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Paul Matthews

People Alchemy Ltd


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Why ‘pit stop thinking’ is what L&D needs now

The two choices you now have for training.

The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on our tried and tested approaches to learning and development. Traditional classroom training has gone for now and is not likely to be possible for some time. So now what?

A training course is not just about learning – it is about behaviour change. This is what ‘pit stop’ changes are all about.

You have two choices, and the choice you take will depend on how mature the learning culture is at your organisation and how ready you are to think a bit differently about the raison d'être of the L&D function.

Choice 1: go online

Figure out which of your training courses are most important and get them converted to a virtual classroom model as soon as possible. Decide on which technology platform to use and get some training (virtual of course) for your in-house trainers on how to deliver online training, and also maybe hire in external resources.

Choice 2: take a ‘pit stop’

To use analogy first described by Andrew J Scott, a professor at London Business School, you could view the current conditions like Formula 1 pit stop.

First, stick with your mission, rather than whatever plan you had. Scott recommends getting clarity when asking the question, ‘what ultimately is the purpose of your firm and what is it trying to deliver?’

Then, with clarity of mission/purpose, use the time to fine-tune everything – check your tyres, on-board systems, brake pads, chassis, fuel levels, intercom, etc and also check out the status of the other cars and the latest weather and track conditions.

If you re-join the race with an unmodified car or an unchanged driving style, you are highly likely to be overtaken or worse.

What does this mean for L&D?

Pit stop thinking for L&D means you prioritise your training courses and then start at the top of the list. For every course ask:

  • Why are we doing this course?
  • What do we want from it?
  • What do the people who ask for this course want from it?
  • If this course is successful, what would we see that is different after it?

Everyone who stops and thinks about these questions (unless it is a tick box compliance course) says they want people doing things differently. They talk about doing, not learning. By this, they mean that they want behaviour change. They want people behaving in a way that means they can effectively execute the corporate strategy, which has changed due to Covid-19, and increase their operational efficiency while doing so.

It’s not about just learning, it never was

It is at this point that you’ll start to realise that a training course is not just about learning – it is about behaviour change. This is what ‘pit stop’ changes are all about.

Your original knee jerk response question of ‘how can we deliver our training course remotely?’ changes to ‘how can we deliver behaviour change remotely?’

Starting your design process by asking this simple question will have a big impact on what you do with your training courses and how you design them for the future. When you apply this mindset to your training course, you will find that the traditional face-to-face training was never that good at creating behaviour change reliably. Switching to deliver the same course online typically only makes it worse at creating behaviour change.

When you start to think about how behaviour change happens, you will realise that it is more about people doing things than about learning things. Just because someone knows something, it doesn’t mean that they will do anything with what they know. Your courses must be redesigned to overcome the knowing/doing gap to reach the ultimate goal of people doing things differently.

If a manager goes on a training course, the business doesn’t care what they learned on the course, but it does care how effective they are as a manager after the course.

Behaviour change

Behaviour change, and the formation of new habits is a process that takes time – it is not an event. In order to change their behaviour, people need to experiment and practice in a supported environment.

The support in that environment will need to include some knowledge and information, support from colleagues and support from a manager while they practice new skills.

You’ll start to realise, as you reflect in your pit stop, that if the result you want from training is behaviour change, then the programme needs to span a period of time and include lots of activities and practice. Indeed, it probably needs more practice activities than learning activities.


A sequence of activities done over a period of time is a workflow. If someone follows the steps in a well-designed workflow and does them well enough, the end result of the workflow will be achieved. In essence, you have a workflow problem to solve, not a training course delivery problem.

Your training redesign needs to focus on the sequence of activities that will produce the desired behaviour change and how to present those activities so they will be done. Then your behaviour change workflow is successful.

The thing to remember is that it is not complicated and will still utilise your L&D skills. It is just a different way of thinking about training which springs from the basic premise question: ‘how can we deliver behaviour change remotely?’

Ready for change?

This different way of thinking will get push back from those who are wedded to the old school classroom approach. That’s why the learning maturity of an organisation has an impact on this kind of thinking. How mature is your organisation in its attitude towards learning and behaviour change?

Is it ready for some pit stop thinking to re-evaluate the true purpose of training, and make changes so that the car re-enters the race fit for purpose?

Where do you go from here? For a deeper dive into the redesign you need to do, download a copy of Paul Matthews’ eBook on How to Reboot Training for 2020 and Beyond here . 

Interested in this topic? Read Why the reinvention of L&D post Covid-19 must start with learning culture.

One Response

  1. I don’t think it was covid
    I don’t think it was covid that changed learning habits in organisations. I market off shelf course materials and have noticed a downward spiral of sales the last decade. You yourselves at Training Zone used to have an on line training material shop but that was abandoned after a couple of years. If you guys can’t make it work with your reach, there’s not much hope for the rest of us.

    The truth is that on-line training gripped organisations long before covid, and now is the norm. Face to face training will always have a role, however on line training is here to stay.

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