Notes on L&D: Organizational Learning and Development

“Notes on…” is a series, based on notes I took during courses I completed.
Each post highlights a key takeaway I took from the course, along with my own notes.


key Takeaway

Two things: The Greiner Curve is brand-new to me and I find it fascinating and so helpful when considering how an organization developer. Next, in terms of individual learning, I loved the 70-20-10 model: Meaning 70% of learning should be on the job, 20% through social interactions, and 10% in formal learning events.


Organizational Learning and Development Overview

The Stages of Organizational Development

Greiner Curve - Dr. Larry Greiner; USC; org’s move through 6 distinct stages (depends on size of company; always leads to a crisis point)

  1. Phase 1 - Creativity: Founders build the org; people wear many hats

  2. Phase 2 - Direction: Leaders are brought in to help develop products and services

  3. Phase 3 - Delegation: Layers of hierarchy are created; managers move to work on long-term strategy

  4. Phase 4 - Coordination & Monitoring: New policies and procedures introduced to bring structure to the organization; stability and consistency

  5. Phase 5 - Collaboration: Bureaucracy replaced by scalable and agile styles; more flexibility; Emotional intelligence from leaders

  6. Phase 6 - Alliances: Can only solve its challenges through partnering with other organizations (outsourcing, partnering, etc)

Where is your organization on this model?

Importance of Learning to Organizational Development

Map your learning to the Greiner Curve; have to develop and deliver kinds of learning, depending on which phase your organization is in.

Identify different programs of leaders, managers, and employees

Map to the phase you’re in and the phase that you’re headed toward

Different employees are attracted to organization’s at different stages

Work to become a strategic partner in your organization

  • Help the organization succeed in its current phase of growth

Understand Your Organization’s L&D Stage

We need to stop playing the role of service provider and be more of a consultant

Great L&D consultants...

  • Establish a two-way relationship

  • Ask lots of questions: learning everything you can about the challenges

  • Design and deliver a solution that creates results

Being a Strategic Partner to the Business

Learning is a key factor in increasing employee engagement and retain top talent

Usually starts with HR:

  1. Address compensation, benefits, payroll, and employment law

  2. Provide compliance training

  3. Train management

  • Initiate a Partnership: set up meetings, ask great questions, understand the current state and “ideal state”. What are top performers doing? What does that look like?

  • Share your strategy/roadmap with stakeholders

HiPo = High potential talent

Bersin Frameworks

  • Enterprise Learning Framework

  • Talent Management Framework

The ROI of Talent Development

Delivering results; make sure you’re moving the right needles

L&D Benefits

  1. Retaining top talent: The cost of replacing an employee is 50% to 250% of their annual salary + benefits (cost of recruiting, lost productivity, time for new hire up to speed)

  2. Lowering the cost of disengagement: 17.2% of the US workforce is actively disengaged; A disengaged employee costs an org $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary (34%)

  3. Decreasing attrition

  4. Increasing employee engagement: Can make an org’s culture more positive

Creating a Culture of Learning

  • Honor the ever-present nature of learning: People learn on their own; watching others; people helping each other/coaching

  • Value learning as a path to mastery: Involves curiosity, exploration, and making mistakes; must be safe to take risks and make mistakes

  • Ensure managers know how to coach effectively: Helps employees build their competence and confidence; skills & clarity coaching; appreciative inquiry

  • Value growth and improvement in your performance system: When people are measured in growth and improvement, they do even better

  • Make learning easily accessible: Empowers employees to seek and find their own answers

  • Use blended learning to maximize your options: In-person, online

Best Practices for Effective Learning

Adult Learning Theory

Andragogy: How adults learn (Alexander Capp)

Learning as Adults: Self-directed, driven by internal motivation (Malcolm Knowles and Patricia Cross)

Designing Adult Learning

  1. Honor a wide range of backgrounds/experiences

  2. Allow learners to discover for themselves (self-directed)

  3. Support contextualized learning (what’s the why?)

Frederick Hudson - not a linear process; life cycles of transformation

Taxonomy of Knowledge (Benjamin Bloom)

  1. Remembering: Memorization

  2. Comprehension: Understanding

  3. Application: Take what you learn into a new context

  4. Creating: Take information and creating something new

  5. Evaluating: Judge something using a specific criteria

  6. Analyzing: Logical inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry

Harnessing wisdom and insights from previous experiences. Build on what went right.

