Design, delegate, debrief

It is the activities that follow a training event that determine whether behaviour change occurs.


When designing learning transfer activities, think like a coach who is tasking a coachee between sessions. Ask yourself – What is an activity I can ask my coachee to do that will help them learn what they need to know through experience?

Design learning transfer activities that will do the following:

• Ensure trainees use material from the training course
• Develop from one activity to the next in a logical sequence
• Mimic, as far as possible, how the activity would play out in ‘real’ work
• Help them connect the dots between what they can already do and the new behaviours
• Give them results and feedback for fruitful reflection
• Drive them into collaborative sharing, perhaps on a forum
• Get them to describe what they have done, thereby ensuring that hey have done it
• Introduce a little competition/gamification
• Expose them to the ‘real’ application of new skills on the job or as close to the job as you can
• Show them how to handle situations that may not often occur naturally in the workflow
• Expose them to the ‘audience effect’ at level four of the learning stack


Successful learning transfer is more about delivering activities than delivering yet more content.

Note that tasks may have a very specific output or may be in the form of ‘try this and see what you get’. Either way, as with any delegated task, ensure there is clarity of expectations, so people know what to do, what to expect, and when they are done.

Then, of course, the task should be delegated with appropriate risk management in place. Ensure there is contingency in place if the task is not done well enough.

Life happens, and people get busy, so you will need a system, probably digital, to remind people of the activities they should be doing to embed the learning into their day-to-day activities.

If they don’t do the tasks, learning transfer won’t happen.


When someone has done the task, it is essential that they review and reflect on their activity.

This works better if they are reviewing it with someone who is debriefing them on the activity. This is where managers come in, because the ideal debriefer is someone who understands the context and has seen the activity take place.

Here are some simple debrief questions:

1. What did you want to happen?
2. What actually happened?
3. What did YOU do that caused the gap, or contributed to the success?
4. What will YOU do next time?

Trainees need to be set frequent activities which, week by week and month by month after a training course, build their skills and embed the required new behaviours into their day-to-day workflow.

If the assigned activities are not done, it is most unlikely that the new behaviours will materialise, so you need a system to hold delegates responsible for doing the required activities.

Habits only form with consistency and practice.

Design – Delegate – Debrief