How Entrepreneurs Can Implement L&D as Part of a Business Strategy

James Manning
3 min readMar 30, 2021


This is a five-part series look at how entrepreneurs can use the ADDIE Instructional Design model along with Design Thinking to implement a learning strategy to increase employee satisfaction and produce a competitive advantage.

Part 1 of 5: Analyze and Perspective

The first step in the ADDIE model is to analyze the training needs. Typically, you want to look for knowledge gaps by asking a series of questions to get an understanding of the current situation. You want to discover the goal of training; the desired behavioral changes; will training help? Often, conversations with SME’s determine the outcomes in terms of knowledge, skills, attitudes, etc. This methodology works well when it comes to designing learning for procedures and processes.

However, it is not a human-centered approach to designing a training program. You may have a learner profile (education, experience, interest, cultural background, etc.) you don’t have the learner’s perspective. This is where Design Thinking comes into play. The first step in Design Thinking is Empathizing. Many don’t like the word because it feels mushy and soft, so let’s use perspective instead.

In gaining the perspective of your employee, you are not going to ask any questions. You are going to observe them. You are not dictating to the employee the learning objectives; you’re observing them understand how it is that they do their job and if there are gaps.

Are your employees doing things that could constitute a learning opportunity? Your customers are talking about a new process, technology that isn’t a part of the service you provide. That is a learning opportunity. Are there things happening in industries analogous to yours that could provide inspiration for your staff? (

There is a good chance in the interview process you asked the question, “where do you see yourself in five years?” Use the answer to that question in developing a learning strategy for your employer. LinkedIn did a study and found that 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. And if you found a great employee, you want to retain them. Career development is part of the key to higher retention rates.

Plus, you want to consider the cost of replacing an employee. It cost upwards of 30% of the job salary to replace an employee ($12,000 for a $40,000 salary) and $2000 on average for training. According to HR Magazine, companies that invest $1,500 on training per employee can see an average of 24% more profit than companies who invest less. (

There is a process for conducting a training needs analysis and gaining a perspective from the employee takes some time. But we see right away, training can provide some immediate benefit with retention and employee development. As an entrepreneur, there is a good chance you used design thinking to develop your products and services; a learning strategy now provides an opportunity to develop your employees.




James Manning

I’m a Learning & Development professional who loves to write about learning, the future of work… and wine.