Engage people in learning

Engage People in Great Learning

“Make it mandatory, and they will come.” That’s the old way of thinking about training in the workplace. But as we’ve explored, learning isn’t something that can be imposed—it has to be chosen. 

In the previous articles, we’ve established that strategic learning is not a top-down decree; it’s a culture, a design that lures learners in with the promise of growth, innovation, and the satisfaction of mastery.

A cop-out in learning is to create a program that is so open-ended it becomes aimless—much like a website designed for endless clicking that leads to ennui. 

Instead, the goal of strategic learning design is to engage learners, to pull them into a journey that they might not have embarked on willingly but will thank you for later.

Great learning, takes into account what people ultimately need and want—even when they don’t know it yet. 

It’s about creating an environment that nudges them towards behaviors and skills that are in their long-term interest.

Consider the prescription bottle: designed not just to contain but to remind, to ensure adherence to a regime that benefits the user in the long term. 

Our learning programs should be the same: so compelling that engagement becomes as reflexive as taking your medicine on schedule.

We’ve discussed the importance of leadership, the framework, and the tools, and now it’s about the people. 

The design of your strategic learning should not encourage aimless wandering through materials and modules. It should be like a well-designed airport, guiding travelers efficiently to their destination—except the destination here is knowledge, capability, and growth.

A great book cover entices the reader to want to dive into the story. Our learning design should do the same: entice employees to dive into learning opportunities. It’s about making the path to learning as irresistible as a book you can’t put down.

Children’s scissors are designed to cut paper and not hair. Our learning experiences should be designed to cut through the noise and distractions, focusing on what’s necessary for development while shielding learners from irrelevant or misaligned content.

And so, the question is not “How can we make our people learn?” but rather “What do we want our learning to achieve?” 

And more importantly, “How can we design it so that our people will engage deeply and meaningfully with the learning process?

Great learning design is like any ethical design—it’s not about manipulation; it’s about amplification. It’s about using the principles of great design to amplify the desire to learn, to grow, and to contribute. 

It’s about creating a gravitational pull toward learning that aligns with the individual’s goals and the organization’s strategy.

The design for ‘everyone to do anything’ is indeed a cop-out. It’s safe, but it’s not brave. 

Bravery in learning design means making choices, standing for something, and guiding learners toward the horizon of their potential.

Great designers—like great leaders in learning—know that their responsibility is to foster this engagement, to design not just for any action, but for the right action.

Let’s remind ourselves that when we engage with intent and with a design mindset, we’re not just filling time slots with training sessions. We’re crafting experiences that our people will look back on as pivotal moments in their careers. 

We’re not just building a learning program; we’re building a learning legacy.

What design will you lay down to ensure that your people not only learn but yearn to learn more?