I recently completed a chapter — a first draft anyway — on change management for workplace learning-and-performance professionals. It’s so good I couldn’t wait to share it with you.

The chapter is too long to print here right in the blog, so I’m going to offer you a link below.

In the meantime, let me offer you a summary and some provocative quotes from the chapter.


Chapter Summary

The chapter discusses the following:

  1. As workplace learning-and-performance professionals we have an incredible need to be successful in pushing for change.
  2. How to use the soft-power of stakeholder management, as well as using hard-power when it is required.
  3. Stakeholder mapping, and particularly the idea that our goal is not necessarily to get everyone to agree, but to get people to move toward agreement and support—and away from resistance and active blocking.
  4. Exhortations and grand visions are not enough to change long-held mindsets—that while we need to “educate,” we need to go beyond education to alternative approaches.
  5. How we can use stealth messaging in our standard operating procedures—in the practices we are already using—to utilize multiple channels to change long-held mindsets.
  6. Utilizing leverage points—standard operating procedures we use now—that could be modified to send more effective performance-improvement messages, to help our organizations move toward a focus on performance and effective work-learning.

i.    Course reviews
ii.    Course evaluations
iii.    Trainer evaluations
iv.    Recruiting of work-learning professionals
v.    Training requests
vi.    Performance data
vii.    Workplace performance assistance
viii.    Learning needs analysis
ix.    Annual reporting to senior management


Unfortunately for us, we’re the training weenies. We’re the spineless gelatin of the organizational world. Our betters tell us to heel, and we lick their boots.

I used to believe—foolishly I see now—that all we had to do was “educate” our stakeholders to change their mindsets…If you want to change a long-tenured organizational practice, utilizing a short-term education tactic will be grossly insufficient.

Stakeholder management allows us to swim upstream because it temporarily slows the water so that we can make progress. Ideally, to create meaningful sustainable change we would reverse the heavy flow of our organization’s cognitive trajectory. In other words, we would develop new mindsets all around. We would aim to float downstream with our coworkers, in a flotilla of inner tubes, bobbing contentedly, lovingly embraced in the warm water a new collective mindset.

By being embedded in the battle, I’ve come to see how difficult it is to move the workplace learning team toward more effective approaches.

Two warnings to aspiring visual-model creators—be very careful to communicate all the right messages, and realize how difficult it is to create a model that is both simple and true.

We in the training field have an inherent tendency—damn if I haven’t seen this over and over again—to believe in our power “to train.” We seem to believe that our words, our stage presence, and our unique ability to use powerful metaphors can enlighten all who hear our clarion calls. This is one of our biggest failings—we believe too much in the power of our own words.


Link to Chapter

Click to download the chapter.

Let me know what you think!!


The Work-Learning Research website is ranked as follows:

  • #4 on Google
  • #4 on Bing
  • #7 on Yahoo

When searching for "learning research."

Interestingly, we hardly ever get paid to do research. Mostly we get paid to use research wisdom to make practical recommendations, for example in the following areas:

  1. Learning Design
  2. E-Learning
  3. Training
  4. Onboarding
  5. Safety
  6. Learning Evaluation
  7. Organizational Change
  8. Leadership Development
  9. Improving the Learning Department's Results
  10. Making Fundamental Change in Your Organization's Learning Practices

Research for me is a labor of love, and also, a way to help clients cut through opinions and get to practical truths that will actually make a difference.

But still, we are happy that the world-according-to-search-engines (WOTSE) values the research perspective we offer.

And here's a secret. We don't pay any search-optimizer companies, nor do we do anything intentional to raise our search profile (who has time or money for that?). Must be our dance moves or something…

My post on the Five Failures of Workplace Learning Professionals has been translated into French:

Many thanks to Frédéric Domon of Entreprise Collaborative.