Designing for Thinking
- Design for Thinking: A Strategy for Effective Decision-Making in Instructional Design
- Reflections on D4T and its Implications: A Comprehensive Overview
- Terminology of Design for Thinking: A Glossary of Key Concepts
- ➡️ Analyzing the Environment: A Crucial Phase in Design for Thinking
- Inertial Behaviors: Recognizing and Establishing Goals, Directions, and Priorities
- Thinking Operations: Making Decisions and Choices for Effective Learning Solutions
- Central Problem: Identifying the Core Issue for Effective Instructional Design
- Collaborating with SMEs: Conducting Effective Meetings to Identify Challenges and Solutions
- Content Coding: Structuring Information in a Logical and Consistent Manner
- Learning Arc: Guiding the Design of Learning Solutions
- Case Study: Designing an Effective Credit Real Estate Course Using D4T
- Step-by-Step Guide to D4T: A Comprehensive Guide for Applying the Strategy in Your Projects
# Business Purpose: The Importance of Organizational Culture and the Business Environment
Every business is created with a purpose. While many businesses are created to generate profit for their owners, that is not the only reason people create businesses. Some people create businesses with purposes and ideas that go beyond financial gain. Money is essential for any business, but companies need more than just money to exist. They need to offer valuable products or services that customers want and are willing to pay for. To exist and prosper, companies need a purpose that goes beyond financial gain.
Within this context, it is important for the Instructional Designer to understand Organizational Culture and the Business Environment. It is the relationship between them that creates the internal “problems” that require designers to “solve”.
What is Organizational Culture?
Organizational culture refers to the set of values, beliefs, practices, and behaviors that define a company. Organizational culture is created by the founders of the company and is the purpose for its existence. A company can arise in various ways, whether through a founder’s brilliant idea, a market need, an ex-employee’s dissatisfaction, or other reasons.
Organizational culture is influenced by the founders, shareholders, leaders, and employees of the company. It can affect how people work together, as well as influence the decisions made and actions taken.
- Values: Values are the beliefs that the company considers important. These values influence how decisions are made and actions are taken.
- Beliefs: Beliefs refer to the assumptions and judgments that people have about themselves, others, and the world around them.
- Practices: Practices refer to the policies and procedures that the company follows.
- Behaviors: Behaviors refer to the actions that people take.
In summary, the Mission, Vision, and Values that appear in every company’s description today, even if it is only an idealization and the company, in the real world, does not function and behave like the romanticized version of self-description. Whatever the origin, the founders were able to turn an idea into a real company that operates in the real world.
Although Organizational Culture may seem more like a work of fiction than something that is actually implemented in the operational routine of some companies, it is important for instructional designers to know that this relationship creates the Business Environment.
Theoretical Definition of the Business Environment
The business environment in official theory refers to all external factors that affect a company’s performance. This includes economic, political, social, legal, and technological factors that can positively or negatively affect a company and its business.
- Economic Factors: include market economic conditions, such as inflation, interest rates, unemployment, economic growth, and competition. Most companies are committed to maximizing their profits, which can be affected by economic factors.
- Political Factors: include government policies and regulations that affect a company’s operations. Fiscal and government policies affect the business environment. The political environment can also affect customer behavior.
- Social Factors: include changes in demographics, such as changes in cultural values, consumer habits, and lifestyles. Companies need to be aware of social changes to adapt to customers’ needs and desires.
- Legal Factors: include laws and regulations that affect a company’s operations. Labor, environmental, and occupational health and safety laws can affect a company’s operations.
- Technological Factors: include technological changes that affect the business environment. Technological innovations can create new markets or products and can also reduce production costs and improve efficiency.
- Company Culture, Structure, and Management: include everything that happens within the company, such as organizational culture, company structure, management, policies and internal processes, human and financial resources, and daily operations.
Although these factors are important for consulting, academic articles, and everything related to business analysis, it is important to remember that all these factors are created by people. Human relationships are essential to creating all this dynamics. And people’s behavior is quite difficult to predict, although easily describable.
Instructional designers must understand how Organizational Culture and the Business Environment affect companies. They need to know how these factors influence the decisions that are made within companies. In addition, they must be able to identify problems that arise in business environments and propose solutions to solve them.
Instructional designers can also help improve Organizational Culture and the Business Environment. They can propose solutions to improve relationships between employees and leaders, promote changes in organizational culture, and create training programs to improve employee efficiency.
In summary, for a company to thrive, it needs to have a clear purpose, a healthy organizational culture, and a positive business environment. Instructional designers play an important role in this process as they can help identify problems and propose solutions to improve the efficiency and performance of the company. Therefore, if you are an instructional designer, make sure to understand Organizational Culture and the Business Environment to improve the performance of the companies you work for.
Understanding the Business Environment in Instructional Design
My informal conversations with consultants and instructional designers about their projects always start in an unexpected way. It would be more logical for these conversations to be based on objectivity, data, observable behavior, and precise diagnoses.
When it comes to instructional design projects, it is common for informal conversations between instructional designers and clients to focus more on drama than objectivity. Clients have grand plans to improve the performance of their companies and employees, but often discover that their budgets are insufficient to achieve their goals. In this context, it is essential that instructional designers understand the business environment in which their projects will be implemented and the forces that govern it.
The business environment is made up of different players, each with their own perspectives, objectives, and goals. Shareholders, for example, are the owners of the company and can influence important decisions. Employees are the backbone of the operation and affect the quality of the product or service, the efficiency of the operation, and the organizational culture. Customers, in turn, are the reason why the company continues to exist, and it is important for the company to provide products or services that meet their needs. Finally, stakeholders include suppliers, partners, government, community, and the environment, and may have a direct or indirect interest in the company.
