Skip to main content


Delivering high-impact learning to you

By Learning, Talent

Key take-aways:

Learning in the job delivers high impact
Filter out the noise of content overload
The right learning to you at the right time

High touch, high impact

You’re really interested in (organizational) capabilities, not skills. Capabilities are repeatable and keep getting better. They require the orchestration of skills and management systems: feedback loops, KPIs, and incentives. L&D doesn’t create these strategies or their supporting systems, but you need to, if you want to deliver on strategies your organization to win. Well-designed learning flows, instead of yet another online learning platform can solve your learning, engagement and in the end performance issues.

The classical learning can no longer meet the requirements of today. New forms of learning, a combination of different forms of learning, spatial and temporal flexibility and the integration of learning into the work process are becoming increasingly important.

The learning and performance architecture that enables successful and future-oriented learning and working is lacking. An architecture that supports formal and informal learning, offering employees the opportunity to build up a knowledge (just in case) and on the other situational (Just for me) in the context of work, so at the right time (just in time) at the right place (Just in place) to learn or to look up just enough knowledge to the extent and depth needed to achieve the desired performance.

We tapped deep into the decades of science on how people learn, change, and grow most effectively.  These insights are collected into the 7 blocks of HILL, High Impact Learning that Lasts by Philip Dochy.

ACTION & SHARING – The more we are active, the more impact

COLLABORATION & COACHING – Interaction in small teams, with peers and coaches is key

HYBRID LEARNING – Optimal mix of online and face-to-face

MIX MODES – Mix formal and informal learning, organize spontaneous learning

INNOVATOR AGENCY – Make your own choices

INSTANT NEED – Intrinsic Motivation

ASSESSMENT AS LEARNING – Measure as part of learning

But what is the problem with today’s learning? And why do traditional platforms not work and why lean learning does.

Don’t waste your time

Move from confusion and chaos to understanding


Too much, too long, too alone

Traditionally, the tendency in formal education is to throw as much information at a learner as possible. This kind of teaching is wildly inefficient and doesn’t set learners up to learn well through experience or exposure. Did you know online courses (MOOCs) completion rates hover around 4%!  Spending weeks or months on in-depth courses and modules that take staff out of their work, provide too much, too soon, and end up quickly forgotten.


A simple intelligent approach

The demands on our attention are incessant, and we’ve become programmed to do several things at once? The solution to the attention crisis for learning isn’t just about length—and shorter is not always better.  With content intelligence and coach-led program, you can enable everyone to enjoy high-impact learning.

To cut through the noise, we need programs that are learner-centered. We focus on the learner’s experience first and foremost and create programs that will be hugely beneficial to the learner and the company.  When courses are delivered in an experiential coaching style success rates significantly go up to over 80% compared to self-paced.

Rapid creation

Just in case learning


Time spent upfront planning and delivering

All that effort that goes into planning upfront, trying to cover all bases, and delivering over-engineered programs… all because training is disruptive and only happens occasionally.


Waste of time

Too much time spent, on content that is outdated already.


Time spent iterating and learning

When workers need a specific resource you shoot a quick video with your phone, upload it, and you’re done. Alternatively, team leaders can shoot it themselves. You measure the results and iterate.


Agile L&D that learns with the organisation

As content is so easy to create you can iterate and evolve your learning resources just like a digital product. Stay agile, respond to employee needs when they arise, and don’t get left behind, tied down by an archaic LMS while the rest of the organisation evolves.

Higher performance

Superior ROI


Engagement is a metric of success

Course completion is the main criteria to success for learning platforms. We sit down and assess participants so they can learn & implement the learnings in their projects. Traditional L&D focuses on learning “engagement” despite the fact workers find it hard to remember and apply their training weeks or months after the fact. Workers end up improvising or relying on peers or managers. This causes disruption and requires staff to constantly answer the same questions.


Business performance is a metric of success

Lean learning brings L&D into the 21st century. By using simple resources that address employee problems at the time of need. Lean learning is an integrated part of the workforce — not a standalone cost centre.

Lean Learning can be uncomfortable: it requires self-awareness, honesty, and taking responsibility. But it leads to dramatic results for both the self and the organization. By questioning our assumptions, we’re better able to understand the frame in which we think, how our own decision-making unfolds, and how our thinking can block real learning. In doing so, we can uncover learning that can reshape how we work and, in turn, how our organization works.

