Putting the learning back into the workflow

Training as well as learning and development is undergoing quite a significant sea-change in thinking.  The realisation that traditional forms of training – face to face, online – no longer work in the manner that they used to, or ever worked in the manner that was intended, is fast becoming the norm.

Which is a good thing!

L & D providers that exhibit at industry conferences and exhibitions are, more and more, beginning to profess this.  The delegates that attend most certainly are.  They are usually keen to understand the next ‘big thing’ or new technology or where the industry is going, but – and here is the irony – they achieve the same outcome as traditional forms of development that is delivered in isolation.

Consider the parallels.

A training delegate is shipped off to a training day, away from their desk and office to be trained in something new to improve their skills and ultimately their capability.

They are force fed information delivered with a generic context (similar to horoscopes – one size fits all) and then after overloading them with said information, is expected to go back to their desk and implement everything – straight away to improve their performance.

An exhibition delegate ships themselves off to the exhibition, away from their desk and office to go and get information which they hope will give them inspiration, potential new skills or direction that they can apply to their role and organisation.

They walk through the doors and are ‘pounced on’ by the stand staff and given a tremendous amount of information – not necessarily from an individual stand but a little from a lot of stands equals a LOT – and on top of that, they visit seminars to inspire and provoke thought.

And after being overloaded with lots of information they expect to go back to their desks and implement everything.

What happens next?

Both delegates get back to their desks and…

– Check their e-mails because they have been out for a day.

– Return the calls that were left on their voicemail

– Attempt to catch up with their actual work as they have lost a day.

For each minute they spend doing their routine role and task, the information, the inspiration and the learning slips further and further away.

The situation is ironic, because the exhibition delegate will typically be of the mindset that in order to learn, you need time to reflect, time to think and identify the changes they need to make and then time to implement.

They will subscribe that the traditional way of development does not work as effectively as it needs to be.

And yet, when they attend an exhibition, these champions of learning will do exactly what they tell their organisations not to do.

What’s my source?  It’s in the follow up conversations from exhibitions:

– “I haven’t had time to look through the stuff yet”

– “I still need to sit and think about what I learned at XYZ Expo”

– “I got really busy and haven’t had a chance to go through any of my notes”

Sound familiar?

If we, as pioneers of championing better, more effective and productive ways of learning for our colleagues, cannot practice what we preach – how on earth are we ever going to convince management or the board that learning and development is a worthwhile investment.


Steve Lloyd is the founder and MD of SSP – Unlocking Potential, a niche consultancy that focuses on developing business using customer relationship management approaches, effective and common sense processes to create the foundation for growth.

SSP has mentored organisations and individuals from starting their own business, product invention and innovation to creating strategies for sustained and consistent growth.

Outside of helping people and companies grow, Steve plays bass in the function band The Eclectix.

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