As long as I’ve been involved in learning and development, the talk, design, implementation, measurement and overall buzz has always been about the event. As an industry, we do a stunning job of creating engaging and purposeful learning experiences. We have done just about everything imaginable to these learning events to achieve this outcome. We’ve digitized them, streamed them, filmed them, recorded them, animated them, simulated them, lectured them — you get the point. I think we can comfortably say that we have that area covered. Our learners are well served when it comes to gaining knowledge. Here’s my concern:
I was recently attending a conference and was discussing the effectiveness of training with another attendee. By his own admission, he was not from the learning industry. He had been dragged kicking and screaming into training from one of his company’s lines of business. He didn’t understand our acronyms and couldn’t recite the ADDIE model. What he wanted was results.
Although he appreciated our knowledge about instruction, he was amazed at how little we seemed to talk about actual results. When I pushed him a bit more about this, he said, “When I was a manager, I didn’t care about anything my people learned in class. All I cared about was what they could do better, or differently, after they returned.” This led me to consider just how obsessed we are with the “after.”
I recently joined ranks with two of my colleagues, Conrad Gottfredson and Frank Nguyen, to do some work in this very area. For the learner, it’s always been about the after. All that prepares learners for this critical moment is fine, but if they can’t perform on the job, why should they engage with us in the first place? My colleagues proposed a design model they called LEaP, or Learning Experience and Performance design. The model is built on the premise that our efforts should be first and foremost about enabling learners to perform on the job when they’re not participating in formal programs.
The model is a simple yet powerful one. It breaks up the learning journey into three stages: before, during and after a learning event occurs. The model suggests that instead of designing for the event and then surrounding that event with whatever learning assets are appropriate, we should start looking at the after stage as the primary learning event and work backward from there.
Imagine what the impact would be if our learning departments started designing as if the after stage was all the learner had available, as we have often designed for learning events in the past. Would this dramatically change your approach, the learning tools and platforms you created and the way you were viewed within the lines of business you support?
Once the design for the after stage is completed, my colleagues recommend that you move to the before stage. Once the before assets are created, it’s finally time to consider the during stage. The beauty of this methodology is that, when done well, there are many instances where you may not need a learning event at all. For years we have pursued blended learning, which more often than not ends up being a mixture of learning assets traditionally taught in class. The LEaP method challenges us to invert that approach by placing more emphasis on what occurs outside of class and supplementing with training when and where needed.
The times we live in challenge each of our learning organizations to constantly prove our value to the enterprises that we serve. All too often we aren’t viewed as intentionally impacting the after stage of our learners’ work context. Shifting our attention to first serve learners’ daily work can dramatically impact our value.
Bob Mosher is global chief learning and strategy evangelist for LearningGuide Solutions and has been an influential leader in the IT training space for more than 15 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.