2017 Learning and Remembering Report (Free Download)


Thank you to everyone who recently participated in our Learning and Remembering Survey. We had 150 respondents from a wide variety of industries and many thoughtful responses to the open-ended questions.

We used the survey results to create our 2017 Learning and Remembering Report. Our goal was simple: find out what knowledge and skills trainers find most important for their learners, what challenges they face when providing training, and how they plan to deliver training in 2017.

Our report presents and summarizes the results. Then, I offer my five takeaways from the data. You can access the report here.

About the Learning and Remembering Report

This report is simply a snapshot. It represents the opinions of our clients and email newsletter subscribers over a two week period of time in early 2017.

That being said, the results certainly align with the anecdotal evidence we see as we work with clients.

While some survey questions were “select all that apply,” most were open-ended so participants could share their perspectives without being influenced by the answer choices we had created. We took the raw responses and put them into meaningful categories that emerged based on the responses given. If respondents said both “stakeholders” and “lack of time for training” were holding them back, we counted this as one response in each category.

Since we sent the survey to our existing clients and contacts, the breakdown of respondents reflects the industries and company sizes we frequently work with. For example, life science (pharmaceutical, medical device and biotech) and healthcare companies are over-represented in the results. The majority of respondents work at Fortune 1000 or larger organizations.

A large number of internal trainers at higher education institutions also participated, likely because of their interest in the survey topic.

Otherwise, industry representation was broad and balanced:

Industries Represented Chart

While nearly two thirds of respondents are instructional designers or trainers who develop or facilitate training themselves, this is somewhat balanced by the other one third that either manages a training team or leads another function such as sales or operations.


What’s in the Report

We asked survey participants five simple questions:

  1. What knowledge and/or skills do the employees you train need to have to be successful in their jobs?
  2. What challenges do you face when you try to help these employees build the necessary knowledge/skills?
  3. What methods will you (or your organization) use to deliver training in 2017?
  4. What learning trend(s) or new training delivery method(s) are you most excited about for 2017?
  5. If you could improve ONE thing about learning & development and/or training at your organization in 2017, what would it be?

Access the 2017 Learning and Remembering Report to view the results and analysis of our Learning and Remembering Survey.

Tired of Trends? Five 2017 Training Realities


I’ve read some thoughtful articles on learning trends over the last couple of weeks. But I’m obviously partial to Sharon’s article here on the Lessons on Learning blog. Any trends article that looks to the past for perspective when discussing trends gets my attention. Sharon’s use of the 1998 ATD State of the Industry report provided some much needed perspective on the speed with which we can expect today’s ‘hot’ learning trends to reach widespread adoption.

In short, most of the emerging trends we are seeing today will make a meaningful impact on L&D. Just not overnight.

Sharon broke learning trends into two buckets: trends that are just starting to emerge (like machine learning and virtual/augmented reality), and trends that are established and growing (like microlearning and mobile learning). I will add a third bucket to the discussion: trends that are truly widespread, and impacting learning & development in a meaningful way across a majority of organizations.

Access the 2017 Learning and Remembering Report to view the results and analysis of our Learning and Remembering Survey.

The annual discussion on ‘learning trends’ sometimes distracts well-meaning trainers and learning leaders from the real work right in front of them. Exciting visions of ‘the future of learning’ in five or ten years can take our focus away from the meaningful progress we can make this year in our organizations.

To get a better sense for how organizations are really delivering training, I asked eight of our in-house experts to weigh in. These individuals have roles like project manager, senior learning designer and account manager. They lead design meetings, help clients identify their business needs and ultimately have a big impact on the type of learning solutions that we create and implement.

Based on the thoughts of these individuals, I have created my list of five realities for learning leaders to consider as they solidify their 2017 training plans.

1. Instructor-led training (ILT) isn’t dying, but it’s getting more creative


With all the talk about machine learning, augmented reality and microlearning, it’s easy to think that old-fashioned instructor-led training is a thing of the past. Our experience, however, tells us it’s not going away anytime soon. As one project manager put it, “I was surprised at the amount of ILT we continued to create in 2016.”

But while ILT isn’t going away, it has changed quite a bit from the lecture-based approach most people think of. Almost all of the ILT we create today is nearly 100% interactive and often gamified in some form. This award-winning new employee orientation program is a great example. ILT is also usually part of a larger blended learning curriculum that includes other learning technologies (more on this later).

