Nicole Papaioannou Lugara
2022 in Review
It's that time of year. The time when we look back at what did and didn't work and what we accomplished.
Take a ride with us through 2022 at Your Instructional Designer.
2022 officially marks our first year as an agency. We have two dedicated team members: Donna, our Virtual Assistant, was first to join followed by Rocio, our Jr. Project Manager. There is so much to say about these amazing women.
Outsourcing. We worked with over 21 freelancers and small businesses to develop content for our clients.
Building complex products with multiple layers means needing a lot of different skill sets. It's almost impossible to find people who are equally excellent in all the areas we need supported. Hiring people for their strengths means we can build teams that can get the job done exceptionally well.
Hiring opposites with similar values. The members of our team have different perspectives and different ways of working, and we like it that way.
While there's a lot of agreement here at Your ID, there's also a lot of disagreement. And it's welcome! When we respectfully challenge one another, we find new and better ways of doing things. At the same time, we're all aligned under the same guiding principles. We get where we need to go in whatever way makes sense in that context.
Strategy planning. We formally documented strategy, breaking it down into KPIs.
This kept us marching in the right direction, even if we took a few detours. It was also healthy to grapple with what could be accomplished versus what wasn't priority and see it all documented. When things got fuzzy, this documentation was an essential guide. We will do this again for 2022 (this week we start the process as a team).
Narrowing our focus. We shifted from "hey, we'll do your needs analysis and everything else" to "we're delivering social learning networks and digital cohorts."
It's been a slow churn but we are becoming known as the agency to contact for social learning networks and digital cohorts. That has so many benefits for us as a small business and for our clients.
Taking on bigger projects. Months-long instead of weeks-long projects filled our pipeline this year.
While I personally like constantly doing new things, it's very hard on a team-- especially a team of mostly freelancers. Taking on bigger projects meant we could train once, team build, collaborate, and refine our processes as we went. Ultimately, it was more profitable.
What Didn't Work
Fast hiring with minimal onboarding. Clients waited to say yes and then needed things quickly. We made magic happen, but it wasn't without hardship for us.
It's hard to cold hire, and it's even harder when the project is fast moving and high stakes. When you hire an expert and let them go, sometimes, it works really well, and you get what you paid for. Sometimes, you set them up to do poor work by failing to provide proper onboarding documentation and time to acclimate. We got a little bit of both.
Shielding. I opted to take on work myself to protect my team from bad client decisions-- often because I felt like it was paying my dues for making the poor choice to agree.
Shielding meant taking on work that wasn't meant for me. It meant late, late nights and mistakes as I scrambled to turn in work that was designed to be completed by a team. My team didn't get the feedback they needed to make future revisions. And it set a bad precedent with clients. Things went much better when I was willing to give the "bad news," and 9/10, my team made the changes without any of the negative things I thought I was shielding them from actually happening.
Breaking with process to try to meet client requests. Being flexible is good to a degree, but when you have a process, and the process ensures you can make a complex project happen effectively and efficiently, you should stick to it to the degree possible. We bent too much.
It's good to be adaptable. It is not good to throw out your entire process-- one that has been tried and proven. This resulted in d additional work, challenges with SMEs, and other predictable issues. Under pressure, we said yes when we should have said no. Won't be doing that again.
Retainers (with a caveat). We opted to be paid a monthly retainer for elearning development, and it didn't work.
On the surface, getting paid for every month a slower-moving client works through a project is a great idea. But when money isn't a huge driving factor for the organization, it doesn't work as a great incentive. Essentially, the project dragged out way longer than needed, and we needed to make good on the retainer when they did have time to squeeze us in.
On the flipside, we will still have retainers for managed services for our social learning networks because constant curation, generation, and administration makes sense, where developing eLearning piecemeal does not.
Mediocre marketing strategy. The marketing plan had the right spirit, but poor execution and limited long-term thinking.
We put out some content, but didn't really fully execute on a big picture plan. If you look at the Your ID website, it's not well-aligned to our current vision. Our mailing list is still predominantly IDs and our mailers are mostly blog posts for them (nothing that converts). Our YouTube channel is spotty and mostly me. Our LinkedIn is quiet. Our presence at events is limited. Still operating a bit too much like a freelancer making connections via word of mouth at this point. That needs to change to keep a healthy pipeline and business.
grew our freelance community on Facebook to over 4,000 members.
completed 10 projects for 6 clients.
wrote 343.5 minutes of video content and produced 69 videos in house (and many more with external video producers) in addition to countless "editing only" projects piecing together screencasts and other content.
produced 8 digital newsletters with microlearning features and videos.
created 1 digital showroom for a retailer.
produced 7 Rise courses and storyboarded 9 Storyline modules of 15 - 30 minutes length.
crafted more than 456 pages of workbooks and job aids.
strategized and implemented 1 complete social learning network, including:
community strategy for 11 social groups
8 learning pathways with new and curated content
2 fully produced animated videos
12 edited videos
5 mobile-friendly microlearning modules
50+ knowledge base articles
23 pages of tip sheets
hundreds of scheduled posts
1 train the trainer session
1 welcome session for employees
sponsored the XR in LXD Spatial space.
ran 3 cohorts of From Data to Design.
are putting out an ID Affirmation Journal before the end of the year.
worked with 21 freelancers and small businesses to produce content to get this done.
I encourage you to reflect on your own accomplishments and put it into facts and figures. I often start this process feeling like "eh, we didn't do that much. We could do better." And I end it going, "Sheesh!!! How'd we do all that?"
Give it a go, and let me know how you did this year!
And truly, I have to thank my team and our wonderful supporting vendors. None of this would be possible without them. Thank you all for your time, energy, insights, and wonderful spirits! You make learning that matters, but you also make this all matter to me.
Wishing everyone a happy holiday season and a new year full of exciting new opportunities!
Work with Your ID in 2023!
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