eLearning Lessons from Steve Jobs

There’s a fair amount of Apple geekery in the Expand office. Some of us gathered in our conference room to watch the iPhone 6/Apple Watch announcement. Our one non-iPhone user faces almost daily badgering and ridicule. And, we often look to Apple’s products and Steve Jobs for inspiration on everything from design to marketing.

Jobs was a force that will never be matched and one we all can learn from. Below is a selection of Jobs’s most notable quotes, and how we eLearning folk can pull inspiration from a brilliant man.

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

Aren’t you always pleasantly surprised when a product or service does exactly what it claims to do, as well as it claims to do it? It’s so rare it’s almost shocking when it happens. The Apple brand has never been one of inflated claims.

Instructional designers and eLearning developers hold the professional development of others in their hands. Quality is of the utmost importance and shouldn’t be limited to customer-facing aspects of an organization.

“I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”

Jobs was never one to settle for anything. Every draft or idea turned down should bring about a new and improved one. Innovation is an iterative process and you’ll never find the best solution on the first, second, third…twentieth…or maybe even one-hundredth time. This is true of any creative process, including eLearning.

“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Apple’s iPad is the perfect example. Consumers were skeptical of the iPad until they saw it in action or held it in their hands. Suddenly it was a top-selling product. The same could be said for many aspects of eLearning, such as performance support. Employees might hate the sound of learning follow-up and job aids, but once they have them and reap the benefits, they’ll wonder how they ever did their job without performance support materials.

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”

eLearning pros often work in teams, and once you’ve incorporated everyone’s ideas you can wind up with a complicated first draft. Remember to focus on simplicity, whether you’re working on a single screen or an entire course.

“Quality is much better than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.”

One really good course is better than five mediocre ones. While time is important and you have deadlines for your deliverables, avoid sacrificing quality.

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”

Know that you probably won’t hit the nail on the head the first time with your training audience. Be sure to ask for their feedback and focus on continuous improvement.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

At Expand, our Creative Director and UI/UX Director work hand-in-hand on every project to make sure our courses and software not only look great, but function exceptionally well and in a way that’s intuitive to the end user.

“I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.”

Diversity in teams contributes to the greatness of the team. Allow your eLearning team members the flexibility to explore their creative sides and contribute their unique perspectives to each project.

[Photo Credit: DSC2263]