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How will Agile Learning change the way people are trained in the workplace?

It is not a secret that the life of an entrepreneur is very different from an employee: your life becomes full of uncertainty and the challenge for an entrepreneur is to reduce the risk of failure of their venture.

This means to quickly validate that their idea and check if it is something that customers need, that customers understand the value of this idea and they are willing to pay for it and, lastly, that the entrepreneur has the resources to execute their idea. Every day that passes is a race for the entrepreneur to avoid burning all their cash before they can generate income.

Many entrepreneurs use the Agile Methodology – an approach that was born with early software start-ups and little by little has made its way in big corporations, mainly used for Product Development. Yeps, the need for quick transformations in volatile environments has made that thousands of companies have started agile approaches to make sure that their pipeline of products has lower failure rates and that product developers use less resources and validate their products in faster cycles.

Somewhere in this journey – one of the most traditional areas in business was challenged due to the increased understanding that training employees with long and defined curricula was simply not in-line with the pace of business transformation.

In our research with corporations, we found that typical training such as Managerial Skills had an average life-shelf of 8 years, it had a duration of 5 days, low retention levels where 10% of participants could remember the key outcomes after 2 months, 70% of participants claimed that the timing was not appropriate: either too early or too late and, finally, only 20% put in practice any of the learning in the 12 months after the program.

The main idea behind applying the Agile Learning methodology is about making sure that your customers (participants) need the learning, they are willing to engage with the training and that you can deploy it quicker in very rapid iterations. It is not any more about long cycles of preparation but shorter runs of leaning transfers, practice and based on the learnings on the practice to move on the next cycle. The concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) comes handy as a quick way to prototype and perfect continuously your units of trainings.

Some researchers on the topic have created validation that this methodology brings exponential value to employees (see the research paper here). They created some principles for the application of a practical, result oriented and forward looking way for learning:

Agile Manifesto for Teaching and Learning

· Adaptability over prescriptive teaching methods

  • Helping students navigate in world on uncertainty and get the taste of discovery: exposing them to different contexts and experience

· Collaboration over individual accomplishment

  • Assisting students in a joint effort to accomplish an outcome (an action instead of just knowledge)

· Achievement of learning outcomes over student testing and assessment

  • Moving from assessment on knowledge to creating purpose on continuous learning based on individual goals

· Student-driven inquiry over classroom lecturing

  • Cultivating student empowerment and individuality by assisting them with active-learning assignments and real-world experiential opportunities

· Demonstration and application over accumulation of information

  • Creating ongoing opportunities for students not only to master disciplinary content but also to demonstrate their knowledge and skills as they attain them.

· Continuous improvement over the maintenance of current practices

  • Creating an environment in which students feel safe to try new things, fail, and keep on trying

The overall principles and way of deploying it is simple and, thanks to technology, the individualization of the learning has become affordable. At Bessern, we exclusively use this approach in various type of trainings from soft skills development, leadership development, sales skills, etc.

The benefits that we have observed applying the Agile Learning methodology are clear:

  • It drives a culture of collaboration where employees crowdsource insights from each other

  • It motivates and engages organization as it balances personal and organizational objectives

  • It creates a continuous learning organization – where employees acquire a next cycle of training based on the gaps in the practice of the learning

  • It becomes convenient for the employees and their brains – dividing learning into short chunks is the way how the brain adopts change and learns. With hybrid access to mobile content and live streamed sessions they get to learn in times that are optimal in their work life

How long will it take until the Agile Learning Approach replaces the dormant traditional training and development approach?


Ivan Palomino - Managing Partner @ Bessern


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