Don’t take our opinion for it

these key points come from Harvard Business Review

  • Think 80/20
    Focus on the 20% of situations that show up 80% of the time. Then apply what you learn in actual situations as frequently as needed.
  • Apply to real-world situations
    Just learning about a specific innovation methodology is not the goal.  Real learning is applying what you have learned in real-world projects so that learn in real-time, shorten the feedback loop, deliver business outcomes, and encourage “aha” moments.
  • Leverage guided learning
    Guided learning embeds continuous learning into a live application. Think screen pop-ups as-you-go that support rapid, context-sensitive, and personalized learning.
  • Personalize content
    By using today’s latest technologies, training can be personalized so that it adapts to the employee’s needs with content and tools tailored to every single employee’s needs, learning style, and delivery method.
  • Ongoing support
    Providing employees with further support after a learning session via a combination of messaging, video chatbots, project management, and video call to ensure that they can apply learning to specific challenges.
  • Activate peer learning
    When your employees want to learn a new skill, they typically don’t Google it or refer to your learning management system (LMS) first; 55% of them ask a colleague. When you account for the fact that humans tend to learn as they teach, peer learning offers a way to support rapid, just-in-time learning, while strengthening the existing understanding your employees have about concepts.
  • Offer micro-courses
    Give employees short, bite-sized learning opportunities, on topics of relevance to an employee’s immediate challenges or opportunities.
  • Moving From Credits to Outcomes
    Lean learning ensures that employees not only learn the right thing, at the right time, and for the right reasons, but also that they retain what they learn.


We have developed this approach based on our own experience and decades of research collected in reports from Deloitte / Columbia University – HR trends, McKinsey Research  – Seven essential elements of a lifelong-learning mind-set, 4CID complex learning model by Kirschner, HILL (high Impact Learning that Lasts Model) and here. Inspired by the vast work of Josh Bersin.

How Advancing Their Lean Startup Practice Helps Intrapreneurs Break Through Organizational Roadblocks

By Collaboration, Culture, Lean Startup, Talent No Comments

Starting an innovation project is exciting.
Finally… work that could have a real, tangible, positive impact not only for your company, but for your customers (and let’s be honest – for your career prospects) as well.

And then? It happens. Progress begins to slow down and you’re not sure why. Your landing page test failed. Sales won’t let you do discovery with current customers, and all your big ideas seem to be getting eaten alive by silos, policies, and systems built to support the successes of the past – not the future.

That’s why the Advanced Lean Startup workshop exists. Developed by Tristan Kromer (Kromatic) and hosted by Rob Aalders from Startup Spirit, it’s designed to show you how to effectively break through roadblocks and manage your project’s needs, goals and priorities in a large organisation.

We sat down with Rob to find out what obstacles innovators often face, how to know what you’re doing right (and wrong), and what innovation managers need to be doing in order to move their teams in the right direction; and, of course, how the workshop helps with all of it.

First things first – who is this workshop for? Who will get the most out of it?
The Advanced Lean Startup workshop is meant for those who have, at least, been through one cycle, one lean startup process or innovation process. This is because the workshop focuses on experience and the practice of innovation – not on theory, what comes from the books and talks and all that. We want people who have been in the trenches and have experienced the innovation process, and some of the organisational and process obstacles that come along with it.

We also have a learning platform with carefully curated content for people to access before they get to the workshop. It ensures they have a good basic knowledge when they enter the workshop – so we don’t end up discussing what a pivot is, for example. We skip all of that and go right into the real hard work.

When you’re doing a lean startup process, there are times where things aren’t going well, and you wonder: is the method not working, or am I doing it wrong, or is this just not going to work?
Often, these people have been questioning themselves about their speed: am I moving fast enough? How much time should this experiment take, and is the time it took for me right? Am I spending too much time on this, or not enough? They also question their experimentation and velocity: am I doing enough experiments? The outcome metric of the experiment itself… is it right?

But in this workshop, we begin with the questions themselves.

“Am I asking the right questions? Are we talking about the right assumptions? The assumptions that we have, are they prioritised in the right way? Are we focused on the right things?”

So your assumptions, and the experiments you run based on those assumptions, are a key starting point for team members as well as for innovation managers.

Some other things that are very important, and that people really love to talk about, is how to find the right tactics to work around obstacles in their organisation. When you’re running an innovation project you’re not in a cocoon; you’re part of the traditional corporate ecosystem, and you have to work with colleagues in other departments who are functioning more traditionally in their day-to-day. This can, and often does, result in conflicts and obstacles that can hamper your experimentation.

So finding tactics to work around these obstacles, or better yet solve them, is a large part of the Advanced Lean Startup workshop.

It can be hard to understand why, when an experiment was good in the sense that you did it correctly, it didn’t lead to a desired outcome. How do you know what went wrong?
It’s a tough question to answer and that’s one of the things we try to teach, because every experiment and every industry is, of course, different. That’s why people can bring their own project into the workshop, so that we can look and evaluate what they’ve put in there.

