Best Practice in L&D or Best Fit?

The phrase “Best Practice” has never sat well with me. To me, it is a little like suggesting everyone should shop at Selfridges for their clothes, when actually a little tailor down the road may be able to make something perfect for you. It may even be something shop bought, but then tweaked a little to be the perfect fit. When we started to discuss “Best Practice” in our second Friday L&D Mastermind natter on Clubhouse, Rob Moors in his inimitable style threw in “Best Fit” as an alternative.

Interestingly, the dictionary definition of Best Practice:

“Commercial or professional services that are accepted or offered as being correct or most effective”

So by very definition, what is most effective for one multinational organisation of 10,000 employees, in the IT Industry, may not be the best fit for an SME os 250 employees in the financial services industry.

In preparing for the natter, I found a great factsheet from the CIPD called “Learning and Development Evolving Practice”. This seems to have some of the elements of both best practice and best fit. In the factsheet were 10 “shifts” as they described them:

  1. Focus on business needs not just L&D priorities.
  2. L&D outputs informed by metrics not guesses.
  3. Learning underpinned by research and evidence.
  4. L&D shifting to a curator-concierge approach, not just creator.
  5. User choice and co-creation, not prescription learning.Measuring learning value, not volume
  6. Social learning,  not just formal.
  7. Just in-time learning and in-the-flow, not delayed.
  8. Bite-sized learning not just feasts.
  9. Digital, mobile learning not just face-to-face.
  10. Measuring learning value not volume.

These were useful discussion points, where we agreed with some and not others wholly. Here are some of my thoughts:

1.Focus on business needs not just L&D priorities.

Absolutely! This has been my battlecry for so long and why I wrote my book, “How Not To Waste Your Money On Training” and developed an online course by the same name. Bums on seats and no-shows may be important to us, but does it really help us to design solutions that will have impact? Does it help L&D to have a reputation of being problem solvers or prolong the label of being order-takers?

2. L&D outputs informed by metrics not guesses.

If we in L&D don’t seek out the important metrics for the business by consulting with the stakeholders, then why are we surprised that the business does not always value our contributions? If a stakeholder comes to us with a problem that has a ready made solution we should be asking them for evidence to support the fact that it is a problem!

3. Learning underpinned by research and evidence.

This ‘shift’, for me, has implications that the learning is done to the individuals and that journey of discovery and mind set shift has to be directed. In face-to-face training sessions, we can encourage and facilitate a mind set shift that steers a team or group to a new path, yet undiscovered. This 3rd shift seems to negate that fact that learning can be a valuable journey of discovery. Learning about outdated methodologies in management techniques is an obvious ‘no-no’, but collaboratively coming up with a new way for an organisation can reap benefits.

4. L&D shifting to a curator-concierge approach, not just creator.

Assuming that L&D are the sole creators of the new learning individuals need, has always been flawed. Allowing people some choice in where, how, what and when they learn gives more agency. It could also add to their confusion. My thoughts on this, are that there is a little of both. L&D should use their expertise in learning, to offer a good range of options. They facilitate the outcomes rather than impose them and partner with the stakeholders to achieve the performance improvements the business needs.

5.User choice and co-creation, not prescription learning.

This follows on from shift  number 4 above, where learners are given more agency through choice and partnering. Prescriptive learning does not always give people a choice to fully discuss the whys and wherefores of the solutions proposed and allowing a mind set shift.

6. Social learning, not just formal.

There is no reason why formal learning cannot also be social. When we think about what has happened through the pandemic, people have yearned for human contact and valued the time physically together. That said, the opportunity afforded us through the pandemic allowed us to explore how technology can keep us connected. This should be leveraged against any face to face meetings.

7. Just in-time learning and in-the-flow, not delayed.

Another one that I struggle with. There are some examples where I would not want training to be just in time or in the flow of work:

  1. Surgeons or anyone in critical patient care, though I would not mind my GP looking up the latest information aided by AI.
  2. Professions where lives may be in danger – the ability to practice and perfect is crucial.
  3. A financial advisor who was advising me on my long term investments, I would want them to know the full range of options BEFORE speaking to me.
  4. Solicitors, advocating on my behalf.
  5. Customer facing ‘experts’

To name a few… smart AI used to aid decision making  is something that can possibly be utilised more.

