Paul Matthews speaking at an event organised by Autonomy in October, 2018
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So this is the story. Just imagine for a minute that you have ended up with taxi duty. In other words, you’ve got a 10-year-old boy to take to football practice. Some of you are parents, you know what this is all about. It might be your son, it might be a neighbour’s son, a nephew, somebody. So you’re coming out of your driveway to take little Johnny, he’s here in the seat beside you, to football practice, and you can hear a noise under the bonnet of your car, which isn’t usual. You’re a bit concerned about that. So you say, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll just drive — It’s okay, Johnny, we’ll get there on time. We’ve got plenty of contingency time in here — we’ll drive around the corner to the garage where we always take the car and we’ll get Mike, here he is, to have a listen to the car to find out what’s going on and if it’s all okay.”
And Mike said, it’s not a problem. There’s a piece of plastic on the engine. It’s about that big. It’s got a crack through it. That’s what you can hear rattling, the bits banging together. Just got to replace that and you’ll be on your way in five minutes. That’s a pretty cheap garage visit, isn’t it? That’s… We don’t normally get off that lightly. And then Mike comes back from the parts department and says, “Listen, I’m really sorry but we don’t have that part in stock, so I can’t fix your car right now.” That’s not good. Then he says the real kicker. “I really wouldn’t drive your car with that going on because you could do some permanent engine damage. Just take it back around to your house. I’ll come to you first thing in the morning. We’ve got a part couriered in. I’ll come and fix it for you at your home for free because it’s our fault. We should have had the part. So take the car right back.”
So you are now driving back around the corner home and little Johnny, he’s not real happy because he’s… My question to you is, was Mike capable of fixing your car? Yes or no?
Yeah, but if she needs to…
Just needed the right [inaudible 00:01:57].
He just didn’t have the tools to be able to… [inaudible 00:02:01]
It’s a long yes or no.
I’ll say yes then.
So, anybody else?
I say yeah.
Anybody for a no?
It’s [inaudible 00:02:17].
It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? What if I was to say, “Johnny, stop crying. Johnny, just ease up, we’ll get a taxi. It’s going to be okay. Was Mike capable of fixing our car?” What would little Johnny say? He’d say, no. Well, he’s the ultimate customer. Think about it, here, isn’t he? And he would say, “No, Mike didn’t fix our car. We’re still driving a broken car, so therefore he wasn’t capable of fixing the car.” Johnny doesn’t really care why.
See, I think what’s happening is there’s a confusion here between capability and competence. Mike’s perfectly competent to fix the car but in the moment when he was asked to do so, rendered incapable by the fact he was missing a spare part. That make sense? Now I’m not trying to change the definition in the dictionary, and those of you who are in HR will say, “Yes, but you have capability for dismissal,” and this sort of stuff. Just… That two words that people often get confused and mixed up. So when… I’m guessing most of you here are L&D, is that right? Pretty much? Yeah. When you’re talking with the business, you’ve got to be really clear when they talk about capability or competence, whether they mean that or not.
Because some people get them mixed up, some people get them back to front. Some people will be talking about one and not the other, and not just if they use that word. They might use other words that kind of have that same general sense and meaning about it. I remember sitting in a boardroom of a very big retail chain and L&D was on one side of the table, and HR, metaphorically speaking, and operations on the other, and they were just slinging at it. And I said, “Hey, whoa. Time out.” I told them the story and I realized they were actually talking about capability in quite different ways. L&D was using it in the sense, well, they’re capable. They went to the training course, they passed the test. Absolutely. If we ask them to pass the test now they could do it, but operations are saying, “But they’re not doing it.”
And actually it was an operational problem. It was processes and things that were getting in the way. And yet they were saying, “Well, the people aren’t…” So there’s this real issue around making sure that people have the tools they need to do what they need to do in the workplace, whether that’s a spare part, as in Mike’s case, or a bit of knowledge or anything else. So, this is a very quick little tour of one of those elephants. And I talk about them as elephants because, see, with the elephants in the room, the thing we sometimes ignore, something that many L&D people ignore is this the sense of figuring out what’s really going wrong and why we aren’t doing the performance that the business is expecting. And we say, “Oh, there’s something wrong with that team. Let’s train them.”
