Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

11 December 2013

Revolutionize Learning & Development

Clark @ 6:35 AM

It has become clear that one of the things that is needed is a shakeup of Learning & Development (L&D). My simple version is that L&D isn’t doing all it could and should be doing, and what it is doing it is not doing well. The flaws are myriad

What we see are courses as the only tool in the toolbox. The LMS, rapid elearning tools, virtual classrooms, and of course the omnipresent F2F training sessions are the rule. Organizations are not doing root cause analysis or aligning with business metrics, but instead are serving as ‘order takers’. Organizations are not looking to using performance support even though it’s likely a better value than courses, let alone looking to the network as a systematic component of the solution. Worse, the courses that are being offered are largely knowledge dump/test.

And you’ve heard me go off on this before. So what more can I do? How about write a book laying out the case in more detail? Let’s say I:

  • document the problems with evidence
  • point to the things about learning and organizations that we are not paying attention to
  • show what it could be like if we were doing what we should be (with case studies), and
  • lay out a road map forward

Would that be helpful?

Well, as I’ve hinted, that’s what’s been my project for the past months. It’s gone into production, with a target date of May 2014. The title, slightly unwieldy but capturing the necessary thoughts, has been finalized:

Revolutionize Learning & Development: Performance and Innovation Strategy for the Information Age

I aim to spark the revolution, and I hope you’ll join me!


  1. Right on Clark!!

    A revolution is needed!!

    Can’t wait to read the book!!

    = Will

    Comment by Will Thalheimer — 11 December 2013 @ 7:24 AM

  2. Looking forward to it, Clark!Especially about how you will link information to performance & innovation!

    Comment by Frank — 11 December 2013 @ 8:21 AM

  3. I feel the same way. I think most of the cool stuff in education and edtech is happening in the K-12 space. There’s a lot of cool stuff in that space. Have you been to an edcamp (http://edcamp.wikispaces.com/)? They’re doing some amazing things with edtech. @sciology showed me around Teaching Like A Pirate. The flipped classroom is a huge win. It’d be nice to have that in corporate L&D. The teachers, instructional designers, librarians and media specialists I’ve met are having HUGE amounts of fun. I don’t see too many laughs in the L&D space.

    Anyway, I’ll be looking out for your book.

    Comment by urbie delgado — 11 December 2013 @ 8:41 AM

  4. Hi Clark,

    The true purpose and value of training is not understood by most HR heads and other senior leaders in most organizations. A tendency exists to treat training teams as a “Checkbox” on an imaginary required departments sheet. I started writing a book titled “STOP Training Them”, earlier this year to document my thoughts on how training professionals can add more value to their organizations by combining Instructional Design with Coaching and Performance Improvement techniques.

    I soon hit a roadblock, as I realized that there was a problem at another level, and it would hamper the implemention of my suggested methodologies. I realized HR teams themselves are facing an identity crisis as many CEOs are now questioning the value they bring to the organization.

    I have now started using the domain I registered for my book as a blog (www.stoptrainingthem.com), and have started posting an analysis of the existing HR processes, and how can they be adapted to ensure that HR and in turn Training teams can become more relevant to the organization.

    If I haven’t already started sounding presumptuous, I would love to partner with you in this project. If that’s ok with you.


    Comment by Harkirat — 14 December 2013 @ 4:55 AM

  5. Harkirat, the book is already off to the publisher, so we can’t collaborate on that. However, I welcome your participation in trying to change what organizations are doing! I am largely focused on what L&D (which should become the Performance & Development department) can/should do – performance support, community facilitation, as well as formal learning – and stop at the learning culture in the organization, so I’m not talking about recruitment and selection or other elements of the larger ‘talent management’ picture. I welcome you pointing me to where you’ve written about how HR may be part of a bigger problem than just L&D.

    Comment by Clark — 14 December 2013 @ 8:15 AM

  6. Hi Clark,

    I understand where you are coming from, and I have noticed a large number of L&D/Performance Consultants stop short of crossing that imaginary line that demarcates roles between HR and training. I have always wondered why is it like that?

    I prepare a brilliant performance support plan, I align it with Kirkpatrick’s levels, I demonstrate business results achieved. Yet, when the time comes for measuring and rewarding the performance of employees, the organization will fall back on to MBO’s, KRA’s, Stack Ranking etc.

    Why? Because Performance Management is owned by HR.

    No matter how hard I try to improve a person/team’s performance, HR’s vision will always be different, and ultimately it will affect the impact of my performance initiatives.

    Anyways, I think I will continue on my quest to step on HR’s toes, and I wish you the best of luck for your book. I hope it becomes a great success.

    Comment by Harkirat — 15 December 2013 @ 11:21 PM

  7. Clark, I’m looking forward to reading your new book. I teach an online course for ASTD titled Essentials of Developing an Organizational Learning Culture and I’m always looking for new perspectives and new examples. I emphasize “culture” because I think the biggest roadblock to learning and performance improvement is the set of values and beliefs held by organizational leaders. If they don’t value learning, then they will fall back on classroom training as a proxy for meeting their obligation to employees.

    Comment by Stephen J. Gill — 17 December 2013 @ 6:33 AM

  8. Clark, I look forward to reading this book in May. Viva la revolution!

    Comment by Ara Ohanian — 17 December 2013 @ 7:41 AM

  9. Well, I’m the cynic then. I’ll be 61 next spring and I have been in the L&D / Training business since 1980 and was in education before that. Over the last 30 plus years I feel like I have gone through the same thinking as you and agree that a shakeup is needed but fear it won’t happen.

    I have gone from using 16 mm movies in a classroom to elearning delivery with You Tube links and the same support issues always come up. This morning I’m working on a final draft for pre issue testing on an elearning program for January 2nd. The only concern for the powers that be is it is on-time, has a knowledge test on the information dump to prove the user took it and isn’t overly long. I will retire before any change comes to that.

    I was lucky enough to have several chances to work with Bob Pike and his group in Minnesota and we applied all the new thinking and ‘improvements’ you could think of – got praise for our new ideas and were then told to quickly crank out a course to make the organization in compliance with some expectation or other and don’t get fancy! Sigh – just a reflection on my frustrations. Good luck and keep pushing for the better way.

    Comment by Paul — 20 December 2013 @ 9:43 AM

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