How can you make learning stick when returning to work from a training course?

I came across an interesting article today which contains a link to a learning strategy that you may find practical to use. It’s by Martin Sandbrook, who says:

“How often have you been fired up by something you have learned on a development programme? You return to work the day after the course all ready to implement your new learning. Within hours, business as usual has swamped your resolve. You mention your idea to a colleague and she just rolls her eyes and says “just been on a course have you?”

Recently I was invited to facilitate the final session of a leadership development programme. The participants had been offered some radical new ideas and were being asked to make significant changes in their behaviour when they returned to work. I suggested that I teach them about ‘Action Experiment’, so that they could identify a single simple action, one which they would feel confident to actually do, and one which they would see as the start of a changed pattern in their approach to leadership.”

The blog post is continued here:

And this is the system he proposes: Action Experiment

Missing the obvious

I was reminded recently of an occasion when I was talking to a colleague about swimming and she told me she couldn’t swim well because she couldn’t get her breath properly. She said she was going to get some lessons.

Over the following weekend, she went swimming with her young children who swim like waterbabies and asked one of them how you should breathe when you’re swimming. “You breathe out under water” was the answer. “But how?” she asked? “You blow bubbles through your nose.” said her son. Sudden blinding enlightenment! All her life she’d taken a breath, swum a stroke, lifted her head, breathed out and in again quickly and then taken the next stroke.

Now to you it may seem obvious that you breathe in when your face is out of the water and out when your face is in the water, but it wasn’t to her – until that moment. For me, the lesson is that we all have blind spots and it pays to be open to new learning from all sources. And it isn’t necessarily people older than you who have the wisdom or knowledge to help you move on.

And for anyone for whom it wasn’t obvious – now you know!


In contrast to pedagogy, which means “leading children”,
andragogy comes from the Greek “andro” meaning “men and
women”, and it means “leading adults”.

The principles of androgogy are those suited to all kinds of
training and coaching and include:
· an equal relationship between trainer and trainee based on
· multiple communication to, from and between all members of the
learning group
· learning based on trainees’ needs
· everyone’s experience is valued as a learning resource
· decisions on learning are shared
· varied learning styles are used
· the training itself is an experience to be learned from
· learning aims to produce solutions to current and future

Item below from:

Knowles’ theory can be stated with six assumptions related to motivation of adult learning:[1][2]

  1. Adults need to know the reason for learning something (Need to Know)
  2. Experience (including error) provides the basis for learning activities (Foundation).
  3. Adults need to be responsible for their decisions on education; involvement in the planning and evaluation of their instruction (Self-concept).
  4. Adults are most interested in learning subjects having immediate relevance to their work and/or personal lives (Readiness).
  5. Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented (Orientation).
  6. Adults respond better to internal versus external motivators (Motivation).

The term has been used by some to allow discussion of contrast between self-directed and ‘taught’ education.[3] discusses some of the theories in relation to managegment.

A video is available here: