Moments in learning

Photo Credit: Myxi via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Myxi via Compfight cc

I had some great conversations at #learninglive the other week; I mentioned before that the opportunity to have some space for conversation was excellent.

I took the opportunity to sound out some people about the idea of Moments of Truth in learning. I’ve been thinking about Moments of Truth (MoT) for a while now and this post is my first stilted attempt to get my thoughts into a space where I hope I can find some sense from them.

I’ve been thinking about MoT from the Jan Carlzon definition. A former chairman of Scandinavian Airways (SAS), he turned the company around in the early 80s with a focus on customer service which bordered on the obsessive.  He wanted an empowering culture where staff were able to make decisions for the customer benefit. One way he did this was to start a series of seminars and introduced them by stating that SAS customers faced moments of truth where staff could delight or disappoint a customer in every interaction with the airline. Each customer might have 5 of these moments of truth every day.

Whether Carlzon was correct or not have been (and will continue to be) debated for many years. What has interested me for a long time has been the idea that in L&D we don’t always identify MoT. What we have done in the past is, when someone learns a new skill, behaviour, way of working, or performance,attempt to label the MoT as the key learning points that are included within a learning intervention. I think it’s more than this, this isn’t about saying “to do X, the person needs to learn 1, 2, and 3 to this standard”. I’ve talked about these parts before within the sustaining part of the work we do.

Similarly, I don’t think these are about moments of learning need. This work still has, in my mind, a provision mentality. The expectation, for example, that it needs to start with training still concerns me and places the L&D function at the front end of a performance support solution.

I’ve been thinking of moments of truth much more as expressed in the 2012 Shopper Sciences study. This study, commissioned by Google, looked at purchasing habits. There’s been a bit more talk about marketing in L&D recently; Harold Jarche talked about it last year and it was the topic of a chat2lrn earlier this year.

The study suggests that, in retail and marketing terms, MoT happen after an awareness has been raised of a need. To translate this into learning it may be following a poor performance, a review situation or a self-realisation. In the Shopper Sciences study the ‘new’ MoT happens after this awareness place. At this MoT, a buyer will do the following:

  • shoppers do their research – what they’re buying, how well it meets their need
  • compare alternatives – what options do they have
  • read reviews – what has happened to people who have used it
  • look for comparisons before going to a ‘shelf’ – what price will they pay and how will they get it

Simply put, if people are doing this when they shop, is it unreasonable to think assume that people make a similar decision when they choose their learning? Using the traditional model of learning as a provider, the audience we have is now going to be:

  • more aware
  • more informed
  • more objective
  • more price sensitive

Can your traditional offer stand up to all of these?

This post is my first attempt at getting these random thoughts into some sense and I’m going to explore this idea more over the next few months. I’d be delighted if you want to add your thoughts to mine.

4 thoughts on “Moments in learning

  1. Still digesting but you’ve started my thinking… the context of MoT in the choosing of learning feels like it could be strongly associated with a solutions focus. Are L&D promoting their products or developing solutions? Perhaps more intriguing for me is how do we think about, act upon and support MoT during the learning also?


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