April 7, 2021

21st Century Learning and Development Practices

Talent development in organizations for people and business success.

Is it time to update your organization's adult learning practices? Here is my map of the terrain, starting with learning embedded firmly in strategic context.

I challenged myself to think through my andragogy and training methodology in the light of so many wonderful updates and adaptations to the more classical adult learning theories.

This map of the terrain is firmly anchored in its strategic context, and draws on leading edge practices that are more aligned with human nature, social realities, and organizational needs.

I hope this will be useful to people working on leadership development strategy or the design of training and leadership development programs.  


What skills and values will most help us consistently execute our strategy, generate results for our stakeholders, compete and win in the marketplace, and be socially responsible?


How can we drive, reinforce, and sustain strategic talent development, self-directed learning, and ethical leadership at all levels of our organization, making it part of our organizational culture?

Social Capital

Where are collaboration and team learning most useful? How can we support communities of practice? How do we share knowledge across our organization?

Whole Person Learning

Training should nurture Heads, Hearts and Hands, blend professional & EQ development, and be embedded in real life: strategy, culture and context (their jobs and marketplace realities).

Emergent Learning

In addition to showing people how to do things we've done before, engage them in generating new, emergent solutions: collaborative, hands-on experiential learning, and action learning.

Double Loop Learning

Regular debriefings to drive learning and improvement. Analyze both Tactics (How can we do it better next time?) and the underlying Strategy (Should we be doing something else?)


The stories we tell about ourselves, our "identity stories," have an enormous impact on how we see the world, including how we see our own potential and limitations. Identity stories are always incomplete and partial, and they become rigid & lifeless over time, like caricatures of who we used to be. Re-framing and updating our identity stories—as individuals and organizations—opens us to new possibilities, potential, and learning.

Are you thinking about your training and development methodologies, and how they fit together? Call me: it would be a pleasure to compare notes.

Copyright © 2021 Joel Shapiro, Ph.D.