A Case Study

The Heart of Global Collaboration: SMEs

In the realm of corporate training and development, a unique set of challenges and rewards await us at every step. One such endeavor that presented a distinctive blend of these was a project with MongoDB, a recognized global leader in database platforms. At the heart of this fascinating journey were the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), the irreplaceable forces driving our objective: a seven-course video series targeted to enhance the skills of MongoDB’s customer service personnel. This case study seeks to unfold the story of this collaborative success, with a special focus on the roles played by the SMEs, and the invaluable lessons we learned.

Sample module from this 7 course series. Each course contains 4-7 video modules that are 3-5 minutes long.

Navigating a Global Workspace: Respecting Time and People

Our journey involved an international team, with the SMEs being based in Paris, France, while I operated from the United States. The difference in time zones was our first hurdle, but not one too high to cross with meticulous planning and mutual respect for each other’s time and commitments. An essential part of our study of instructional methodologies included understanding that global collaboration is not just about managing project timelines but also about managing relationships.

In-Depth Understanding: The Power of One-on-One Conversations

One of the learning objectives of our project was to truly understand the people we were creating the content for. As the saying goes, “Many SMEs, many minds,” but there’s always a common thread that binds their experiences. To uncover this thread, I engaged in in-depth conversations with six different MongoDB team members, spanning from the client engineers to their supervisors. These sessions gave me a real-world perspective of their roles, the challenges they faced, and the intricacies of dealing with clients. The honest and open feedback gathered during these interactions helped us integrate their experiences into our training videos.


The Unique Bond with My Parisian Partner: Best Practices for SME Collaboration

Collaboration with my Paris-based SME was a mix of professional engagement and personal support, a balance that’s crucial in facilitating meaningful connections. She was an integral part of the project, ensuring the content we developed was accurate and engaging. I felt like I was working with a friend and not just an agency. As a result, we were able to have more in-depth conversations about what we wanted to achieve and how best to do it. This created a stronger bond between us that made the final product even better than if we had worked together as strangers.When we received positive feedback from both learners and supervisors, it was a shared victory, a testament to the seamless integration of our efforts. Receiving positive feedback from both learners and supervisors was a significant accomplishment for us. It served as a shared victory, highlighting the successful collaboration and coordination of our efforts. This positive feedback not only validated the effectiveness of our approach but also emphasized the seamless integration of various aspects of our work. It was a testament to the commitment and dedication of everyone involved in achieving our goals. 

Short Videos, Long Conversations: The Methodology Behind Our Approach

Online learning has seen a shift in recent years, gearing the learning process towards shorter, more focused content. Keeping this in mind, we designed our seven-course video series, 4-6 videos in each course, with each video module lasting just 3-5 minutes. We wanted the content to not just educate, but to also stimulate conversations within the team. This approach worked incredibly well, encouraging team members to share their experiences and leading to a stronger, more supportive team environment. The open sharing of experiences proved to be highly effective in fostering a stronger and more supportive team environment. By providing a platform for team members to speak openly and honestly about their experiences, we were able to create a sense of camaraderie and understanding amongst the team.

Through these shared experiences, team members were able to relate to one another on a deeper level, gaining insight into the challenges and successes that others had faced. This not only helped to build empathy and compassion within the team but also provided a valuable opportunity for learning and growth. This approach fostered understanding, collaboration, and personal growth amongst team members, ultimately leading to improved team dynamics and performance. 

Creating Ripples of Change: Simulation of Real-world Scenarios

The most gratifying part of our project was the observable change it brought about. Our video training series didn’t just include the standard checklist of goals achieved but also shed light on the intangible outcomes. We could see that our videos were making a difference: The participants’ confidence and sense of empowerment increased, and they felt more prepared to deal with the challenges they would encounter in their real-world scenarios. This was especially evident when we interviewed them after they had taken the courses. We saw from the reviews an improvement in team dynamics, open communication channels, and camaraderie among team members, proving that our inclusion of real-world scenarios had a considerable impact. The video training series also helped us to identify gaps in the current training system and how we can fill them.


The Road Ahead: Summarizing Lessons and Looking Forward

Wrapping up our case study, the opportunity to collaborate with MongoDB’s finest served as an enlightening lesson in global corporate training. It revealed how instructional design, particularly video-based, can foster connections, enable learning, and bring about a shift in team culture. These lessons, coupled with the realization of the importance of meeting the deadline without compromising quality, continue to guide my approach towards new projects. This case study underscores the role we play as instructional designers in shaping people’s professional lives and, by extension, the overall success of their organizations.

Conclusion: The Larger Picture of Productivity

Looking back at this project, it’s clear that our journey was about more than just creating e-learning modules—it was about creating connections, understanding human experiences, and using this understanding to facilitate learning. We integrated the lessons from this project into our best practices, carrying them forward to new challenges. As instructional designers, we have the privilege and responsibility of creating training modules that do more than educate—they inspire, motivate, and cultivate a conducive environment for growth. Each step in our journey, each success, and even each misstep, serves as a building block in this grand design of facilitating productivity and personal growth.


We hope that sharing our journey through this case study provides you with a fresh perspective on managing global corporate training projects, particularly those involving creating engaging video and other multimedia content. Remember, as instructional designers, our job extends beyond creating training modules—we have the opportunity to significantly impact people’s professional lives and, in turn, the overall success of their organization. This is a challenge and a privilege we should strive to uphold in every project we undertake. 

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