How many people have had that? A manager comes and said, “Listen, I’ve got these people.” In effect, they’re saying they’re broken. “Can you fix them, please?” And they have this interesting idea that you’ve still got sacks of pixie dust left to sprinkle on them. So they go into a classroom and they come out the other end fully operationally effective and… Yeah? Has anybody got any pixie dust left, by the way? I really want to know who your dealer is because I can’t find one now. Yeah?
So, because we don’t have that, we have to get a lot of clarity over what’s going on. So very quickly, if you’re looking for sort of performance and results at the point of work, they need to be capable of doing what they’re being asked to do. And a very simple case like Mike the mechanic, he didn’t have the spare part, but as the performer he can bring what he needs. He’s competent. So he’s bringing to the point of work his competence, but rendered incapable at the point of work because of the situation there.
Now, what’s interesting is that so often what happens if the performance isn’t happening, we scuttle down this side of this diagram and we focus on knowledge and skills and we try and train them – which can sometimes be the right solution. So that training course will work. But eight times out of ten, I guarantee you it’s not, or it’s only a small part of a wider solution that’s required to solve the performance problem.
Okay, so what’s on the other side is the stage or the environment, the stage on which they’re performing. I quite like the idea of stage because if you put Dame Judi Dench on the stage, but turn the electrics off so there was no power and no sound system, no lighting. A perfectly competent performer, but no way are you going to get a performance in a dark theatre with no sound system. Just think back over the last, I don’t know, month, of the different tasks you either set yourself or somebody set you> Which ones you were able to do and which ones you weren’t, to your satisfaction? In other words, there will be things you were unable to do to your satisfaction. Your performance was below par.
Now, I don’t really care at this point why other than the fact that, was it because you didn’t know what to do, or was it because something outside of you stopped you from performing? Whether that was faulty IT, or a spare part missing, or a tool or stuff filed in the wrong place, or a colleague didn’t get their stuff on time. The train was late, you didn’t make the meeting. There’re so many things that go wrong and stop us performing that had nothing to do with our knowledge and skills. Okay?
Now, that knowledge is an interesting one because we’ve either got to have knowledge in here, which is this knowledge, in other words, I’ve got to be able to produce that on demand. It might be a code, it might be something, it might be a bit of information. I’m expected to know that, automatically, like a salesman in the car showroom is expected to know the price of that model and some of the primary features about it. But he needn’t necessarily know everything about it did. There might be some things in questions he’s asked, which he just doesn’t know. That’s fine provided he can reach out quickly and grab that knowledge when he wants it. And that’s what this is, EPS is just a short for electronic performance support.
The concept of electronic performance support systems has been around for a long time, and Gloria Gery wrote the first stuff on that a couple of decades ago. But back then the technology wasn’t in place to allow people to reach out in the moment and grab what they want, to reach into their immediate environment and have it there. So that’s one of the things we’re talking about today. So what I found is, my second book was on this kind of whole process by the way. And actually if you want to just grab a copy and hand it to the back, here’s a copy of that slide. You’ll get these slides anyway, so what I won’t do is belabour the point on this. That’s another whole day’s seminar. But this is the first elephant I talked about. Actually this is Dennis who has a lesson here for us.
You might’ve seen this, it’s been around the internet for quite a while now. The earliest incidents I can find is an Italian website in 2007, so, it’s probably been around longer than that. See, what we’ve got here is a perfectly competent donkey. Dennis can pull that cart. Trust me, he is a competent donkey. He knows what he’s doing. But in this instance, his manager has failed him by overloading his cart the wrong way. In other words, his environment, and his manager is part of his environment, has messed him up and rendered him incapable of pulling that cart right now. Do you think, sending Dennis off to donkey school is going to help in this situation? No. And yet we so often do that, don’t we, when we’re in a training situation. A few wry nods around the room.
So remember Dennis and think about what that means when someone comes and asks you for training. You need to go through that performance consultancy – performance diagnostics process to figure out what’s really going on, which side of that diagram is the problem, and some of the time is what you will find is that it’s a problem of lack of knowledge immediately next to you, which is one of the things that autonomy wants to talk to you about today. It’s one possible reason, but you need to go through a diagnostic process to find that if that’s indeed the case and there’s a whole lot of other stuff wrapped around that.
