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The Art of Training Design

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I was fortunate to spend the afternoon with an artist last week. We talked about much including taste, preferences and inspiration. We discussed how (although we operate in different worlds) we both experience the joy of creative flow and the pain of the dreaded 'block'.

We also discussed the concept of effort and how time spent creating something is somehow interpretted as it's worth. A painting that took weeks to create (because of the numerous re-starts) seems to be valued more by her customers than one she manages to paint in a single day.

Of course, she only has the talent to paint a picture in a day because of her skill, experience and years of practice and learning what works and what doesn't. 

As a potential customer, I will choose to buy a painting (or not) based on whether I like it enough to pay the price attached. The process to get to the end result is pretty much irrelevant.

I have similar challenges as a training designer: Some people seem to think they should only be paying for the amount of time I spend typing out the materials, as if this is all that's involved in creating them. Sometimes I CAN create training materials quickly: when the desired outcomes are clear, when I've got years of experience and material to draw on, when I'm in the 'zone', and my brain is firing on all cylinders. Other times I have to do lots of new research, can go round in circles scoping out the session, and have multiple re-writes before I'm happy. The process shouldn't affect the value of the end result. Does it really matter if I did it in a day or a week?

What SHOULD matter is the value placed on the end result. Which is why, when writing bespoke material, I tend to charge an 'average' price (typically 3 days design for a 1 day session) knowing that sometimes I will get it done in 2 days and other times it will take at least 5. The value is on the outputs, not the input.

The fact is, lots of people can write a good training session if they have the time and inclination. Most of my clients certainly could. The question is, can they write it for better value? With Power Hour material, the answer is 'No': Each session takes 1-3 days to write, and I doubt that anyone could argue that it was more cost effective to spend an average of 2 days creating material when you can buy it for just £30.

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