Aug 5, 2019 | Leadership

My team and I have delivered training programs to thousands of executives around the world. Some are in the form of lunch-and-learns. Others are delivered over the course of several consecutive days. While we love putting on “edu-taining” programs, we’re starting to push back on delivering these programs.

Here’s why. Global investment in platform technologies is expected to exceed $3.8 trillion in 2019 for things like enterprise resource management (ERP), customer resource management (CRM), and project management. Yet, when it comes to leadership training and development, most executives implicitly view their organization as an aggregation of individuals.

From silos to systems

Because of that logic, the $86.7 billion spent on global training last year was given to a disparate mashup of outside experts, coaches and consultants. Senior leaders have executive coaches who never meet one another. Offsite retreats are facilitated by a string of consulting firms. New training programs are launched from time-to-time for select cohorts of people, the lessons of which become lost. All of this leaves HR continuously chasing the answer to “now what?”

Unstructured training, coaching and consulting services can set people up to fail and cause unchecked organizational damage. Silos grow, communication gets bottlenecked, and cynicism sets in. This is why we designed triple loop learning programs. These programs offer more than a loose series of stand-alone training efforts with fuzzy ROI. Instead, they are based on an enterprise model that couples group training with team and individual coaching in a format that provides hindsight, insight and foresight to drive change that sticks. Here’s how it works.

Loop 1: Hindsight – the ability to reflect and learn from the past

In the earliest stages of designing a leadership training program, we ask our clients a simple question: what, precisely, is this program for and how will we measure results? Once we are clear on the program objectives, we design and deliver full-day sessions that allow participants to identify “what’s not working” gaps and what 3-5 changes can be made in the next 90 days to improve. We infuse these sessions with videos, case studies, hands-on breakouts and action-taking templates. By the end of the day, participants have looked back at problematic processes to gain hindsight into what they can do to make improvement as senior or emerging leaders. We let them know that we’ll continue to get together in full-day sessions every 90 days. But, we don’t stop there. We break the group up into smaller teams to move into the next learning loop.


Loop 2: Insight – the ability to interpret and respond to the present

The full-day programs allow participants time to step back, assess reality, and plan action for improvement. However, research shows that even after very basic training sessions, adults typically retain just 10% of what they hear in classroom lectures, versus nearly 70% when they practice classroom training with real-world experience. Training participants, no matter how talented, often struggle to transfer even their most powerful classroom experiences into changed behavior. Not only do they not have enough opportunities to put theory into practice, but they also lack critical insight about how their behavior impacts results. That’s why we coach the smaller teams as they work on the 90-day action items to discuss breakthroughs and breakdowns. We encourage them to identify root causes together and have catalytic conversations about what changes need to be made and how to hold one another accountable for making change happen and locking it in. Then, we go a step further. We provide one-on-one coaching for each participant to achieve deeper learning and growth.


Loop 3: Foresight – the ability to predict and prepare for the future

Becoming a more effective leader means adjusting one’s underlying mindset to address the root causes of behavior. We use a diagnostic tool to assess how each participant behaves when things are going well and when faced with conflict. We coach each participant through the results of their assessment, then use those results to accelerates the participant’s ability to identify what is going on, why it is happening, and how to change. These monthly coaching sessions enable participants to experience real-time course correction when working on resolving real-world issues through teams to effect enterprise-wide change. Over time, participants gain the foresight to predict the future and make better choices.

Learning organizations have a competitive advantage in the 21st century. Unfortunately, we continue to rely on broken models and disparate, hot-and-cold running consultants to provide ineffective, one-off services that fail.  The way forward requires a focus on an embedded enterprise-wide model that takes learning from in the classroom to behind-the-desk.

Question: Do your training programs leave you with that “now what” feeling?


Driven by the premise that excellence is the result of aligning people, purpose and performance, Center for Executive Excellence facilitates training in leading self, leading teams and leading organizations. To learn more, subscribe to receive CEE News



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