Bad work instructions are expensive and hard to use.
Confusing. Hard to use. Poorly written. Work instructions on the shop floor present a number of problems that can cost your business millions in the form of waste and inefficiency.
This is not a new problem.
Instructions have been cumbersome for decades, and many researchers have dedicated their careers to making them better, more intelligent, and more human-centric.
But Industry 4.0 is poised to create a multitude of new challenges for manufacturers. Unfortunately, many of these may prove insurmountable if the way we capture and deliver knowledge is not scaled to meet these complex new demands.
What is instructional design?
Instructional design can be defined as the process of methodically designing, creating, and sharing instructional materials, including work instructions, one-point-lessons, standard operating procedures, and educational courses. The goal of instructional design is to offer user-friendly and effective knowledge acquisition to the end-user. Good instructional design can take a number of forms in practice.
"Who writes work instructions?" you might wonder. Instructional designers are traditionally the experts on writing work instructions. However, with a user-friendly work instruction software (like SwipeGuide), anyone can write work instructions without any previous knowledge of instructional design. However, we strongly recommend using an instructional designer at least for reviewing and evaluating purposes.
The most famous framework for instructional designers is the "ADDIE model" (pictured below), which is also very applicable to how the SwipeGuide instruction software has been set up:
The ADDIE model consists of the following steps:
- Analyze: who is the learner and what goal do they want to achieve?
- Design: How should I structure and design this instruction and its steps so the learner can achieve their goal in the most effortless way possible? What content should I use?
- Develop: How should I create the content of these instructions? What text, visuals, illustrations, videos, and gifs should I include? What tools should I create my instructions in? What tags and badges should I use for optimal accessibility? SwipeGuide is ideal for procedural knowledge for work instructions and standard operating procedures.
- Implement: How should I share this instruction with the end-user: QR code, NFC, direct link, embed? On what devices can it be used? Should it be available both online and offline? Should there be an access restriction implemented? Make sure you're using the best tool to implement at scale.
- Evaluate: How can this instruction be continuously improved? How does the end-user actually use the instruction? How does the end-user like the instruction and is s/he able to perform the desired task right the first time?
The Agile Instruction Design Model.
Another great instructional design model is "The Agile Instruction Design Model". This model consists of 3 parts:
Deliver value in increments and make sure to learn and improve in every step.
We suggest pairing up an expert with a novice employee and letting the novice create the instructions by shadowing and questioning the expert.
We like to see instructions as living documents. In SwipeGuide, frontline workers can actively contribute to the continuous improvement of their knowledge base.
Research leads to better instructions.
As a SaaS company dedicated to providing manufacturers with the best and most state-of-the-art work instructions, we rely on scientific research on instructional design to deliver a solution that taps into how humans really learn.
Particularly influential has been Principles and Heuristics for Designing Minimalist Instruction, written by Hans van der Meij and John Carrol in 1995. This is a landmark bit of research - a practical paper that outlines a research-based foundation for minimalist instruction that still proves effective 25 years later.
In the pages below, we'll identify the key points of effective instructional design principles and explain how they shaped the fundamental structure of minimalist digital work instructions and the SwipeGuide platform.