Okay, so performance diagnostics… And the other distinction I make by the way is this is performance consultancy, not learning consultancy. A lot of people get those two things mixed up. It’s really interesting. When my book on this first came out, somebody put a bad review on a website about it and said it’s a load of rubbish. We’ve been doing that for years. What’s new about this? Eventually, actually, after a couple of emails, I got to talk to him and asked him what he meant. And what he was doing was learning consultancy. What he was doing was saying, “Okay, we’ve got a performance problem. We’re going to provide a learning solution. Let’s align that solution with the business so that we got fully aligned learning with the business needs and therefore I’ve done performance consultancy here.” I said, “No, you haven’t, because you’ve started from the premise that learning is the output you’re going to give them.”
Performance consultancy starts from the premise that there’s a problem and we don’t know what it is. We don’t know why it’s there. We just know there’s a problem. What we have to do is dig into that whole performance system you’ve got on that handout there, that’ll help you understand where the problem is. Only then can you say, if you end up on the top left-hand side, do we have a training problem and therefore I’ve got the opportunity to produce a training or learning solution for it. This will save you a lot of money because what’ll happen is, if you start putting this as a filter around your learning and development function, requests for training and learning will hit that filter and bounce straight back. A lot of them will, because training was never a viable solution for the presenting problem. You see what I mean?
And if a knowledge support resource is part of the solution and they’re coming asking for training, it’s not a viable solution. So this will help you decide, A) what am I going to produce and how am I going to do it? How do I deal with the levers in this? So this is effectively helping you find the levers in the system. Anyway, so that’s a bit about that. And as an interesting… I mean, if you walked into a doctor’s surgery and they said, “Oh, yeah, you look like you need penicillin. Here it is,” without asking you any questions, you’d think that was malpractice. But that’s what we do all the time in training and development, isn’t it?
Okay. You touched on 70:20 before. I got two slides but they’re very different about 70:20:10 here. I love the model in many ways. I know Charles Jennings quite well. He’s another sheep farmer from down under. I’m from New Zealand, he’s from Australia, so we sit and have beers and talk about informal learning and he actually wrote the forward for my second book. So as I said, we communicate quite a lot. And he’s sometimes almost in despair at how people have taken this on board and are misusing it almost. Now where it’s really valuable, really valuable, is when you as L&D people are talking to the rest of the business about informal learning, because you can say to them, “Where did you learn everything you know in order to do what you do on a day-to-day basis?” And they’ll say, “Hmm.” And they’ll come up with something a bit like 70:20:10. By the way, the research is sound, but it’s also quite suspect because the original set was 192, mostly male, almost exclusively male, successful executives.
And they asked them that question, “Where did you learn?” And this is where the figures came from. But they were successful executives who were prepared to play and there was only 192 of them and they were nearly all male. They did the same experiment a year-and-a-half later with mostly female, smaller sample number, and the figures were quite different. It was about 55 experiential, about 35, I think, social, and only five or something formal. But still there was a preponderance of informal or non-formal. Not the formal. And a lot of experiments have done since and people have tried to replicate these figures. In some studies they have, in some studies they haven’t, and then you look at them and you realize where they say, “Well people are doing this. Let’s put that into this 20% part, and this is…”
I wrote an article for a training journal recently on the murkiness of 70:20:10 because actually it depends… It’s like arguing how many people dance on the head of a pin? Get over it. These figures aren’t real. It’s like the 80:20 rule. Nobody expects that to be true, but we say, “Oh, it kind of works that way.” So this is what this is good for. It helps the senior team who are not L&D people, say, “Oh yeah, we need to be paying attention and perhaps putting some budget into informal learning because that’s really where it’s happening.”
And that’s what I like about the model. What I hate about the model is that people misuse it. I was doing a session with the L&D team of a global bank, actually, and we got onto this topic and I said, “Okay, what do you guys think it is?” And I got all these people coming back and this was a senior L&D team of a global bank. And they all got it wrong. And the sense that some of them were saying, “Oh, it’s the amount of time you spend learning stuff.” It’s not. It came from the amount of knowledge you actually gather. You said it right at the beginning. It’s the amount… It’s where do I learn most of what I learn. Yeah. It’s not how much time you spent learning it. It’s the bank of knowledge you’ve developed and where it came from.