2. Games, both digital and tabletop, are here to stay


Game-based learning and gamification are a great example of a learning trend that is happening all over the industry. Almost every individual I spoke with at BLP specifically mentioned learning games as a solution they created a lot of in 2016. The reason? Organizations are looking for more engaging, memorable, and motivating ways to teach the product, process and industry knowledge that their employees need to be successful. And games are a great way to do this.

One senior learning designer noted that “even when a full-fledged game isn’t the right solution, many clients are interested in some form of gamification.” In some form or another, game mechanics are now highly pervasive in corporate learning. Learning games take many shapes and forms, from tabletop experiences to mobile games for a smartphone.

3. Storytelling and theme are go-to instructional design methods, no matter the solution type


I found it interesting that Sharon cited storytelling as a trend that is just starting to emerge. This is because storytelling turns up even more often than games when I see the learning solutions BLP creates. Multiple project managers and designers noted that clients consistently want “highly themed” solutions that incorporate a wide variety of meaningful scenarios.

The embrace of storytelling as a learning strategy is connected to the embrace of games. Both are attempts to make a more lasting impact on learners and inspire lasting behavior change.

4. Mobile reinforcement is on the rise out of necessity


Industry reports consistently show that a majority of organizations still aren’t embracing mobile learning. When we surveyed our clients in 2016, 81% said they’d be likely to use a reinforcement tool intended for smartphones. This is in part why we created our new Knowledge Guru app, Drive, as a mobile-first training reinforcement tool. Today, we expect people to learn and remember a huge amount of information. And the organizations we work with increasingly acknowledge the need for reinforcement as part of a larger curriculum.

Our project managers and senior designers specifically cite how mobile reinforcement apps such as Drive and other smartphone-based solutions were included in more and more projects in 2016. And even when clients were not yet ready to move to mobile, account managers mentioned that mobile access to training is on the rise as a point of interest in conversations.

We explore our perspective on the right way to approach mobile in this webinar.

5. Comprehensive blended learning curriculums are the popular approach


Of all the comments I received from our team, the word curriculum may have come up the most. It’s true that we have seen a huge increase in the number of clients who want us to design and develop a large training curriculum for them, as opposed to a single eLearning course. Research shows that a blend of modalities is the best way to teach. And most organizations have come to embrace this.

Our project managers and designers note that most curriculums have an over-arching theme to spark interest. If you use instructor-led training is used, it is highly interactive with very little ‘tell.’ Today’s curriculums typically have at least some gamified elements. eLearning uses meaningful stories and scenarios. They’re more likely than to include some sort of mobile reinforcement or performance support tool that’s designed for a smartphone. And one of our designers specifically mentioned increased interest in interactive video as an alternative to eLearning within a curriculum.

Learning trends and preferred delivery methods change over time. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for organizations to help their employees say and do the things that make their businesses successful. While trends articles can help you prepare for what that might look like tomorrow, I hope these five realities help you create better learning solutions today.

Comply, Engage, Amaze: How to Make Regulatory Training Matter (Webinar)


How much of your company’s training only exists to check the box? How often is your job ready to comply with regulations or teach basic, routine procedures that employees must follow? It’s easy to see how training like this often becomes rather dull. And when employees take this training, it’s no surprise that they are often disengaged and unable to see how what they are learning impacts their job or their organization.

Sometimes, the regulations you must comply with limit your training design options, too. For example, a certain number of training hours or a certain delivery format might be mandated by a regulatory body. Constraints like these can make it seem impossible to create training that really makes an impact.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and we have proof! Regulatory requirements can become constraints that encourage creativity. And while processes and procedures might seem mundane on the surface, they are really the building blocks of a successful organization. What your employees do every day is at the heart of your business: you just have to show them how and why.

A Winning Solution

Need a little inspiration to spark your own creativity? Just take a look at one of our awesome clients and their recent success story:

Bottom-Line Performance and The Mosaic Company partnered to win Gold in Best Advance in Compliance Training in the 2016 Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Awards. The winning project, “Phosphate Foundations,” is a new hire training and annual refresher training program that is helping Mosaic improve safety outcomes and employee engagement. Mosaic creatively worked within constraints to connect compliance training with business needs while creating an engaging learning environment. The project was the only Gold winner in the Compliance Training category, and we will be showcasing it in an upcoming webinar!

Make Regulatory Training Matter

We gave a webinar called Comply, Engage, Amaze: How to Make Regulatory Training Matter. In it, Jennifer Bertram—our director of instructional design—presented with Linda Anhalt, the EHS Training Manager at Mosaic. In this session, we covered:

  • The best ways to use regulatory constraints creatively and incorporate engaging learning techniques into your training.
  • Issues The Mosaic Company faced before they redesigned their training program.
  • How The Mosaic Company redesigned their training program to focus on key objectives while complying with regulatory requirements.
  • Example training materials we created for The Mosaic Company.
  • How to gamify content, no matter how dry or technical.
  • Strategies for managing external stakeholders effectively and keeping your training design on track.

