A few weeks ago, we had a great Modern Learning Monthly Dialogue where we talked about how to break through a very particular resistance to change: being “too successful”. 

Many times, our stakeholders can hold the mentality that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and that gets in the way of evolutions we want to make to learning. Especially when trying to introduce modern learning approaches, we can get stuck by the expectation that all learning is training. 

People know us for what we’ve always done and might not see a reason for us to do something new, especially if business performance is seen as good enough.

Needing the Data

Community members shared that metrics are a big part of the puzzle – at least, it’s something stakeholders ask for to create reason for change. 

But this is challenging because metrics are often:

➞ Outdated

  • And, by the time you do the study, the data you had is outdated

➞ Not the right data

  • We’re look at the data, and it appears to demonstrate success of our programs
  • But the performance on the frontlines isn’t actually there – we’re actually measuring the wrong things
  • Yet, establishing new metrics, asking new questions means losing the baseline we’ve built. As I put it, “Even if for 20 years you’ve been asking the wrong question, you want to keep asking that question, because you’ve got the history, the proof with it.”

➞ An excuse to avoid taking on the work of something new (especially when metrics have been provided already)

  • Often asking for more or “right” metrics is a distraction tactic and isn’t the real barrier to moving forward
  • Leaders might have a fear or anxiety of spending time and effort on something unproven
  • It’s easier to argue the data, then to take action forward


Here’s some of the solutions community members shared:

  • Lisa MD Owens shared: Adding predictive metrics to existing courses to get at level 3
  • I shared: piloting to get the data and show the difference. Doing things small, fast, cheap to create confidence that it’s worth changing
  • Cristy – Create a fear of what they are missing through focusing on the downstream data, “breaking things entirely to bring in a new way”
  • Daniel Caspy shared – Don’t use their data. Use my own data that proves what I’m saying.

Taking a Managing Change Lens

With most change management models, the steps are oriented to “introducing the new”. What is the change, why change, the skills for change, and more. Jen Hurley shared that she focuses on the transition from the old by applying the Stages of Grief model. By first helping people let go of the old, she is able to create space to introduce something new.

Along those lines, I also shared that we need to bring awareness that our organizations aren’t static. I said, “There’s a wish or hope from leaders that nothing has changed and what we have been doing is working.” But the reality is that every part of business changes, so we do need to evolve and do something different too when it comes to capability. What has changed in the business that is related to long standing capabilities? What new capability needs aren’t being addressed at all? Where are our people and what gets in the way of their learning today compared to yesteryear?

Emma Strong shares how she has been thinking about creating FOMO. She recommended creating a buzz by implementing in a place that needs it, so that way the place you want it notices and starts asking for it.

Thanks everyone for a great discussion! For the full recording, see below.


Make sure to join us for our next dialogue, with Dave Sayers and his team’s work on transforming 56 change management initiatives using the Learning Cluster Design model.