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Learning and Development Lessons from Brazil’s World Cup Team

The World Cup is upon us. In Brazil, a country that’s won the tournament more than anyone else (5 times), there’s a debate on whether they should continue playing “beautiful” soccer, or if they should be playing more to win. I wonder if we should be having the same debate in the learning and development field.

Soccer Ball

In the learning and development space, “beautiful” is the equivalent of engaging, fun, entertaining, sound lesson plan design. “Winning” could be synonymous with behavior change.

There are a lot of courses and conferences and books devoted to effective training design and engaging presentation styles and gamification of elearning. ASTD (ATD) specializes in these types of events and publications. I’ve read a number of books and attended several of their conferences. I even presented at an ASTD conference. Yet, I wonder how much behavior change comes from all of this.

In 2010, McKinsey published an article stating that $100 billion was spent annually on learning initiatives yet only one quarter of those initiatives yielded any type of measurably improved business performance.

I wonder if L&D professionals should continue to look to organizations like ASTD. When I read CLO’s recent listing of 2014 LearningElite organizations, I began to wonder if we should be looking more toward organizations that don’t necessarily talk about talent development and improved business results, but rather produce such results year after year. While I know many L&D-focused organizations are on the small side and ASTD’s BEST and CLO’s LearningElite seem biased toward larger organizations, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a single organization devoted exclusively to L&D on one of these lists.

Just as this ESPN article points out that there are some in Brazil who don’t feel that the “beautiful game/playing to win” is an either/or argument, perhaps it’s not an either/or argument in the L&D space either. Or is it?

On which side do you fall in this argument? Let’s hear it in the comment section below.

And of course: Go Yanks, beat the Black Stars!

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