In an increasingly competitive business world, learning and development departments are being challenged to make training even more effective. Why? Because companies that get greater value from training and development have a competitive advantage.


Source: The 6Ds Company

Much has been written about how to improve the effectiveness of training by using technology, gamification, iterative design, and so forth. And these strategies have improved learning. But learning is only part of the equation. To generate a positive return on investment, learning needs to be transferred and applied to the employee’s work in a way that improves performance. The relationship can be expressed by the formula: Learning x Transfer = Results.

The results of a training program are the product of the amount of learning times the amount transferred. To maximize the value of training, we need to optimize both.

Most training departments and programs focus on learning, and leave transfer to individual initiative and chance. The result is that a lot of learning goes to waste, for which we coined the term learning scrap. If you want to make training in your organization more effective, you need to expand your thinking beyond the classroom or e-learning program and include the transfer climate—those factors in the work environment that facilitate or discourage the application of new skills and knowledge.

Fifteen years ago, my team set out to discover which practices differentiated high-impact from low-impact learning programs. We identified six. The most effective learning and development programs do the following:

  1. Define the business outcomes.
  2. Design the complete experience.
  3. Deliver for application.
  4. Drive learning transfer.
  5. Deploy performance support.
  6. Document the results.

Incorporating these six disciplines (6Ds) has helped companies around the world, in industries as diverse as pharmaceuticals, consulting, heavy manufacturing, and even cement production, get greater value from their investments in training and development.

I will be giving a keynote presentation introducing these six practices at the ATD Asia Pacific Conference in Taiwan on November 8, as well as conducting a two-day preconference workshop on their application on November 6-7.