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Don't Sit on Your Darlings!

In: DesignWhat If Ideas

Remember that presentation from Hades? Well you should; I whined about it enough. But in rifling around some of the many mountains of folders in our organization’s Box land, a colleague of mine found a flowchart someone else had made about course design decisions that included (you guessed it!) the very concepts I (we) had been struggling with the whole time. This infographic included ideas about how we might work with faculty to build individual atoms, and/or larger molecules, and/or courses, or even programs (an interesting take on how we might integrate modularity into our own approach and meet faculty where they are, instead of trying to push for backward design to a resistant crowd); it included a framework for asking the questions that shape essential design decisions at each of those levels. Now, the language was different but when I saw the infographic, I immediately saw the connection to the very things that my presentation group had spent hours and hours (and hours) wrestling with and trying to figure out how it fit into our structures as an organization and the ways that we were trying to describe our work. We wasted a ridiculous amount of time, unnecessarily. I couldn’t believe it! And here’s where I have to bring up one of the foundational concepts that I’ve been using to grow: show your work! Your ideas do no good stuffed in a closet (or in a Box or a Dropbox). Even if your product is in iteration 1 or even iteration 0.5, don’t wait until some mythical time when you think you’ll be finished with it (that time may never come; this flowchart for example had been abandoned and was very unlikely to ever be picked up again).


I fully understand that, depending on your organization, it may not be considered okay to share unfinished work to potential clients, but you should feel 100% okay sharing these things internally. Your half-baked idea might inspire someone else to synthesize some new information and help you make your thing better; you might make a new connection with someone else who had been thinking along a similar line. At any rate, putting your stuff out there gets it in front of real people and they can give you the feedback you need to make iteration 1 into iteration awesome! I also want to recognize that the other problem with knowledge management may well be technological. In speaking with other folks in my org, I realized that they had tried a communal bookmark sharing thing but no one used it. Naturally, any technological solution needs to be one that has group buy-in so that it does, in fact get used. And there is likely no perfect out-of-the-box solution. But technology will probably be a big part of collecting and sharing what you’ve made, so it does need to be something that is explored. Bottom line: Don’t throw your stuff in a closet, people! You aren’t doing anyone any good, least of all yourself. And worse, you might actually be doing harm.