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The Lean Learning principles

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According to an article by Harvard business review, though organization spent USD 359 billion globally on learning and development in 2016, it was observed that:

  • 75% of 1500 managers surveyed across 50 firms were dissatisfied with their L&D

  • 70% of employees felt that they lacked skills needed to do their job

  • Only 12% of employees felt they applied new skills learnt to their jobs

  • Only 25% of employees believed that learning improves performance  

The 3 main reasons why learning fails at the companies are:

  1. Wrong purpose

  2. Wrong timing

  3. Wrong content

Wrong purpose

People often learn to meet their annual performance KPIs instead of focusing on the business impact created.

Wrong timing

Most of the times, people fail to immediately apply the concepts learnt in the classroom or online learning at their workplace, due to which they quickly forget what they have learnt. Studies say that if new information isn’t applied, we will forget about 75% of it just after six days.

Wrong content

Every business need is unique and there needs to be unique learning to fulfill it. In other words, learning needs to be customized to meet the business requirements. Most of the learning is offered without properly considering the end user needs, making some content irrelevant.   


That’s why firms must adopt and apply the following principles of Lean learning:

  1. Minimum learnable unit

  2. Real-world application

  3. Continuous feedback

  4. Repeatability


Minimum learnable unit


First step is to identify the minimum learnable unit or the core concepts. As per Pareto’s principle of 80/20 rule, 80% of outcomes or outputs come from the 20% of the causes or inputs. In other words, minimum learnable unit comprise 20% of the entire content, which has around 80% of the role relevancy.  


Real-world application


As per lean theory, learning that has no real-world application is considered to be waste and needs to be eliminated

Continuous feedback


The learning content must be continuously improved and updated based on the feedback from the real-world business environments



The ‘lean learning’ best practice must be relevant and repeatable in all units of an organization. The content must be personalized and be easily accessible-‘few clicks away.

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