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.

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.

Five ways to train your right-brain

left- and rightbrain activities

5 ways to (re)activate your right-brain

Velites blog

5 ways to train your right-brain

Daniel Pink wrote in his book A Whole New Mind about the rise of the right-brainers. Originally the left-brainers were needed in companies. People who could easily understand spreadsheets, think in words and are good in mathematics and so on. Many MBA’s and leadership programs are based on left-brain skills. However, these left-brain skills become more and more redundant as they can easily be automated or outsourced in today’s world. Instead, people with imagination, intuition, visualization and empathy are becoming more crucial players within companies. So, time to start to reactivate your right brain. Here are five tips.


You most probably daydream some now and then, but feel immediately guilty, unproductive and irresponsible. However, if you aim for positive constructive daydreaming you give your focused attention a break and allow yourself to realize things about the future. Next to that, daydreaming has the potential to improve your creativity: a right-brain activity. It is not a total downtime. If you do something low-key, on your automatic pilot, you will be able to start wandering.


Don’t let you stop by your limiting beliefs. Everybody can draw. We attend to say that we cannot draw because we are too much led by our left brain. If I draw something it has to look in a way I can put a label on it, it should be something ‘real’. Betty Edwards developed in the late 60s a method called drawing on the right side of the brain. One of the exercises which help you to draw from your right brain starts with crunching up a piece of paper. When done, you start to look at the crunched-up paper and starts to follow the lines of it and draw it, without looking at your pencil. You will only focus on the lines of the crunched paper, follow those and draw it. The outcome most probably won’t look like the crunched-up paper, but this is all about the process of using your right brain.


There is a specific psychological study of laughter, called gelotology. Research in this area showed that during laughing both the left-side and the right-side of our brain are in action. Or left-side will help us to analyze the words and structure of the joke. Our right-brain carries out the intellectual analysis so you will be able to “get” the joke. In his book ‘The left brain speaks, the right brain laughs’ Stephens confirms this as well. You can laugh more by adding it to your daily routine. For example, buy a calendar with jokes, so you start your day with laughter. Another method is to smile more often. Even though smiling is not laughing, you can use it as a warming up for laughing. Reading a funny book, watching a funny TV-program or following funny people online will help you as well to laugh more often and train your right-brain.


We’ve discussed already the importance of play in our article about playful learning. When we are young play if just common sense, but becomes less of importance as we’re getting older. If you don’t like games, you are still able to play. Think about playing at a piano or guitar. Or think about playful learning where gaming elements are used.

Start to look differently

Seeing the surrounding space instead of the item is an important way to train your right-brain. In the exercise ‘Connect the dots’ you have to identify something on the left side of your field of vision and something on the right side. Now start to move your eyes back and forth between the two. This will help you to integrate both sides of the brain.

Start now!

Now you have five tips on how to reactivate and train your right brain. These activities will help you to become ready for the conceptual age where there is more focus on our right-brain. Which activities are you already doing? Which not? How well is your right-brain established?

The first time

For the first time | Velites blog about implementation, interaction & leadership

The first time

We’re busy with the renovation of our old farm. This time we’re working on the open barn. Not scheduled, but necessary as the tiles were coming down through the broken roof. We are doing everything ourselves and a lot of things for the first time. Scrapping a brick wall, strengthen another wall and learning how to build it up again: all kinds of things that come with the renovation. Every day we learn something new. How often do you learn new things?

A feeling of victory

When was the last time you did something for the first time? Do you remember when you did your first online sale, when you drove a car for the very first time, or when you had to do a first presentation at school? Was it exciting, or did you feel scared? And how does it feel when you succeed to learn and do a new thing? For me, it’s a feeling of victory, every time I learn something I didn’t know or couldn’t do before. And I have the same feeling when I can teach somebody else, something he or she didn’t know or couldn’t do yet.

Everybody can learn everything

To learn new things is really easy nowadays. Do you want to know how to knit? Just watch a few YouTube tutorials and start. Do you want to build your own website? Check several blogs and start. It doesn’t matter what you already know or not: everybody can learn everything. And that’s what I believe as well. Maybe at gymnastics somebody is better than another person, but with the right amount of time for training everybody should be able to do gymnastics. You won’t become anyone like Epke Zonderland, a famous Dutch gymnast, but you should be able to do a head roll after a few times of practicing.

At work

Also, at work we learn new things all the time. Maybe even without us noticing it. Think about a new system that is being implemented. That makes that you’ve to learn new things. And what will you do in this situation? Would you go to an expert who can explain the system to you? Don’t you act at all, as the old system is still working perfectly? Or will you do the research yourself? How do you discover new things?


I love to do research myself and spend a lot of time in preparation. The preparation phase is the most important phase of learning new things. When I want to do gymnastics and be able to do a head roll, I will watch videos to check on the technique. When I want to know a new system, I’ll make sure I’m part of a testing pool. And when I need to stabilize a wall, I search on YouTube for instructional videos or ask a befriended bricklayer for advice.

Just do it

Will you always succeed? No, definitely not. Preparation is one, but to put things into action is something else. The main lesson here is: don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t think after watching a couple of YouTube videos that you’ll become the best bricklayer ever. And don’t think after joining a test panel that you will understand the new system completely. But if you don’t put anything into action, you won’t learn new things. As Michelle Obama said: “Just try new things. Don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zones and soar, all right?”. So, join us in the Velites Online Leadership Program and learn based on the principles of playful learning a new way of putting things into practice. Do you want to achieve new heights in leadership growth? Apply now for our program via this link.

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”