You can view the recording of this webinar by clicking “Access” below.

Access our webinar Comply, Engage, Amaze: How to Make Regulatory Training Matter and learn how to creatively work within constraints while creating an engaging learning experience.

Reluctant Sales Reps? How to Show them the ‘Why’


Have you ever encountered sales reps reluctant to take training? Maybe reps are excited and motivated as new hires, but less interested to invest time into training once they have been on the job for awhile. They might be used to working a certain way and don’t want to learn your new sales process or add another product to their offerings.

You’ve tried to explain how the training will help them sell better (and earn more commission), but to no avail. Trainers and sales managers are frustrated, and the C-suite wants to know why the numbers look bad. But before anyone drops the hammer, let’s explore why your reps seem disconnected and examine the driving force behind employee engagement: motivation.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Think about what motivates you. Maybe you have a hobby that you participate in just for fun. Maybe you like playing a game because you find it exciting or solving a puzzle because you find the challenge fun. If so, you are intrinsically motivated to do so. Your motivation is internal and you engage in a behavior for the sake of personal enjoyment or satisfaction.

If, however, you do something to gain some type of external reward (i.e. money, awards, etc.), then you are extrinsically motivated. Researchers have found that extrinsic and intrinsic motivation differ in how effective they are at driving behavior. For example, extrinsic motivators such as incentives do little to produce lasting attitude and behavioral changes.

And herein lies the problem when talking about sales reps. This role is motivated by the commission or the bonus check. These are powerful extrinsic motivators that may actually motivate reps not to take time for your training! If they can’t connect how the new sales process or product will help them sell more and do their jobs better, they will resist. If the training is hard to access or time-consuming, they will resist even more.

Why Incentives Aren’t Enough

First things first; stop dangling shiny things in front of your reps.

Social scientist, Alfie Kohn, at the Harvard Business Review agrees. “Incentives … do not alter the attitudes that underlie our behaviors,” Kohn says. “They do not create an enduring commitment to any value or action. Rather, incentives merely — and temporarily — change what we do.”

Sure, every sales rep wants a nice commission check, but it’s not just the money that motivates them. It could be the feeling of achievement that comes from making the sale, a sense of mission or purpose associated with your company, or the desire to support their family.

So when it comes to long-term motivation, consider using these alternative methods to internally motivate and engage your reps:

1. Show reps how the training will benefit them

Past experiences have taught sales reps that training is simply time spent away from selling. This is why you must clearly connect training to a desirable outcome for the rep. For example, make sure reps understand how selling your new product will help them gain marketshare or how using your new sales process will allow them to build deeper relationships with their customers.

Try to balance both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits. After all, winning more business will always be a powerful motivator for sales reps!

2. Connect sales reps to their products

The most motivated people aren’t the best paid, but those who feel a connection with their work. Help your reps truly understand and believe in the product they’re selling. How does it improve people’s lives? When they feel like they know their product, your reps gain a sense of purpose and responsibility, which increases motivation.

3. Encourage managers to structure coaching around meaningful progress, not just hitting targets

A sense of progress and personal growth is crucial for employees to actually stay engaged. One study shows that making progress in one’s work is more frequently associated with positive emotions and high motivation than any other workday event. You can help enable progress by providing clear goals, frequent feedback, and the necessary resources to accomplish those goals.

The greater progress your reps make, the more competent and confident they become. So rather than having sales managers focus their coaching on hitting sales targets, make sure coaching is focused on continual, meaningful progress. In turn, your reps will be more internally motivated and satisfied in their roles.

How to Turn Overworked Managers into Empowered Coaches


Companies spend a lot of money on training… and on tracking the training people complete. The global spend on training in 2015 was $355B with the U.S. accounting for $160B of that spend. Whether your company is part of a Fortune 100 company or a small business employing 30 people, it spends a lot to train and develop its people.

Ironically, after spending all this money on training, too many companies fail to protect and enhance the investment they made. Instead of seeing major improvements, they get little or no return at all. Where training is concerned, companies are still locked into a model of creating and delivering and then being done. An event-based training mindset still prevails.

Lessons Learned from… Landscaping?

