20 Years of Helping People Know What to Do

What were you thinking about in 2004? Apple was thinking about a new idea they were internally calling the iPhone. A Harvard student named Mark was thinking about the $1,000 he was investing to convert his website called “Facemash” into his new idea called “TheFacebook.” A few engineers at Google were thinking about a top-secret project code named “Caribou” that would soon be renamed Gmail and released publicly. 

Diane Elkins and Desiree Pinder were thinking about joining forces as Alcorn, Ward, & Partners. Inc. (Diane’s last name was Alcorn at the time, and Desiree’s was Ward.) They had no idea their decision would ultimately result in Artisan Learning, a company that would influence the training landscape for decades to come, and would help thousands of learners know what to do better in their daily work. Happy 20th Anniversary! 

Early clients included Winn-Dixie Grocery Stores, Everbank (where they first worked with the Lectora authoring tool), Fred Pryor Seminars, and the University of North Florida. The University asked them to take over teaching a 10-week course about e-learning. They couldn’t find a book they liked on the subject so they decided to write their own. It started as an empty three ring binder. Each week they finished the next pages hours before the class, made copies at Kinko’s, and added to the binders. The binder pages were the basis for their book, E-Learning Fundamentals, which remains in print, and is an onboarding staple for new Artisan Learning employees.

Not many start-up companies get to celebrate a 20th anniversary.

Milestones that helped get us here include:

  • Taking the brave step to hire the first employee in 2006.
  • Becoming curious about national conferences, and entering the speaking circuit in 2009.
  • Registering the name Artisan E-Learning in 2011. Diane and Desiree chose “Artisan” to reflect their emphasis on high-quality, custom work. Apropos still today. (Plus, their names had changed, so in addition to being confused for a law firm, the name Alcorn, Ward, & Partners, Inc. was basically an homage to their ex-husbands!)
  • Hiring current company president, Amy Morrisey, in 2014, to run their growing team of employees and contractors in the production department.
  • Engaging a consultant in 2015 to guide in implementing the “Entrepreneurial Operating System” (EOS). The process articulated the vision, core values, and strategic directives that continue to guide the company.
  • Positioning for planned growth by expanding the executive team in 2019 and completing a corporate restructure in 2022. 

In the last few years, we’ve been privileged to partner with noteworthy clients on the largest and most expansive learning projects in our history. The list of things we’ve helped people know how to do has grown exponentially. We’ve embraced new technologies and collaborated with our clients on the most imaginative and brave custom learning projects we’ve ever built. At the same time, we’ve redoubled our commitment to fully accessible learning–a long-time passion. 

In our 20th year we’ve also made the biggest change yet.

With a firm grasp on who we are, and a clear vision of who we are becoming, we’ve launched a new name, new branding, and an all-new website. Dropping the “E” in Artisan E-Learning was a big deal! We’re more committed to high-quality e-learning than ever, and we’re applying the same principles to producing engaging instructor-led content, Hollywood-quality video-based training, hybrid learning products, and cohort based experiences. The new branding better reflects our curious, brave, and imaginative personality, and along with our awesome new website, represents commitment to accessibility in everything we do.

The result? As we celebrate our 20th anniversary we are tremendously thankful for the early commitments of Diane and Desiree. As we look ahead to future anniversaries we are confident in the wisdom of our leadership team. And most important, as we anticipate future milestones we are emboldened by the unmatched skill and dedication of our entire team of curious, brave, and imaginative Artisans.

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