You’re the most important person in my life right now. That’s the thought I have in my mind as Matt and I sit down to contemplate the ideal student for our next course. If we get it right we’re hoping three outcomes will happen for that student:

  1. They’ll love the course. Like isn’t good enough. We want every student to love what happens in their brain when they take a course.
  2. As they go through the material lightbulbs will go on. Lots of them. Thinking, reflecting, questioning – all of this should be going on in the student’s mind.
  3. They’ll take the material into their day to day professional life and in doing so they’ll gain confidence, improve their skills and get greater enjoyment from how they spend their time at work.

It’s not much to ask if you’re a student. Honestly, I think it’s the least you should expect. But if you’re creating the course it takes a great deal of thought.

Right now we have a list of topics we want to get through. Far too many for one course. There’s a lot of there there, a thread. A theme that runs right through the list. And it’s an ambitious list. So we’re in a good place. I’m confident we can do a short series of courses, linked around the theme, that individually and then together will hit all three points above. They’ll help our students make lasting, worthwhile change. Our North Star. For now we’ve settled on what’s next but we’re also spending time every week on the overall roadmap.

The actual process of building a course? We’ll start with the idea and at first it’s a jumble of sorts. That’s where we are right now. Deep in the idea for the idea and how we shape it into at first a fully formed picture, then a structure, then a curriculum, then build the content – iterating as we go.

Our process can be messy, generally a good mess but messy. We talk together a lot at the start. Looking for the little breakthroughs that’ll make something complex or hard to communicate into something we can teach simply. These are the ah-ha moments of our own and we have to work for them.

We went through this same stage with Mastering Professional Conversations and when we built our classroom training for customer success managers. I think we’d both rather get straight to the building it part but it seems like the material we’re interested in teaching means some early messiness is unavoidable. In character it’s pretty interesting. I have two little mental models that help me conceptualise what’s happening.

The more prosaic is it’s like taking a lump of clay and working away at it until a basic shape starts to emerge. The wilder idea is borrowed from resistance training. The fact that to make real gains you have to work your muscles to the point of maximum stress to provoke growth: jogging on the spot won’t cut it.

That’s the better metaphor for what happens, we’ll work ourselves hard developing the idea, the heart of what we’re trying to achieve with our students when they take the course. Then just as we’re wondering where it is a breakthrough will come. It’s not always that dramatic of course but we’ll have that dynamic several times between now and dropping the finished course onto Teachable.

The entire process is simultaneously demanding and exhilarating. I love it. I know Matt feels the same.

Here’s the thing though. This next course won’t leave the building until we believe it’s the best work we’ve done.

p.s. If you want to follow along with the development of the course you can subscribe to our newsletter here or below and get The 24 Principles Of Effective Questioning in your inbox over the next few weeks.


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