To think about the waste that this approach represents, let’s take a look at a non-training example. Imagine that you decide you want to improve your home landscape. You contract with a landscaping company and work with them to plan out the optimal design. You carefully select plants and you pay to have the landscape company install all of it. When the landscaper leaves, the plants, though still small, look great. Whether those plants thrive and yield the lush landscape you envisioned depends on you.

  • Scenario 1: You expend effort to make sure those plants get off to a great start. You set up a regular watering schedule and periodically fertilize the plants until they are well-established, which takes several weeks. You watch for weeds and pests, and you quickly deal with them as you see them emerge. With careful nurturing, you are rewarded with a lush landscape that appears over time.
  • Scenario 2: You wave goodbye as the landscaping truck leaves your driveway and you consider the job “done.” The health and well-being of the plants depends 100% on the weather and the presence or absence of pests. The hardiest plants thrive despite the lack of attention. Other plants hang on, but are stunted in their growth and fail to truly do well. Still others, die. The beds gradually become overtaken by weeds and that $10K investment yields nothing except a bit of an eyesore in the yard.

Employee development operates the same way. Training courses and events enable companies to establish a great foundation, but they do not do a great job of improving performance over the long-term. That comes from consistent coaching in the form of relevant, timely feedback that is highly focused.

Coaching and Feedback are Essential


Too often, there is no specific, timely feedback outside of the formal training experience itself. We do quick “training dunks” in the form of 15-, 30- or 60-minute eLearning courses or half-day workshops or webinars and assume it will stick. When it doesn’t, we tend to blame the employee rather than ourselves for doing a poor job of coaching, or a poor job of providing performance support tools.

The truth is, we don’t plan for coaching. We don’t give managers tools to do it well, and we don’t emphasize its importance. We grossly underestimate its value in protecting the training investment we make in employees. Today’s employees may have a boss who isn’t even co-located with them. That boss never sees what the employees do or don’t do on a daily basis. If employees go to training, the boss may or may not attend the training with them and post-training follow-up seldom occurs.

This lack of awareness or follow-up is pretty much like giving someone a course in drivers education and then just handing the new driver the keys to the car and saying good luck. An accident is sure to be the result. Companies need to embrace the proven reality that feedback and reinforcement are integral to long-term performance success.

Solving the Problem

So how do we make this situation better and how do we accommodate for the limited interactions most employees will have with a boss? One way, of course, is to design training better. If people are expected to behave differently in their jobs as a result of training, then training must include opportunities to practice and get meaningful feedback. Meaningful feedback comes when there is a clear rubric included within the practice activity to help trainees understand what appropriate performance includes.

But once training is complete, the responsibility lies with the managers. Here are four ways to help overworked managers with the coaching process:

1. Create performance rubrics and coaching guides that reflect the realities of the work environment.

Design the coaching experience to fit within the work flow of the manager and the employee. Don’t over-engineer it and clarify how and where coaching fits into the workflow.

2. Provide annotated examples of good and bad.

Let employees see both extremes, and then create self-evaluation tools that enable employees to rate themselves against these standards of good and bad. Make it easy for employees to self-reflect.

3. Assist managers in figuring out what employees need coaching on.

Use automated reinforcement tools that help reinforce key skills and provide managers with detailed feedback on what employees do and do not know and know how to do. Knowledge Guru is one such tool; others exist as well.

4. Reward managers for coaching.

People will do what they are rewarded for doing. If coaching isn’t valued and acknowledged as important to the organization, it will not happen.

If you want to get a return on your investment in formal training, incorporate follow-up. Don’t skimp with the coaching. It’s actually the cheapest thing you can do and its value is high.

5 Can’t-Miss Sessions at LTEN 2016


We attend lots of industry conferences these days. While they are always a fun break from the routine and a chance to meet new people, connect with colleagues and expand our knowledge, some conferences stand out above the rest. The LTEN Annual Conference is my personal favorite of all those we attend, and I have several sessions on my “can’t miss” list this year.

While BLP works across a wide range of industries, we do have many clients in the life science and medical device space. LTEN is a great chance to learn from our clients and their peers about the changing healthcare landscape while giving sessions of our own that emphasize the importance of sound adult learning and instructional design. In addition to the healthcare-focused sessions, programs like the LTEN Excellence Awards (we won with our clients at Roche in the inaugural LTEN awards program last year) are a great way to benchmark a learning curriculum and give project teams recognition for their success.

This year’s conference agenda looks great and I see several speakers I have had the opportunity to hear at a previous LTEN event. I selected my top five workshops and have listed them below. Two of them sadly occur at the same time, so you’ll have to pick one if you want to take the “BLP Track” at the conference!

