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Savvy Continues: The Iterative Design Phase

Deanna Sedivy, studio producer

by Deanna Sedivy, studio producer

I liken the Savvy Start to the excitement of getting ready for the first day of school. For some of us, it may have been years since our last first day of school, but we all remember the experience – getting school supplies ready, preparing to meet new people and learn new things.

The Iterative Design Phase reminds me of what made me anticipate that first day of school. During this phase, we get to meet the client face-to-face and learn more about their business and challenges. Since we generally spend a few days together, we also get to know each other as people as well as business associates.

As e-learning professionals, this is the time we need to put our faith in the Savvy process. For ADDIE fans, this Iterative Design Phase covers the A-D-D stages, at least at some level. The major difference between ADDIE and our Successive Approximation process is that very important key term ‘Iterative.’ The Design – Prototype – Review cycle within the Iterative Design Phase is how we iterate through this phase.

How, what, where, and when we design – prototype – review depends as much on the calendar as anything else. By this I mean that we might design a prototype in the Savvy Start, review it on Day 2, then make other revisions to the design based on the review during the Additional Design stage. So while we are still iterating through the three steps, we can accomplish this across various stages of the Iterative Design Phase.

Savvy Process DesignPhase

Savvy Start

A Savvy Start is a project kick-off meeting held over a period of 1 to 3 days. The purpose of this meeting is to brainstorm ideas, create on-the-spot rapid prototypes, discuss the client’s issues and challenge existing designs and beliefs.

It is important for us to do more listening than speaking at first. Let the clients and stakeholders take the time to explain their perceived problems, corporate environment and principles. Our role is to guide the conversation and cut short any wandering discussions.

Then, talk through their needs while brainstorming ideas based on their explanation. From these discussions, disposable prototypes will begin taking form. Throughout the meeting, the project’s design, prototypes and evaluation are done iteratively in small steps.

Project Planning

During the Savvy Start, you will have initial discussions around delivery goals and required review cycle durations. It is recommended those who hold ultimate sign-off responsibility are present during at least part of the Savvy Start. During this time it is important to discuss the components of the project, such as budget, scope, time and quality.

Project planning is ongoing and can change throughout the project, but now is a good time to set some initial expectations.

Additional Design

Any prototypes created during the Savvy Start should be sketches which communicate an idea and/or process, but that can easily be thrown away. Additional designs may be produced during day 2 or 3 of a Savvy Start, or once you’ve returned to your ‘home base’, after some reconsideration of the initial design. The agreed upon prototypes and additional designs are included in a Savvy Start Summary document and are the foundation for the next phases of iteration.

In my next blog, I will discuss the Development Phase, which includes the Design Proof, Alpha, Beta and Gold releases of the course. Remember that I am only discussing a high level overview of our process in my blog posts. For more information, please get your hands on a copy of one of Michael Allen’s books. (They make great gifts!!)

Happiest of Holidays to you and yours!