How to deal with the overloaded SME

We are all busy. It’s the new normal. When I work on Course Development Teams that develop online learning, I often work with high calibre colleagues. I’ve noticed that high calibre colleagues are even MORE busy. They get stuff done, they work evenings and weekends. They are the “go-to” people when the organization or the department needs resources. When one of these people is a Subject Matter Expert (SME) on a Course Development Team, sometimes it can be challenging. The time required for a SME to do their job well is almost universally underestimated. So now put an overloaded SME into a situation where they are required to invest a significantly greater amount of time and you may get some unexpected results. The most common result that I have experienced is “slippage”. Slippage in the sense that milestones come and go, that deliverables are chronically late and that emails sometimes go un-answered for days. It’s not the typical behaviour exhibited by this high calibre SME.

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