The Program Creation Cycle

The Program Creation Cycle

Something that drives me absolutely wild in the course creation industry is how many programs and experts put all their focus on the “perfect launch strategy” and barely touch on how to actually design a course that gets results. 

On top of this, a lot of those experts are speaking about how quickly and easily you can put together a course.

“Whip it together in a weekend”

“Launch in 72 hours”

The unsexy truth of the matter is that it takes time to put together a life-changing course that gets your people incredible results.

So today, I want to walk you through the main phases in the program creation cycle so that we can demystify those hidden steps that are never spoken about and instead put it all out in the open so that you can create your dream program (without the overwhelm or burnout).

The Program Creation Cycle

Before I dive into the specific phases, I want to draw your attention to three things:

  1. This process is in fact a cycle not a linear process. Any learning experience that you create, whether its a course, group program, workshop, etc is a living entity – it’s going to grow and evolve and shift with you and your people. I don’t believe in ‘the crank it out once and then never look at it again’ approach.

2. This cycle is an iterative process. You may spend 2 months in one phase, 6 months in the next, and a year in another– no phase is weighted evenly. You also might jump back and forth between phases as you see fit. There’s no correct way to go through the cycle!

3. You won’t see launching in this cycle – this is because there are a few different ways of approaching launching depending on what works best for you and your nervous system.

You could launch once you’ve finished designing your program and then build after you’ve finished your launch, or you could also design and build your program and then launch. I’ll dive into these options and the pros/cons in another post!

Connect

This is when you perform market research and gain useful information from your ideal learners that will help you shape your program and design your curriculum. You can do this in the form of typeform surveys, engaging in Facebook groups, just running your ideas by possible students, whatever it may be!

Get to know your students, like their demographics and psychographics. Really take the time to map out their feelings, goals, struggles, hopes and dreams, etc. Getting familiar with your learner and knowing where they are now and where they want to be will tremendously help to map their journey.

Guiding questions:

  • What are my people telling me? What are they asking for? What language are they using?

Design

Some people get tripped up by the word design here – it doesn’t mean design as in web design or graphic design, but by something called learning design. This is the intentional architecting of the learning experience – including your curriculum, your content, and everything that elevates your program into a life-changing experience for your people

How will their lives be transformed once they’ve completed your program? What results do you want them to experience? This phase is when you take all of that and you use it to intentionally structure your program to give your students an extraordinary transformation.

Don’t forget about yourself in the process! Use this moment to think about your wants and what you’ll add to your program that not only feels good for your students but for you, too.

Do you absolutely hate being on camera? Face-to-camera video lessons aren’t for you, then.

Does the thought of live elements light you up inside?

Coaching calls could be an awesome addition to your program!

Remember to think about your wants and what will make you excited about your program while you’re structuring it.

Guiding questions:

  • How can I help my people take action as quickly and easefully as possible? How do I want them to feel in this experience? How do I want to feel leading this experience? 

Build

Just imagine a big “Area Under Construction” sign– that’s your build phase! This is where you’re creating your materials, deciding on a course platform, recording your videos, writing your scripts, all the jazz that goes into bringing your program to life.

Please, don’t get too caught up in this phase! It’s super easy to feel overwhelmed, intimidated, and like you need your materials to be perfect. The truth is, your students won’t actually care about whether or not their workbooks were professionally designed. It isn’t the design of your materials that’s going to get them their results; it’s the design of your program and their transformation.

Guiding question:

  • What does good enough look like for me with my course materials? 

Deliver

Your program is built, you’ve had a successful launch and now it’s time to deliver the program to your people. Depending on the type of program you’ve created, this may look like running live calls, dripping out the content or just giving them access to the full course.

Regardless of the style or container of your program, I recommend baking in feedback points so you can see how the experience is resonating with your people. 

For example:

  • A pre-learning reflection before they start the program
  • A mid-point reflection halfway through
  • A wrap-up feedback survey at the end

Fav feedback questions:

  • What’s working well for you? / What are your key takeaways so far?
  • What could be even better? / Where do you still have questions? What needs clarifying?

Reflect

Aside from the Design phase, this is one of the most overlooked phases in the whole program cycle.

Often, we treat our programs like a ‘one and done’ – once it’s created we can just set it and forget.

In reality, your program is a living creature – just like you and your students, your program is going to evolve and grow over time. 

That’s why it’s so important to reflect on your program (with the help of those handy feedback questions I just shared) to see how things are working not only for your students but for you as well.

Try some of the following questions:

  • How is this working?
  • How does this feel? 
  • Is this structure sustainable for me as it scales?
  • What needs to change?
  • Where do I need to restructure or refresh?

Depending on what answers you come up with, you may need to go through the Connect phase to get more information from your people or move through that phase and back into Design to make tweaks and adjustments.

Wrapping It All Up

So to recap, I’ve walked you through the main phases in the program creation cycle and started to demystify those hidden steps that are never covered, so you can create your dream program!

If you are interested in joining me for my next Course Cafe so I can answer any questions you have about designing your life-changing program, sign up here.

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