Some people really enjoy having the opportunity to take a professional training. It provides the opportunity to learn more about your profession and you can get to know new people. For a trainer that’s really nice, because training a motivated grous makes his work a lot easier. But sometimes training and education are happening because of changes that people don’t like at all. It gives them the feeling they ‘have to learn something new again’. These trainings cause resistance and annoyance, learners only participate because they have to. And that’s a pity, because this means their talent is not used at it’s best.

About this problem, and his solution, I had a chat with Michiel Louweret, director of Louweret & Partners, a company specialized in learning solutions for change management projects. Such projects can be complex, like a reorganization or fusion, but can also mean a change in mindset like ‘giving employees insight in their positive influence’.

“For the support of this solution I needed an online platform, and it was quite a job to find one. Eventually I encountered aNewSpring and they could offer me all functionalities I wished for.”
– Michiel Louweret

From trainer to entrepreneur

Michiel gained his first experiences with training at Twynstra Gudde. He thought himself how to train by watching and listening to people in the field he admired. A real auto didact, so to say. After happily working for Twynstra Gudde for a while he got the urge to do things his own way.

“In 2000 I started Louweret. I focused 50% of my time on training and the other 50% on advice.” Says Michiel. “Because I kept busy with change management I often had to deal with learners that were very unmotivated to follow a training. They only had to be there because their manager told them, not because they wanted to themselves. Being a trainer to those learners was hard, that’s why I went looking for solutions to give professionals more responsibility. And when I had an ‘Aha! Moment’ 3 years ago, I found that solution.”

“An Aha! Moment?”

“Yes! I had to train a group which I was struggling to manage for a while. But in the morning I fell off my bike and hurt my knee. I had to go to the hospital for examination, so I couldn’t train the group. It was too late to cancel, so the co-trainer of the client had to take over. She trained several groups alongside with me, but never did it on her own. Not an ideal situation, but the training had to go on, there was no other option. We walked through the training on the phone and I told her she could always call me when she had any questions during the training.

When I was done at the hospital I gave her a call. To my surprise she told me it was the best session for that group since a long time! This got me thinking of course, and I asked her what she did different. She told me she admitted to the group that she didn’t know as much of the content as I did, and asked them to help her out that afternoon. And because the learners got involved this way, the training was an unexpected success! She did add that she felt comfortable enough to do it, because she knew she could always give me a call when needed. So that was also an important aspect.”

The choice for Social Learning

“After this moment I started my search for a new learning model. The main concept I wanted to focus on was ‘learning without a trainer’. I believe in the power of professionals. Nowadays all knowledge you need is available online and professionals have large networks. The challenge for organizations is to make more of the talent and knowledge they have in house. But there is still a lot to be done there.

During my search I stumbled upon social learning. The principles of social learning were described very good in the 70-2-10- model by Charles Jennings. He says professionals learn from each other on the job, not in a training room. That sounded perfect to me.

For the support of this solution I needed an online platform, and it was quite a job to find one. Eventually I encountered aNewSpring and they could offer me all functionalities I wished for.”


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Power programmes with online guidance and communication

In the time that followed Louweret developed so called ‘Power programmes’. These programmes are used now to lead and support the change management projects. These Power programmes have a fixed construction and run time of 8 weeks. There are groups formed of learners within different layers of the organization, and together they work intensively on the learning materials, online as well as offline in ateliers and with assessments.

“Of course every organization is different and you can’t exchange the Power programmes for one another. I think around 70% of the didactics of the Power programme is fixed, the other 30% we fill in by specifically looking at the wishes of the organization. This way we can keep our product affordable, we have found out we are 50% cheaper then traditional training companies, with first effects visible in only one day.”

“The platform gives our Power programmes a professional look. The flexibility is great. And it is really nice that it is SaaS so I can pay based on how much I use it.”
– Michiel Louweret

Effective learning: voluntarily and with different colleagues

“Of course we are different from large, acknowledged training companies. Our main focus is getting people to learn together and with their colleagues. We support internal learning coaches, who guide the learning groups. The practical content is offered via the platform. And I keep looking for answers to questions like ‘How can and will people learn effectively?’.”

“And, have you found an answer yet?”

“Well, we really agree with the ideas of Thijs Homan, amongst others. He is professor Change and Implementation. According to him organizations have an upstream and downstream. By forming different groups in organizations with learners from different layers in the company. This way idea streams will from, and learners will discover how their colleagues think and work. That is very valuable, even essential, for effective learning and change.”

“I also believe you really can’t oblige professionals to learn. We all had to learn German grammar, and did we like that? Most of the time we didn’t. I think resistance like that, also in professional training, doesn’t come from the fact that we don’t want to learn (because it is nice to discover something new, isn’t it?), but because someone makes us learn. As soon as you let learners be the owner of their own personal development that will change. Then it’s a choice the learner makes to develop himself. In our Power programmes learners determine themselves what and how they learn (up to a certain level, of course). To succeed with the change strategy, Management should make sure that a Power programme is an integral part of it.”

A professional look thanks to aNewSpring

aNewSpring supports the Power programmes of Louweret with the platform. “We use it as a social learning tool so people in the groups can communicate with each other 24/7. This works really well, and the response is very positive. Plus, the platform gives our Power programmes a professional look. The flexibility is great. And I like the fact that it is SaaS, offers a lot of functionalities and I can pay based on usage.”

“Is the social part used actively?”

“Yes, it is! And it is nice to see that especially seniors within an organization make a lot of use of the social learning functionalities.”

“Oh, that’s great, I didn’t expect that! Do you have any idea why?”

“Yes, it was great to find that out. We’ve never tested it, but personally I think it is because seniors really like sharing the knowledge they have with their colleagues. The younger generation might be a bit too insecure to do this, with exceptions of course.”

“People become smarter, organizations unfortunately not”

To finish up I asked Michiel what he thought of the world of training as it is now, and what he thinks it will look like in the future.

“When I look at the future of training I think there is still a lot more to improve. A lot of people learn individually. When organizations don’t succeed to connect individual knowledge and skill, they will in fact get less smart.” He says. “My daughter who is 15 lives in parallel world. For her it is natural to share information. Young people use the internet to look up information. They just try stuff out. Classic training is not suited at all for this generation. Two days with a trainer just doesn’t work anymore. You will only learn by doing. Here and now. As soon as more people start to realize that, we are on a roll. And Louweret of course likes to help with that.”

Website Louweret
LinkedIn Michiel Louweret

Inspired by the story of Michael Louweret? Then do download our free Blended Learning Cookbook.  The metaphor of the cookbook will give you a fresh perspective on choosing, combining and testing different learning ingredients in order to create your ultimate learning recipe!

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