Guest Post: Becoming a High Performance Learning Journey Champion

Author: Ian Townley
Published: February 18th, 2018

I am currently undertaking Brinkerhoff certification for High Performance Learning Journeys. I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you what I have learned so far. Feel free to comment and leave me a message. I’ll try and reply to everyone who does.

For many learning strategists and designers, and even those executives who invest in learning, there is often a tendency to focus on the learning event. Those events take many forms, from extended multiple-day workshops to single e-learning courses. Although, those events are often well intentioned and well designed, they usually lack a significant piece of design. Namely learning transfer.

Learning transfer is, as some of you might know, a topic close to my heart, and can be described as a strategy for increasing the likelihood that learning will be applied on the job. This is important for learners/users of learning because they can see their own personal development and the value of investing time in activities away from the workplace. It’s also important for senior executives and managers because they can see growth. Not just the growth of their people, but also the growth of their business through learning initiatives that are well matched to evolving business needs.

There are many theories about how to design and implement learning transfer. One interesting theory I’ve been looking at on this course is called a High Performance Learning Journey. The idea was developed by Robert Brinkerhoff and supported by an online platform called Promote.

So, how does a HPLJ differ from a usual learning event? Well in short, the participants go through a number of stages, which are called Core Elements:

  • They commit to the learning journey to increase motivation and attendance
  • They build a knowledge foundation at the right pace and intervals
  • They have time to develop and practice skills in a safe and controlled environment
  • They have opportunities to strengthen results through activities that support application

In order to meet those four core elements the learning is stretched through five dimensions: time, business linkage, spaces, relations, tools and structure. The idea is that if the five dimensions are addressed adequately for a particular learning and matched to a particular audience, then learning will be understood, become sticky, get adopted, and be applied.

In this article I won’t delve deeply into the theory. Instead, what I will do is describe what a HPLJ is like from the perspective of a participant, because naturally the course is designing as a HPLJ.

I’ve noticed three things that I think are important, and which I have found highly valuable.

First, because I’ve gone through the process of creating my own learning journey for this course I can see clearly the application of learning, and my business rationale for investing in this initiative. In other words, my motivation got a massive boost once it became clear how important understanding and using the content was to me.

Second, through stretching the learning over the dimensions of time and space, and using appropriate tools, I’ve been able to absorb the learning at the right amount and speed needed to build my learning scaffold. I honestly feel confident that at each stage I’m improving and developing. And, low and behold, feel like I can and will actually use what I learn.

Third, there is a big variety of attendees on the course with me. We’re spread over the world, so we have a truly global view. Talk about leveraging knowledge and experience of relations developed through a shared need and goal.

This is only the story so far. So look out for updates and other articles from me about HPLJs and Learning Transfer in general.


Original article by Ian Townley can be found here

Professor Robert Brinkerhoff is an internationally recognized expert in learning effectiveness and evaluation – you can find his page on LinkedIn here, or read some of his work here. is an online platform dedicated to creating high performance learning journeys and learning transfer initiatives, read more here.