographics, videos, and stop building tests. People are under enough pressure. 
  8. If you must build a course (which I would doubt is a priority in the next month) then streamline it immensely. Every interaction has a downstream impact on QA testing resources and time. We cannot afford that right now. 
  9. Your team needs to redeploy and think laterally. We have distilleries now making hand sanitizer and automotive manufacturers figuring out how to make ventilators. So, if QA is no longer testing drag and drops, move them into curation. Learning Experience Designers might become community managers. Will they be perfect? No, but they will learn. And be humble. No VP should have too much of an ego to roll up their sleeves and build a needed infographic.
  10. I used an important word in that last sentence: NEEDED. Don’t run off and build what you think would help. Thousands of people knitted mittens for koalas during the fires in Australia. They ended up with thousands more mittens than needed and the additional problem of disposing of mountains of wool and acrylic. Help your stakeholders identify the immediate needs and act on them.
  11. Focus on accuracy, not execution. Things do not need to be pretty, but they need to be correct. Get comfortable with that.
  12. Is L&D the first to get cut at your company? I’m so sorry, but dust off your knees and think about where you can help. Grocery stores are trying to rapidly onboard thousands of people. Give them your expertise. We need a stable food supply (PSA: stop hoarding!).

As I wrote before, we have an abundance of expertise to help. Education and information are the best tools to combat this pandemic. This is what we do best. Let’s be smart about it.

Be well. Stay healthy.