Each player exerts different pressures on the company and has a bias, based on their experiences and knowledge, that may or may not be aligned. Moreover, they interact in the businesses they do. Therefore, instructional designers need to understand the business environment and the forces that govern it in order to adjust the scope of the learning project and the value reserved for its development and implementation.
- Shareholders: These are the owners of the company. Depending on the size, it can be either a single person or several who own shares in the company and, as shareholders, have the right to participate in important decisions.
- Employees: These are the backbone of the operation and the reason why the company can provide its products or services. They are important to the company because they can influence the quality of the product or service, the efficiency of the operation, and the organizational culture.
- Customers: These are those who purchase the company’s products or services. They are the reason why the company continues to exist, and it is important for the company to provide products or services that meet their needs.
- Stakeholders: These are all the parties interested in a company, excluding the owners, employees, and customers. They include suppliers, partners, government, community, and the environment. They have a direct or indirect interest in the company and are affected by its activities.
It's not always about profit
It is important to remember that each of these players has their own objectives and goals, often in conflict with each other. Additionally, they have a bias, an understanding of the world based on their experiences and knowledge that may or may not be aligned. And they all interact in the businesses they do.
The business environment is the place where these players live, work, and interact. It is where your project is born, developed, implemented, and ultimately evaluated. As mentioned earlier, the routine of the company is commanded by subjective factors, such as bureaucracy, which is created to bring order to chaos.
Understanding the business environment is essential for any instructional designer who wishes to create effective solutions that meet the client’s needs. Even though the focus of the work is on the learner and their needs, the client is the protagonist of this story since they are the ones who hire instructional design services and products. Therefore, it is crucial that instructional designers create a journey that leads to the client’s objective, within the established budget and timeline.
However, it is essential to note that the client’s diagnosis may not always be correct, and even the best solutions may encounter obstacles along the way. Thus, it is necessary to take into account the business environment in which the project is inserted.
These characters exert different pressures on the company, each coming from their particular perspective. Each has their own goals and objectives, which can often be in conflict with each other. And they all interact in the business they do.
Often, the conflict between the desires of strategic positioning and the needs of central positioning is what generates most of the problems in a company. It is essential for the instructional designer to identify the client’s central problem and take into account the business environment in which the project is inserted to create effective solutions that meet the client’s needs.
The protagonist of this story is the client. They identified a problem and went in search of a solution by hiring instructional design services and products. It is up to the instructional designer to create the journey that leads to the objective at hand, within the established budget and timeline. However, this does not mean that the client’s diagnosis is correct, and even with the best solutions at hand, it does not mean that there will be no obstacles in this journey. Therefore, there is a high probability that antagonistic forces will arise that make the project’s effectiveness difficult, sabotage it, or even prevent it altogether.
By taking into account the characters and forces that govern the world of the company, as well as its positioning, the instructional designer will be in a better position to create effective solutions that meet the client’s needs.
The Importance of Company Positioning
Every company has a unique history that helps shape its identity and define the rules of the universe in which it operates. This history is the essence of the company’s positioning, which represents its values and how it acts in the market. It is important not to confuse the positioning with strategic positioning, which is a conscious way in which the brand wishes to present and differentiate itself from others in the market, with its value proposition and oriented to a particular audience.
Understand the difference:
Strategic positioning is an intentional action of the company, while positioning is how it actually acts in practice. When there is a conflict, it is usually a tug-of-war between competing ideals, which can represent the desires of shareholders, employees, customers, and the market’s needs.
For example, some companies have a real positioning that the certainty of having done their best is the greatest reward, while others believe that power corrupts or that success requires sacrifice. Some companies still defend the position of never going against the company, while others understand that conformity kills innovation.
The company’s positioning is a statement of how it acts in reality, and although the company may act differently at different times, it has a central positioning, which is the personification of the company, something for which it is recognized in the market, which can be positive or negative.
Each actor who relates to the company has their point of view on this positioning, and although the company wants to create and control its central positioning, it is possible that customers, suppliers, shareholders, and employees have completely different interpretations of it. And for each of these actors, the company is the personification of that point of view.
Many companies have gone through numerous restructuring, consulting, and planning and positioning changes, but some things never change. Most problems in a company arise from the conflict between the desires of the strategic positioning and the needs of the Central Positioning.
The Importance of Positioning for Instructional Design
Instructional Design is a systematic and evidence-based approach to designing and developing effective educational and training content. The goal of Instructional Design is to identify and solve the Central Problem of the client, which can be a performance, skill, or knowledge challenge.
By identifying the Central Problem, the instructional designer can create solutions that meet the client’s needs and help the company achieve its goals. However, to identify the Central Problem, it is essential to understand the Central Positioning of the company.
The Central Positioning is the personification of the company, and understanding how it operates in the market and how it is perceived by its actors is essential to developing effective training and education solutions. If the instructional designer does not understand the company’s Central Positioning, there is a risk of creating training solutions that do not meet the company’s or its actors’ needs.
In addition, the company’s Central Positioning can influence how its actors perceive training and development solutions. For example, if a company has a positioning that conformity kills innovation, employees may be resistant to training solutions that emphasize conformity over innovation.
Therefore, it is crucial for the instructional designer to understand the company’s Central Positioning and develop training solutions that are consistent with it. This will ensure that the training solutions meet the client’s needs and are well-received by its actors.
The company’s positioning is a fundamental part of its identity and the way it operates in the market. It represents the values and the way the company presents itself to its actors. Understanding the company’s Central Positioning is essential to Instructional Design because it helps to identify the client’s Central Problem and develop effective training and education solutions.
The instructional designer must be aware of the company’s Central Positioning and create training solutions that are consistent with it. This will ensure that the training solutions meet the client’s needs and are well-received by its actors.