We talk with our colleagues about their background in learning and development, the Xprtise projects that make them proud, and the biggest challenges in learning & development in the coming years. This time it is our Learning & Performance Consultant Jo Buuts. Jo has extensive experience in advising on and designing learning solutions in a variety of organizations. He brings this experience with him from his career at Ministry of Defence, where he worked until 2011 as a training advisor and designer. Shortly after began helping organizations as an independent contractor with the design, organization and evaluation of solutions that support employees in working and learning. As a certified 5 Moments of Need™ Designer, he designs solutions that support employees when they need relevant knowledge and information. He has been involved with Xprtise for two years, where he is jointly responsible for a number of projects, including a project at one of the largest gas and electricity network operators in the Netherlands. Currently he is helping to build a new Knowledge Base central to the 5 Moments of Need™ methodology.

Who? Jo Buuts.
What? Learning & Performance consultant since January 2019.
Where? Xprtise NL, ’s Hertogenbosch.

I live in Oss (The Netherlands) together with my wife. We have a 31-year-old daughter. After a career of nearly 40 years at the Ministry of Defense, I started my own business in 2011 as a training advisor. In 2017, I became fascinated by the possibilities of workplace learning and Performance Support, as well as the 5 Moments of Need™ methodology. When Xprtise organized a "Meet & Greet" with the founders of the methodology - Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson - I immediately thought: I need to be a part of that! Then I came into contact with Alfred (Remmits, CEO Xprtise ed.). We already knew each other through LinkedIn, but it turned out we also lived 500 meters away from each other. From that time on I have increasingly immersed myself in workplace learning and the possibilities it offers. When Alfred offered to follow the 5 Moments of Need™ Designer course at the 5 Moments of Need™ Academy Europe, I took it with both hands. Besides working on various assignments for Xprtise, among others, I regularly post blogs on workplace learning and Performance Support. This comes with a ton of research, which I learn from a lot. [Laughing:] So the knife cuts both ways! When I discovered the principle of workplace learning, I discovered that it can be done better than I had seen so far. Better for the organization but also better for the employees. After all, there is still a lot to be gained in support at the workplace. That accelerates my enthusiasm and drive to keep spreading the word about the 5 Moments of Need™ methodology.

What gives you the most energy? What’s your passion?

My ambition to strengthen and improve the way people learn and develop is what really drives me. Simply because I see there is so much room for improvement. Take employee satisfaction for example, nothing is more frustrating than being insufficiently supported in your professionalization. People want to learn, they want to improve and be the best. As an organization you have to support that! Besides that, I like dynamics, excitement, variety. I like to be involved in challenging issues that give you quite a headache in the beginning. I am also always open to learn something new and to develop myself further. With my blogs, I hope to inspire people and stimulate the L&D industry and it gives me tons of energy too!

When I’m off work, I get a lot of energy from sports. I regularly cycle; both on and off road. Between Oss and Den Bosch there is a beautiful national park where I spend a lot of time. Also, I start every day with a brisk morning walk. A fresh start of the day that helps me to let go of my thoughts and to be ready for whatever the day brings.

“My ambition to strengthen and improve the way people learn and develop is what really drives me.”

What makes the field of Learning & Development so interesting?

Traditional training models no longer really help organizations. The return on investment is often low because learning is too far removed from day-to-day practice. The knowledge acquired is almost always outdated before it is applied. I’ve been working in the learning and development field for thirty years now. Funny enough, until 2017 I was "only" involved in formal learning. Unfortunately, I was convinced that was the way to learn! Now I know more about workflow learning, I’d like to encourage L&D professionals not to make the same mistake as I did. Embrace the change from learning to performance; be that organization with an innovative outlook that brings learning closer to the workspace. I see it as my mission to support organizations to make the change! Take the current pandemic as an example. This will lead to an in-service training problem in our field. In this respect, formal learning alone is certainly not enough because circumstances keep changing. Learning & Development is a dynamic industry that have to cope with new challenges every week or month. I like that.

What do you think makes Xprtise unique?

Like many other enterprises, Xprtise provides good technological solutions to support employees in the workplace. Think of software like AskDelphi and Drillster. However, Xprtise does not put the technology first, but rather the methodology. Most organizations don't have that approach. They just want to sell the "tool" and guide you to get it installed quickly. By fully embracing the 5 Moments of Need™ methodology as a starting point, Xprtise concentrates on learning in the workplace at the initial moment of application. The software then seamlessly connects to the method, so the employee is more deeply supported.

You work with many Xprtise customers. Can you tell us which project you are most proud of?

In the beginning of 2020, together with my colleague Peter van Overbruggen, I gave an in-company training to the employees of the Academy of Erasmus MC in Rotterdam. Until COVID-19 hit in March 2020 and the Board of Directors decided that meetings and physical education could no longer take place in Erasmus MC for the time being. Their focus had to shift to scaling up patient care. My colleagues saw this as an opportunity and set up an online portal where healthcare professionals from Erasmus MC and other hospitals could receive further training and stay informed about the latest on treating patients with corona virus. A wonderful result! Another project I’m proud of started at one of the largest Dutch utility companies. I helped setting up the knowledge base that is completely structured in line with the 5 Moments of Need™ methodology. There is a lot of knowledge and information available that floats in the organization. We often hear that employees can’t find what they’re looking for, what they find is no longer current or it takes them too long to get access to it. Now, the new knowledge base allows operators to get access to information they need within two clicks or ten seconds. We worked on this project with a great team - completely online - very efficient!

“Xprtise does not put the technology first, but rather the methodology. That approach is distinctive!”

What do you think are the biggest challenges in L&D in the coming years?

I think soon there will be a "tsunami" of people who - whether or not of their own accord - are looking for other work. The pandemic has deeply affected entire industries, such as the travel industry, events industry, and catering industry to name a few. In other sectors there is an increase in employment: healthcare and welfare, the government, the postal and courier sector. Switchers must be retrained. Internal shifts will necessitate retraining and further training. I wonder whether L&D has sufficiently mapped out the consequences of this.

The education and training system as we know it up to now will no longer be that adequate. A new approach is needed. An approach that flexibly connects different learning solutions and platforms to improve performance. By looking at working and learning as an ecosystem, you can see how different needs for support arise at different times. Someone who has to be retrained from the hospitality industry or as an aviation stewardess to a care position in a nursing home already brings with them a number of relevant competencies, but probably also needs basic training in medical care (retraining). The returners to healthcare must be trained in new methods and use of equipment (retraining). In organizations where processes and procedures have radically changed as a result of the pandemic, an additional training course will be set up. Each time different learning needs of other target groups in a different context. That is exactly why L&D will have to look more broadly at work and learning solutions and above all: enable learning in the workplace. The need was already there, COVID-19 gives the final push.

Want to know more about Jo Buuts? Check his LinkedIn profile or send an email to: j.buuts@xprtise.com.