Then you get people who say, “Okay, what we’re going to do is we’re going to start doing 70:20:10,” and I go, “Oh, no…” You cannot do that. It’s already there. It came from research of existing executives. It’s not like you can start it, because it’s already there. What you can do, though, is harness the power of it, because the 70 and the 20 is really powerful learning. We were hardwired to learn by the 70:20 type stuff, as a species. We’d be in the evolutionary dustbin if we didn’t have that hardwired into us. The 10 is actually quite foreign to us as a way of learning things, but that’s a different way. We’ve got to work really hard to learn that way, so the more of this 70:20 type stuff we can harness, the better.
The other thing that happens is people say, “Well, I’ve got this curriculum. What I’m going to do is take this training curriculum and I’m going to push it into different channels and 70% of what I push will be in this channel where they have to do things to…” All they’re doing is they’re taking their existing curriculum and forcing it into a blended solution. So we’re back to blended learning again. Charles calls it the 10 plus. You see, “They’re still formal.” It’s just going through different channels. I think I put it on this slide deck. There’s a slide I’ve got of a chimpanzee, a young one, actually hand bottle-feeding a baby tiger cub at some zoo, and I use this to show that, until you’ve bottle fed a tiger cub, you don’t know what’s going to happen.
You can have all the theory in the world about how you need to behave and do things to bottle feed a tiger cub, but until someone says, “Here’s a bottle, here’s a cub,” how much more do you learn when you start doing that? That’s the stuff you learn informally, not the stuff in the curriculum. It’s almost impossible. Most of the things you learn informally are almost impossible to put into a curriculum unless you’re doing things like flight simulators and stuff like that, where you’re practising and doing things experientially in the formal path. See what I mean? So get clarity about that difference.
Now, every company has one of these in the basement. A great big informal learning engine. It was there when the company was formed. It’s still there now, although maybe no one’s visited the basement for a long, long time. They normally don’t look as clean and shiny as that, but they chug away and thankfully you can’t turn it off. Thank God. If you turned or could turn that engine off in the basement of a company, the company would be on its knees in weeks if not months. Sorry, in months, if not weeks. Yeah? Because all the time, people are learning all the time. Learning informally is like a side effect of life. It just happens. We weren’t even aware that it’s going on all the time. This is a slightly more formal situation. You came with the view to learning, but a lot of the things that we learn as we go through life just happen as they happen, and we’re completely unaware that we’re learning. Who here went to formal training on how to run a household?
I’m assuming most of you kind of can do that or you found someone who can do it for you. See, we don’t go to training courses on most of the things that we do in life, and yet we learn them… through experiences, but we’re not aware of that learning as it’s happening. There was a guy in a building society, I’ve said. I was having this discussion with him and he said, “I’m a bit crazy.” I said, “Okay, here’s a crazy thing to go and do. Walk the corridors and ask everybody you come across, when was the last time they learned something and notice what you get.” And he said, “What was really interesting is, the more senior people would talk about often a slightly more recent thing.” I talked to John on the corridor earlier on today or whatever. The younger people, the graduates and things, especially, would go back to their last formal training course and most people said, “Oh, the last time I learned something was two months ago when I was on that training course.”
You see what I mean? People are unaware of the learning that’s going on. So the 70:20:10 model can start making them aware, so it should be part of every management curriculum, is helping the managers understand that the 70:20:10 exists, or figures around that area, and that because 90% roughly or thereabout of learning is happening on their watch, they’ve got to pay attention to that. There’s another talk I do called Polish Your Underpants and Wear Them With Pride, which is about the superpowers of the manager, because they have the ability to control most of the stuff on the right-hand side of that bit of paper, which means they’ve got a lot of power to do things and affect how people learn or not in that environment where they’re operating. But again, we haven’t got time to go into shining your pants today. So…
Come on. I think the battery might be getting flat. This is a model I developed several years ago and it’s actually in one of the handouts you’ve got there. I thought of the KiFi model, and the idea is, there’s some stuff that we need to know, just in case we need it. We’ve got to have it in here in case we need that, of… If a customer asked me, “What’s the price of that model?” I need to be able to give them some sensible answer from memory, from immediate recall. Yeah? Just in case I want to, I need to know these things. And of course some of the health and safety things. If you go into other industries like the NHS… how to handle sharps, money laundering, food hygiene, all of those things. A lot of the compliance stuff sits in that domain as well.
