Interview: The Balanced Learning Model as a basis for better qualification opportunities in the company and sustainable training successes

If you want to be an employer in the War for Talents, you need the right Learning Ecosystem to offer attractive and efficient – in short, better – qualification opportunities in your company in a world of digital natives.
At the same time, a growing customer base and rapid technical and social developments are constantly placing new demands on the knowledge of employees.
With the Balanced Learning Model, we have developed a model with which you and your team can master exactly these challenges. The result is improved learning processes and sustainable training success.
We asked our expert Nicola Prinz about this topic.

Why a new learning model? What prompted you to look for a new basis for better qualification opportunities?

The effects of qualification and training were not sustainable enough for our taste, and this coupled with empty training courses made the alarm bells ring. 
All aspects of the model have always been present in the organization. Basically, we are not telling anything new here, only the compact visualization is new. We just weren’t sufficiently aware of the aspects, their interaction and their great significance. If you like, the Balanced Learning Model, BLM for short, is an argumentation aid, a cultural pattern that merges into the shared knowledge of the organization. The entire learning ecosystem is geared to this.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” To what extent is this quote the impetus for this new model?

The quote appeared in the course of our research for innovative teaching methods. 
We interpreted “[…] involve me and I learn” in two ways: On the one hand, there are methods that involve the participant even more actively. Involvement can also mean the creation of emotional involvement, which leads to greater and above all sustainable learning success. On the other hand, it is about creating relevance of learning content for the participant. To balance supply and demand and to send participants to training courses at the right time. Neuroscience has long been aware of the importance of relevance or emotional involvement for memory formation in the brain.

What are the market challenges in the area of qualification and training?

Thematically, the dynamics of the market on the customer side are very large, from our service provider’s point of view speaking. Many of our customers face great challenges in re-qualifying their employees, e.g. in the direction of eMobility. For example, how do you retrain the staff of an entire plant that previously only built diesel engines? It is certainly good to train trainers well for this, but these changes must have a deeper impact and be firmly anchored in processes and organizational structures. This calls for genuine change management, and in the area of qualification, the Balanced Learning Model can help to communicate and consolidate these changes.

Conditions are made more difficult by increasingly flexible working hours and locations. Introducing asynchronous learning in a company, e.g. with a learning app, involves a great deal of effort. Not so much on the IT side, but rather for content generation and updating. If you also want to enhance the content with media, e.g. videos, four hours for a two-minute video is nothing…

If you move away from the Customer Market and towards the Employee Market, the discussions have been revolving around millenials, Generation Z, etc. for years now. As a company I can do a lot to respond to young employees in the area of sustainable qualification, with a learning app to stick to the example. However, we believe that the focus on individualism, which is particularly attributed to this generation, must have limits. This is also reflected in the BLM, because performance must still be the focus. In order to achieve very good performance, I have to have team-oriented, customer-oriented employees who – if the situation requires it – can sometimes put their needs on the back burner. This means that employee qualification must be structured according to the situation by the manager; different in times of crisis than in times when there is room for improvement. Onboarding is much more influenced by direct instructions – not least to avoid excessive demands – than by the training of a manager who is already aware of his own responsibility for continuous learning.

How can the basic logic of the BLM be described? To what extent does it promote sustainable learning success?

The focus is on performance, because even if it sometimes sounds “unromantic” to the employee, it is about earning money. The employee also wants to be performant. For sustained training success, the learning content must be relevant to everyday work, otherwise it will be forgotten again. The employee’s level of development must be such that he or she can place learning content in a larger context and this must correspond to the learning objectives defined for him or her by his or her manager. By the way, overloading with learning goals or contents also plays a major role here, especially in onboarding. Translating theory into practice – from knowledge to ability – is nothing new, but in reality it is often neglected because training and the actual qualification processes have drifted apart. Especially for us as a service provider, the gap between learning and application is due to our business model. As a project management service provider, we have to provide our customers with top performance, which is why an on-the-job training environment is flat.

Besides the theory – are there already practical examples and successes?

Now that we have introduced this model internally, we can immediately see the success of the system. We talk more to each other, our employees independently question whether learning content is relevant to them in order to go into training at the right time. Some qualification contents fly out, new ones are added, project and internal product development communicate more closely and at shorter notice in order to create a relevant, coherent training landscape.

But we also receive very positive feedback for the idea and implementation of the Balance Learning Model in customer projects.

How do I motivate employees to open up to these new ideas?

In a nutshell – with your personal opportunity costing. Don’t sit around in trainings that won’t do you any good – maybe only at this point in time – because you’ll forget what you’ve learned anyway. Learn an argumentation pattern with the BLM that will also help you in your personal development towards your leader.

Were there any resistances? How do you encounter them?

At employee level, the topic was received with open arms and perceived as an appreciation. They benefit directly from it. Because better qualification opportunities for employees mean both professional and personal, sustainable development.

On the other hand, new learning measures also mean effort that has to be justified at decision-maker level. When it comes to education, a business case is always difficult to present, but ultimately it concerns our most expensive asset, our employees and their training. However, the good conceptual, procedural foundation of the BLM quickly convinced the decision-makers.

How can [bu:st] support qualification and training processes?

Our Unique Selling Point is the combination of project management, process design and competence around qualification and training, methodically and processually. We accompany the introduction of new methods or even a model such as the BLM in the change process and ensure sustainable anchoring in the process landscape. This also applies to effective communication processes so that the topic reaches people’s minds. As always, the first step is to listen in order to develop the best solution together with the customer using the [bu:st] method.

An example of this: In order to anchor relevant knowledge sustainably, we have created a [bu:st] learning app as a supplementary exercise environment. The trainers use the app as part of the repetition strategy to ensure that this is not just a one-off “hype”, but that the platform is used permanently. Employees are given the task of playing through lessons before or after training sessions. In onboarding, courses are still strongly prescribed, after which the personal responsibility of the employee must increase – again depending on the situation. We see this as an element of a learning process support.

In summary, we stand for designing new learning according to the situation and anchoring it in operative processes in the long term – with the Balanced Learning Model as a guiding star.

Nicola, thank you so much for the interview.

Nicola Prinz

Learning & Development

Ready for innovation?

Are you interested in working with us? We look forward to your inquiry. Tel: +49 89 452239-0


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