In 2014, after nearly four years on a very winding path, I finally earned my CPLP, placing a marker in my career by which to see things as pre-CPLP and post-CPLP.
Well, sort of. That marker really belongs in the midst of my CPLP journey, especially as I spent time learning more about learning and gaining a more holistic view of the opportunities and expectations within my job as an instructional designer. As I worked toward my CPLP, my eyes were opened to my personal opportunities: asking the right questions about which deliverable was best or, better yet, if a deliverable was necessary; project planning; and seeing the bigger picture.
Since my primary focus was instructional design, earning my CPLP to improve my design skills was an expected outcome, and one that I can honestly say I accomplished. There are elements in my job that come naturally now, such as considering blended learning options or applying various theories based on the audience or desired learning outcome. Yet it was the parts of my job that go beyond instructional design that benefited the most.
Getting to the Root CauseFor many of my pre-CPLP assignments, I took in a request for a job aid or an e-learning module and was determined to provide the best deliverable requested. Yet I wasn’t pausing to ask the right questions about whether that requested deliverable was the right one or if training was the answer. I assumed that those making the request had already done this analysis or that they just knew better and it wasn’t my role to question. My designation taught me—and gave me the confidence—to have honest conversations early on about the best solution for the problem. Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not. What I do have is a keen curiosity and our learners’ best interests in mind. Sometimes the initial request is still the best path; sometimes we come to a different consensus.
Improved Project ManagementPre-CPLP, I was content to jot down a few key milestones in an email with project stakeholders, ensuring the most critical items were outlined and leaving those “unnecessary” details in the space between my ears. The stakeholders and business partners didn’t really need all that information, right? This was my biggest eye-opener and the largest benefit of earning my designation. As I reviewed past projects for areas of improvement, the lack of a clear project plan surfaced again and again. The CPLP process taught me the importance of not only the project plan but all the elements that went into a plan and the ongoing management of it. What departments are impacted by this project? Who are the best representatives from those departments and the business in general? Is there any impact to existing training content? Are there other initiatives that may be impacted, even just with an overlapping rollout? What are those critical go/no-go dates that everyone must agree to? What are the identified risks within this project?
Looking Outside My WindowFor all those times I focused solely on my role, I’m quite fortunate that I didn’t have any catastrophic failures during rollouts. Pre-CPLP, I give that credit to my managers. Part of me allowed that to be their job rather than my job, and part of me just didn’t look outside my own narrow window to see the bigger picture. Post-CPLP, however, I am acutely aware of the steps necessary to make a successful rollout, and I am active in the conversations: Do we need to involve the entire training department or just select individuals? What is the audience’s capacity for this initiative right now given other concurrent programs or training sessions? Should this message come from leadership or our training department? Do we need a formal communication plan?
Earning my designation provided something else: confidence. Confidence in myself to speak up with my questions or ideas, confidence in my ability as an instructional designer and even confidence in what I personally bring to the table at my organization. I had my own “aha” moment a few months ago when I had an opportunity to connect with a business partner and ask her about a formal mentoring relationship going forward. I’ve had amazing mentors throughout my career, but they have all been within one level of my current hierarchy. This was clearly a limitation I had created for myself. This time, I didn’t hesitate in the least to reach above and outside for a new mentor. I would never have done that five years ago.