Austerity driving innovation: Solutions in a time of constraints

Danny Norcross

At Sysdoc, providing innovative learning solutions is our bread and butter. We operate in an agile manner, with a dynamic toolkit that draws on a spectrum of methodologies and models to ensure we consistently exceed the expectations of our clients. One such tool comes from the playbook of human-centred design: imposing constraints. 

Imposing constraints is a brilliant way to drive innovation. After using other ‘ideation’ techniques, such as storyboarding or analogy thinking, applying a series of constraints allows us to re-imagine issues in a different context, under a new set of rules. 

We do this by asking a series of “what if…?” questions that break the design mould by altering the frame of reference. For example, if you are ideating an in-house one-month learning solution, and then constrain yourself by asking “what if I only had one week?”, you will get a very different result. 

Usually this exercise is played out in a design session, and the constraints are flights of fancy, but what happens when fantasy becomes reality? 

Looked at in this way, we see businesses weathering a global situation imposing non-negotiable constraints. 

In the learning and development field, the impact of Covid-19 means requests for conversion of traditional learning materials into quick-fire digital solutions for remote consumption are becoming the norm.  

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Covid-19 “what if…?”s:  

What if: 

  • we are not able to deliver this non-essential training face to face? 
  • all participants must be at home when attending this training? 
  • it must be delivered via eLearning?
  • it has no development budget? 

Often, in times of squeeze, golden opportunities arise. What opportunities do our “what if…?”s hold for businesses? 

At a basic level, they mean businesses must revise their requests, and really consider their needs. Once-ruled-out options now become possibilities. 

At Sysdoc, we have noticed an upsurge in the desire and willingness to repurpose existing training materials. 

If a partner asks for PowerPoint presentations for their entire training audience, we might suggest using assets that provide appropriate material custom-designed for online delivery, perhaps using investment-efficient, impactful tools like Articulate Rise. 

Our mission is to continue to provide the highest-quality learning experience. 

Sysdoc believes that when you are faced with a double-edged sword, you might as well make both edges work for you. 

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