8. Bite-sized learning not just feasts.

I agree with not overwhelming learners with too much information, but if there is too much time between the ‘bites’, the connectedness of the learning may be compromised. Learners learn at different paces and in different ways. Some individuals will only ‘get it’ when they have had a chance to mull it over with others, test out options and talk through what may be an opposing view.

9. Digital, mobile learning not just face-to-face.

In an era where there are many ways we can learn, even on our mobile devices, it would be foolhardy not to take advantage of the range of these methods. The more new technology we explore the wider the range of methods that are available to us to learn from.

10. Measuring learning value not volume.

Not surprisingly, the ‘shift’ list from the CIPD factsheet ends where it began. ‘Measuring learning value not volume’ is closely linked to the first  one ‘Focus on business needs not learning priorities’. If we are clear about what the business need is, then once the learning is complete, the value of that learning should be measurable. If you are not sure how to even begin this then my online course and book ‘How Not To Waste Your Money On Training’, will help you immensely



Changing behaviours through effective L&D

On the 11th of February we had an L&D Mastermind natter in Clubhouse on this months theme of ‘Behaviour Change.’ Can we in L&D affect lasting change? That is the million dollar question!

We started with a discussion about what behaviour change actually means. Here is the dictionary definition from the Psychology dictionary:

“Any modification in behaviour. It may happen spontaneously or involuntarily or may be systematic and motivated as prompted by conditioning.” 

Rob Moors described it as:

“A cultural phenomenon driven by the creation and role modelling of vision and values”

We all agreed, in our natter, that it is not something that happens by sitting through a presentation on PowerPoint! So traditional, didactic training, is not the vehicle which is going to affect the change we want to see.

When you think about it, what you are asking people to do is change their habits and sometimes non-conscious processes. These processes may be ingrained and tied to their own beliefs and values. In order for them to start to shift in their behaviour, they need to feel safe enough and dare to be different.  Once the shift starts they need to be encouraged to keep making those habit forming changes that lead to lasting behaviour change.

We spoke briefly about the ‘compliance trap’, where training needs to be done and recognise that rules very rarely cause lasting behaviour change. What really impacts behaviour change is a shift in mindset and this is rarely achieved in one simple step.

These are the key things which impact behaviour change:

  1. Leaders who walk the talk, not just talk the talk. If colleagues are told to change behaviour and do not see their leaders emulating those behaviours, it becomes quite a de-motivator.
  2. Line managers and leaders need to listen to colleagues about concerns, difficulties and stumbling blocks to change. With the best will in the world if people do not have the right resources, change does not stick.
  3. The psychological safety and support of colleague’s through the change will, enable them to form new habits which will be adopted long term.
  4. Outcomes that satisfy all parties need to be negotiated. They do not need to be joint goals, so this is where some give and take will really have an impact.
  5. Communication needs to be clear  and focussed. Mixed messages will serve to demotivate colleagues.

If you would like to join us for an informal chat in Clubhouse next month about our L&D Mastermind theme of ‘Best Practice in Learning” then use this link to join.






Is L&D a ‘Tik-Toking’ timebomb?

Is L&D a ‘Tik-Toking’ timebomb?

‘ByteDance, the owners of Tik-Tok, has made a strong statement about the ineffectiveness of its talent development team. In an internal memo, the company noted talent development had “limited practical value” and represented a “disconnect” from the company’s needs.’1

Can you, in L&D, be sure that you are connected to your organisation’s needs?

It is thought that close to 100 people for talent development were laid off, in spite of the company’s insistence that “Talent development is still very much a priority for us and for our employees.” That indeed may be true, as they are looking at different ways in which they can still develop their people without the burden of a large and inflexible Talent Development team.

How can you ensure your L&D team are relevant and in tune with the organisation?

“Because the team has already grown quite large, we have decided to no longer retain the Talent Development Center as many of its roles and functions are not in tune with our current development strategies” continued the statement.

So is your L&D team running out of time? 

What do you do to demonstrate value? Is your learning strategy aligned with the organisational strategy? Do you engage with the right stakeholders in the right way to maximise impact?

