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Customisation: the key to increasing the business impact of your learning mix


“Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.” So said Henry Ford, the pioneer of the mass market car about his model T, over 100 years ago.

Attitudes to consumers have come a long way since then and now we live in a world dominated by personalisation. The doyennes of this new world are the likes of Amazon and Google who customise their suggested purchases and personalise your search results based on what they know about you.

The world of L&D may be a far-removed from these competitive consumer-facing markets but customisation and personalisation are trends that matter for the way we plan and deliver learning interventions.

For a start, it is vital to recognise that employees import these consumer expectations into the workplace.

So for all that we develop elegant and effective learning interventions for our organisations, unless they have real relevance to people throughout the business, resonating with the challenges they face day-to-day, they are unlikely to inspire enthusiasm or have impact we want them to.

Customisation also plays an important role in generating support and buy-in for the L&D programmes we create.

In recent research we conducted among L&D practitioners, they said that a lack of buy-in from managers and leaders was the main block to the effectiveness of the L&D programmes they develop. One in five also said that learning was too generic. Showing that the learning interventions we develop relate specifically to the needs of the business is critical to convincing people throughout our organisations that it is worthwhile and will have an impact on people’s effectiveness day-to-day.

Where customisation is applied to experiential learning such as business simulations it allows organisations to target specific areas of knowledge or behaviours needed to support new business objectives or culture change. This plays a vital role in ensuring learning has a lasting business impact and providing the kind of return on investment that an organisation needs.

For those who doubt that customisation matters, it is worth turning back to the story of Henry Ford. After dominating the motor industry with one product for two decades, the Model T production line shut down in 1927.

By this time the car market had moved on, customers expected choice and by ignoring them Ford had become an irrelevance.

So at a time when the biggest challenge for L&D is relevance, customisation has to hold the answer.

You can download our research report which evaluates the impact of customisation in L&D at

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