The definition of L&D

The definition of L&D

Velites blog

The definition of L&D

L&D is the abbreviation for Learning and Development and often part of the human resources department as a training arm. An important arm as training is vital to any organization. If an organization is able to learn and translate that into action rapidly, they have the ultimate competitive advantage (1). And as Henry Ford once said: “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

The history and development of L&D

Learning and Development is something that exists as long as we do. In ancient times we learned from our predecessors what we could eat what and developed our hunting skills by practicing them. It was in 1812 when we saw for the first time a more formalized training program by the development of the war game ‘Kriegsspiel’. The game was developed to train Prussian and German armies.

When the industrial revolution started, there was a high need for training. The labor force was under-skilled (2). In order to get up to speed with all new technologies, the Hoe and Company established the first documented factory school to train machinist in 1872. And soon many companies followed by setting up their own factory schools (3).

As training programs arose, the need for evaluation increased. It was Donald Kirkpatrick who fist outlines the Four Levels of Learning Evaluation in 1954. After that, the model was expanded and it is still used as a basis for evaluating training events like a personal development day.

Download 10 ways to evaluate your personal development day.

Offline & Online Training Methods

In the 1980s, computer-based training emerged. Instead of classroom training, employees were trained on an individual level. However, people realized that e-learning and computerized learning on its own didn’t work. Therefore blended learning started to grow in the 1990s. This is a mixture of different ways of training. E.g. like a mixture of classroom and computerized training.

Mobile learning enters the training world in the early 2000s and grew from that perspective. Nick Peiling introduced the term gamification in 2002, although game elements were already used in many applications for two centuries. The MOOCs (massive open online courses) came up in 2008 and focusses on distance education. However, more and more people saw the need for peer-learning or social learning as well. Same time, the different training providers enable a world where personalized learning is no longer a challenge. That’s why we see companies starting to use Personal Learning Clouds (4).

Learning versus development

We use learning and development often in one phrase. However, there is a difference. Learning is a process that increases our knowledge. We can learn for example a new language. However, development is more about gaining new experiences. It’s about the process and most of the time a long-term activity (5). In business settings learning aims at a specific job or role requirement, while development focuses on the person.

L&D as a strategy

A learning and development (L&D) strategy supports the organization’s strategic and operational plan. The primary objective for developing the strategy is to explore and select options for addressing learning and development needs (6). It ensures that staff learning and development needs are effectively met and the company’s skills requirements are being developed. However, using L&D as a strategy covers more areas (7):

  • Attract and retain talent;
  • Develop people capabilities;
  • Create a value-based culture;
  • Build an employer brand;
  • Motivate and engage employees.

Learning culture

Companies without staff engaged in learning are likely to experience poor business performance. Next to that, it is also twice as likely that staff will leave the organization before three years (8). However, having your L&D strategy in place doesn’t mean automatically that there is a culture of learning within the organization. And organizing a couple of training days a year doesn’t help either. In a learning culture, learning is a constant process that is happening at both events as well as on-the-job. You should foster a continuous approach to learning. Encouraging a learning environment and learning mind-set not only improves skill levels, but it fosters greater creativity and innovation too.

L&D: Leadership and development?

You don’t just implement a learning culture. It requires engagement and support at all levels within the organization. Instead of learning and development, I would suggest using L&D as an abbreviation for leadership and development. Leadership is a shared responsibility, also called distributed leadership. Members trust their own skills and that from others in performing certain tasks. When you have the required knowledge and skills to add value, understand the moments where you can add that value and takes the ownership of taking action at that moment, we talk about leadership. You can learn and develop as much as you want, but a learning and development strategy fails if there is no ownership taken, when you don’t know when to apply certain skills or knowledge or if you forgot what you’ve learned. Therefore, I would suggest changing L&D from Learning and Development into Leadership and Development.


