The goal of workplace learning is to drive competency and elevate performance. Job roles, and the responsibilities that align to each role, can be specific and complex. Learning teams often leverage the expertise of a Subject Matter Expert (SME) when creating content. A SME's feedback can ensure that learning is an accurate depiction of the topic and of the performance expectations a learner is expected to achieve.

Which begs the question: if we have great SMEs, do we really need a learning team? The answer to that is a resounding yes. The combination of learning expertise plus job knowledge is the true secret sauce for high quality learning. Here's why:

  • Learning and doing are separate skill sets. SMEs tend to be high performing in their roles. A high level performer knows a lot and easily combines experience with knowledge. A newcomer could have difficulty comprehending the task flow a SME is following; the SME might be challenged to explain how she is compressing and applying knowledge at each step of the way. A learning professional considers information from the learner's point of view, and will order, categorize, and chunk the SME's data in ways that help newbies build new knowledge.
  • Build for the outcome, not for the task. Businesses move at incredible speed today. Jobs, tasks, and expectations are constantly evolving. SMEs are great resources for explaining current best practices. While performance focused material is technically accurate, it will probably have a very short shelf life. A learning professional will align learning materials first to the organization's big-picture goals and outcomes, which gives the content more strategic relevance.
  • It's all about the process. Learning professionals create content via a learner-centered, systematic process that begins with multiple levels of analysis. Applying a standardized process to all types of projects ensures that content is organized and delivered according to the needs of learners. SMEs and stakeholders provide the crucial reviews and approvals to guarantee that learners are getting the best information possible.