L&D lessons from… a photobooth?


Last weekend I attended a fundraiser and near the entrance was a photobooth. And there was a long line to wait in order to get pictures.

It seems photobooths are en vogue these days – at wedding receptions, birthday parties, church gatherings, office holiday parties. Inside the photobooth, children and adults alike giggle, make funny faces, wear silly hats. The photobooth is an instant icebreaker for some, a must-do destination for others.

On the other hand, there’s training. I can’t say people line up for most training courses. There’s not much giggling or enjoyment that comes out of the training room.

Are there lessons that the photobooth can teach L&D professionals? Continue reading

In honor of the Women’s World Cup goal-fest, here are 5 goals for L&D professionals…


Yesterday as I watched the US women make it look so easy to score five goals in the World Cup finals, I wondered if other people in other professions could ever make it look so easy to achieve five goals.

Here are five goals that learning and development professionals might want to consider. They’re certainly not easy to accomplish, but the key here is to make achieving them look easy. Continue reading

67 Lessons I’ve Learned as a Learning and Development Professional


In spring 1998, a young, brash bureaucrat at the United States Office of Personnel Management delivered a presentation on the federal government’s early retirement policy. It was his first presentation and as the room cleared out, someone pulled this young, brash bureaucrat’s boss aside and asked: “Who’s the asshole?”

It was me. And apparently I didn’t quite hit my first presentation out of the park. I’ve learned a lot over the past 17 years. Here are a few of those lessons learned, in no particular order: Continue reading

What I Learn From My Readers When I Blog

This is the 308th blog post that I’ve published, and one of the best part of my blogging experience has been the opportunity to learn from my readers.

Yesterday I received an incredibly nice note from a reader who wrote, in part, that this blog offered her “Such insightful and helpful information.” While I love the opportunity to share my insights in hopes that others may find them helpful, more than anything I love learning from Continue reading

How Does Learning Stick? 5 Resources that Help Answer This Question.

I had been working in training and instructional design for several years and was feeling pretty good about myself. I was creative. I was charismatic. I loved being in front of people in a room. I loved using Mr. Sketch Markers to create fun (and great smelling) flip charts. And people seemed to love my presentations.

People would come up to me after presentations, telling me they were some of the best presentations they’d ever attended. Ever!

Yet when I looked around, I didn’t see people doing many things new or differently or better as a result of my presentations and training programs. So I spent a lot of money and a couple years’ worth of time on earning a master’s degree in organizational development in order to study how better to make training stick. I learned that there were a lot of other, non-training factors that go into whether or not a training program is successful.

That said, training professionals and instructional designers have an obligation to do everything in their power to make sure a training program is well-designed so that their learners have the maximum opportunity to remember what they’ve learned.

Here are five resources that can help you better figure out how learning will stick:

1. Will Thalheimer’s “Decisive Dozen”

Will Thalheimer has sifted through tons of research in order to distill evidence-based practices down into 12 key concepts.

2. Make It Stick

Looking to go further in depth on the topic? Peter Brown, Henry Roediger III and Mark McDaniel have written the best book I’ve read on this topic in a long time. It’s both informative and filled with ideas on both how to design learning programs more effectively and how to boost retention long after the event has passed.

3. Transfer of Training

This book is a little older (written in 1992), but the concepts that Mary Broad and John Newstrom have laid out in this book continue to influence the way I design training programs today. One of the most fundamental pieces to this book is the importance of both the trainee’s manager and the trainer, who can both play a more significant role than the learner him (or her) self when it comes to whether or not the content will actually be put to use.

4. Art Kohn’s monthly column in Learning Solutions magazine

Art Kohn’s presentation at DevLearn 2014 was my first introduction to the concept of learning boosts. Since that presentation I’ve been a pretty faithful reader of his column, which offers bite-sized chunks of brain research and its role in how people learn.

5. Meta-analysis: Is Blended Learning Most Effective?

Every once in a while I still hear the question: isn’t in-person delivery better than online? In 2009, the U.S. Department of Education studied this question and cited research that concluded… well, I’ll let you read the study for yourself (click on the link above!).

What did I miss? I’d love to hear about other resources you use to figure out how learning best sticks.

Want Direct Access to Like-minded Professionals on a Regular Basis? Try a Tweet Chat.

Biding your time until you can attend another conference? Looking for ways to connect with other learning and development professionals from around the world?

Twitter just might cure what ails you.

Tweet Chats are the lowest cost, most impactful professional development opportunities I’ve stumbled across over the past year. If you’re not familiar with the concept, a Tweet Chat is a Twitter-based, moderated dialogue about a range of hot topics and current trends and generally lasts for 60 minutes.

Four benefits I’ve reaped from participating in these discussions include:

  1. Easy development of a Personal Learning Network
  2. Easy introductions to people you’ll bump into at a conference (never feel awkward trying to find someone to have lunch with during a conference again!)
  3. Direct access to scores of like-minded professionals and industry thought-leaders on a regular basis
  4. Exposure to questions, practices and industry trends you may not otherwise have thought about

Following is a short list of Tweet Chats that learning and development professionals may be interested in:

  • Chat2Lrn (every other Thursday at 8:00am Pacific/11:00am Eastern)
  • LrnChat (Thursday evenings at 5:30pm Pacific/8:30pm Eastern)
  • GuildChat (Fridays at 11:00am Pacific/2:00pm Eastern)

Participating in a Tweet Chat can be oddly intimidating the first time. Your brilliance needs to be distilled down to 140 characters at a time. Plus, jumping into a Tweet Chat can feel like trying to break into a clique.

Fear not. I’ve found that regulars not only embrace new participants, but it’s a huge ego boost the first time one of your responses gets re-tweeted.

Know someone else who might want to engage with learning and development professionals on a more regular basis? Please pass this article along!

I hope I’ll find you participating in a Tweet Chat soon… maybe even tonight’s LrnChat or tomorrow’s GuildChat. In the meantime, feel free to connect with me on Twitter today.