1. Strategically Aligning Learning and Development with Customers’ Goals

Presented by: Michelle O’Connor, Dr. Lindsay Jubelt, Randolph Legg

Tuesday, 6/14: 10:15 – 11:45

The priorities of healthcare providers have changed quite a bit over the last 6 years. The focus on accountable care, value-based payment and risk sharing has driven this shift, and medical device sales trainers must align their sales training initiatives with HCP’s goals. If you are trying to figure out how to shift your sales competencies and learning solutions to meet the changing needs of healthcare providers, this session is for you.

Learn more

2. Play to Learn: Using Games to Drive Learner Engagement and Learning Outcomes

Presented by: Karl Kapp, Ed.D

Tuesday, 6/14: 10:15 – 11:45

If you are more interested in how emerging learning strategies such as games can be used to motivate and reinforce key skills, this session is for you. I’ve gotten to see Karl speak and facilitate several times through his learning game design workshops with BLP’s Sharon Boller, and I love how he always brings fresh research and case studies to his sessions. You will leave Karl’s session with an understanding of how game elements impact specific learning outcomes.

Games are powerful tools for crafting learning solutions that engage, motivate and reinforce key skills and techniques. Instructional designers, training managers and anyone tasked with creating learning events need to seriously consider implementing games into their learning toolkit.

Learn More

3. Sales Enablement and Beyond: Using Games and Smart Implementation to Drive Performance

Presented by: Sharon Boller, Stephanie Sullivan, myself

Wednesday, 6/15: 8:30 – 10 am

We kick off this session with a case study from a successful medical device product launch that used games throughout a phased curriculum. Then, we discuss what sales enablement learning objectives lend themselves best to a game-based approach and identify what good game design looks like. To learn how to design games that appeal to target learners, participants will use a worksheet to craft learner personas that are similar to the buyer personas that marketing departments create. The session ends with seven implementation tips you can put into practice when using games for learning.

Learn More

4. The Neuroscience Factor: Training Techniques to Impact Retention and Application

Presented by: Donna L Maier, Ph.D. and Terry Luthman

Wednesday, 6/15: 2 – 3:30 pm

I appreciate how life science trainers have a strong interest in how the workings of the human brain impact adult learning. This session promises to show how the neuroscience of attention, learning and memory impact how we obtain knowledge. This is highly useful subject matter for trainers, as retention is top of mind at many organizations these days. Most importantly, the session description says that participants will learn innovative training techniques that help spark interest and build retention.

Learn More

5. ACA and its Impact on Training in the Life Sciences

Presented by: Ryan Graver

Thursday, 6/16: 10:36 – 10:51

LTEN talks are focused, 15-minute presentations modeled after TED talks. For some topics, 15 minutes is just the right amount of time to learn a new concept, get inspired or pick up some interesting facts. If you cannot attend any of the earlier sessions on the ACA (Affordable Care Act) and how it impacts the life science industry, I encourage you to attend this talk on the final day of the conference. 15 minutes obviously isn’t enough time to get into all the details, but Ryan is a compelling speaker who will motivate you to continue learning about the changing healthcare landscape long after the conference ends.

Learn More

Bonus: Make it Stick: How to Drive Uniform Messaging After a Product Launch

Presented by: Me!

Wednesday, 6/15: 1:30 pm – 1:50 pm

Speaking of short, focused sessions… LTEN Learning Hubs are a great way to hear the latest ideas from vendors while grabbing lunch or a drink in the middle of the day. The Learning Hub agenda is full of interesting sessions and I encourage you to check it out. My session will talk about how learning science can be incorporated into the structure of a product launch curriculum to drive retention. We’ll discuss the role of mobile reinforcement apps and other tools.

Learn more

Come and See us at LTEN 2016

We are Gold Preferred Industry Partner and will be hosting a Maryland crab cake station at our booth during the welcome reception on 6/13. Join us for all of our sessions and come say hello!

Benchmark Your Training With Our Learning Solution Scorecard


All training is designed to help target learners improve their performance, but that’s not where the story ends. Stakeholders and training vendors are also judged by the success or failure of a learning solution.

We all have a lot to gain when training meets its intended goal. And we have just as much to lose when it doesn’t. When learning solutions are successful, job performance improves, satisfaction increases, the business meets its goals, and L&D professionals receive more budget (!) to make an even greater impact.

And when training fails to improve performance, well… we won’t get into that.

The definition of a successful learning solution can be subjective. There isn’t a consistent rubric to measure learning solutions against each other to see which ones are the best. Award programs like Brandon Hall and CLO help with this to some extent, but unless you plan to submit every learning solution you create for an award, benchmarking is tough.

