L&D – are you what you measure?

TM blogs #1This is the first in a series of blogs inspired by David Hayden, at the CIPD NAP(Northern Area Partnerships) conference June 2016, in a short workshop. The title of his workshop was “Is L&D prepared for the Future of Learning?” and the basis of the discussion was around key statistics uncovered in the “Towards Maturity” report of April 2016 “Preparing for the Future of Learning”. David presented around an infographic, part of which is displayed to the left. What fascinated me were some of the statistics in this segment.

In the report, the survey showed that 17% of those polled, measure business metrics to improve business performance, but 86% would like to improve business performance. That is a huge mismatch and it got me thinking “Why then, if the will is there, people do not measure L&D’s performance against business metrics?”

So I have a theory and it all stems from “Begin with the end in mind”. It is all very well to have a great intention of “improving business performance” and a whopping 86% of the respondents wanted this, but you have to start off on the right foot. At the beginning you have to do the right kind of analysis to determine the needs and the outputs, making sure that there is in fact a strong link between them. Then you need to:

  • Identify those people who have a stake in improving the business
  • Of those stakeholders, identify where they are on the stakeholder analysis grid, that way you know where to focus your efforts
  • Be part of the business and have your finger on the pulse, so you always get the bigger picture
  • Ask questions about organisational benefits and impact, not just learning outcomes
  • Do a thorough needs analysis (not just an LNA or TNA) to uncover what individuals, teams and the organisation needs
  • Set objectives with the stakeholders and have targets that THEY can measure success against
  • Agree post learning activities and follow up
  • Keep them up to date with what is going on and get them to support the learners
  • Check in at various points and update them on progress
  • Ask the stakeholders how the measures put in place are stacking up

I’ve written before about “Needs Analysis” and spoken about it at the CIPD L&D exhibition in May 2016 – what surprised me was the number of people that are REALLY interested in this topic! The last point in the list, is a crucial one, because another reason I believe only 17% measure business metrics in evaluation is that the best people to do the measuring are those who are most interested in those metrics and have EASY access to them!!! Is that a little too obvious?

Now L&D does not sit in some sort of vacuum or at least it shouldn’t. L&D is an important and necessary part of any successful businesses strategy – and if it isn’t we should be asking ourselves “why?” and “what can we do to become essential and not just a cost?” If you are not conducting a needs analysis that involves the correct stakeholders and using or developing metrics then what are you doing?

This is what David Hayden, L&D Professional at the CIPD said about the statistics:

“The challenge of 17% only measuring demonstrates it can be a massive challenge and rethink on what we measure.  My advice is to start small and build up – pick one or two projects or interventions and work on the business metric links for those – and make it explicit in any pre intervention communication, during the intervention at regular points and in any post intervention communication.  Become known for knowing the business goals!! Be that role model!”

“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”
― H. James Harrington


Hey L&D, what are we? L&D doesn’t need a budget, it needs…

tumbleweedFrom talking to many L&D professionals I hear so many stories of teams, budgets and classroom time being cut…..it’s sad but, hey L&D, what are we? Have you ever considered why L&D is under so much pressure to deliver with fewer resources? Now you can almost see the tumbleweed blowing through a once thriving department. Seriously, why are we taking this lying down?

I truly believe that we don’t need a budget … What we really need is a bit of gumption and the ability to put together a business case. Easy for you to say Krys….I can hear some of you say.

Your L&D job description will most likely contain words about responsibity for the identification and design, development and delivery of business-focused courses for your organisation. Regardless of whether you report into H&R, L&D, a functional department or even the MD; L&D must understand the business’ goals and be able to integrate them into a learning programme that supports their implementation. You’d also expect that the rest of the organisation would support you in that common goal. Makes sense doesn’t it?

No doubt you already have a passion for L&D, and you will have the skills required, but for you to succeed and to help the business to succeed you need the support of the business. You are most likely to gain support from the business if you have identified (or are addressing) a real need and understand the impact on the organisation. If you can do that,  then L&D should appear to be very good value for money! (You know this!) So, instead of arguing about your L&D budget, maybe you should be discussing the value of the impact of your L&D and how to make it even better. L&D, in that light, is not a cost but an agent for change.



Walk this way…. part 4…beginning with the end in mind

walk this wayThis is the fourth in this new series of blogs called “Walk this way”, where I am inviting you, the reader, to follow my view on what a good approach to learning would look like.

Here is an overview of the whole approach, showing clearly the 6 steps.IMG_5170

This time we will look at the 4th step – “A good needs analysis leads to a solid evaluation and appropriate design“.

