Do you need more ! or ?

Whether one reads the book or watchs the TED Talk, there is a theme that runs through Judge This that I think learning designers should consider. Chip Kidd has created what he calls the Mysteri-o-meter which rates on a scale of 1 to 10 how mysterious the messaging of a piece of content (in his case graphic design) is. On this scale 1 is represented by an ! and means total clarity and 10 is represented by a ? and means complete mystery.

Now why does this matter to us as learning professionals? Well, like any type of design, what we create seeks to solve a problem. In our case it is generally a knowledge or skill gap. So our first instinct might be that we should always be hovering over at the ! side of scale. We should be clear, right? Well, sort of.

Is the need for the person to understand the information immediately? Then yes, I want to be crystal clear. But what about a topic where there isn't one right answer. Maybe you want them to think a little more deeply or explore. Then you might want to spark their curiosity by adding a little mystery and letting them discover things for themselves rather than spelling it all out.

Let me know how you would rate projects you are currently working on. Are they more ! or ? and is that were they should be?