November 30, 2022

Mastering the Pace of the Instructional Designer

Patrick Cady

Title Instructional designer

Organization Optimum


Location Overland Park, Kansas


Education Bachelor of Journalism (University of Kansas)

favorite quote “Journalism allows its readers to witness history; Fiction gives its readers the opportunity to experience it. —John Hersey

During the first stage of his career, Patrick Cady covered various beats for a weekly newspaper. This role required him to be a good storyteller and honed his ability to break down complex issues into components that are accessible to readers. He also tapped into his skills in photojournalism and page design. Today, as an instructional designer for Optum, an American pharmaceutical and healthcare benefits provider, Cady uses those same abilities while also serving as a videographer and voiceover.

What is your favorite part of the instructional design process?

New projects are like rocket fuel. I love exploring the roots of a training need and a business goal, mapping content, and presenting content in the most engaging way possible. There is a thrill in problem solving.

What basic tools do you rely on to do your job?

I use a variety of industry standard tools. My philosophy is to get the best out of telling a story. In addition to integrating e-learning authoring programs, I rely on image editors, motion graphics programs, and video editing software. I love the power of kinetic typography. I also believe that whiteboard videos can have a big impact.

What is your top recommendation for keeping learners engaged online?

I seek a balance between curiosity and usefulness. How will the content improve the learner, the business, and the patient? I keep the material well analyzed. If you are providing food for thought, you want your learners to be able to chew. Plus, if you have fun creating a work, chances are your audience will have fun consuming it.

How do you incorporate feedback into your design process?

Projects increase or decrease based on mutual efforts. I try to keep stakeholders by my side throughout a production journey. This ranges from initial meetings with applicants to confirm a shared vision to constant workshops with teammates to being widely available to trainers if the work is instructor-led. I believe in constant iterative improvement, and the way to achieve this is to make the most of expert feedback.

What career advice do you have for future L&D professionals?

Be an active consumer of training, movies, photos or stories. Ask yourself “Why is this engaging? » Write down the strategies. Also think about the skills you acquire in individual projects. Whether it’s project management, problem solving, or building fluency in new programs, in some way you’re almost always mining gold for your resume and portfolio. For the long term, follow your passion. How can you make the most difference for the most people?