Some of you may be thinking “Why has she said ‘needs analysis‘ and not ‘training needs analysis‘ or ‘learning needs analysis‘?” So in a nutshell:

  • Training Needs Analysis – the solutions are always going to be training solutions
  • Learning Needs Analysis – though the solutions may be broader, they will always be about learning
  • Needs Analysis –  the solutions may be training, learning or the analysis may uncover an organisational need unrelated to learning (e.g. poor process)

A needs analysis goes much deeper. For it to go deeper, you need to ask questions that go beyond the normal “what do they need to know, or be able to do, by the end?“. Questions like:

  • What stops them doing a good job?
  • What resources do they still need?
  • Is there a system or process that could be improved?

If you do a good needs analysis, it leads to a good, or ‘meaningful’ evaluation. Which means that the business sees the value in what is delivered. You can only do a good needs analysis if you understand how the organisation works and have some understanding of both the structure and the culture. This goes beyond the traditional remit of what an L&D professional has traditionally needed to be. Curiously, the CIPD L&D Survey from 2015 reported that only 25% of organisations could say that L&D were extremely aligned to the needs of the business. Surely this should be higher?

If you can start with the end in mind, this does not mean ignoring short-term performance but rather using this to guide towards, and to reinforce, long-term objectives. This is what the “end in mind” means. To get to that end requires much more involvement, but by delivering real business results L&D will certainly get the attention of the business. Linking to hard business metrics, L&D can position itself as an important strategic business asset rather than just a training department. Aligning L&D to the business will have many benefits.

If you do a thorough needs analysis, focussed on the business, the design of any learning, will be more appropriate to the organisation taking into account:

  • Current levels of skill and knowledge
  • Budgets
  • Time and place for learning
  • How the learners will be supported back in the workplace to imbed the learning

If you would like to know more about The Learning Loop® please contact me. Or better still, consider booking onto one of the open Learning Loop courses or come to one of our Showcase events.

This is the fourth blog in a series of six.

“Walk this way” – the whole blog series.

©Krystyna Gadd 2016

Imagine ALL you are allowed to do is ask questions

IMG_1635What I love about the L&D community and social media are how they come together and rise to a challenge. This week, on LinkedIn and Twitter, I posed a question, which you can see clearly in this picture. Here in this blog, I have collated a great list of questions from this thread to share with you all. I hope they will help you. If you are in L&D pose some great questions of your stakeholders to help L&D be great change partners.

So here are the questions and their authors:

Sue Murfet: ‪Why?

Mark Jones:‪ What’s the outcome?

‪Michelle Spencer‪: What causes you to struggle or become frustrated?

‪Joanna Leckie‪: What do you want to achieve?

‪Garry Boon:‪ Would you look back on this in five years and say “that was the right choice?”

Niall Lavery‪: How are you going to be the best that you can be?

Gillian Gustar‪: I really like the question Garry proposes….bit of a different way of thinking about it. I’d probably ask something like ‘what is the best experience of learning you’ve had before?‪

Ben Palmer: ‪”How creative can we be”

Paul Morgan:‪ How can I help you solve your business problems

‪Peter Davies‪: Why?

Paul Morgan:‪ My other one is …How can we become impossible to

Niall Gavin:‪”What’s the least I can do to help you solve your business problem/s

‪Sarah McIlwaine: ‪How can I help you get where you need to be?

Paul Haywood: ‪What’s the problem you’re trying to fix and how will you know you’ve been successful

Malini Patel: How will you value your L&D department? Followed up with… What will do that for us a business? Followed up with… When shall we start collaborating to achieve that?

Malini Patel: What will that do?

‪Keith Hay: ‪How would you like us to support you to succeed?

Ana Teresa Calles: Why do you need me (L&D)?

Richard Hand‪: How would you like your company to think and feel in one year from now?

‪Scott Watson: ‪Why do we continue to focus on ‘delivering training’ without first clearly establishing and understanding what likely, and actual value, is to be delivered for the organisation?

Paul Tran‪: What’s it going to take for us to add value to your work and life today?

Claire Silvester‪: What do I need to keep on doing to keep you engaged ?

Freddie Guilmard: ‪What difference is this going to make?

Glen Butler: ‪What does the very best version of you look like?

Dan Walker‪: “How are you feeling?”

Steve Roberts: ‪Fast forward 6 months, what would you see happening that’s different to today?

Galal Salih:‪How could you add value?

