hammerOk, so this may seem like a radical statement and it goes along nicely with the analogy ,”If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. So when looking for training gaps, all the solutions are likely to be training solutions.

It’s all very well me getting bolshy and saying #DitchtheTNA, but for all those organisations who religiously complete their TNA’s what is the alternative? Here is my starter list:

  • Begin with consultative conversations with the right people(this one was Gina Chapman’s @ChayneDaisy)
  • Keep asking “why?”, until you get to the root cause
  • Ask “So if we do this what will it give us?”
  • Ask “If we don’t do this what will it give us?”
  • Look at the last two and ask “Is it worth it?”
  • In the back of your mind, think “What is really going on here? A dodgy process? A bad manager? Lack of resources? Something else?”
  • If you have asked one person, consider asking someone else and maybe using some other methods to uncover the needs: survey, literature search, observations, MI, customer feedback etc etc
  • Looking at the evidence ask yourself “What is the big picture here?”
  • If any evidence conflicts, dig deeper to find out why
  • Ask yourself “Does this look reasonable?”
  • List all the possible solutions and look at your budget
  • Agree some organisational outcomes with the right stakeholders
  • Write some great objectives
  • Choose solutions that will give you a great return on investment

These are my quick thoughts spurred on by #DitchtheLNA on twitter, would love to hear your views.

Sliding doors

IMG_1126Did you ever watch the film “Sliding Doors”? If you didn’t.. a London woman’s love life and career both hinge, unbeknown to her, on whether or not she catches a particular tube train. We get to see it both ways, in parallel.

In one version the doors shut in front of her and she misses the tube and the other she gets on the tube and…well you need to watch the film. Whether you are into rom-coms or not; there are some profound ideas in this film.

In essence the idea is that one small action or inaction can change your life and “Sliding Doors” demonstrates this beautifully.

IMG_0160In one version of your life, Learning & Development is peripheral to any organisational needs and is subject to the whims of budget holders.


IMG_0847In the other reality, Learning & Development are central to your organisations strategy and all your learning will be delivered in a timely fashion to learners who will inhabit an environment that supports life-long-learning.


These realities may be extreme but is the former closer to reality than you may imagine? If it is, then, like “Sliding Doors”, which subtle change could alter your L&D experience? “If only we had done this, then our whole experience of L&D would be different.” Interesting isn’t it?

Let’s imagine a scenario: we pass a senior manager in the corridor, she turns around and says “Oh…. by the way….we need some customer service training in the next few weeks. Customer satisfaction is down 5 points and we need to get it back up again.”

IMG_0160Scenario 1:

“Yes of course, I have some great ideas for exercises and we can do it in double-quick time. I know it is going to make a real difference”


IMG_0847Scenario 2:

“I would love to help of course. Could I have just 10 minutes of your time to really understand what you think we need, so that I can deliver it in the best way to achieve your outcomes?”

A subtle difference, but one of these can have a huge impact. It’s nothing new because it’s the same old drum I have been banging on for a while… be brave L&D…..#Daretodream. Dare to ask stakeholder to identify their needs, correctly, not just taking their word for what is going wrong.

Which scenario is most like the way in which you operate? Would you like things to be different? Then join us on one of  The Learning Loop®   courses or attend one of our Showcase events. Otherwise, contact us directly.

Like champagne without the fizz…….

IMG_1508So your objectives are achievable. The design is brain friendly, so you know it will be memorable. You use accelerated learning principles and the ball will be in the learners court 70% of the time….but……..are you providing your organisation with a Grand Cru that has lost its fizz?


  • Is your training aligned to what the business really needs?
  • Could you have chosen another method of learning, instead of training, that would have been more appropriate or cost-effective?
  • Are the stakeholders involved in the analysis and the evaluation phases?
  • Are the outcomes going to improve performance in some way to improve the way the organisation operates?
  • Are L&D seen as change agents, in-step with the reality of the changes going on with the organisation?

Brilliant workshops do not lead to a brilliant organisation unless they are leading the change at the same rate and in the same direction as the organisation. L&D have to be in step with the organisation and the way in which learning is changing. Donald Taylor, talks in more detail abut the “Training Ghetto”, a place where many L&D teams find themselves – not changing fast enough to keep up with the change in the organisation and not being part of the conversation for change.

training ghetto

Diagram taken from Donald Taylors blog post “Are you in the Training Ghetto?”





If you want to find a way out of the ghetto, then train your trainers in a way that inspires them as well as giving them the language to speak to the key stakeholders within the organisation. When they can speak the language of the stakeholders, they can really drill down to the needs of the organisation. Next Learning Loop workshop February 29th – March 1st, 2016

Should your training be efficient, effective or what?

IMG_1502Which came first the chicken or the egg? In case you missed it, a few years back scientists claimed to have solved that age-old riddle; it was the chicken. This is because shells of eggs are formed from a protein that is only found in a chicken’s ovaries. So eggs can only be made inside a chicken.

