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Flipping your training toolbox upside down

organizational learning tools

JD Dillon is an interesting creature. The best that I can tell, the guy eats, sleeps and breathes talent development. I’ve followed him on Twitter, I’ve seen and interacted with him at conferences. And he’s a total learning geek. So it’s fitting that his company is called LearnGeek.

Earlier this week we shared our latest Train Like You Listen podcast, featuring JD, and we had a chance to talk about organizational learning strategy and a modern learning ecosystem. I want to return to this idea in today’s post because there’s something fascinating about the modern learning ecosystem model that JD offers. It literally turns the tools we typically use in training and development on their heads.

Even though I’ve led training teams and now I lead an entire organization, I’ll always be an intructional designer at heart. When I hear of a performance problem or the need to provide people with new skills, I often think: will this be something for the classroom, or would elearning be a better solution? I’m not alone. Look at JD’s chart (below) to see how most organizations build their strategy for supporting new skill sets for their employees:


All the right pieces are there – the tools in our toolkit for learning strategy. As you can see from the next graphic, the inclination to think: “We need some sort of amazing, engaging training here to launch X or to help improve Y or to lay a foundation for Z,” is misguided.


As JD mentioned during the podcast, this is not a new concept. People share information all the time, so it makes sense for this to be the foundational element to how people learn across an organization. It’s just that – at least in my case (and I’m sure in many of your cases too) – we’re hired to train people. So it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that finding ways for people to share knowledge or to provide performance support without building a full blown course are really two easy, low friction and most importantly effective means of professional development.

If you’d like to explore more about what can be included in all of the different elements on the charts, you can check out JD’s entire slide presentation here.

If you happen to be at ATD’s TechKnowledge conference in San Jose next week, check out his sessions! Or, if you want to see how to give your handouts and job aids a visual makeover (from an instructional design – not a graphic design – perspective), come join me at my session at 11:30am next Wednesday at TechKnowledge. Gonna be in San Jose but can’t make my session? Drop me a line and let’s nerd out over coffee!

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