‪Jeanette Salmon: Why are you here?

Daniel Harding: ‪What does a successful, exciting and fulfilling day at work look like for you?

Mark Jones: ‪How and where are you going to apply what you have learned? how will you know it has worked?

Adrian Stokes: What have you tried before? What are you trying to resolve (followed by at least 5 why’s)? What would happen if we did nothing? What would happen if we fixed it? How is this going to impact on business performance? How will you measure it? Who is accountable for any change? What resources are you and I going to need to put into making sure it works? What will be the early signs of success or failure? Are you absolutely SURE you need my help?

Scott Barnfield:You have a magic wand that can remove all barrier Now……what can you achieve?”

Liz Ford: What would you like to have happen?

Please keep adding yours and if they are unique I will add them to this great list. Thanks for all your contributions!

Walk this way…part 1

walk this wayIn my learning and development career, I have been on a journey and in this series of blogs I would love to invite you to “Walk this way…”  or in other words follow my view on what a good approach to learning would look like.

3 years ago I developed a game for training trainers, called The Learning Loop® and this game uses an approach to L&D which I have been using over the last 25+ years as an L&D professional.

So over the next 6 blogs I am going to be expanding on The Learning Loop® approach.

Here is an overview of the whole approach, showing clearly the 6 steps.IMG_5170








So the first step is:

“Everyone (who works in L&D) understands the whole cycle.”

I began writing this by including the text in brackets and then rethought this…. thinking “Everyone understand the whole cycle”.

So what is my thinking? My thinking has been around “why does L&D not get involved in change when it needs to be?” and “what has this to do with perceptions of L&D within the organisation?”

The perception and expectation of your stakeholders may be that L&D will deliver effective learning solutions. However L&D is often not “knitted-in” to the business, resulting in L&D professionals that don’t fully understand how the business works. Under such circumstances, L&D will find it difficult to deliver effective learning solutions. The net result may be an under-resourced L&D function because it is not perceived as being a strategic to the business. Not only that, L&D will find its resources continually under threat because it is not seen as adding value to the business. Such an L&D function will often find that it is reactive and will not have the time and space to be pro-active and it certainly will not be performing a needs analysis. This is a vicious cycle.

Some L&D  professionals that I have spoken with see that L&D is about design and delivery. Using The Learning Loop® you will get a holistic view of L&D’s role within an organisation. You will be able to see that you should be spending much more time on ANALYSIS before DESIGN and the analysis phase should be involving the stakeholders and setting great objectives for your learning.

Going through the full learning cycle will also allow you to improve your stakeholders understanding of what L&D can deliver through being able to better EVALUATE what has been delivered in the DELIVERY phase. Resources would be made available for needs analysis because it would be understood why they are necessary and, crucially, analysis would be easier because people would be more forthcoming with information to improve the whole process. This would mean a different and deeper relationship between the stakeholders and L&D. A virtuous cycle.

Also, when I have spoken with L&D professionals, some do not fully grasp how close the relationship between the analysis and evaluation phases of the learning cycle should be. The benefit of adopting a closed-loop learning cycle will not only be more impactful L&D, but one in which that impact can be better understood by both L&D and the stakeholders and improve future stakeholder involvement. So if everyone understands the whole cycle…… it means:

  • Stakeholders understand that you can deliver useful change
  • Stakeholders understand that you add value rather than being a cost which means that get get the budgets you need
  • You get better results because you always do some sort of analysis beforehand
  • The people in the organisation understand their role in the learning process and become active rather than passive learners.

If you would like to know more about The Learning Loop® please contact me. Or better still, consider booking onto one of the open Learning Loop courses or come to one of our Showcase events.

This is the first blog in a series of six.

“Walk this way” – the whole blog series.

©Krystyna Gadd 2016

How does your training make people feel?