The other side of it is just in time. And you mentioned about Google and finding stuff and being able to go, “I need to be able to get to it quickly. Not over there, but here.” So knowledge bank, why the hell over there, it doesn’t do me much good. And when I say over there, I mean it’s the one that’s sort of spread into some SharePoint that’s all over the place and isn’t that accessible. So you’ve got to look at what do the people need and how do they need to access it quickly. So we’re talking about performance support there. That’s something else that we get involved with is, is the performance support. And I’ve got a note on my slides where I talked to you about this earlier, the performance support pyramid and the bite-size chunk is don’t just give people a 30-page manual when they ask a question in terms of performance, support or a knowledge bank.
You’ve got to say… Think of it as a pyramid, and this is a model that Con Gottfredson and Bob Mosher developed, is, hit the top of the pyramid which is the answer to the most likely question. This is where the 80:20 rule comes in. 80% of the problems that someone will have in the workplace will be able to be answered by one or two simple answers. So that’s what you’re going to put at the top, and then put a more button and say, “Well, if that doesn’t get you what you want, here’s the next bit which is a bit broader. Then here’s the next bit, which is a bit broader, and here’s the next bit, which is the 30-page document.” But don’t push them straight into the 30-page document. You see what I mean? How you operate with that kind of pyramid approach.
And the bottom level, by the way is, this is the subject matter expert you can go and ask if you still haven’t found what you need. And this is about Gloria Gery’s statement of try as best to deal with things digitally before you start getting them to disturb colleagues or subject matter experts. It’s that digital availability at arm’s… And here, not over there. And by over there, I mean too many clicks, too much time, too much dross to wade through, a navigational topology that just doesn’t help them, all of that sort of stuff. So that’s that model. There’s a lot more about that in the handout, and that sort of differences between e-learning and e-reference because they’re two different things. So the just-in-case is very much about e-learning, take someone through a sequence of ideas to get them to the point where they know it. They’ve got it, it’s here, they can use it.
That, is a very different beast, and so therefore you need possibly the same information in both systems, like an LMS and some kind of knowledge bank together, in the sense that… One company I know, a course, they call their LMS their learning zone and then they’ve got their knowledge zone which is alongside of it, and it’s quite separate. So that’s that dip with learning and being able to finding. Yeah? Okay.
So this is the other interesting thing. This chap said something very erudite a long time ago, and if you go and ask most people how they learn, they’ll actually say something, “Oh, I learn when I do it. Even if I kind of know it, until I do it, I kind of don’t know it.” Like feeding a tiger cub. So that’s why that’s important. And that’s what learning by doing is all about, is experimenting. It often doesn’t matter how many times we get told something, how much information we might have, until we play with it, try something and something goes wrong, or it goes right, then we don’t know. We just don’t know. So what we’re talking about there is this another model from the same guys. They had their performance pyramid actually, Con Gottfredson, he talks about the five moments of learning need. This is really interesting. Has anybody come across these before my talk? It’s a really interesting model. Very, very powerful.
The first moment is when some… When we learn something new, a bit of new information, I don’t need to think about it, I need to learn about it. There’s a new subject. Okay. The next point of need is when you want to know more about that. “Okay. I’ve been exposed so I know a bit about it, but now I got new bit of work to do, I need to know more before I go into this next role. I need to upgrade my knowledge in some way.” And then you got learning need at the point of apply. So this is more about performance support. This is, while I’m in the middle of a job, “Oh, my God. What was that thing? I need an aide memoir. I need something to remind me of something I might have learned but forgot.” So that’s that moment of apply.
So this is where you’re talking about performance support and the performance support pyramid. How do you support that moment of learning need? Then you’ve got the solve thing. Now this is when something goes wrong, something breaks. The procedure you’re using doesn’t quite work out the way it’s supposed to and you’ve got to figure out, “Now what do I do? I can’t just follow the steps because they’re not working. So there might be some more stuff needed. I’ve got to learn some more things about how to get around that when the steps break.” And then the other one is when things around me change to the extent I’ve got to relearn what I did. I’ve got to unlearn and relearn to deal with the new world around me. So as a learning person, you need to be saying, “How am I supporting each of those five moments of learning need?” And the way you support each moment, they’re going to be different.
