Bite-sized training

December 2012 / January 2013

Dear clients,

At this time of year, we can only reflect on the year

that was - and plan for the year ahead, based on

some of the predictions that we make.

At LeMaSa we highly recommend the predictions made

by Josh Bersin, one of the most reputable talent

management researchers in the world. He is going to

present a webinar on his predictions for 2013 on

10 January. He begins to describe next year as follows:

“54% of companies are highly concerned about their

global leadership pipelines. Driven by social technologies,

organizations have become highly flattened and it

is now estimated that as many as 40% of all employees

work part time or on a contract basis. Business speed

requires agility, and in order to create organizational

agility the people strategies must be right. We believe

these changes are creating what we call the

“New HR Organization” – one which is an integrated part

of the business. This “New HR Organization” is globally

integrated, operates locally, and is powered by highly

skilled HR professionals and business partners. It functions

on data and drives managers to make data-driven decisions.

It uses integrated self-service technology and spends

its time focused on leadership development, talent

assessment, culture, and has a firm grasp on the business’s

current talent and future needs.”

In this edition of the LeMaSa Chronicle we briefly

discuss the concept of bite-sized training, as well as informal


We trust that you will have a relaxing Summer break and

wish you all the best for 2013!

Warm regards

Sandra Schlebusch

Bite-sized training

These are excerpts from an article in the UK Guardian. The full article can be accessed at

The fast pace of work and the tremendous pressure put on employees to deliver makes training of even just one day too long for most employees. To address this, the company called Mind Gym introduced the concept of "bite-size training", which aims to offer participants the chance to learn more effectively over a much shorter period, removing the need for travel, reducing costly down-time away from work and bringing a tightly-focused approach to skills development.

Succinct and punchy, this type of training in easily - digestible chunks is now rapidly taking off, with a number of companies offering a diverse range of topics typically condensed down to 60-90 minute sessions.

"The academic case for bite-size is that the learning is distributed," says Mr Bailey (Product Director of The Mind Gym). "Little and often, rather than a big session occasionally... just like it's better to go to the gym twice a week for a short session than it is to go to a health-farm for a week once a year."

Professor Guy Claxton of Bristol University's Graduate School of Education is an expert on the psychology of how people learn, and acts as a consultant to training companies in developing their teaching methods.

He explains that "our society has a very deep cultural assumption that understanding is crucial to performance, that comprehension precedes competence - however there's quite a lot of empirical evidence to show that this isn't the case.”

"A lot of companies act as if rational learning is what makes a difference. Actually, most people know that it's often not - and dramatic moments or intuitive insights may make more of a difference to how we act."

At Learnflow, a company that specifically offers bespoke training to address individual business needs, director Monica Hernanz points out that because people's attention spans are limited, longer courses can lose their effectiveness as training fatigue sets in.

"Say you had a whole day's training of eight hours covering several topics. By the time you've reached the end, you're tired, you've got an information overload. I don't think that our brains are used to work in the way that a long course demands - our brain is used to a variety of activities. If, instead, you chose to dedicate a separate, short session to each of those different topics, each time you meet the participants, their level of attention will be extremely high."

LeMaSa has been offering bite-sized training for the past four years in the form of our mini-modules (refer to our catalogue) and individual tutoring. The clients who used this service expressed satisfaction with the transfer of the skills to the work situation.

Informal Learning – Should it be Formalised?
This article by Lydia Cillié- Schmidt was published on the HR Pulse website at Josh Bersin from the leading talent research company, Bersin and Associates, predicted that in 2012 organisations would continue to redesign their learning and development programmes to be social, informal and on-demand. This trend can be ascribed to the increasing availability of technology to facilitate this type of learning, but could also be linked to the whole concept of personalised learning. Dan Cox and Barbara Sanner from Cox eLearning Consultants stated in their own predictions for 2012 that personalised learning is extremely important, and content must be provided in numerous modalities, to accommodate various learners across a broad spectrum of age categories and geographies. The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) in Britain stated that many studies have consistently shown that 70% or more of the knowledge any person uses to do their job is learned informally. Jay Cross, author of the book, Informal Learning, defines informal learning as the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way people learn to do their jobs. Jay uses the following analogies to highlight the differences between formal and informal learning. For him, informal learning is like riding a bicycle: the rider chooses the destination and the route. The cyclist can take a detour at a moment’s notice to admire the scenery or help a fellow rider. Formal learning is like riding a bus: the driver decides where the bus is going; the passengers are along for the ride. The CARA Group, Inc. ( defined informal learning as, “learning that takes place independently from instructor-led classes or course-specific work such as self-study programs, performance support materials and systems, coaching, mentoring, and/or online community-based learning through social and business networks, etc." A survey by the CARA group in 2010 found that: Informal learning is a vital tool in employee training and that 90% of respondents encourage or support it in some way; according to the survey participants, informal learning is most useful when the format is social and in person, rather than individual and isolated; 81% of respondents feel social media offers valuable learning opportunities for employees; 98% of respondents agree that social media are changing how employees are learning and accessing information. Informal learning is, however, not without its headaches for organisations. As the CIPD stated in one of its invitations to a seminar on informal learning: “If it is such a large part of how people get results at work, we need to be paying far more attention to it, and not throwing all our budget at the formal approaches like training and e-learning. So we need answers to questions like: How does it work? How do you manage it? How do you encourage it? How do you direct it?” These questions seem to be the start of an effort to formalise informal learning – a contradiction in terms! Bob Mosher (at also expressed the need to formalise informal learning and wrote that one of the most dangerous aspects of many informal learning approaches is that they are highly inefficient. He was of the view that the goal should be to create an effective, independent and maintainable informal learning environment. Bob states that, “We still want to allow the power and immediacy of informal learning to occur, but there is much we can do to enhance the experience and make it more efficient. An intentional informal learning framework should help guide a learner through the informal domain. It should also help with the maintenance side of informal learning so the information used and shared is up to date and correct." The nature of informal learning makes it difficult to track. How do you, for example, monitor the effect of instant messaging, a phone call to someone for information or a chance meeting in the break room? A survey by Chief Learning Officer Magazine showed that 26% of survey respondents said they tracked informal learning, while the other 74% did not. One of the main issues in South Africa is how to report on informal learning in the Annual Training Reports to the SETA and how to include it on the Workplace Skills Plan. Some organisations do not have a problem with recording and monitoring informal learning on employees’ Individual Development Plans, but find it difficult to link monetary value and NQF levels to it. The result is that most organisations never receive recognition by the SETAs for a large percentage of learning that is happening within the organisation. Informal learning will always be a part of the learning environment and social technologies are helping to increase its impact. It does, however, require organisations to review its learning and development practices. As Josh Bersin concludes: “Many companies do not yet realise that informal learning is not about putting in place social networking and community-of-practice systems - it takes a total change in thinking about what learning and development (L&D) teams do all day, as well as a focus on program redesign, new tools and management culture." It looks as if we need to formalise the informal! The design of Learning Paths proves to be an effective method to formalise informal learning – a service that LeMaSa can offer to you.