That’s why we created our Learning Solution Scorecard. We introduce it to clients at the beginning of every project to coach them on what factors will make their training succeed. We use it at the end of projects to measure their success. And we use the scorecard during a project to make sure we’re headed in the right direction.

By scoring learning solutions across four categories, we are able to assess whether they are Performance Accelerating, Performance Promoting or Performance Demoting.

Is the learning solution meaningful?

Meaningful learning solutions are linked to a clearly defined business problem or need. They are designed with the needs and motivations of target learners in mind and have a clear learning solution goal that defines what learners need to do differently based on the training.

Is it memorable?

When we say memorable, we mean that learners should be able to remember what they learned and apply it on the job. The scorecard checks for a variety of instructional design approaches based on learning science to make sure the learning solution maximizes retention and recall.

Is it engaging?

By understanding the target learner, we can create solutions they will find engaging. The scorecard checks to verify that the learning materials have high production value and use innovative approaches where appropriate to enhance the learning experience.

Is it supported post-training?

Learners need more than one touch-point to remember new information and skills. The scorecard verifies that mechanisms are in place to ensure performance on the job. It also makes sure supervisors encourage and monitor the learner’s efforts in applying the learning.

Get the scorecard

Affordable Care Act: Training for Compliance

Affordable Care Act: Training for Compliance Banner

The healthcare system is changing dramatically, and you’re going to need specific Affordable Care Act training to make sure employees change with it. The same-old training will no longer be enough.

In a recent post, we talked about compliance training… and the importance of making it memorable. We showed case studies of various approaches to compliance training for topics like avoiding blood borne pathogens, evacuating a building and washing hands properly.

The facts involved in these procedures could be communicated in a bulleted list, yes… but would people actually remember them? And most importantly, will people ultimately choose to comply?

Want to learn more about how compliance training can engage your learners? Access our webinar: Comply, Engage, Amaze: How to Make Regulatory Training Matter.


Frontline employees make decisions every day about whether or not they will comply—or not comply—with a procedure. Other times they may forget about the procedure, even though they were trained to do it.

Since people will forget up to 90% of what they learn after 3-6 days without proper repetition (more on that here), memorable training with proper reinforcement is essential.

Affordable Care Act Challenges and Opportunities

Regulatory compliance recently got even more important for healthcare providers. The Affordable Care Act is reshaping our healthcare system, and recent changes to the way hospitals receive their funding make procedural excellence even more important.

In April 2011, the Center for Medicare and  Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced Partnership for Patients. The initiative set a goal of reducing preventable injuries in hospitals by 40% and readmissions by 20% from 2010 – 2013. Reaching this goal would help avoid 1.8 million injuries, save 60,000 lives, and save 1.6 million patients from complications that force them to return to the hospitals.

The Partnership for Patients has identified ten core patient safety areas of focus that include nine hospital-acquired conditions. The Partnership does not limit its work to these areas, but the following areas of focus are important places to begin:

  1. Adverse Drug Events
  2. Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections
  3. Central Line Associated Blood Stream Infections
  4. Injuries from Falls and Immobility
  5. Obstetrical Adverse Events
  6. Pressure Ulcers
  7. Surgical Site Infections
  8. Venous Thromboembolism
  9. Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia
  10. Readmissions

Meeting these goals is always good for patients, but it now affects the fiscal health of the hospital, too. Medicare funding—once based on the volume of patients seen by the hospital—is now directly tied to how well hospitals reduce the occurrence of hospital-acquired conditions and readmissions. CMS will not reimburse the hospital if a Medicare patient acquires one of these conditions or is readmitted within 30 days.

If hospitals are unable to reduce patient harms and readmissions, they will lose money. In order to reach Partnership for Patients goals, new processes and training programs are needed.

The Challenge of Standardization

The resources available to hospitals that help them reduce patient harms do not always meet their needs. Local factors such as work environment, patient demographics and make-up of current policies make it hard to deliver one-size-fits-all information that is useful to all hospitals.

Sometimes, experienced employees are too used to doing a process slightly incorrectly and find it difficult to change. In other instances, the experienced workers are deeply familiar with how to perform a process, but it is not properly documented and therefore difficult to teach new hires.

With so many Baby Boomers in the workforce preparing for retirement, hospital executives have a major skills gap for which to prepare.

Training Problem vs Process Problem

A few years ago, we worked with a large pharmaceutical company that needed to implement good research principles across its organization. Their problem was not getting people to know what the principles were. Their biggest challenge was getting people to follow the principles.