(1) Straight from the gut, Jack Welch, 2003

(2) The history of learning and development, 2015

(3) The history of training and development, 2016

(4) Cherry-picking content: your personal learning cloud, 2019

(5) The difference between training and development, 2016

(6) The 5 critical Cs for a comprehensive L&D Strategy, 2019

(7) The essential components of a successful L&D strategy, 2019

(8) How to make sure your L&D strategy has real impact (research), 2018

Roadmap for a successful personal development day

Personal Development Day

Roadmap for a successful personal development day

Velites Blog

Roadmap for a successful personal development day

Ad hoc learning, only done when necessary, is no longer sufficient. For organizations, it’s important to focus on personal development continuously. Corporate training is the strategy of providing stakeholders with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. Subsequently, their success contributes to the success of the organization. A personal development day is a tool you can use to embrace a learning culture. In this blog, we will explain the benefits and provide a roadmap that you can use to organize a successful learning day within your organization.

How to facilitate personal development?

When employees know you care about their growth, it builds trust and commitment. They are happier, more positive and loyal to the organization. This results in retention rates that are 34% higher compared to organizations that are not able to facilitate personal growth (1). There are different ways to facilitate personal development. The first step, however, is to identify what kind of learning patterns and interests you have. Creating a personal development plan and a vision board helps you with this. With a plan ready, the below suggestions will emphasize the learning mindset within your organization.

  1. Provide learning opportunities via a learning management system;
  2. Allow flex time so you can also take courses during regular working hours;
  3. Provide a personal development budget;
  4. Offer tuition reimbursement;
  5. Create a learning mindset by setting the example;
  6. Organize a personal development day.

What is a personal development day?

A personal development day gives employees the opportunity to join one or more specific seminars, workshops or masterclasses during one day. During the day you can share knowledge and experiences, gain new insights or experience how to use your talents in a way you have never experienced before.

What are the benefits of organizing a personal development day?

Traditional approaches to development no longer meet the needs of individuals (2). Individuals have different learning needs and have different learning styles. For example, an auditory person gets input from attending lectures, while a visual thinker gets input by reading and viewing (3). Everybody has a different learning pattern. By giving a variety in sessions during a personal development day (PD-day), people are able to choose what fits their interests and learning pattern. As a result, learning becomes personalized. Next to that, learning happens best when learners collaborate. Due to the group sessions, peer learning is easily accommodated during a PD-day. So, next to personalized learning, a PD-day provides socialized learning.

How to organize a personal development day?

PD-days usually include a selection of sessions from which professionals can choose. The day may include breakfast, lunch or dinner. This is because meeting and socializing with people is a big part of these events as well. People get networking opportunities that support their development, but team building as well. Many personal development days happen are annual events, but they can be held more often of course. The steps towards a successful PD-day are:

1. Project group

First, define who will be responsible to organize the PD-day. A team of learning- & development professionals and professionals from different operational departments works well. This mixture benefits the rest of the process as the delegation represents different stakeholders with their own experiences and thoughts on personal development.

2. Date & location

Schedule a date in advance so you can check for available locations and arrange breakfast/lunch/dinner. To make sure that as much as people are able to join, keep in mind holiday seasons, year- and month-end, peak-season, and any other busy period within your organization. Location-wise, you can choose to organize the PD-day in-house or at an external location. An in-house event is convenient for learners since they are in a familiar environment and it is most of the time more cost-effective. Organizing the event at an external venue might be more expensive, but same time it provides focus as learners will experience less distraction of their day-to-day activities. Next to that, it stimulates creativity. Learners feel valued as well, which results in higher engagement.

3. Theme & sessions

Start with the overall objective of the PD-day. What do you want to achieve? What is your goal? Based on that, you can determine an overall theme which makes it easier to search for specific sessions. You can think about themes like change, leadership, team building, priority, disruption or back to the future.

Once you determined the theme, you start to search for different sessions. Think about a variety in sessions in regards to content, but also in regards to the way of learning. As mentioned, everybody is different and has different learning styles. Ask colleagues for input as well. Get everybody involved. Think as well about a combination of internal and external trainers. Colleagues that can update others on a specific project or learn new skills are as much as important as trainers with a fresh pair of eyes from outside the organization.

You can also check the formula for leadership development as a guide to see what mixture of sessions will have the best ROI.

The networking part during the day is important as well. Therefore, you can decide to start and finish the day altogether in a large room with a keynote speaker. A good start and great end will help to motivate people for the day. However, it also helps to increase engagement for future PD-days.

4. Announcement & subscription

Once the theme, trainers, and topics of the session are ready, ask the trainers to provide a brief summary of the content of their session. The summary provides details like duration and an overview of what you’ll learn during the session. But overall, it is a way to motivate people to sign up for that specific session. See it as a kind of marketing tool; you start making people hungry so they can’t wait till the PD-day.