This is from the CIPD L&D at work survey of 2021:

  1. The desire to demonstrate impact is hampered by barriers to evaluation
  2. The majority of respondents do not use evidence to inform programme design

Both of these would be enough to be of concern in any organisation and both are easily remedied.

When people speak about the “barriers to evaluation” I believe this is more about having the data measures in place BEFORE beginning any design. This is echoed in the second point from the CIPD, about using evidence to inform programme design.

It seems straightforward to me with my engineering brain and my love of data to:

  • Assess where you are now
  • Determine where you (the organisation and the participants) want to be, with clear measurable outcomes
  • Look at your resources and constraints
  • Design something within the constraints you have that will achieve those outcomes

Another recent set of opinions from Donald Taylors Global Sentiment Survey 2022:

If you aggregate 1, 5, 9, 10 and 11, it adds up to a whopping 36.3%. I chose these because again they are indicative of L&D not aligning with the organisation and not using evidence to inform good decision making.








So what happens then in the world of L&D when we want to get closer to the organisation?Just the other day, I saw a social media post asking if anyone had a copy of a learning strategy they could use as an example, to copy. Here is what they should do instead of copying a strategy from someone else:

  • Look at the organisations mission, vision and goals for the next few years
  • Conduct a stakeholder analysis and determine the best stakeholders to work with
  • Speak to each of these stakeholders and ask them these questions:
    • What is the biggest challenge the organisation is facing?
    • What is the biggest challenge your team/division/section is facing?
    • How could L&D help you overcome these challenges? Can they be quantified in some way?
    • What should L&D start doing?
    • What should L&D stop doing?
    • What should L&D continue doing?
    • What should L&D do differently?

If all of this seems sensible but you and your colleagues need a hand in some of the details you may be interested in a new online course that launched recently called “How Not To Waste Your Money On Training”.



Behaviour change – the magic 5 ingredients

Today we were nattering about ‘Behaviour Change’ in the 2nd Friday L&D Mastermind natter.

What a rich discussion and I managed to extract from it a list of 5 magic ingredients that you need to pay attention to.

Without much fuss here are those 5 ingredients – these are broad brush areas that can be expanded and explored more deeply:

  1. Walk the talk – leaders need to ‘be the change they want to see’ as Gandhi said
  2. LIsten – if leaders as in ‘tell’ mode constantly, there is no room to find out where team members are and what the barriers to their changing might be
  3. Make them feel safe – that includes the freedom to fail as well as the support they might need to change (or learn from their failure)
  4. Mutually beneficial goals for the organisation and individuals – organisational goals alone might be hampered by having nothing in it for the individual.
  5. Communication – clear outcomes, engaged stakeholders, supportive line managers all require clarity of thought and communication.

Does this list need expanding or can we add points to the 5 broad brush areas?

Why not join us for next months L&D natter in Clubhouse where the topic will be ‘Best Practice’? 

In a Learning Needs Analysis, which 3 things are you looking for?

This is another one of the questions that may be asked when playing the Learning Loop™ , a new and exciting replacement for the traditional ‘train-the-trainer’ course.

It’s is an interesting question because some people go straight to the obvious, things they need to get from a Learning Needs Analysis:

  1. Knowledge – WHAT they will keep in their head.
  2. Skills – WHAT you will be able to see them do (or their outputs).
  3. Attitudes – HOW they do things.


These are 3 very good things to look out for and specifically you would want to find the difference between where they are now and where you/the stakeholders would like them to be.You are essentially wanting to know the gaps that you need to fill. If you can gauge what level they are at the start, defining what they need to know by the end will certainly be easier!

What will help you greatly in this is something like Blooms Taxonomy. Watch the video below to fi;nd out more. 

There are of course other things that you may be looking for in a Learning Needs Analysis:

  • A clear idea of the problem(s) you are trying to solve
  • Clear organisational outcomes and measures
  • Clear learning outcomes and levels of learning
  • Which stakeholder’s will be involved and supportive
  • How line managers may help imbed the learning
  • The resources that are available 
  • What has and has not worked in the past for similar projects

And many more things….. if you would like to chat to Krystyna about how you even make start, then book a free 30 minute consultation to ask all the questions you would like!



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