Another riddle then. Should your training be efficient or effective? Or both, maybe? Reading the latest (2015) edition of the CIPD L&D Survey, I tried to summarise the findings as to whether the results were about either the efficiency or the effectiveness of L&D.

This quote from the report appears most telling (Assessing the impact of L&D): –

“Most organisations assess the impact of their L&D initiatives, although evaluations are often limited to participant satisfaction and many encounter barriers to evaluations. Where L&D is aligned with business strategy, evaluations tend to be more in depth and the data collected more widely used. Three in ten organisations quantify the impact of L&D on productivity.”

Bearing this in mind, a definition could easily become a problem. So here, the perspective should always be that of the business. To make training more efficient it should consume fewer resources. If training is more effective it will have a tangible impact on the business.


Training that is inefficient and ineffective

These L&D departments are always undervalued and under threat. No needs analysis is done and L&D is not connected to business need or performance. Often such departments are under-resourced. In recession or adverse conditions these departments are cut first.

Training that is inefficient but effective

These L&D departments tend to be under resourced but in a constant state of flux. They do, however, understand what L&D delivers to the business. What they may lack are strong advocates and the ability to develop a business case for their resources.

Training that is efficient but ineffective

L&D departments like these offer a breadth of training that is well chosen and well designed but does not connect with the business. Sounds familiar? Many large companies inhabit this area. Why would large companies spend large amounts on training and neglect to check whether it is providing real value?

Training that is efficient and effective 

Such L&D departments struggle least for budget because there is a clear link between what L&D delivers and the business objectives. Stakeholders support the learning interventions and help to prioritise according to the business need. Demonstrating value is easy because it is not the sole responsibility of L&D and stakeholders play their part.

So looking at the matrix:

  • Where does your L&D team lie?
  • Do you need to move?
  • How are you going to move?

If you need to move and would like help then running a Learning Loop workshop may be what you need. It combines a solid business process with creativity and inspiration to produce learning that is engaging as well as effective.

Disclaimer: this is not a critique of the CIPD report; you should read it for yourself.

Accelerated learning or accelerated stupidity? Which will you choose?

questionI love going to Salts Mill in Bradford. It is such an inspiring place. Titus Salt was a radical of his time and imbedded the change he wanted to see in his organisation by looking after his employees to a degree none of his peers did.

Most businesses seem to have been through unprecedented change over the last 150 years, which we feel is accelerating, yet I wonder if L&D have kept up sufficiently with this change?

To keep L&D from advancing, are companies deploying Accelerated Stupidity? It does not sound like an award winning idea does it? Yet many companies don’t get the best out of their L&D budget because of the obstacles put in the way of workplace learning and it operates like Accelerated Stupidity!

So what is Accelerated Stupidity all about, you may ask?

Business Environment

  • No strategic link between organisational performance and learning, hence no real analysis of needs
  • Little or no link between L&D and ROI
  • Lack of real objectives that link L&D with organisational outcomes

Learning environment

  • Lack of appreciation as to how important it is
  • Little or no budget to make it conducive to learning
  • A fear that any hint of “fun” will be frowned upon (and it is!)

Business Accountability

  • Business sees learning as a way to improve efficiency and effectiveness, without considering if it CAN help!
  • Lack of business follow-up on any learning interventions
  • Lack of line manager follow-up to imbed learning

L&D Accountability

  • Happy sheets can sometimes be the only measure of learning outcomes.
  • L&D is off onto the next project, as soon as the ink is dry on the happy sheets, without reflecting on how their processes can be improved.
  • L&D does not always speak the language of the stakeholders and so misses the point.

So what can you do? How can we make L&D more effective and raise the profile of L&D professionals? Help your business to stop deploying Accelerated Stupidity and make the strategic link between L&D and business performance. Then we might see some real change that will be exciting and meaningful for both L&D and business.

The Learning Loop® offers L&D professionals, L&D Managers and anyone who trains as part of a role to do the following:

  • Learn how to determine the business need before any design begins
  • Design using quickly and creatively using accelerated learning principles
  • Deliver with in the best possible way to maximize retention
  • Learn how to demonstrate the value of learning to the stakeholders

Why corporate L&D needs to change and how

IMG_5820Yesterday I saw Mike Collins of DPG talk about why corporate L&D needs to change and why. It was music to my ears!

The bottom line is…. we as L&D professionals need to get closer to the business. Simple? No? What does that mean in reality?

  • Identifying the key stakeholders and their impact (as well as how supportive they are)
  • Engaging with the stakeholders by speaking their language (£££££ and ROI!!)
  • Asking about business objectives not just learning outcomes
  • Doing a thorough needs analysis (not just an LNA or TNA!)
  • Getting buy-in from the line managers to support and imbed the learning
  • Getting the stakeholders to measure the effectiveness of learning

Don’t know how to do this? Then why not come onto the open workshop for The Learning Loop Workshop or if you have a team of 6 or more, ask us about in-house workshops.  You will learn about how to become more strategic as well as how to be creative, inspiring and engaging as a facilitator.

Pin It on Pinterest