You link the summary to the specific time, maximum of learners per session and location and added to the portal where people can subscribe as well. This is most likely already possible in your current LMS-system. If not, you can automate registration via several event management systems or you can use LinkedIn.

You can announce and promote the PD-day via several channels. You send an e-mail within the organization, but you can also make use of flyers, posts on Intranet, and the word of mouth. Get ambassadors within all layers of the organization, within all different departments. Embrace a learning and development environment.

5. Follow up

During the PD-day the organizational team makes sure all trainers arrive, learners find their way to the right room, catering is going well, and so on. You might be able to join a part of a session, but it is important that there is somebody who is coordinating during the whole day.

Analyzing the PD-day correctly, provides you input for your next one. Firstly, you review the occupancy of the session. Based on that you investigate why it was not ‘sold out’. Was it due to the topic or the training style? Which sessions were fully booked? And do you see a difference in the announcement text of both?

Review the whole process. What went right and what can be done better next time? Think about preparation, communication, the diversity in the program and so on.

As you are not part of the sessions itself, it is even more important to receive feedback from the learners who joined. You can ask the participants to complete a feedback form in which they can rate the content, trainer, communication and administration, catering and venue for example.

Download 10 evaluation tools for your personal development day.

Let’s connect

Searching for more inspiration and suggestions related to training and development? Feel free to join our Linked-In community via:

Invitation game-based learning introduction class

Do you want more suggestions on how to influence the learning mindset? Join our Introduction Class: Game-based learning in business. You’ll discover the power of play for motivation and personal development. You’ll learn how you can use games during a personal development day. And next to that, we’ll discuss how to improve your ROI on learning and development.

Learn more about our introduction class about game-based learning

Receive your format for a personal development day

What do you think is the most challenging when organizing a successful personal development day? Share it with us via the comments and we will send you a personal development day outline as a thank you for your curiosity.


(1) The impact of professional development, a survey done by BetterBuys

(2) M. Moldoveanu et al., HBR, The Future of Leadership Development (2019)

(3) D. Markova PhD., Open Mind (1996)

Your personal learning cloud

Why we have to personalize learning and development

Velites blog

Your Personal Learning Cloud

The Harvard Business Review edition of March-April 2019 includes an article about the evolution of leadership development. The authors describe the dynamics of it and how future leadership development will be organized. They also describe the gap between traditional executive education. This gap creates room for more tailored and democratic approaches. For instance, a Personal learning Cloud.

The need for leadership development

Nowadays, we live in a volatile, complex, ambiguous and uncertain environment. Companies do realize that this environment requires leadership skills and organizational capabilities that differ from what we needed in the past. You can compare it with the rise of the right-brain leaders as described by Daniel Pink in his book ‘A whole new mind’. He mentions that we’re no longer working in a knowledge environment. Instead, we live in a conceptual age that requires creators and emphasizers.

Next to that organizations realize that leadership is not only limited to the C-suite. Instead, all levels within the organization require leadership skills. As former President Obama said: ‘leadership is everyone’s businesses’. Leadership is about knowing the situations in which you can add value, and about curious being able to take action in those situations.

Thirdly, leadership development is part of a lifelong learning.

Root causes of the gaps in traditional executive education

Traditional leadership development approaches no longer meet the needs of the organizations and/or individuals. This is due to three reasons:

  1. Gap in motivations. Organizations, which pay for leadership development, don’t always benefit as much as individual learners do.
  2. Gap between the skills that executive development programs build and those that firms require. Providers don’t offer the soft skills development organizations need. Instead, they focus on teaching cognitive skills.
  3. Gap in skills transfer. It’s often difficult to apply lessons learned in class to the real world.

Powerful trends in leadership development

The leadership development industry is changing. The traditional players, like business schools, corporate universities and big consultancy firms, are no longer leading per definition. As demand grows for executive education that is customizable, trackable, and measurably effective, ‘competitors’ are emerging. Therefore, the landscape of providers is growing and does exists out of:

  • business schools with open and customized programs;
  • strategic and human resources consultancies;
  • corporate universities;
  • and remote personalized learning platforms.

