Why learning transfer is the one thing that is absolutely necessary.

Drive Learning Transfer

In your company,  systems are set in place  to measure, monitor, and reward the achievement of business objectives. Historically, however, there have been no similar mechanisms to ensure transfer of learning, even in those programs in which participants are supposed to develop action plans.

Participants, managers, and instructors have thus been conditioned to treat learning initiatives as one-time events. The widespread practice of awarding credit and certificates at the end of instruction sends entirely the wrong message. It implies “You’re done; no more is expected of you.”

In fact, the real work— that of transferring the learning and using it to improve performance— only begins when the class ends. The real work begins when the class ends. “Talk to any group of laymen or professionals about what’s broken in the current learning and development process, and most will tell you it’s the lack of serious post-training follow-through” (Zenger, Folkman, & Sherman, 2005, p. 30). It does not matter how much people enjoyed the training, how much they learned, or even how good their action plans are. Learning creates value only to the extent that it is transferred and applied to work, a relationship that can be expressed by the equation:


Expressed this way, it is obvious that great learning is necessary to produce great results, but that, alone, it is insufficient. Even when the learning is a “ten out of ten,” if the transfer is zero, then the results will be zero. From a business leader’s perspective, “the training failed” if there is no change in performance. It doesn’t matter that the real breakdown actually occurred in the transfer step; the investment was wasted (Figure I. 12) and training is blamed.

For that reason, high-impact learning organizations practice D4; they put in place systems and processes to drive learning transfer back to the work of the enterprise. They do not leave it to chance or individual initiative.

Pollock, Roy V. H.; Jefferson, Andy; Wick, Calhoun W. (2015-04-21). The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development into Business Results (pp. 27-28). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

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Invisible L&D is the future?

I recently read a great article from Bersin by Deloitte about invisible L&d. The article was released in september 2016 but it only catched my eye now.
Bersin described the new L&D as working on :

Invisible L&D
Leverage on L&D by being invisible

1) Stealth mode: L&D being invisible and blending into the background, but being present all the time. Think about a stealth bomber…being active not traceable(hardly traceable) and pointing at the exact target to release it’s power at the right time, without even being visible.
The times of going to a session for a day or two are rapidly gliding away and L&D should provide the necessary awareness to leaders and non-leaders that they are present ALL THE TIME,  that learning can help them to succeed better to reach their targets fast and precise.

2) Enabling mode: This mode aligns with the first mode, learning should be facilitated in ANY way, adapted to how and where people are learning. Using technology to provide resources that quickly help people to develop on the spot. Changing business needs(and you all know how fast the change) and learner wants are stretching L&D organizations thin. Changing focus from creating and delivering content to enabling learning empowers the organization and takes advantages of additional resources.

3) Systemic mode: Shifting from creating great programs to seeking for :”how employees learn now, where the experience resides in the organisation, how do people share information, etc..”
This mode should be mandatory for each L&D organisation. It leverages on the enabling mode but looks to learning & development from an holistic approach. Where and how in our organisation can we enable learning, blended into the background so that people are not being aware that they are experiencing a learning event but just a ” change event”.

4) Infrastructure-based mode: Of course we all think immediately at technology enabled but is far much than that. The complete infrastructure (organisation-culture-resources (physical and others)) has to be build to reinforce learning. Think about the concept of feedback. Feedback is necessary to confirm that a process needs to be stopped, altered or continued based on the result of that same process. As we act all the time, we need feedback ALL the time. Feedback helps us to learn. This is exactly how we could approach our interactions in a system that is called “our organisation”. How can we learn all the time? How de wo spread that learning throughout our organisation? How does our organisation support this learning and leverages on this learning.

This approach of L&D coincides with the way I approach L&D. The faster our corporate environment changes, the more we need people that react and change on these rapid changes in our organisation and the more we need departments like L&D to be constantly  and invisibly on the watch to trace this rapidly changing needs, ready to enable learning in any possible way in a systemic way leveraged by an infrastructural approach.


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Are you ready to deploy L&D for 5 generations?

In the graphic the American Bureau of Labor, the projected the workforce statistics for the year to come.


The bureau defines the generations as:

  • Traditionalists, born prior to 1946
  • Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964
  • Gen X, born between 1965 and 1976
  • Millennials, born between 1977 and 1997
  • Gen 2020, born after 1997

This evolution will have gigantic consequences for the way L&D will have to be deployed within and outside companies.

You can see that Gen x will never be the majority in the workforce and that Millenials will be the vaste majority in 2015 ( which is NOW!), another 10% for the gen 2020…

This means that you  need to invest in new technologies as the Millenials are very high skilled in using them. They are highly connected through the internet and find information quickly with there on-line tools, which is becoming more and more mobile.

The Gen2020 is even kicking-off from e-mail as there are tools like Whatsapp- SMS  and alike.

So fast learning opportunities at their moment, on their information platform is what they need.

There are a few key questions to ask, as it comes to L&D.

  1. Does your L&D appeal  to each of the generations in your workforce?
  2. Are you leveraging the next generation of talent  on the platform where they thrive?Does your company have a social networking strategy for  using Facebook, LinkedIn, microblogging websites like Twitter to deliver L&D information?
  3. Are you leveraging innovative learning methodologies such as games, simulations, reverse mentoring, e-coaching, peer-to-peer learning, and informal learning, to accelerate learning across the enterprise?
  4. Do your leaders have the skills and tools needed to communicate with the hyper-connected, who are used to rating everything and everyone in their lives?

In my point of view, L&D has to leave the path of big LMS systems, as they are not agile enough.
There are enough cloud-enabled solutions that will help you to get your message across, as long as you keep in mind what the characteristics and needs of these modern learners are.