These ones here, you can do somewhat formally in the sense of training or e-learning. That doesn’t mean that’s the best way to learn those things. You might find, “Well, actually, I’m better off learning that in the workflow because that’s where I’m going to use it anyway.” So I’m a great fan of bringing learning as much as possible into the workflow, but sometimes, training… I’m not anti-training, by the way, although some people say I am, but I’m not. How am I going to support them with learning at the point of apply, at the point of need, when I’m trying to do something at the point of work, is a phrase I use. And then how are you going to support them when things just don’t work? Or the whole world around them changes. So that’s a really interesting model to use.
So that’s just a little bit about informal learning. What I find is that a lot of organizations are talking 70:20:10 and that’s partly because of Charles’s work and others in the industry talking about informal learning. It’s become a lot more fashionable over the last few years. What I also find is that a lot of companies talk about it but do very little about it. There’s one large retail outfit I was working with them on their L&D strategy and I went through the strategy with them because one of the things I often do is work at a high level with strategies. We’ve got a highlighter pen and went through it to find all the different elephants that were in there or not. There was very little highlighter on the strategy by the time we finished looking for the three elephants, by the way, that I said, “Okay, those strategies are doomed to fail because you’re not coping with the elephants.”
The only one they really had in there was the informal learning elephant, the 70:20:10, and I said, “Okay, you’ve got that in your strategy. What are you doing out there, in the business, that means you’re doing what your strategy says you should be?” And they all looked a bit sheepish. So what I find is it’s often in a strategy but they’re not being implemented out there in the real world. So I started to say, “Well, why did you write that in the strategy if you’re not going to do it?”
Okay. Now, the third elephant is learning transfer and you need to remember that if you ever put them in a training room or give them any learning course, as they move beyond that, how are you going to make sure they implement what you’ve given them? Because if they’re not going to implement it and arguably change their behaviour, unless it was compliance training, that’s a different story. But if it’s behavioural change you’re seeking and they don’t do it, you’ve just wasted your money.
Robert Brinkerhoff from West Michigan University did a bunch of research on that and he said, only one in six in a traditional delivery and dump type training and afterwards, he said that unless there’s a lot of work done, traditionally there isn’t, about one in six people will eventually, over the longer term, six months or more, will actually be changing their behaviour on a permanent basis. Three out of those six will try it once or twice and then go back to their previous behaviour. Two out of the six won’t even try. Those figures are appalling. I’m an engineer originally. If I built machinery with that failure, I’d be killing people. That’s scary. How can they let them get away with that? How are you doing it? It’s just amazing, but you see, the thing is the scrutiny’s starting to happen now. L&D is coming under the spotlight more and more to say, “Hang on this, there’s this big budget and we’re not quite sure what we’re getting for it.” The finance directors are saying, “Hang on, what’s going on here?”
One of the things that’s done that, by the way, is the apprenticeship levy. A lot of finance directors, they’re now saying, “Hang on, I’m writing a check for a million quid. Where’s that going? Oh, learning and development? Well, this is all part of the same thing. Let’s look at the whole lot.” And the CFOs are now paying a lot more attention to L&D than they used to be. That’s my experience in talking with a lot of chief learning officers, is that they’re now a lot more scrutiny than they were, and the apprenticeship levy is driving some of that. Oh, there was my… I think the battery’s going on this, that’s why it’s misbehaving. We’re almost there. So I’ll just soldier on with this.
There’s the delegates leaving the classroom, and there’s always one clown, upside down. I found this thing, there’s this training course and then people expect the magic to happen. It’s that pixie dust I was telling you about earlier. And that’s the step that most people don’t do anything with, and this is the third elephant, is the ignoring of what is needed to be done to proactively promote learning transfer following some kind of training. I’d forgotten I had this in this presentation. So there’s a whole bunch of levers you can pull that are related to learning transfer, and one of them, clearly, is giving someone the opportunity to practice and the time to do so. How many times does someone come back from a training course and they get told, “Oh, thank God you’re back. Nobody’s been doing your work while you’re away. You’ve got a full in-tray. You better catch up with that first. And, oh, by the way, I’ve been on that course a few years ago myself. It’s a lot of crap. Just… Forget about it. Just get on with what we’re doing here.”
