Boiling Frogs and the Need for L&D to Innovate


Earlier this year, I attended the exemplary Bersin by Deloitte IMPACT conference.  If you’ve never attended this event, make plans to do so next year.  The content is excellent.

In one of his keynotes, Josh Bersin mentioned that the Net Promoter Score (NPS) for Learning & Development (L&D) is minus 31.  If you are not familiar with NPS, it is a customer loyalty metric.  NPS can be as low as −100 (everybody is a “detractor”) or as high as +100 (everybody is a “promoter”).  In other words, an NPS that is positive (i.e. higher than zero) is felt to be good whereas an NPS of -31 is seen as below par.

Why is L&D so poorly thought of by the organizations we serve?

According to our research, the business often feels L&D responds too slowly to their needs with learning solutions that are not consistently effective in improving workforce performance.


My own belief is that L&D is too frequently hampered by constraints outside of their control. Examples of this include too little lead time provided by the business, too few staff members to respond, and insufficient funds to provide world-class service to the business.

These constraints are unlikely to change anytime soon.  At the same time, the pace of business continues to accelerate, and the preferences of the modern corporate learner continue to change as they have significantly over the last five years.  Too often, L&D fails to keep up.

As Albert Einstein so famously said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.”  If you are an L&D professional, what should you be doing to improve the perception of L&D in your organization (especially given the time, staff and budget constraints you currently work within)?  What actions must you and your team take NOW to make sure you are still enjoying a successful career in your profession five years from now?

Have you ever heard of the “boiling frog” story?  The boiling frog is an anecdote describing a frog slowly being boiled alive.  The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out.  On the other hand, if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger – hence being cooked to death.  The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to the threats that occur gradually.

For that reason, L&D must innovate in order to match the rate of change in our own businesses. The alternative is that we risk becoming boiled frogs.

mLevel’s latest white paper, The Modern Corporate Learner: How Are They Different? How Must L&D Adapt?, is a must-read on this issue. You can download a free copy by clicking here.

I encourage you to read this document.  Better yet, I encourage you to activate your organization to start brainstorming an innovation plan.

Don’t know where to start?  We can help.

Hurry, though.  Can’t you feel the water getting warmer?

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Empowering learners Together

We’re excited to announce that we are now a part of the Axonify family. To all of those who have supported the MLevel journey, we thank you!  Here’s to the next chapter and to furthering data-driven learning.