Neuroscience of Learning

  1. Learn

    1. Hippocampus (memory/has limits/20 minutes max); build learning in 15 minute segments, then something active.

    2. Amygdala: Fight/flight/freeze; stimulates the hippocampus; working in groups, games, self-reflection, assessments (use schemas: things we already know)

    3. Basal ganglia: responsible for habits (behaviors); move from learned to don’t have to think about it; habit design

  2. Remember

  3. Do

Creating Real Behavior Change

Real behavior changes is what we’re after: habits

  • Identify the habits you want to instill in learners

  • Help your learners practice the optimized behaviors: Talking about a behavior is not the same as doing

    • Habits: Cue, Routine, Reward (40 repetitions to make it stick)

  • Management training: Have managers practice better management behavior (practice the words and actions for a great 1:1)

  • Time is best spent imparting new habits/behaviors, rather than new information

Adults Learning Methods

Designing Solutions

  • Design to naturally work with the brain

On-Demand Learning

  • Available anytime, on any advice (PDF files, books, self-paced)

  • Flexible; able to meet a range of needs

How to Design Solutions

  • Levels of experience

  • Categories of workers


  • One-way communication to the learner: Telling

  • Tell managers policies and procedures


  • Teaching learners and helping them practice

  • Showing

70-20-10 Model

  • 70% on the job

  • 20% - through social interactions

  • 10% in formal learning events

Learning Components

  1. Relevant

  2. Accessible

  3. Effective: driving behavior change

Assessing Your Audience


  1. Learning is often misaligned: needs to solve real problems

  2. Learning is too simple; not sophisticated enough for adult learners

Learning Audiences

  • Stakeholders: leaders in your org; need to solve business problems

  • Learners: whose behavior you’re trying to shift

Understand the current state of skills and abilities: ask view of the leaders

Understand the perspective of the learners: ask view of the learners

Map your learning to both perspectives

Address the real issues: context, issues, and people

Instructional Design: Story Arc + Insight

Story Arc

  1. Beginning: Meets learner’s at current state

  2. Middle: bridge to the end

  3. End: final state (desired results/behaviors)

Insight is the most powerful learning tool we have (ah-ha moment!)

Creating Insight (use these in various orders)

  • Why: Conceptual model, data; get the 30,000 foot view

  • How: Instruction; model or method

  • Try: Habit building, case studies, practice sessions

Instructional Design: Format + Delivery

Blended Learning: Using various learnings to make a whole

The Flipped Classroom: Pre-learning (what/why/how), hands-on application, extend learning

In-person training is expensive

Learning Formats

  • Static vs. Adaptive

  • Structured vs. Unstructured: Designed experience / happens in the moment

  • Synchronous vs. Asynchronous: Same moment or different times

  • Online vs. Offline: Online or reading printed materials

  • Off-the-shelf vs. Bespoke: From a provider v. customized to the group

  • Self-paced vs. Instructor/Expert-led: On your own vs. set agenda

  • Individual vs. Collaborate: One person at a time / several learn at the same time

The Critical Nature of Practice

  • Building practicing skills within your learning events (try the behavior a few times)

  • Ask people to pair up outside your learning events

  • Model ideal behavior (first see it done by an expert)

  • Create realistic practice environments

    • Mursion, Cubic, STRIVR, Academy925

  • Adaptive Learning

    • Amplifire, Area9

  •, SHRM

Elements of Organizational L&D

Choosing Between Bespoke or Off-the-Shelf Solutions

Off-the-Shelf Training

  • Video training, hosted webinars, simulations

Bespoke Solutions

  • Low-level customization

  • High-level customization

Questions to ask:

Does the solution demonstrate best practices in adult learning?

Does it map to your org’s Greiner Curve and behaviors you’re trying to shift?

What flexibility does the provider allow for you to create add-on materials and learning events?

What are the copyright, licensing, and IP concerns?

What level of customization is provided and at what cost?

Does the solution demonstrate best practices in learning design?

Does the solution drive the specific behavior you’re seeking?

Is there a good story arc to the learning solution?

What is the format and delivery of the solution?

Learning Program Systems (LMS)

Using software to deliver learning; enrolling, tracking, evaluation (learning assessments)

  • Start with your needs (review your learning strategy; Greiner Curve)

  • Consider your audience: How people work in your organization

  • Consider your L&D team: Work for their skills/needs

  • Explore data and analytics

  • Engage your tech team: IT, core systems that must be aligned

  • Consider the delivery of the technology (smartphones and tablets?)

  • Complete a reference check (ask questions from their current customers)

  • How often do they roll out updates and upgrades?

  • Consider your budget and timeframe

Learning Program Processes

  • Develop a partnership process - who tracks the requests you get

  • Consult a design team to create learning solutions: online/webinar/in-person

  • Use a project management process to track solutions

  • Use marketing solutions to get the word out

  • Determine enrollment method

  • Determine who will deliver or facilitate the learning (in-house vs. external?)

  • Develop a facilitator management strategy

  • Collect data

Curating Content

  • Curate content for learners

    • Select the best and most relevant options

  • Link to current articles about a topic

  • Research content

  • Books

  • Videos

  • TED Talks

  • Podcasts

  • Websites

Vet your sources!

Evaluation Methods

  1. ROI of Learning

    1. Reaction/Satisfaction: Did they like it or not? NPS - Net Promoter Score; how valuable was the learning?

    2. Learning: Did the learners learn the content? Use an assessment/survey

    3. Implementation: Were learners able to deploy the learning?

    4. Impact: Did the learning impact business results?

    5. ROI: Did the learning investment payoff?

      1. Benefit-Cost Ratio: Program benefits divided by Program Costs

      2. Return on Investment: Economic indicator of accountability for results

      3. Time to Payoff: Estimated in which will break even

Hard Data: Cost, Output, Time, Quality, Energy

Soft Data: Customer service, Creativity, Development, Culture