How many managers… There’s too many smiles around the room. Yeah? It doesn’t always happen, but it is depressingly common when someone comes back from a course and does not get that kind of environmental and managerial and peer support. So the expectations of what comes out of a course. But if the manager’s going to be like that, they’re not going to get given tasks where they can practice. They’re not going to be given the time to do those tasks to practice. So this is all about the opportunity to do so. So that learning transfer is the big expensive guy in the room in a way. Oh, there’s Brinkerhoff’s studies.
So, I’ve got a third book coming out. Actually, it’s at the printers right now, so it’s out in two weeks’ time, on learning transfer. So I’ve got a book about all three of the elephants. Now, what’s really interesting is when you’re doing learning transfer or enabling it, people say, “Well, how do I do that? What’s that about? I mean, I do some stuff already. I give them… I get them to write down their goals at the end of the training course. I’m doing learning transfer by doing that.” Well, the answer is, they’re doing such a small thing that actually it usually doesn’t work anyway for a whole lot of other reasons, which I haven’t got time to go into now. But you’ve got to have a cute kitten picture. So this is the cute kitten picture… anyway, but there are some levers you can pull in learning transfer just the same as there are levers to pull in that diagnostics diagram.
And I won’t dig into the guts of this slide, but Dr. Ina Weinbauer-Heidel is from Austria and I’m collaborating with her on some stuff at the moment. In fact, we’re both speaking together at the World of Learning Conference coming up in a couple of weeks in October at the NEC on learning transfer. She did a PhD in this. And, would you believe the research goes back 110 years for learning transfer? Everybody goes, really? But it does. So, she went back over 110 years of research and pulled out every paper she could find, all of the determinants of learning transfer, and she ended up with well over 100 of them.
So it’s little wonder that it’s not seeping from the academia into the real world. It’s gotten too complicated almost and there are too many factors. Anybody hears goes, “Oh, I can’t be dealing with that.” So her, from doing the research, she then… Her goal changed to say, “How can I find the core ones?” So she went through those 100 and whittled them all down, found the ones that were too similar and could be lumped together, found the ones that really had such a low level of correlation they weren’t worth worrying about, found the ones that had a high level of correlation but actually practically you couldn’t use, so she got rid of those, and she came up with 12 levers. Three of them relate to the trainee, four on design, and five on the organization.
Her book, by the way, is now on Amazon in English. It’s just gotten translated. It’s just come out in the last couple of weeks. So there’s a pair of them to buy, mine and hers. But anyway, so those are levers. If you want to talk more about that, we can work with Autonomy and work with you around how to get some of that done. So those are the three elephants I just wanted to talk about briefly. And what’s really interesting is, if you deal with those, it changes a lot in terms of how the business perceives L&D. So go back, grab your L&D strategy and get a highlighter pen and give it the three elephant test. You do have a written L&D strategy somewhere, don’t you? Yes. Go through it with a highlighter and mark each sentence that relates to one of these elephants. Now the rest of it is not irrelevant. It’s very valuable.
But how many of these elephants are being dealt with? And if you don’t end up with much highlighter, you need to rethink that strategy. Otherwise this fourth sneaky elephant is going to come and bite you. Okay. And that’s the brand of L&D. And a lot of people… That should be in the strategy as well, by the way. What are you doing about the brand of L&D? The brand of L&D being what they say about L&D when you’re not in the room. Which is a lovely quote from Jeff Bezos, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Because if the brand of L&D is such that they see you as someone who delivers a bit of training and does a bit of e-learning and you’re a service deliverer, I’m sure there’s so much more that you can do that if only they knew to ask that you’d be able to do for them. But they never ask you. That’d be fair? There’s lots of stuff you can do for them. But they never ask you because they don’t think you do it, they don’t know you do it. They don’t even know it’s possible. So that’s a reflection on your brand is what they come and ask you for because that’s what they think you do. So you need to expand and think about what that brand needs to be. But one of the ways you can fix that brand and start moving it into a performance rather than a learning-related brand and actually working with the business around performance, is to start dealing with those three elephants.