The personal learning cloud

Because of the growing number of providers within the leadership development industry we are changing towards a tailored and democratic leadership development approach. The article refers to a Personal Learning Cloud (PLC) that is helping to close the gaps in traditional executive education. Such a Personal Learning Cloud includes components like MOOCs (massive open online courses), interactive online content, corporate training, talent management platforms and so on. It is basically a mixture of different forms of education and training. The PLC has four important characteristics:

  1. Learning is personalized because learners can choose what specific practice or course is right for them.
  2. The way of learning is socialized and is for example supported by forums and Q&A sessions.
  3. Learning is contextualized as a PLC allows people to learn in a workplace setting and helping to transfer the things they’ve learned into practice.
  4. Learning outcomes can be transparently tracked and (in some cases) authenticated by providing certificates, diplomas or degrees.

The future of leadership development

So, after we introduced blended learning within traditional leadership development organizations, it is time for the next round of changes. Nowadays, we have to see it from an inter-organizational perspective, rather than from an intra-organizational perspective. Organizations shouldn’t appoint only one party to fulfill their need for leadership development. Instead, multiple providers offer cherry-picking content, modules, and instructors from across the industry.

The formula for successful leadership development

How to measure the ROI of leadership development

Velites blog

The formula for successful leadership development

Did you ever sign up for a leadership course that was postponed all the time? Did you ever do a leadership course where you weren’t able to apply the things you’ve learned into practice? Or did you ever have the feeling that your personal development wasn’t important enough to spend time on it? I had. But even though companies are spending a huge amount of money on training and development, the return on investment is very low. What can you and your organization do to prioritize successful leadership development?

Return on investment

A poor return on investment in personal development doesn’t relate automatically to poor training programs. It has a lot to do with the culture of the company and with the way how the training was communicated. What is the value of a training if you don’t know why you are signed up? How important is the training for you if your manager gives you the feeling that the training is just a company requirement? That it is good for the statistics, but actually takes too much time?

How to make leadership development successful?

Leadership development is more than just following a course. Learning more about leadership theories is interesting, but at the end of the day, the theory is not of much value. Research has shown that leaders learn about leading from leading. Real learning happens when leaders are able to practice and apply what they’ve learned.

The formula to lasting and effective leadership development

So far, we’ve talked about culture and personal development. These are two out of three elements of the formula that is key to lasting and effective leadership and organization development. The formula mentions B = P x C. The B stands for behavior, P for personal development and C for culture. So personal development on its own, would never result in improved leadership behavior. Same for the company’s culture. If the culture is totally focused on a learning mindset, but the leader doesn’t take the time for personal development, the leadership behavior won’t improve. So, we need both personal development and the organization’s culture, for sustained and soaring performance.

Behavior driven development

The outcome of the formula has to do with behavior. And what we’ve seen is this driven by the personal development and the organization’s culture. But can you improve your leadership behavior also via other ways? Is there a shortcut for improving your leadership behavior? The term behavior driven development is a software process where you first determine the desired behavior before you start programming.

Shortcut formula for leadership development

We use the same process of behavior driven development in ludodidactics, a learning method that focuses on the desired behavior. A training program based on this method helps the individual leader to develop his or her leadership behavior by using elements of game design. If we translate this in a formula, it would result in A = M + D. In this case M represents the mechanics, D the dynamics and A the aesthetics also known as the desired behavior. The mechanics are the tools that are causing the desired behavior. The dynamics are representing the behavior that occurs when the player interacts with the mechanics. When a player understands the mechanics, the game is no longer of value as the player does understand the game – so how to come to the desired behavior – completely.

Examples of successful leadership development

So how can you as a leader or as an organization increase your return on investment in leadership development? We’ve discussed two scenarios. The first one is to improve leadership behavior by investing in personal development and the organization’s culture. The second one is the shortcut. In this case behavior driven development is key. One way or the other, they both come back to the desired leadership behavior. Which one works for you?

Personal development budget

personal development: classroom training 2.0

How to fund your personal development

Velites blog

Your personal development budget

When organizations consider it’s important that its employees have sufficient opportunities for development and growth in the course of their career, they can implement a personal development budget. In this case, the company reserves a certain budget for each employee that he or she can spend on things that will further develop him or her. This can be for example doing a study program, joining conferences, buying literature or attending a workshop.

