It depends …

Uncertainty quote above a roller coaster

When should you use video in your training content?

How many repetitions do you need to help someone retain information?

Which game mechanics should you use to get maximum user engagement?

I’ve heard L&D pros ask these questions during recent conference sessions. They all have the same answer …

It depends …

L&D is always hunting for THE way – that previously unknown model that will make this whole learning thing easier. Unfortunately, it’s just not easy. We’re talking about the human brain, individual motivation, and the complex universe of the modern workplace. Simple does not compute.

So what could “it depend” on?

  • Context. Content is important, but context rules. Learning strategies must consider both organizational and individual context, including culture, priorities, workflow, and relationships.
  • Resources. This is where we take into account our own design and development capabilities, including technology, budget, skill, and capacity.
  • Design. Learning strategy should also align to the overall workplace design. Rather than just focusing on the problem at hand, consider how the potential solution relates to the rest of the employee experience.
  • Individuality. Every employee is unique. What works for one may not work for another yet alone the entire organization. L&D must find ways to balance personalization and scale – as much as possible.

L&D must get comfortable with the reality of “it depends” in everything we do and minimize reliance on structured models in favor of flexible frameworks and best principles. Perhaps more important, we must improve our ability to explain the “it depends” when asked by stakeholders to solve complex problems with simple, rapid solutions. “It depends” isn’t an excuse. Rather, we must address the WHYs that make our work more challenging than often perceived and establish foundational strategies that help us identify and implement right-fit solutions quickly.


What do you think? Do you often find yourself responding to questions and requests with “it depends.” How do you help people understand the inherent complexity of workplace learning and performance without creating doubt in your ability to deliver results? 

It depends …

by JD Dillon time to read: 1 min
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