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Unlearning L&D With Ryan Kruger at Lucid Motors

Unlearning L&D With Ryan Kruger at Lucid Motors

An illustration depicting two folders, one containing myths and the other housing realities.

As the Senior Supervisor of Learning Systems & Development at Lucid Motors, Ryan Kruger has a mouthful of a job title—and a lot to say about electric luxury sports cars, heavy metal, and local libraries (see if yours has a 3D printer!). But his number one passion? Designing and delivering more effective learning solutions.

Ryan recently joined Tango’s CEO and Co-founder Ken Babcock on the Change Enablers podcast to talk about what L&D is and isn’t (in the context of software training) and how teams consume content today.

It’s worth tuning in, literally or figuratively, if: 

  • You believe the way we’re asking people to learn software is flawed (and could be better)
  • You’re struggling to deliver effective training, especially across many disparate tools
  • You’re curious about user experience design
  • Your personal success hinges on driving digital adoption and behavioral change 

A rock and a hard place 

In case you missed it: Okta's 2023 Businesses At Work Report says the average number of enterprise apps has mushroomed to 211. 🤯

How is anyone supposed to learn how to use 211 tools?

L&D teams that were previously hired to spend years working on resources for a single software rollout have now been relegated to one of two unfortunate scenarios. They’re either completely underwater in their new role as support specialist supporting 50 apps—or they’re bumping up against a brick wall in their new role as “internal marketer,” begging ambivalent adopters to use XYZ new software.

No matter the situation, the answer isn't training. Or more folders of resources. There just isn't enough mental capacity, time, or willingness in the day for end users to develop proficiency in everything.

But the reality is…digital transformation matters. It's the only way to do more with less. 

From training to operations 

How are the most forward-thinking L&D teams tackling this problem? 

By rethinking what they are and aren’t doing, for starters.

They’re also actively pushing back on the popular belief that training is the answer, and digging more deeply into the root causes behind each ask:

“I love training. I love designing it and I love facilitating it.

But when you come to me with a problem you are trying to solve, that is not my first answer. That's probably not even my third answer. I'm gonna ask 100 questions first and make sure due diligence has occurred before we spend the time and energy designing training.

The number of times someone has come to me with problems like, ‘We need to design training to teach people how to submit their timesheets because it's a problem.’

And I'm like—how big of a problem? Is everyone not doing it, or a select few? Are there repeat offenders? Is it happening in all departments or just one? Is it a tech issue? User error?

Has anyone ASKED the people not doing it why they aren’t doing it?”

-Christin Lindley, an L&D leader in Seattle

Ryan agrees:

A quote from Ryan Kruger, Senior Supervisor of Learning Systems & Development at Lucid Motors, on the trap of thinking more training is always the answer.

So if training isn’t (always) it—what is?

To start, try taking a closer look at your most business-critical tools. Then imagine how much easier it would be to influence behavioral change if institutional and procedural knowledge were located:

  • Inside of the apps where employees start their tasks
  • Within the chat channels where people talk about workstreams
  • In the software tools powering your company’s most important workflows

The best training teams are shifting. Ask Ryan, and he’ll tell you they’re starting to look a lot more like operations teams. With a new focus on architecting work processes and curating answers throughout their team's tools.

What’s the bottom line, right up top? The answer isn't that we need less software. It's that training needs to change. 

People don't need to upskill. Instead, answers and instruction need to be available in the moment of motivation and need. Work needs to become simpler—for L&D teams and for the teams they serve. Digital transformation and adoption depends on it.

12 misconceptions about Learning & Development 

Ryan’s fascination with digital adoption and all things L&D runs deep. After working with some of the best and brightest in the field, he’s made a few observations about what L&D is and isn’t—when it comes to software training specifically. (Versus, say, best practices for teaching soft skills.)

Think nothing beats in-person training? Still consider memorization to be the be-all, end-all? Check out the table (and additional food for thought) below. 

A summary of 12 misconceptions about software training in Learning and Development.

Myth #1: L&D is for new hires

Ryan hears this one all the time. 👇🏿

The reality → L&D extends far beyond those first few weeks of orientation.

Myth #2: Training is a one-time event

This is too true for too many organizations. The binary of "attended/not attended" often satisfies requests for training. But to what end? Behavior usually doesn’t change and business results usually don’t come in.

