Jack Lockhart reviews the latest book from Paul Matthews, CEO and founder, People Alchemy.
There’s a part of me that hopes we won’t need this book in the near future. In fact, I wish it didn’t exist right now.
For that to happen though we’d be operating as a performance-focused profession, looking at proving impact, value and improved outcomes. But we’re not really that kind of profession, not yet.
This book actually could have been written 10 years ago. I can only hope that people can seize the value in it and action it so that it doesn’t still feel ‘new’ in 10 years’ time.
On to the book itself. Having read Paul’s two previous books and found them clear, to the point and practical, I knew what to expect with this one and I wasn’t disappointed.
The first thing to know is that you’re getting two books for the price of one. An A-Z of Learning Transfer forms the first part, followed by a ‘field-guide’ to learning transfer, packed with 166 tips, tools and examples to show that learning transfer works.
The first part of the book tackles some of the big questions we ask (or would prefer not to ask) when it comes to learning transfer. Read ‘Why do we avoid it?’ for a look in the mirror on our practice; ‘The Learning Stack’ for a top-to-bottom checklist of what to include for a holistic approach; and please, please, please read ‘Mindset’ because I ultimately think it’s one of the biggest obstacles we face in treating learning transfer as a standard practice, rather than a nice to have.
The second section of this book gives something I’ve been looking to find for a while – a crowdsourced collection of tips, tools and real-life examples of learning transfer in action. This is an opportunity to learn from other people’s successes and failures. Rather than focus on the ‘author knows it all’ approach there’s something comforting about knowing others have succeeded and learned along the way and that this learning transfer thing is possible after all!
If there is anything I’d improve on for a second edition or an online compilation it would be for the second section to be more organised, although that could be just me and my tendency for tidiness and order. With 166 tips, an index or a contents page or something similar would make it a more accessible field guide for dipping into whenever a challenge crops up. Without that there’s a bit of flicking back and forth. That said, this approach does mean that readers are more likely to pick up helpful hints that they might otherwise have missed.
How can this book make a difference? If people actually act on what they read. Just reading a book and saying you’ve read a book on learning transfer isn’t enough. It’s only by doing something on the back of reading it that we, as a profession, are going to make a difference. And then maybe, just maybe, learning transfer will become second nature. If it does, we’ll be able to thank this book for it.
Jack Lockhart is a Learning Consultant for Virgin Media and was The Learning and Performance Institute’s (The LPI) Sponsored Learning Professional in 2018. He shares content and conversations around L&D and Mental Health on his LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.