An eLearning course explaining the research principles was not going to do the trick. Here’s what we did:

  •  Put together cross-functional implementation teams. This enabled us to gather input from a variety of job roles and gain new perspectives.
  • Audited the current process. We took our time in the “Analysis” step of the ADDIE process to find the root cause of process problems. We also audited the new processes we implemented to gauge their efficacy.
  • Created action plans individuals could follow to help them meet the new standards. These increased accountability and also help people understand the practical steps they could take to improve.

Our approach worked, and we received a quality award from the client because of the project’s success. The challenge is figuring out when you have a training problem, a process problem, or both.

Organizations shouldn’t making the mistake of deciding they need tons of training, then producing simple “tell” courses that just explain what the Affordable Care Act is without showing people what they need to do differently.

Go Beyond the Same Old Training

New generations of workers want to use technology to learn. As Millennials replace Baby Boomers in the workforce, you can expect the following mediums to be in even higher demand:

  • Mobile learning
  • Interactive eLearning
  • Video tutorials
  • Social media-enabled learning
  • Serious games and simulations
  • Gamified experiences

Setting generations aside, we still need to find better ways to communicate information and provide people ways to practice new behaviors. Reading a list of bulleted facts may tell you what to do, but it does not help you change your behavior… especially if an unwanted behavior is well worn and deeply ingrained.

The Affordable Care Act is still new, and healthcare systems will be working on meeting and exceeding these new standards for years. When the time comes to deliver new training and process-improvement initiatives, consider using cross-functional teams, auditing and action plans to achieve the desired results. And if you need to produce eLearning, make sure you make it memorable.

Trainers: Don’t Forget to Coach!


It’s been many years now since my son learned to drive, but I still recall the first time he got behind the wheel with his learner’s permit to take the family on an outing. The destination was one he was familiar with. I calculate that he’d been a passenger in a car going to that destination at least 1,800 times before he attempted to make the journey as a driver instead of as a passenger.

Guess what? He backed out of the driveway and then turned to ask, “How do I get there?”

The previous 1,800 times he made the trip, he had been a passenger—and his job was not to navigate. He was completely unprepared, even though in my head he should know how to get there. My son had driver’s education training as well. I can tell you emphatically that those six classroom sessions did not prepare him to be a skillful driver. Only hundreds of hours of practice did that.

What does this story have to do with training and development, you ask?

We grossly overestimate employees’ abilities to execute tasks on the job that they haven’t done before… but they’ve seen done by others dozens or even hundreds of times. We overestimate the value that the formal training they receive will prepare them to execute in the workplace.

Consider Coaching

Companies, including our own, put a lot of energy into designing the formal instruction they give to employees. They may even do an excellent job of making that training highly interactive and hands-on, giving the trainee lots of practice opportunities during the training experience. I can tell you with 100% certainty, though, that even the best training will not fully prepare your worker to perform in the workplace.

You have to consider coaching. You have to plan for it. You have to design it into the learning experience and know that it is something you need to remain committed to for months, not hours.

Case in Point:

We’ve put our entire sales team through extensive sales training that started in 2015. The first layer was for our VP of Sales. She went through formal classes and then shifted into a blended approach of 1:1 coaching sessions followed by monthly 2-hour group training sessions. After she finished foundational training, the other members of her sales team began their training—with her providing ongoing coaching to them.

The results for us have been remarkable. We hit the Inc 5000 fastest growing companies in 2015 at 4049. If we applied again today, we would be at 3300 on that same list. Coaching was critical to helping us get there.

Coaching is required beyond the sales team. When you promote someone into project management or bring on a new employee, for example, you need to provide a lot of coaching for them to maximize their success with you. Here are three tips to consider:

1. Coaching needs to be a regular occurrence

It needs to be a regular part of how you build their skill set. A single sit-down session with a mentor is not enough to instill lasting behavior change. Regular meetings are critical, and virtual coaching can work just fine depending on the distribution of your workforce.

2. Coaching needs to be proactive… rather than reactive

I call reactive coaching “swoop and poop” coaching where the coach waits until you make a mistake and then swoops in to tell you what you did wrong and how to do better next time. Proactive coaching means you sit down together before a project begins and you routinely check in as the project unfolds. You discuss next steps together and you design checkpoints to assess how things are going and make course corrections. It takes time and it takes planning.

3. Coaching needs to be connected to the formal training you offer

Our clients have the most success when they incorporate the coaching into their formal training curriculums, typically as part of the post-training reinforcement phase. Make sure your formal training programs connect to the way coaches actually support your learners and vice versa.

