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Published: Monday, February 5, 2018


A quick and ‘scientific’ Google search reveals that it takes about two to four medium oranges to make one cup of juice.  It also shows that it takes approximately 18 oranges for a 24 oz. carton of Tropicana orange juice. Either way you end up with a refreshing glass of orange juice it's just how much effort do you want to put into getting the juice.


Many times in content development, as part of instructional design, it comes down to asking the question for me, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” 


What do I mean by that? Well, for example, in the pursuit of excellence Ed Catmull in his book Creativity, Inc. makes the comment on page 23 to “Always take a chance on better…” On page 76, he goes on to say, “ Efficiency is a goal, quality is the goal.” Ed Catmull is the president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation studios.  I appreciate his insight in this great book on ways to forge the path for great end products and creativity.  That being said, not every organization is set up with a studio full of Instructional Designers.  They usually have a handful of Instructional Designers (if not only 1 or 2… or one that wears multiple hats). With limited resources and an ever growing list of projects it becomes even more important, in my mind, to find a balance of the goals Ed discusses- efficiency and quality.  Let’s face it- our projects won’t always be seen by paying movie goers so we have to take those recommendations with a little grain of salt. Some learning content that you develop might only ever be seen by a small internal group of coworkers.  The topic then becomes how do you figure out what content should get what kind of quality?  This is when I ask the overall question, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”  


  • Who is my audience?
  • What do they need to DO as a result of the training?
  • What do they need to know in order to DO those things?
  • Where is the training going to be housed? Who will have access?
  • What is the potential ROI on the content?

The last two questions in that bunch are important to me in determining the level of efficiency vs. quality.   Where will it be housed?  Is this training geared for internal employees but will reside on YouTube where a customer could find it?  Or, will it stay within an internal SharePoint restricted to let’s say sales team members only? 



The other question about the potential ROI is huge here too!  Is this a ‘nice to have’ or is it the one training that will take sales through the roof?  Viewing efficiency and quality on a continuum helps me determine how much effort (or how much squeeze) I put in to the end product. For example:


Small Internal Audience/Low ROI  =  Efficiency > Quality

Large External Audience/High ROI  =  Quality > Efficiency 


So, at the end of the day- is the juice worth the squeeze?  When feedback comes in for making a quantity of 45 time consuming edits to an eLearning for a small internal group of employees - ask yourself the question, “is the juice worth the squeeze?” Or, when you have to go back to the drawing board for a customer facing training video that will dramatically increase sales then ask the same question- “is the juice worth the squeeze?” Somewhere on the continuum of efficiency vs. quality is a compromise.


While I would like to have every one of my projects go out the door in the highest finished quality, sometimes the squeeze for the juice is better spent on different projects. Only you and your organization can answer the question for where the project falls on the continuum of efficiency vs. quality to determine if the “juice is truly worth the squeeze”.


How do you prioritize your workloads?

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