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Press Release

Human- and Learner-Centered Approach to Designing Learning Is a Win-Win for Learners and Business

Published Wed Jun 10 2020


(Alexandria, VA) June 10, 2020—A human- and learner-centered approach to training and development efforts is important to help businesses realize strategic learning impact. To help advance this effort, the Association for Talent Development is proud to release Design Thinking for Training and Development: Creating Learning Journeys That Get Results by learning and development experts Sharon Boller and Laura Fletcher (ATD Press, June 2020).

“The talent development industry tends to think first about creating courses and workshops instead of recognizing learning as a journey that has many steps and stages. The experiences learners have at each stage of their journey either propel them forward or cause them to exit,” states Boller. This volume offers a primer about how to apply design thinking techniques to training and performance development. Design thinking is a problem-solving methodology focused heavily on involving users of a solution in its design. After a brief introduction to design thinking, the authors present their Learning Experience Design (LXD) framework—a way of integrating design thinking techniques with instructional design.


They share various tools that help create an optimal learning experience to:

  • Deliver value to learners.

  • Solve a problem for the organization.

  • Produce a measurable outcome.

“There is a desperate need for a human-centered approach to designing learning in training and development, and the LXD approach meets that need,” says Boller. “Organizations spend billions of dollars each year on training solutions without significant success stories to share in terms of results or rave reviews from learners. That is a problem if people opt out of the journey or the journey leads to nowhere. When that happens, businesses have failed their learners and their organizational needs.”

Fletcher explains, “We don’t create learning. Instead, people have an experience as they learn. The learning typically comes from a variety of means, including formal training programs, resources, and experiences. When we reference a learning experience, we are talking about a collection of activities that a learner participates in or has access to that support learning something.”

Shifting from a sole focus on content when designing learning experiences to a human- and learner-focused approach creates a win-win for learners and the business. The LXD approach is about finding the sweet spot among the business’s needs, the learner’s needs, and what can be realistically implemented given technology, resources, and constraints when problem-solving and setting achievable goals. Understanding each of these three components and their intersection is key to developing the best learner experience and the best business outcome.

About the Authors


Sharon Boller is a managing director at TiER1 Performance where she focuses on helping clients figure out how to activate their business strategies through their people. She partners with her colleagues at TiER1 to bring together the disciplines of learning, change, communication, technology, and creativity to create blended solutions that enable people to do their best work.

Prior to joining TiER1 Performance, she was the chief executive officer and president of Bottom-Line Performance (BLP), a learning solutions firm she founded in 1995. She and her partner/co-owner, Kirk Boller, grew BLP from a single-woman sole proprietorship to a

$4–million plus company with a highly skilled team of diverse capabilities. Under the direction of the Bollers, BLP produced communication, education, and training solutions for life science companies, manufacturing, energy companies, and more.

Boller is a frequent speaker at industry conferences on topics such as performance-focused learning design, UX, technology and trends, learning game design, and design thinking. She is the author of two other ATD Press books including Play to Learn: Everything You Need to Know About Designing Effective Learning Games (2017), co-authored by Karl Kapp. Her company is the recipient of more than 30 awards from organizations such as Brandon Hall, Horizon Interactive Awards, and Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network.

Her industry interests are wide-ranging and include storytelling, emerging technologies, business strategy, leadership, learning, and experience design. She earned a master’s in education in instructional systems technology from Indiana University.


Laura Fletcher is a seasoned learning consultant with 15 years of experience in learning and development. She served the clients of Bottom-Line Performance (BLP) for more than seven years, during which time she designed and developed award-winning solutions ranging from instructor-led workshops to mobile apps. It was during her tenure as manager of instructional design at BLP that her instructional design team became something of a design-thinking “incubation lab,” experimenting with design thinking techniques and integrating them into the design process.

After leaving BLP she joined Salesforce, where she consults with leaders and teams to cultivate advancement- and leadership-readiness. She continues to rely on design thinking to ensure programming meets the needs of thousands of diverse, global employees while delivering value to the business.

She has a master’s degree in human resource development from the University of Illinois and lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children.

About ATD and ATD Press

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is the world’s largest association dedicated to those who develop talent in organizations. ATD’s members come from more than 120 countries and work in public and private organizations in every industry sector. ATD Press publications are written by industry thought leaders and offer anyone who works with adult learners the best practices, academic theory, and guidance necessary to move the profession forward. For more information, visit td.org/books.

Design Thinking for Training and Development: Creating Learning Journeys That Get Results

ISBN: 978-1-95049-618-1| 274 Pages | Paperback


To order books from ATD Press, call 800.628.2783.

To schedule an interview with Sharon Boller or Laura Fletcher, please contact Kay Hechler, ATD Press senior marketing manager, at [email protected] or 703.683.8178.

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