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.




The Secrets of LNA shared ….at Olympia #cipdldshow

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 12.59.36Earlier this week we set off for London for the CIPD L&D show, to exhibit for the second time. This time seemed easier, I knew what it might be like. What I was blown away with was, the interest in my session on “The Secrets of LNA – evaluating business alignment”.

There were enough seats for 70 and standing room was easily the same, if not more. As I spoke, eyes fixed on me, heads nodded and people identified with the content.

I began quoting from the CIPD L&D survey of 2015: “Of the organisations polled only 25% said that L&D are fully aligned to the organisation“. So this worries me – what is happening in the other 75%? Where does your organisation fall? In the 25% or the 75%? If you don’t know or if you are in the 75%, consider this. How would you like:

  • L&D to be the change agents for your organisation?
  • It to be easy to justify budgets for L&D interventions?
  • When there is a downturn, L&D is not cut, but people are invested in?

By analysing the needs of your organisation before delivering any learning or training, you may find the things above become a reality!


Is this all just semantics? Are they just all the same? So here is the thing, if I conduct a Training Needs Analysis, the solutions are always going to be training. It is a little like having only a hammer in your toolbox and so everything looks like a nail. Often organisations who conduct only TNA’s may be either very technical in the learning they deliver, or it could be that they do not know much about the organisation and how it operates.

So how does a TNA differ from an LNA you might ask? So an LNA will be broader in its outlook, the equivalent of having now a hammer and maybe a wrench and a screwdriver along with some allen keys in your toolbox.. The outcome will always be a learning solution whether it is a book to read, some coaching, a webinar or a full blown qualification. What I would love to happen and here is where over the last few years I have been trying to use my Jedi mind tricks (I do know I am not Yoda btw), is when you are conducting an LNA, you ask some questions:

  • Is there something happening behind the scenes that I need to know about?
  • Is there something missing?
  • Is something not happening?
  • Is there something besides learning that these people need (eg more resources, better processes, more support etc?)

Those are just a few to get you started. These are great questions to ask if you are trying to dig deeper and look beyond the traditional training or learning needs. For this to be successful though there are some things that you will need in your personal toolkit:

  • An air of curiosity
  • A willingness to find out more about the organisations and how it works
  • The ability to speak the language of the stakeholders and not just in L&D speak
  • Persistence and courage to challenge when people just tell you to “DO it” (the training that is)
  • An overview of what the culture is like and how the organisation is structured (this can be key in determining how easy it is to get people on board and change minds. For example a company with a hierarchical structure and a blame culture will resist change and pass the buck. Whereas a matrix structure and a culture of empowering, will welcome your curiosity and fresh eyes to see what might be going wrong.
  • Infiltrate the organisation so you have your finger on the pulse of what is happening, now, not 6 months ago

Sometimes we may not be able to foresee when we need to do an LNAplanned or un. Have a look at the picture below to see some of the instances when they can be planned and when not. Try as much as you can to plan in your LNA’s (always thinking about what might be going on under the surface). Once you start doing regular LNA’s and demonstrating the value your solutions bring, it will become easier and easier to get the resources you need to do a valuable LNA and any subsequent solutions.

Once you know you are going to do an LNA, you then need to choose some suitable methods. Below is a table of many different LNA methods. You could start by trying to sort them according to whether they are high/low cost and whether they are suitable for individuals or groups.LNA Methhods This is one way to see which methods are going to be most suitable for your situation. You will also need to consider some other criteria, to be able to decide which methods are most suitable:

  • Your budget
  • Resources, such as people and tools
  • Time
  • Commitment from stakeholders – without this, it does make it harder*
  • Size and culture of your organisation

*Read this blog about stakeholder management

So finally …. here are some of the secrets of LNA (I am sure you knew these already!)

  • Know the difference between an LNA, TNA and NA (remember the Jedi mind tricks!)
  • Choose the most suitable methods (use triangulation – 3 methods to get a broader picture)
  • Plan the LNA when you can
  • Always keep the end in mind so that you are aligned to your business

Thanks to everyone who came to the session and participated. We were truly overwhelmed by the numbers who were there and also the numbers of people who spoke to us saying “We are in that 75% and we need help!”

This topic certainly seems to have struck a chord with a lot of people and my concern is that if you are in that 75%, you get the help you need to achieve alignment with your organisation. If you need help, then please phone for a chat to see what we could do. Phone Krys on 07952 416530 or email info@howtoacceleratelearning.co.uk


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!

Your training budget has been cut…again

There is a truism that training and R&D are the first places to get hit when companies want to cut costs.  But how do companies get to the point of cutting these areas that are vital to future success?


When speaking to companies I often hear of the intense pressure on L&D to “deliver” and as a result, staff are under pressure to do more and more with less and less.  Let’s be clear, no organisation has an unlimited training budget (but if there is one, please contact me immediately!) but I don’t think it is necessary either.

Senior executives have to see a correlation between the value that L&D brings to an organisation and business results.  If they can’t see one, then that is an uncomfortable place to have to be because it may mean a skill gap in both L&D and senior management.

You might think the way to show a link is through measurement?  Not necessarily. Certainly it is much easier for large organisations to measure lots of things these days using IT, yet it does not mean that you are measuring the right things.  You can only measure the right things when you have a comprehensive understanding of your business and the business environment in which you operate.  Once you have found the areas, which make your business successful, doing a good analysis at the start, you can then decide how best to measure performance in those areas.

When you have made those links you will need to identify the stakeholders and agree objectives.  That may sound simplistic but this is a great truth for many organisational activities – well beyond L&D!  Identifying stakeholders is important and gets much more difficult with large and complicated organisations.  This can also become problematical in large organisations when people who were not considered in the initial consultations undermine the L&D initiatives. There are ways of minimising this but, again, it’s for further discussion.

So, L&D can deliver! And L&D can be very effective if it delivers to objectives that are linked to real business success.

You can read more about our approach to learning through “The Learning Loop approach“.



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

See our website for more details of events