IMG_1415Maya Angelou, author and poet said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This is very interesting, because last week I was flying the flag for a great UK company, Pearlcatchers, in the States, delivering a “Blended Learning Facilitator” programme – they even got to play a little  of the Learning Loop too! I cannot tell you the name of the company, but they are a heavy engineering company and this was a programme to help bring blended learning to their facilitators (technical experts) for their salesforce. They are the only company amongst their competitors who are choosing to do things so differently and Pearlcatchers always do things differently, which is why I love working with them.
The workshop this week, was the first of three I will be delivering in different regions. We covered the “7 Deadly sins of Training” and counteracted them with the “7 Pearls of Wisdom” as well as the basics of Fusion Learning – a holistic approach to delivering learning. We discussed and experienced the 4 phases of the learning cycle – analysis, design, delivery and evaluation was well as exploring the “5 secrets of Accelerated learning”. One of these “secrets” is about creating the right environment for learning (if you want to hear more, then a podcast on the Trainer Tools website might help). This is something that has been fascinating me for a while – how setting up the right environment (physical, emotional and social) can make a huge difference to the learning experience.
As they walked into the classroom, set up with bright posters, review activities (from the learning they had in the webinars), they were encouraged to introduce themselves to each other, to explore the resources and check out the posters (some of the answers in the game were in these posters!) Some people seemed genuinely excited, some seemed curious (I always love that!) and some admitted (later) that they were uncomfortable and skeptical!
The “proof of the pudding is in the eating” is a great saying and as the days unfolded and they “experienced”  how different learning could feel, I could feel a shift and a growing excitement. When reflecting on what they had learned most of the comments were around how different things felt, how engaging it was and how they had not been bored for one minute. All great things….. but would the skeptics be won over?
The smiles grew more frequent, the “aha” moments flowed and one by one as they delivered their sessions, I could see the impact of what they had learnt in what they were now facilitating. They were thinking about the needs of their learners, what stage and state they might be in and the sessions were more about making learning easy than “telling”. What of the skeptics – well these were originally the “Snipers” from the Stakeholder Analysis grid and now they are the “Evangelists“. I have two great testimonials from them speaking of how they felt originally and how they feel now…. what struck me most, was that they learnt most from what we did and they experienced. The environment that was set up and experiencing how learning can be more natural impacted them immensely. They laughed when I asked them if anyone had been taught to walk by their mothers using PowerPoint and then saw the irony in what is so common in the way organisations train in their training rooms.
I am an evangelist for accelerated learning and anything else which helps to make learning faster, more efficient and more sticky, but many objections to using some of the techniques, start with “it’s ok for soft skills …. but not for technical or content heavy training…” I would strongly disagree and you cannot get more technical or heavy than the learning these guys have to deliver. The creativity, excitement and inspirational sessions I witnessed last week have warmed the cockles of my heart and as I am packing my bag and reminiscing about how these people felt ….. I feel it is a job well done….. thanks Pearlcatchers for trusting me with your client….. I loved every minute of it!!! Lets keep making people feel differently about learning.

The 5 (not so secret) secrets of accelerated learning

IMG_0962 (1)To me accelerated learning is somewhat of a misnomer, because it is not just about speed.

As well as reading this you can also download two recent podcasts from the Trainer Tools website.

In comparison to traditional learning, accelerated learning principles, when applied properly, will make learning faster, more memorable and easier to design, because:

  • Instead of beginning at 9am, day 1 of a learning programme, learners start to learn before an event (they have a head start in the race)
  • The learning continues after the event (because everyone knows real learning takes time, repetition and review)
  • Behaviours begin to change (because the objectives are business focussed) by line managers and other stakeholders being involved in the whole process
  • Learners are inspired to learn for themselves, not just spoon-fed and directed as to what to learn
  • Time is given to analysing the real needs, so not just a TNA or LNA, but real probing into what is going on “under the bonnet”
  • The latest neuroscience is applied so that the learning makes the best use of how the brain works (this on its own does not guarantee business results, just as great objectives on their own do not guarantee the learning will be “sticky”)
  • The learning environment is a balance of a stimulating physical room, where social learning is encouraged and emotionally the learners feel safe, as well as supported. The social learning continues across other platforms.

There are many accelerated learning models out there and each has its own merits. My “5 secrets” are broad brush areas, which have to be addressed in order that learning is accelerated through any organisation. If you take care of these areas then you can use another great model like David Meiers 4 P’s, Colin Roses MASTER model or my own NATURAL model to give more definition to what you do next.

Lets revisit the 5 secrets:

  • Business focused and learner centred objectives – this ensures both stakeholder and learner buy-in
  • Be a facilitator not a trainer – this promotes and inspires learners to learn more and carry on learning.
  • Look at all the various ways in which learners can learn – introducing variety means there is more chance that the learners will be engaged for longer
  • Make the environment safe but visually appealing – feed our natural childlike curiosity  and entice the learners to learn together
  • Learn about the brain to maximise retention – having covered the other 4 secrets, if you don’t work with how the brain works, learning will not stick.
  1. “Quick off the Mark” Krystyna Gadd, The Training Journal, January 2013

If you would like to know more then join us on The Learning Loop® or at one of our Showcase events, or contact us directly.