Let’s Fix Learning – What’s the Problem?

In my last post, I kicked off a series meant to open a dialogue about the challenges with corporate learning technologies and what we can do to fix them. I received a lot of great response and feedback. There are clearly a lot of people who see the same challenges and are motivated to dig in and find some solutions.

Let’s first step back a bit and clearly define what the problem is…what’s really broken.

At mLevel, we’ve done a lot of research, worked closely with hundreds of clients, and collaborated with countless industry experts and feel the problem with current corporate learning technologies comes down to 3 main things…what we call the “3 E’s”:

  1. Engaging
  2. Effective
  3. Easy

Engaging – Pushing aside the marketing material, the stats don’t lie – the vast majority of learning available to employees isn’t used.  Looking at the training that is used doesn’t make you feel any better.  It’s almost always the lowest rated tool provided to employees.  When you ask employees about it, they say that it’s boring and they do whatever they need to in order to get their “check” of completeness. Training today IS boring.  Why would people want to use it?  That needs to change.  Learning needs to engage people.  It needs to be enjoyable.  People should want to use it.

Effective – Due in large part to the lack of engagement in learning, corporate learning today isn’t effective in actually helping people retain information and learn.  Stats here are again dismal. Retention of learning after just a few weeks is almost zero.  A lot of time and money spent to get almost nothing in return. And if people aren’t actually learning, then how can we expect any real change to occur in the business?  How can we expect any change in business results? Learning needs to drive behavioral change to be effective. There is minimal evidence that current learning actually impacts that kind of change.

Easy – Learning needs to be easily accessible to users, but equally important, it needs to be quick and easy to design, build, publish, and refresh.  The vast majority of learning technologies today require specialized skills, take months to build courses, and are extremely hard to refresh. That drives costs sky high and is completely at odds with the ever increasing pace of business.  Companies are releasing new products and services and a faster clip than ever.  Information changes instantly.  Learning needs to be agile and keep pace with the business.  What’s the point in learning something months after it’s happened?

These are the challenges that we focus on at mLevel everyday. Everything we do ties back to one or more of these.  We believe that if these challenges are solved, corporate learning will be in a much, much better place.  Our mission is to make that change and our vision is that it’s possible.

What do you think the problem is?

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3 thoughts on “Let’s Fix Learning – What’s the Problem?”

  1. Avatar

    Great article, Dave. Spot on: “Learning needs to drive behavioral change to be effective.” How have you helped stakeholders see training and development as a strategic arm of the business?

    1. Avatar

      Thanks for the comment Catherine. The subtext behind your question is one of the key challenges to overcome to make any progress and that is that the business typically does not see learning and training as a strategic arm of the business. In most cases, this has evolved over time from a lack of results. The business needs to get their teams skilled up, they deploy training, and they don’t get the results they wanted so they lose confidence and trust. I won’t get into who is to blame; I’m sure blame belongs on all sides. What we try to help with is rebuilding that trust and that only happens by showing results. Nothing changes until the business sees real, quantifiable results from deploying learning. For us, that means making sure our platform is capable of producing results in the first place, helping to properly measuring the results, and most importantly, helping communicate those results back to the business. We’ve found that success breeds success. When sales start increasing as a direct result of training, the relationship between training the development and the business starts to get stronger.

  2. Avatar

    I enjoyed your article, but feel that if these were ranked in order of importance (and I know you didn’t necessarily rank your list) “Easy” would be first. We recently changed up the dynamic in our training delivery so that instead of having a live instructor travel to one of any of our 50 locations, we provide that same instructor via video conference or in and online interactive forum to multiple locations on a weekly basis. We also began providing our New Hire Training in a regular, programmed manner so that our managers knew that every Tuesday they could send their new hires to class. This allows many of our more distant offices to take advantage of the training, ensures we don’t lose talent to our competition waiting for a live trainer to show up, and acts as a force multiplier in that our trainers can now train several groups of two or three individuals across the country rather than limiting their efforts to just one location’s new hires. This ease of access to the training has ensured that we aren’t sending new hires into the filed without training as we have taken the excuse of “inconvenience” away from the managers. Now that we’ve addressed “Easy” we are working on “Engaging” and “Effective” as well as trying to expand “Easy” to our other training programs such as our Craft Certification program (

    Good article. I look forward to checking back again soon.

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