Learning Transfer: The 6Ds of Breakthrough Learning
I recently participated in a webinar entitled, “On Beyond ADDIE: Introduction to the 6Ds and Learning Transfer.” The webinar host, Roy Pollock, co-authored “The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning,” with Calhoun Wick and Andy Jefferson. Their book stresses the importance of moving beyond ADDIE and to a new “finish line” of learning transfer and improved performance.
While an advocate of the ADDIE model, Pollock points out that most training programs stop with ADDIE. “We still need to practice ADDIE,” says Pollock. “It’s still absolutely relevant, but it isn’t sufficient anymore in a world that demands learning transfer.”
In the webinar, Pollock points out the conundrum that learning professionals face, which is that while managers can clearly see the cost and time expended on training, they oftentimes cannot “see” the improvement or the results of training. And if they cannot see the results, the ROI of training, they will conclude that the training failed.
Pollock believes that even with a great training event, when learners leave the training they are faced with what he calls a “moment of truth.” Back on the job the learner has to decide, “Am I going to accomplish this work task in the old, comfortable way, or should I use the new way that I just learned?”
Pollock points out that learners are faced with two key propositions when it comes to applying what they learned:
- Can I do what they taught me? Did the program actually teach me how? Am I confident enough to try?
- Even if I can do it, am I motivated to make the effort? Do I think it will help me? Will anybody notice if I do or don’t? What does my boss think? What do my peers think?
D1 – Define business outcomes – Be clear about what the training program is meant to accomplish for the business.
D2 – Design complete experience – Think about and include what happens around the actual class, not just the content itself.
D3 – Deliver for application – Make sure learners can actually use what we’re teaching.
D4 – Drive learning transfer – Make sure the transfer happens.
D5 – Deploy performance support – If we are going to hold people accountable to use what we have trained, we must provide the necessary support tools.
D6 – Document results – Document the results and use those results to improve the rest of the process.
Pollock says that one of the greatest variables that can make or break learning transfer (and improved performance) is the learner’s immediate leader. We as learning professionals can drive that support with things we do on our part. “Our success as learning professionals actually depends in large part on line managers,” he says. “So we need to get a lot smarter and better about helping line managers reinforce the training on the job.”
He adds that part of the learning professional’s job is to provide job aids, worksheets, checklists, etc. that line managers can use to coach their people. Managers won’t come asking you for it, so you need to provide it for them. “Give managers specific, practical things they can use for coaching,” Pollock notes.
Finally, he stresses that we must realize that training is a business function and exists solely to support business outcomes. He says that too often we lose sight of the fact that training’s product should not be our courses and programs, but rather “improved performance.” Training’s value is in how much performance improves, not whether people liked our courses.
The finish line for learning, says Pollock, is no longer the learning event itself, but the results, the improved performance. Learning transfer, or behavior change, is how we get to this new finish line.