Take it from Sam, another member of the Change Enablers community:

"Training as a one-time event hits home for me. I've had countless conversations where someone says, 'I already showed them how to do that.'

Well, how long ago was that? How often do they have to do it?

I’m a believer in 'use it or lose it,' so we can’t expect team members to remember 100% of what was shown to them last week if they only had to do it once."

-Sam Vranorsey, Salesforce Administrator at Vetsource

The reality → People use or lose new knowledge.

Myth #3: L&D is more for underperformers 

Top performers don’t need (software) training, do they? And L&D is more a life preserver for people on a performance plan, isn’t it?

"Learning opportunities exist for everyone—especially those who frequently perform tasks that are too long or complicated to remember."

-Ryan Kruger, Senior Supervisor of Learning Systems & Development at Lucid Motors

The reality → L&D is for everyone who wants to create more capacity for more strategic work. Including (and maybe even especially) high performers.

Myth #4: L&D works best with a charismatic trainer (with lots to say)  

It’s tempting to think people want to know everything about everything. Ideally from an expert on 1) the topic at hand, and 2) how to deliver it.  

The reality → People don’t want to be in the room with anyone for extended periods of time (no matter how magnetic and engaging they may be). As Ryan says, what people really want is “a guide on the side—not a sage on the stage.” And the best guides on the side know exactly which (unnecessary) details to omit. “Minimum viable context” is their gold standard.

"When's it better to give too much context?

When your kiddo needs a nap and also needs to understand the minutiae of deviation requests, spreadsheet functions, or the history of yarn."

-Ryan Kruger, Senior Supervisor of Learning Systems & Development at Lucid Motors

Myth #5: Nothing beats in-person training

Danger of going on a rant? HIGH. ⚡

Forcing end users to sit through boring training sessions with information they can’t use immediately isn’t great…or productive. 

The reality → Helping people get unstuck asynchronously, in their moment of need, in their flow of work is far more valuable.

Myth #6: Learning is a one-way street 

See also: the definition of a top-down approach. 🫠

The reality → To optimize learning, you need a two-way feedback loop connecting those sharing expertise and those applying it.

Myth #7: People will remember great training

Especially if the content is relatively easy to learn. Because easily learned = easily remembered, right? 

Not quite.

The reality → People *won’t* remember what they learned. And “easily learned” often means “quickly forgotten.” While experiential learning (learning in the context of real-world tasks) is a step in the right direction, people don’t need to remember everything, always.

Myth #8: Making it stick > making it brainless

While we’re on the topic: Is memorization always the right/best end goal? 

If you’re talking about an infrequent task that your end users are going to perform monthly or quarterly, it might be a waste of brain space to know the process inside and out. The real goal for L&D teams may be to figure out a way to deliver the information people need, in the moment they need it—and help them forget about it in the interim.

The reality → All knowledge isn’t created equal. Memorization shouldn’t always be the end goal (especially when it comes to learning infrequent software procedures!).

Myth #9: If you build it, they will come (to your LMS)

We’ll let Ryan debunk this one: 

"Think they'll come if you build it? Maybe if they're dragged, kicking and screaming."

-Ryan Kruger, Senior Supervisor of Learning Systems & Development at Lucid Motors

The idea is to remove every piece of friction between your end user and the information they need—and make it as simple and fast as possible to find and use.

The reality → People don’t want to go looking for knowledge in your LMS—and most won’t. Knowledge needs to be served up on a platter, embedded inside of the tools where people already are.

🤕 The added insult to injury

Even if you have an LMS that is well-organized, maintained, and home for a great wealth of information—it’s likely out of sight, out of mind, and underutilized day-to-day.

Myth #10: Everyone wants to self-serve, and anyone who doesn’t is lazy


This might be accurate if there weren’t a big group of “ambivalent adopters” in every group.

Ambivalent adopters aren’t lazy or malicious—they just aren’t that interested in the new training you’re trying to roll out. They don’t think that memorizing your top-down approach is the best way they can contribute.

The reality → Many of your end users likely identify as “ambivalent adopters.” Aka people who are afraid of new technology and process, prefer to stay in their comfort zone, and want their hands held when they get stuck. To put it mildly: Self-service is not their happy place.

Myth #11: Microtraining is the solution to L&D challenges 

While chunking your content into videos is a better alternative to classroom training, it won’t address the real issue. 

