Breaking down Complex Processes into Easily Consumable Content
March 4, 2021
Keep it Simple
Many workers are inundated in a myriad of complex processes as part of their job. Oftentimes these processes are not documented and may change on the fly. How would you train a new employee to follow those processes and ensure they learn the “right” way of doing things? It could end up becoming a logistical nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be.
When you’re in a world where context is very important, it can be difficult to take complex systems or processes and turn them into something simple. It takes time, effort and a lot of brain power to reverse engineer systems into something simple that a layperson can understand, but it’s a very important step of training design.
Why is Simple Better?
Simple is generally better than complex when trying to teach concepts and provide instructions on how to accomplish something. “Keep it Super Simple” (K.I.S.S.) is an acronym used often across the educational landscape, and for good reason.
If you could teach someone how to do something in 3 easy steps instead of 6 complex steps, that saves effort on the subject matter expert’s part in relaying the training content to the designer, it’s easier for the learner to understand and it’s usually faster to develop. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
When to Simplify
Sometimes processes have to be complex in order for them to work properly. There may not be a good way to simplify it without losing some of the meat of the content. However, there are often still ways to explain the concept itself at a high-level and provide examples that people are more able to relate to.
It’s Important to determine how simple you can make your process before it loses its potency. This is as much an art as a science because each process is different, as are the pieces that it contains. It’s also often worth brainstorming how best your learners may receive the information, as it can impact the type of training you create, and thus how simple or complex is may need to be.
Simplification works best for scenarios such as:
- Educating a new hire on how to do their job
- Training on a step-by-step replicable process
- Relaying the most important information about a robust concept
- Providing quick “bite sized” tidbits to learners without a lot of time
How to Simplify
Find a balance between complexity and simplicity by asking yourself whether someone unfamiliar with the process would get value out of the current complexity level of the training. Here are a few tips to consider when trying to provide detailed information without over explaining.
What does the learner absolutely need to know?
How much context do people need to “get it”? This is a question you can use to gauge the level of depth you may need to dive into during the training. Perhaps you’re training on a particularly complex subject such as how to run a business, but you can break down that subject into sections related to each department and subsections about departmental duties to be able to better explain the content of each part without overwhelming the learner.
Less Quantity, More Quality of Content
Less is more when it comes to content on slides, especially text. Few people will pay attention long enough to read through dozens of long-winded bullet points and still reach the level of understanding you may desire. Find ways to say the same thing, but more succinctly, and take questions if learners need further assistance.
You might also consider providing supporting documents that go into more detail about the processes you’re teaching while allowing the slide content to stay lean and efficient.
Use images to illustrate your point
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” as the saying goes, and in training presentations a picture can fill in on a slide for those thousand words of text, leaving you with only a few key content pieces to carry the point forward in an easy to understand manner.
In some cases, instead of a picture you could provide a chart or graph that is simple enough to be easily understood, but still detailed enough to convey your point. Either option keeps your slides clean and your learner’s minds full of only the most important information.
Provide Short audio/video clips to support your content
Just as pictures are great to use in slides to support your text content, so too are audio and video clips to provide variety and explain concepts in a different way. Perhaps it’s difficult to explain a concept via text alone, but a 15 second video clip may provide a perfect example of how that concept works. This still keeps the slide content simple and can pre-emptively answer questions learners would have had from the slide providing too much detail.
Positive Results™ is a training development and cloud solutions company that helps SMBs analyze their business processes, then solve for gaps we find in those processes. We work with many businesses to create training from scratch and from existing materials, as well as expanding existing training to better meet competency goals.
Our objective is to help simplify training content so learners see an increase in comprehension and achieve better performance metrics. If you need help simplifying your business process or training, consider reaching out to us for assistance. We’re happy to help.
Positive Results™ Custom Business Solutions