Do you have a personal development budget?

A budget for personal development can be part of your personal secondary labor conditions or can be required according to your collective labor agreement. But you can also ask for it yourself, without something mentioned in an agreement. A lot of companies mention that their employees are their biggest asset and therefore they want to invest in them. So, if you find a good training, workshop or conference, ask your supervisor to get it funded.

In The Netherlands the average budget specified for personal development is 949 euros per year per employee. But not all organizations do have such a budget. And next to that, when there is a budget it isn’t always known. Dutch research showed that almost 25 percent of the employees don’t know if they do have a budget for personal development. So, if you don’t know start asking for it.

If your employer doesn’t work with a budget or you have your own company, there is no reason to not start working on a fund for personal development. In many countries, it is the people themselves, saving money for personal development. They put, for example, each month a specific amount in a special fund that they only use for things that will further develop them.

How to get the best out of your personal development budget?

The most important person in the decision making about spending your budget for personal development is you. It is not your manager or supervisor who tells you how to spend the budget. It is you telling them where you want to spend the budget on and why.

But, how do you make such a decision? In this case, it is important to do a needs assessment, where do you stand now and what do you want to achieve? Do you want to broaden your skills or want to become an expert in your area? Do you prefer a short workshop or a long-term program? What do you want to achieve with your personal development budget?

The answers will guide you towards the best way of spending the budget for you. This differs from person to person and that’s why it is called a personal development budget. When you have a personal development plan it is great. The plan can help you to answer the questions above and guides you through your personal development.

Budget is not everything

Having a budget helps you in a world of lifelong learning. However, only having a budget doesn’t make you develop yourself. In fact, in the Netherlands 40% of the personal development budget isn’t used. Often the costs are the most important reason to not do a course, but also time and coaching play a huge role.

Development needs to be a priority for both the employee and the employer. The organization can support this by providing specific training-days for employees. However, the most important person is you. You need to give priority to your personal development. The HR-department or your supervisor can help you by showing different ways of development and helps you to decide what fits you. But in the end, it’s your development.

Creative quotient

creativity quotient

How to measure your creativity level?

Velites blog

Creative quotient

You might have done an IQ or EQ-test before, to measure your human or emotional intelligence. But, did you ever hear of the CQ-test? Next to the cultural quotient, this abbreviation is also used to measure your creativity, expressiveness and applied innovation: your creative quotient.

What is creativity?

Professor Romey describes creativity as: “the ability to combine ideas, things, techniques, or approaches in a new way.” It is about a new combination of existing concepts. The idea itself doesn’t have to be revolutionary, but they should be new for the thinker, according to Marwaha. Creativity is all about pulling existing knowledge into a new situation, where the creator quickly sorts through potential outcomes. 

In his essay ‘What is your creative quotient’ Romey explains the four main stages of the creative process:

  1. The creative process starts with a period of mental labor and deep involvement in a problem;
  2. The next stage is the incubation period. During this period  we drop the idea for a while to see if anything will hatch;
  3. The third stage is the period of illumination, also called the ‘Ah-ha!’ period;
  4. The last stage is a period of elaboration and refinement of an idea.

Why is creativity important?

Creativity is often associated with people in the artistic professions, such as writers, dancers, painters or musicians. However, in today’s world, it is increasingly important for organizations to rely on creative thinking as well. When you learn new things by using your creativity, studies show that you retain conceptual and factual information longer. It also helps you to acquire certain behavioral patterns and skills that will help you to solve problems. You might link creativity to ‘out-of-the-box thinking’. Here you can find new solutions for a problem by combining existing concepts as well.  Creative thinking helps you to generate answers to problems.

Creativity and leadership

We often associate creativity with people in artistic professions. Think about writers, dancers, painters or musicians. However, in today’s world it is increasingly important for organizations to rely on creative thinking. This in order to be able to distinguish themselves from competition, for example.

IBM interviewed in 2010 more than 1500 CEO’s from 60 countries for a global CEO study. One of the questions in the survey was: what’s the most important quality for leadership? The answer was: creativity. Creativity is key as creative leaders invite disruptive innovation, invent new business models, and are able to change the status quo. Even though the research was done in 2010, global CEO-studies keep on repeating the importance of creativity for leaders.

How do you measure creativity?