The reality → Sending people sporadic videos to watch doesn’t solve for the real bane of the knowledge worker existence: context switching. If you want to help keep people in the flow of work, microtraining won’t help you. 

Myth #12: Success = Shipping the training guide, hosting the workshop, circulating the video, etc. (and seeing LMS engagement climb)

ICYMI, your stakeholders don’t care about how quickly you completed your checklist or how many people viewed a piece of content in your LMS. 

The reality → Success = Driving process adoption and demonstrating impact on business outcomes (via real-time enablement).

How people consume content now

As an ex-instructional designer, Ryan can nerd out on F-type reading, different eye scanning patterns, and cognitive load with the best of them. But a lot of it comes down to a simple truth:

“When we think about the adult learner and how they consume content now, they're very quick to lose interest in something if it's not relevant or meaningful or helpful.”

-Ryan Kruger, Senior Supervisor of Learning Systems & Development at Lucid Motors

What’s rarely helpful or meaningful or helpful? Learning/memorizing routine software procedures. 

Even if your content IS relevant, meaningful, and helpful, you may still have your work cut out for you. How come? Because psychological and cultural factors influence the way people learn.

At the risk of stating the obvious: we live in a progressively digital world. In case you haven’t had to physically put your phone in another room before cracking open a new book…the effects of an increasingly digitized lifestyle on the brain are mildly alarming. 

Four things to keep in mind, according to Ryan? 

1. Your end users want [highly applicable] information FAST

Adult learners are short on one thing more than time—and that’s patience. Their willingness to “hunt and gather” hasn’t just diminished. It’s all but disappeared.

2. Your end users want [trustworthy] expertise delivered in-context 

Say your co-worker is trying to open a new job req in Greenhouse. They’ve used Greenhouse before, but they’ve only needed to do this particular task once before. Theyre about a minute into the process when they get stuck.

To get unblocked, they might: 

  • Pull up Greenhouse’s knowledge base (to no avail)
  • Search your internal Wiki 😵‍💫
  • Try to resurface a Slack thread from six months ago
  • Stop and start a 30-minute training video 10 times, trying to find the five seconds of information they need to get unstuck
  • Completely ignore an obviously ancient, 50-page PDF on how to do everything ever in Greenhouse
  • Give up and ping a fellow hiring manager for help

In the process, not only will they have to break flow and bounce between multiple applications, but they’ll also wind up interrupting a teammate—forcing them to context switch, too. 

"Studies show the average person gets interrupted every three minutes at work, and it takes an average of 23 minutes to refocus.

That's a really long time. Especially when it's possible to embed how-to instructions directly inside of the tools where people are working—and avoid context switching altogether."

-Ken Babcock, CEO and Co-founder at Tango

3. Your end users want the CliffNotes—not the novel

In case you missed the headlines that broke the Internet in 2015, human beings have an 8-second attention span. Less than that of a goldfish! (And getting shorter all the time.)

While going on and on may have been rewarded in school, being succinct is far more valuable at work/in life. Learning solution design is no exception to the rule. In L&D, the challenge is to find a way to deliver the least amount of information (👋🏿, minimum viable context) needed to help end users get unstuck. No more, and no less. 

We call this “the Goldilocks Zone of Context” at Tango. 

💡 Tango Tip

If you skip the fluff and include only the essentials in your training materials, what becomes a lot easier? Avoiding the walls of text that cause people to check out.

4. Your end users don’t love [long] videos 

It’s not new news that people don’t like reading through lots of text. But videos—especially long ones—don’t provide relatively better user experiences. 

Contrary to popular belief, new research shows long videos:

  • Are boring to watch 
  • Rarely contain the most up-to-date information 
  • Slow people down when they’re in a hurry to complete a task
  • Should be reserved for explaining why to do something, vs. how to do it

The bottom line

Only one out of every five people would recommend their organization’s learning and development opportunities, while nearly half wouldn’t (source).

For Ryan, this makes L&D—and evolutions in the field—exciting:

"This is what makes Learning & Development such a wild space. I LOVE IT!

There are so many gaps to fix, myths to debunk, and improvements to make. Especially when it comes to software training."

-Ryan Kruger, Senior Supervisor of Learning Systems & Development at Lucid Motors

Want to keep a pulse on what’s new and next from other L&D experts? Subscribe to Change Enablers Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube


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