Written by:

Holly Macdonald


November 27, 2014

I saw a tweet quite awhile back that was said something like “smart societies don’t polarize, they synthesize”, which I thought could be applied to many things. Take the learning industry for an example. There can be some times when it feels polarizing. If you deliver courses you are a luddite who is a throwback to the 20th century. Or, if you use rapid e-learning tools, you are responsible for the creation of bad e-learning and ruining the industry.  I’m not sure if it’s just me, but sometimes I think we are not helping ourselves in the grand scheme: the zero sum approach only makes winners and losers.

The way I see it, the solution is only a solution that makes sense in the context of the problem, the business drivers for the solution (time or budget for example) and the culture of the environment. But as an industry we tend to judge the solution based on what we see, and we actually don’t know what’s going on beneath the surface, what lead to that or what criteria was considered. Instead we point out what it isn’t. It’s not mobile-first. It’s got a next button. It’s a course.

I think we would serve our industry better if we didn’t look for ways to identify how others do it wrong (in our opinion) or polarize things. I think we’d do more good if we looked to synthesize or bring polarizing positions together.  You can still try to educate people that a course isn’t the only solution without polarizing. You can still urge vendors to innovate their tools without browbeating those that use the rapid tools.  Think about it the next time you tweet something about the “wrong-ness” of something. Are you just contributing to a polarizing discussion? Can you do something different?

[Note: It wrote this draft post here on the blog and let it sit here for awhile. I’ve been finding time to write blog posts again lately and thought this quote still had merit.]