Creativity is measured via a CQ-test (creative quotient). There are different tests. All of them do exists out of questions where you have to think about what you can see in a picture, how words are related to each other and so on. Based on your outcome you’ll fall into one of the categories from very creative to not creative at all. Personally, I did the CQ-test via I like this test as it not only gives you a score, but also the foundation of your score. This is based on 8 different metrics: abstraction, connection, perspective, curiosity, boldness, paradox, complexity, and persistence. Compared to a test where you are only being put in a box, this outcome gives you a lot more information.

How to improve your creative quotient?

Creativity is something that you can learn and develop through effort and experience. Creativity is a process. It is not about who we are, but about something we do, and there is a huge range of tools and techniques that you can use to develop your skills, according to Dr. Stewart, head of leadership and organization performance at Kaplan University.

To develop your creative problem-solving skills you can focus on three major areas of expertise: multidisciplinary collaboration, human-centered design, and a culture of experimentation. With multidisciplinary collaboration you’ll get new perspectives due to the unique background, knowledge and skills of each individuals. With human-centered design you put the end-user first when designing products, services or policies. It helps to understand your customer and get rid of assumptions, blocking us in our creativity. When you create a culture of experimentation you will give the floor to your creative mindset. Rapid prototyping, brainstorming and so on are part of this culture. It helps you as well to get creative confidence. And it is required to invite disruptive innovations, invent new business models, and alter the status quo.

Leadership age

How old is a leader? - Velites blog about implementation, interaction and leadership

Legal leadership age

There is a law in place to determine the minimum drinking age, the minimal smoking age, the minimum age to gamble, to get married and to drive a car. But at what age are you ready to become a leader?

Born or made?

In the first place we have to see what is needed in order to become a leader, which lead us to the discussion if leaders are born or made. There is much research done on this topic and still a lot of different views. The one which fits me the most is the combination of both: leaders are born and then made. There are certain people who naturally have the ambition to inspire others, who have a clear vision, who can talk really easily and who are not afraid of changes. But leadership training and real-life experience will help you to grow into that role.

Leadership skills

Secondly, we have to investigate which skills are critical for a leader. In that way we can determine at what age you can learn these skills. Roselinde Torres provides in her TED Talk three questions to answer to determine if you are a great leader in the 21st century. The first one is the questions how your agenda is set, to determine if you’re shaping the future and anticipate change or not. The second one is about the diversity of your network: do people, who completely differ from yourself, trust you and want to cooperate with you to reach certain goals? And lastly, are you courageous enough to abandon the past. Are you instead of applying the same method over and over again, thinking about ways to get is done differently? Looking at these three questions you might have learned this during school at a young age. But I believe, but the more you practice, the better you’ll become.

3 generations on the work floor

A leader needs its followers in order to have an impact and get things moving. You might have seen the video about how movement starts. In the dancing scene you see one person starting, a second one steps by and at the end a whole group is dancing. But with three generations on the work floor you might wonder if there are enough people to be the first follower. Are they in for a new challenge, but more importantly: do they trust you enough to decide they’ll cooperate and follow?

Young leader disadvantage

Research has shown that it is harder for leaders under 40 years old to get followers and being accepted as a leader by other employees. This compared to leaders that are older. Reason for this is because other people think there is a lack of expertise and status due to a younger age. Expertise and status is something that comes along during your life. But this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to be a leader at a young age.

Leadership age

One of our youngest world leader is 33 years old and founders of Spotify, Airbnb and Facebook are all less than 35 years old. But same time we see a lot of CEO-positions filled by people over 50 years old. Is the older CEO doing it better due to more life-experience? Or might the younger CEO in fact has the same experiences done in a shorter time-frame? One thing to take into consideration is as well your real age and how old someone does really feel. And someone who has young looks, but in fact is much older. In the end it falls back on expertise and status. Expertise you can learn, status you can deserve, no matter how old you are.

Lifelong learning

Lifelong learning: Velites insights in implementation, interaction and leadership

Lifelong learning

When I studied in Amsterdam I was fascinated by a lady of 78 years old who worked in front of our class on her master degree in law. She didn’t have to work anymore and she didn’t have to prove herself any longer. But still she wanted to obtain her master degree in law. Just out of curiosity and her internal motivation to explore.  Continue reading “Lifelong learning”