  • 27 times a day they are distracted by as they are heavily targeted by apps and online tools,
  • 9 times per hour,they check their on-line presence
  • 4 Minutes is the longest video they will watch (WARNING FOR E-Learning)
  • 75% looks for learning opportunities themselves on the web.
  • 80% of what they learn, comes from interaction with peers, teammates and managers, they are asking people and sharing what they know!
  • 55% of the searching goes to Google!

3-Tips for learning with new generations:

  1. Make your content available on-line/mobile ( freedom of time, place, enables sharing)
  2. Make your interaction with them short(less then 4 minutes)
  3. Promote collaborative tasks
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5 manieren om te inspireren en te motiveren…

In deze tijden van snelle transformatie kan “change” wel eens te veel zijn voor velen.
Verandering roept altijd weerstand op en dan kan je als leider je wel eens afvragen wat je
kan doen om je medewerkers te inspireren, motiveren en hun engagement op te pompen.
Hieronder een mooie infographic van the Ariel-group die je daar meer inspiratie bij geeft.

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How to keep learners engaged

Modern learners in 2017
Modern learners in 2017

Bersin depicted it well, modern learners are awfully interupted, don’t have enough time to go through 1hour training courses, want to find learning everywhere, at any time and additionally learning happens on -the -job…

Waouw! what does that mean for learning solutions?

    1. Burst your learning efforts…( burst in small pieces of content)
      • be short
      • provide it with mobile solutions
      • do not force people to learn at work….in working hours
        this is not at all productive. They are interupted every 5 minutes, so you want them to focus, provide the learning in a flexible way.
      • They want to learn on-the-job, so just remove barriers to do that and encourage them to share and learn from each other! ( see how Google promotes community learning)
    2. Boost learning by providing a reinforcement tool to boost learning, to drive it in deeply.
      Provide short video’s, quiz questions, short assignments, buddie work, reflection moments  to cope with the ebbinghouse curve!
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What makes learners learn

No matter how you are going to transfer the learning to the workplace, people need to get motivated in one way or another.

Motivation is traditionally one of the gaps to fill when we talk about learning.
The self determination theory of Ed Deci says that basically people get their motivation from inside and outside.

Ed identifies 3 major elements.

  1. Mastery: the fulfillment people get when they actually master something
  2. Autonomy: the will of people to experiment themselves.
  3. Relatedness/Social recognition: the recognition people get by being a master in something

When developing learning programs, bear in mind those 3 elements to lift the program to an even higher level.

Examples of using these 3 for a L&D specialist/trainer/coach  are

  • Let participants discover for themselves the insights to get
  • Let participants find on Google what there is to learn about…
  • Give loads of “thank you’s” ( authentic ones) about participation of people
  • Make the challenges hard enough, but not too hard. Experimenting in group is about succeeding not in failing
  • Promote social recognition by the group
  • Let them work for 80 %, coach/trainer/facilitator 20 %
  • Let them share what they master
  • Frame for “privacy” of the environment and honour people that witness of their mastery
  • etc…

Ed also contributed to Ted in a Ted talk.

You can view his contribution underneath.



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Recommondations to reinforce learning

In an article appearing on the website of the Rapid Learning Institute you can find 3 recommendations to leverage on e-learning.
Researchers from Dartmouth College and Carnegie Mellon University conducted a series of experiments to shed some light on how effective learning is.

The results were revealing.

Type of learning Tech-based learners Print group
Concrete information 116% 100%
Abstract/Conceptual information 100% 115%


The conclusion is not that you are to avoid tech based learning for abstract/Conceptual learning, but that you need to add additional instances of learning in order to ensure learning transfer.

Peer discussions. Tech-based learning is an effective and efficient way to introduce new information and concepts. But your learners won’t transition that information into behavior change without revisiting the information and actively engaging with it.

A great way to facilitate that crucial piece of the learning process is to have your learners unplug and discuss training topics together as a group. They can share and fill in learning gaps, debate ideas and ultimately leave with an improved and more holistic understanding of the subject matter.

I usually use the ” buddy-system” to leverage on learning here. Learners get to choose their buddy during the formal instructor led training and afterwards I ask them ( 3 -times , spread out in a longer period) whether and how they interacted with their buddy in order to further integrate the learning.

Learning journals. After each training experience, consider asking your learners to write down their thoughts about what they’ve learned and how they plan to incorporate it into their work routine. You can give them prompts to respond to, or allow them to write freely.

Writing down their own personal understandings and experiences will nudge learners to think more deeply and abstractly about the subject matter and their own learning process. And the act of writing these thoughts and ideas down can have a powerful affect on both understanding and subsequent goal achievement.

One-on-one coaching. If a learner is having difficulty seeing a new concept in the larger context, set up some one-on-one coaching where you or a more experienced peer can help them to see the bigger picture. Not only will their understanding of the new concept improve, but the proper context will help them to implement the concept appropriately and successfully.

These are 3 examples of learning that also appear in a reinforcement trajectory.
A reinforcement trajectory helps to leverage on learning and is different from e-learning that the trajectory only focusses on how to deepen the learning. The reinforcement trajectory does not aim to transfer additional knowledge on top of the learning event ( e-learning or not) which preceeded the trajectory.

The reinforcement trajectory helps to close the 5 traditional gaps there are in learning.

  1. Let your learners figure out the why.
  2. It enables people to experiment with the new learning ( context providing/What if)
  3. Testing people on understanding of what the learning is(What)
  4. Testing people on how they would use the new learning(How)
  5. Triggering on why they would use the learning.(their motivation)


The trajectory  covers all 5 gaps, measures the results and reports them. This will enable you to identify those who need additional coaching.

If you also would like to test a reinforcement trajectory, send me an email or call me on +479/598.599

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