cubes_wallpaperMy kids often ask for a plaster whenever they injure themselves, whether it be a graze, a burn, or a just a pain that has left no mark whatsoever. Getting a plaster makes them feel better.


Businesses can often behave the same way.

When a company that has struggled with an issue finally realises that a training and development need has been identified they are suddenly presented with a variety of options.  Things get complicated when they begin looking for potential solutions before establishing the real need.

Management often see a competitor has introduced an ‘all singing all dancing solution’ to their learning and development problems, that business is now thriving, so they go for the same approach not realising that the underlying needs were different.

But applying a band aid won’t help if there are deeper issues or if the issues have been misdiagnosed.

Check your findings

Are you sure that the problem you have highlighted is the real problem? For example, You may have identified that there has been an across the board rise in customer complaints. It might seem that customer service training is required. Customers are saying that they aren’t being listened too. So clearly there is a service issue and training is required….isn’t it?

Upon further investigation, you may find that continual and repeated system outages are causing a delay in accessing and updating customer records, and in some cases the changes aren’t being recorded.. Is this still a training issue or a systems issue?

Maybe it’s both?

To effectively deal with this you need to be fairly certain which it is.


Small changes

Once you’ve answered the question….’what do we actually need?’  and checked the findings. Its’s time to start making the changes. Most of the time it is simply a small change in behaviour or belief that leads to bigger outcomes.

However, This can devolve rapidly as other departments or management see it as an opportunity to make tweaks too..other strategic objectives get added and opportunities to improve value chain activities can lead to executive level interference at all stages. Before you know it you’re ripping up a perfectly adequate L&D system up by the roots to replace it with a ‘data-chewing-data-spewing’ monstrosity that will not bring about the changes needed and drain the life out of managers and end users alike.


The simple approach- look at the similarities first

What is the hardware that all people share? It’s not portable learning devices, PC’s or MACs, or digital platforms. Its Ears, Eyes, Nose, Hands and Brains!

People use these senses to learn all the time- what they choose to make a ‘priority’ is where VAK (Visual Auditory and Kinasthetic) learning styles tend to come from. Since studies have discovered that no single learning style has been proven to be more effective than any other, it has been a clarion call to reuse dull content, give it a ‘lick of paint’ to look new, package it in an e-learning costume and dish it out via an app (because apps are cool!).

That covers Ears, Eyes, Nose and Hands…but what about the brain?

Beware not to forget the brain!

Engagement is in the brain….


Design is the key, to the brain.

Design is often derided or glossed over. I have lost track of the times I have heard clients and strategic partners say that design doesn’t matter, only to see that they drive Audi’s, are wearing expensive brand labels and are using Iphones. All these things are differentiated by design and these people, whether they know it or not are influenced by it.


 Approaches and Channels 

Also what form will it take? A short and loud communication? A series of short courses and assessments designed to upgrade existing skills? Or perhaps a slow information drip across the organisation, targeting one area over a long period of time.

There are lines of communications that already exist in a business, try to use these as much as possible. If they don’t meet the requirement it may be time to look at deeper more profound training and development changes or introduce additional or supporting content channels.


Design is critical

You can present the learning but its up to people to choose to interact with your carefully designed learning campaign.

Choosing a well designed thing is instinctive to most people and most people will use, wear and love things that are inherently beautiful (= well designed) So make sure that whatever you design, it has the user in mind.


Be Realistic

I’m reminded of a comedy show called The I.T. Crowd where an autocratic boss gives a rousing speech that ‘Stress is the enemy’ and that he will be running a ‘mandatory stress management seminar’…he then goes onto say that “Anyone still stressed at the end of the day will be fired!”

Some behaviours are ingrained, some are emotional, others are simply caused by a response to information or a bottleneck that can be easily resolved. Not setting realistic training goals or supplying programs that can actually make a difference, could have adverse effects or create new problems altogether.

Content is King but Context is the Kingdom.

Making a decision about something often requires information, time and clarity. Stop signs work because the decision making process when confronted with one is contextually clear. You are already moving so you can either ‘Stop’ or ‘keep going’. The consequence to the latter could be serious.

With learning, the priorities and the context aren’t so clear cut, but there are some simple things to consider. In the context of on-boarding a new starter does it  benefit them to understand the ‘76 step’ reporting criteria for submitting a report on their second day? Think about a Stop sign, would it be effective to include additional information about the reasons ‘we need to stop the car and the types of tyre best suited to stopping effectively at this particular junction’ directly onto the sign? Wouldn’t this information be more appropriate in a different contextual situation, say when you’re not approaching a busy intersection.

Having access to information is important, it should be available but prioritising and contextualising the information needed is key.


Don’t try to control the result

Analytics has given us the ability to sit in a seat of judgement. We can see what learners have looked at, how long, how often. This is all great…but does your analytics package tell you how they felt when they were watching the customer journey video? Is there a ‘resentment-o-meter’ in the package?

Onboarding, is about making someone feel that they belong, so that they can give willingly to your organisation.

Change management is about delicately introducing change on an organisational, collective and personal level, whilst mitigating disruptive effects.

Both require trust to be effective.

Trust is the result of a process designed to build it. If people don’t believe in your vision, in your processes and goals, they won’t believe in you. If you reach that point an analytics package is the least of your worries.


  • Analysis before seeking solutions- Know the issues you need to solve.
  • Identify your needs and focus on those first.
  • Choosing the best platforms- All have their merits look at what people use to learn in their personal lives choose things that have a similar feel.
  • Context and Prioritisation of learning content- The right information at the right time!
  • Don’t tell them what to choose by giving one particular path or course additional support or preferential treatment over another or threatening.
  • Use analytics as a guide, not a tool to judge.
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