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Press Release

Steps for Learning Professionals to Use to Move from Training to Performance Mindset


Fri May 06 2011


Given the proliferation of Tweets, discussion boards, web conferences, magazine articles, and conversations with colleagues, learning professionals receive myriad messages daily on what to do to be more aligned, collaborative, and relevant. Lists of What learning professionals need to do abound. While these are timely, relevant and great ideas, translating the What into a first-step How, and then designing an action plan for execution and follow through within an organizational culture, are much different - and more difficult.

As an example, consider several of the TO states in the From a training event to a learning journey list at the end:

  • a guide-on-the-side (from a sage-on-the-stage)

  • a member of a collaborative team (from a Lone Ranger)

  • collaborating with work teams to co-create solutions for enhancing productivity (from Independently designing and delivery curriculum)

    These are very different roles for learning professionals - and require different skills. How does a learning professional steeped in ISD (Instructional Systems Design) and stand-up delivery of facts and information, e.g., a sage-on-the-stage, evolve into a guide-on-the-side? This transition may be even more difficult if the sage is knowledgeable, skilled at delivery, and receives positive feedback for his/her current practice from participants.

Given the "from a training event to a learning journey" conundrum in the professional learning arena, the ASTD Forum has incorporated several how-to techniques, including the principles of Human-Centered Design (H-CD) to transition from a focus on formal training to a focus on performance on the job. According to Luma Institute, the essence of H-CD is creating something new where the activity is driven by the needs, desires, and unique context of the people for whom we design. Human-Centered Design principles include a variety of tools and techniques that provide discipline to generating solutions to problems and creating opportunities to design the future through teams working together by:

  • Observing human experiences

  • Analyzing challenges and opportunities

  • Envisioning future possibilities

    Generally, multiple tools are used in combination with each other and/or as part of an overall system to help create a new reality. Tools specifically combined to work together are referred to as a "method set." All tools in the "method set" are generally used consecutively, and, in practice, several method sets can be used for a project. Human-Centered Design tools also enhance other problem-solving tools and methodologies such as Six Sigma, LEAN, Grove templates, and Action Learning.

These tools can be used in collaboration with the learning designer's client in assessing a need or designing a solution. They can be used with participants in a learning experience. Using these collaborative tools and techniques moves the learning professional from the "lone ranger" mode to a team mode tasked to actually design a solution for a work team. And while it helps move the role from sage to guide, more importantly, it enables the learning professional to be a designer that uses tools and techniques to enable groups to:

  • discover more about the situation/problem

  • co-create solutions for the unique context

  • work together to implement and facilitate a solution, and

  • continuously improve performance.

From Training as an Event

To Learning as a Journey

Training as an event

Learning as a Journey that is dynamic learning integrated with an employee's work and results in changed performance

Trainer as a Lone Ranger

Business Partner as a member of a Collaborative Team focused on improving productivity

Training in Classrooms

24/7 access to myriad learning assets

Rigid Formality

Organic eco-system

"Sage-on- the-Stage"

"Guide-on- the-Side"

Trainer as the source of information and person doing the research

Learning designer creating an environment where the customer is the source of information and a major contributor to solutions all within the work context

Active teaching during an event

Active facilitation and continuous brokering of performance support tools that foster dynamic learning as part of the work


Engaged partners, employees, participants, collaborators, and problem-solvers


Work Performance integrated with dynamic learning at the point of need

Trainer working for the customer

Collaborative partner with a customer-team and serving as a coach and performance broker for learning tools

Single activity that employees "go to"

An integrated approach that includes the worker's needs for doing the work within the culture of the workplace


Content within the real Context and as part of the culture

Designing and delivering curriculum

Collaborating with work teams to co-create solutions for enhancing productivity

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