When designed and implemented effectively, training can change behaviors and improve performance. But it’s a poor investment if it doesn’t get coupled with coaching.

See Our 2015 Learning and Remembering Survey Results

2015 Learning and Remembering Survey

The results are in for our second annual Learning and Remembering Survey. We surveyed learning professionals throughout 2015 to find out what their top training priorities are… and what challenges they face.

The survey has only two open-ended questions: “What do your learners need to remember to be successful in their jobs?” and “What challenges do you face when delivering training that helps learners remember this knowledge?” It aims to cut through the clutter and find out what organizational knowledge is really crucial for employees to learn to be successful – and what makes it hard to enable them to be successful.

Meet the Learning and Remembering Survey Respondents

50 organizations participated in this year’s survey, up from 34 in the 2014 edition. 16+ industries were represented, with no single industry dominating the results. Healthcare (14%) was the most a single industry was represented.


Industry Representation

Training professionals with a variety of seniority levels were represented:


What do employees need to remember?

The first question of our survey asked: What knowledge do your employees need to remember to be successful in their jobs?

88% of responses centered on some form of fact-based knowledge or “hard skill” that needs to be learned. This was an increase over 77% in the 2015 survey. The need to understand customers, competitors and the marketplace as a whole was mentioned more often than in the previous survey.

The other 12% of responses focused on a collection of soft skills or where to find and locate information.


Selected Survey Responses:

“Product feature knowledge, systems operation knowledge, basic insurance coverage knowledge, process knowledge”
“Customer Business Needs, Solutions that solve customer Business Challenges & Company product and Solutions portfolio”
“They need product and competitive knowledge. understanding on the environment, access and payer is important as well”
“Relevant information that will support them in their daily routines and provide assistance with understanding and following compliance.”
“Basic Knowledge (terms, definitions and awareness) to Application of knowledge usually on a computer system.”
“Job expectations/Manager expectations and what it takes to go to the next level”
“Legal regulations surrounding our industry Company policies and procedures”
“Policies, protocols and procedures; regulatory requirements, safety measures, etc.”
“Standard operating processes”
“Where to find things, detailed processes and procedures, what we did the last time a similar situation arose”
“In the Call Center industry, Customer Service Reps cannot be expected to remember all that they need to know. So, in training, we teach mostly call handling and soft skills, reinforce top call drivers, and provide job tool practice.”

What makes it hard for employees to remember?

We also asked: What challenges do you face when delivering training that helps employees remember this knowledge?

Just like in the 2014 survey, this question was not meant to uncover all the challenges that an organization faces when delivering training. It is a useful measure of what challenge comes to mind first or feels the most pressing.

Responses to this question were much more varied than in 2014. Knowledge transfer and retention issues led the responses with 28%, but other issues such as motivation and engagement (22%) and internal organizational issues (16%) also had many responses. Having too much content to train on (6%) and too little time to do it (14%) were also significant factors.


Selected Survey Responses:

“A lot of information and a short amount of time to allow for repetition enough times to move to long term memory.”
“Complexity of knowledge needed, how to apply to a wide range of situations”
“How to retain the information when there is so much to know.”
“Vast amounts of information”
“Making documentation easy to access so that it is quick to find.”
“Learners have limited classroom time, which does not always accommodate sufficient time to practice in class”
“Keeping it interesting and fresh Keeping people from cheating and just taking the tests to get off of a list”
“Employees wanting very fast, simplified training and e-learning. Short, quick, to the point and of course fun if possible.”
“Training in the minds of many business leaders feels like days in a classroom – not best practice. We need to heighten awareness that training can be short, but repeated and even more effective.”
“Different roles in the organization, one training doesn’t fit all. Priorities for each role. continuous investment into learning”

New Year, Familiar Challenges

No matter what new trends the training industry is chasing, experience (and survey results) tell us that the central challenges organizations face are not drastically changing year after year. Getting employees to perform the right behaviors, build necessary skills and acquire crucial knowledge is just as challenging as it has always been… if not more challenging. Survey respondents put an even greater focus on all of the hard knowledge and skills that employees must know “cold” in this year’s survey compared to 2014.

It is also notable how many organizations cited an organizational issue that is not related to the design of the training itself. Training can only fix so many things, which is why the analysis phase is so important.

Throughout the year, we will share best practices, tips and case studies to help you discover the best ways to both engage your learners and ensure that they retain critical knowledge and skills. It’s what we do!

So you need your employees to remember information? Learn all about remembering and strategies for long-term retention with Sharon Boller’s white paper When Remembering Really Matters.