Category Archives: Increasing profitability

Benchmarking Online Learning




Fascinating data.

63% lack of time for self-study
40% can’t find what they need
41% find current online learning not relevant to their need
28% lack of somewhere appropriate to study
26% find learning content uninspiring
25% technology issues such as low bandwidth
22% learning objectives are not clear

This is one of thousands of findings from benchmarking studies drawing on the experiences of more than 3,500 L&D professionals and 16,000 learners.

91% team collaboration
81% manager support
73% web search
83% conversations / meetings
67% support from mentor / coach / buddy
64% formal education course55% internal company documents
52% internal networks / communities
50% mobile
49% live online learning
47% self-paced e-learning

Twelve years ago, my friend Laura Overton (we worked at SmartForce together) founded Towards Maturity to benchmark learning across organizations. 

Benchmarking is the process of comparing business processes and performance metrics to industry bests and/or best practices from other industries. Benchmarking provides an opportunity to:

Review your progress and approach
Compare your results and approach with others – both your peers and the top performers in the field
Act on the findings to improve your performance

The Towards Maturity Benchmark is the only free, independent and confidential formal benchmark available to learning and development professionals.

75% want to be able to do their job faster and better
51% like to learn just for personal development
50% want to be eligible for promotion
47% want to obtain professional certification
41% want to be enabled to earn more money
39% want to keep up with new technology
35% want to achieve/maintain a higher certification level
35% want to increase productivity
22% want to pass an assessment
10% want to compete against colleagues for a high score

Benchmarking provides independent evidence that can helps organizations:

Set a baseline today to help demonstrate progress tomorrow
Increase staff engagement and results
Learn from common mistakes rather than making them
Justify an investment or proposal for change
Apply industry best practice relevant to your organization
Set ‘SMART’ targets in your business plan
Motivate your team to become industry leaders
Provide an external perspective to get stakeholders engaged with new ways of learning

Towards Maturity’s work to-date has focused on Europe, but the firm is going global. If you want to explore the topic of benchmarking, I suggest you speak with Laura at:

  • DevLearn, 28-30 September, Las Vegas
  • Learning@Work, 27-28 October, Sydney
  • LEARNTech Asia, 2-5 November, Singapore
  • Online Educa Berlin, 2-4 December, Berlin


Contact Laura Overton at [email protected] for more information. Say hi for me.

Disclosure: Laura and I are planning a joint session at Online Educa that ties together the findings of benchmarks and the competencies addressed in my new book.



The Masterclass on Informal Learning

Your organization has decided to tilt in the direction of informal learning. Colleagues tell you that it can be faster, better, and cheaper than traditional approaches. You need to satisfy increasing demands with reduced staff and budget. You’re concerned that your current offerings will not satisfy the new generation of workers. So now what do you do?

Two options

1. Masterclass for L&D managers, instructional designers, and senior instructors on the concept and implementation of informal learning.  This is generally a one-half or one-day onsite engagement with thirty to forty people.

2. Retreat for CLOs, HR directors, planners, and policy makers on the philosophy of informal learning, the change management process required to support it, and the corporate culture that fosters its success. Two or three managers spend two days at the Internet Time Lab in Berkeley, California, in a heavily personalized experience.

What’s covered?

Here’s an overview of the topics from recent Masterclasses.

What is the organization’s primary goal?
How well are you preparing people for the future needs of  the organization?


Introduction to informal learning. Push vs. pull. The spectrum. How to recognize it in its many forms.


A dive into 70:20:10 as an example of informal, experiential learning.


A dose of my philosophies of what matters in life and learning.


We talk about how schooling is the wrong model for organizational learning and discourage using schoolish vocabulary.



















From this foundation, we explore communities of practice, capturing and disseminating news, knowledge sharing at Intel, experiential learning at Xerox, conversation at HP, volunteerism at SAP, Twitter at Deloitte, product knowledge at BT, and learning from microblogs. We also address implementation and values at a large company rollout, curation as learning, and creating the business case in several different industries.


702010 Forum - 10 point approach to implementation (2)

Depending on the level of the group, we may apply the 10-step implementation program from the 702010Forum.

Recent Masterclasses and Retreats



We recently conducted half-day Masterclasses at the WorldBank (above) and Dutch high-tech company Ordina (below).


Senior managers and strategists attended a two-day management planning retreat at the Internet Time Lab earlier this year.


Members of the Internet Time Alliance may join us virtually or in person during a retreat. In this case, Harold Jarche and I joined forces to help this team launch an expansive nationwide educational arm for a major non-profit.

haroldTo maintain quality, I offer no more than four Internet Time Lab Retreats per year.



LearnTrends 2009: Balance, web 2.0, Internet Time Alliance, DAU

George Siemens began the day by challenging us to see the world as a set of trade-offs. What’s the optimal balance point?

Asking people to jot ideas on the white board, the line that divides presenter from audience began to blur. We’re all audience; we all presenters; it shifts back and forth. Continue reading LearnTrends 2009: Balance, web 2.0, Internet Time Alliance, DAU