But there is a framework, or things that you could learn, that signal you that your experiment is wrong, or your validation is wrong, or your metrics are all wrong.

And of course some common issues come up, like validating your idea based on one, two, or three interviews, which is, in virtually all cases, very weird. I mean the only case where that might work is in a market that is very very small: let’s say we’re a nuclear plant builder and we need these specific nuclear machines. There’s only maybe two or three companies in the world building that, very few clients. For most markets there’s a whole bunch of clients, so validating based on a handful of interviews is not sufficient.

You’ve got the experiment itself, but you also have to consider the sequence of experiments and selecting the assumptions you are testing upfront. It’s a matter of prioritising correctly.

You need to know: what is the impact of this assumption on my business? How big is that impact? But you should also ask: how complex, or how complicated, is the experiment itself? How much time and resources do I need to run this experiment? Because you also want to keep things simple.

And then from there, and this is where the two-by-two framework comes in, you need to figure out what you’re testing. Are we focusing on the product? Are we testing the market? And then you must decide if you’re running a generative experiment, which gives you more qualitative data, or an evaluative experiment where you get more hard data. So you need to be very aware of what experiment fits into what box. This is all basic stuff that you can teach but,of course, practice is always different.

What about innovation managers? Are the obstacles they face different from, say, the obstacles their team faces? How would this workshop help them?
We tend to see innovation managers in two roles: the innovation manager, and the innovation lead coach.

The innovation lead coach often works very closely with teams, and they also use this workshop as a Train The Trainer. If you want to teach people lean startup it’s helpful if you have wider, deeper knowledge beyond just things you’re currently working and focusing on, and more advanced skills and knowledge in your pocket. It makes you a better trainer and you’ll be able to get your own people to a higher level. So innovation managers who want to train their teams, to make their innovators coaches within their organisations, use this workshop to train them and help grow the innovation crowd within their business.

The innovation manager is more concerned with the kinds of things I mentioned earlier: is our speed right? Are the experiments right? When you’re a manager, people come to you and ask: we’re running this experiment, is this is okay? Do you have any feedback? Can you help me out here? So for them, it’s beneficial to have not just some experience but also knowledge, frameworks, toolboxes to draw from so they’re capable of evaluating experiments as well. When you’re growing the number of experiments and growing the number of innovation initiatives, things get much more complicated. You need to find ways to measure and track the experiments that you are running, and to help teams evaluate if they’re doing it right, if they’re doing the right stuff. The frameworks, knowledge and experience Tristan brings to the workshop is very helpful here.

The first day and the morning of the second day of the workshop we really dig into the tools, methods, and tactics of running the innovation project itself. On the second day, in the afternoon, we discuss what Tristan calls ecosystem design: how to operate as an innovator in your organisation and how to overcome obstacles in that process. I see this as a key role for innovation managers, to remove organisational obstacles or find ways around them. The innovation manager should be able to find the right people and get the right decisions to help their teams work better and faster. In ecosystem design, we draw up a picture of the organisation and identify who the decision makers are in your organisations, and also the different types of decision makers you might need. We add to that some tactics, all based on wide experience, for overcoming obstacles in a positive way. Managers tend to find this very helpful.

So why go through a workshop like this, as opposed to reading a book or watching some talks and then just going for it?
That’s exactly what our participants have figured out; at some point, books and talks are not enough. What we see and hear back from a lot of people is that they realised there is so much more to learn. Everyone comes in open, with a lot of questions about stuff they’re doing – even people from organisations that we regard as leaders in innovation. Their innovators have brought issues to the team table and actually found out that, okay, everyone here thinks we’re doing Lean Startup, and some of us are, but there’s a whole bunch of us that are doing it wrong, or at least could be doing it much, much better than we are.

I often compare it to learning to play football. We can go out on the street. You can kick the ball and we can say: ok, you can kick the ball so you can play soccer. Technically, sure.

“But then why do people go to football training every week, or twice a week? Or to play professionally, even more than that? Because playing football is about much more than just knowing how to kick a ball.”

This is also true for innovation. You have to practice. You have to build your skills. You have to learn, always be learning. This is what happens in the advanced workshop. From the feedback, people say they’ve really learned a lot and that they can really improve the way they work in their teams, or train their teams way better. It really adds to what they’re already doing.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m very much in favour of learning on the job, of doing practical stuff and learning from it right there.

“But it’s also true that if you’re working in a corporate, you can get a bit of tunnel vision whether you want to or mean to or not.”

A workshop like this one opens your mind. You get to review and reflect on what you do. You see all the different types of tools, you’ve got the frameworks. You start working with things you’ve never worked with before, in ways you’ve never worked before. Gradually you become better and better at innovation.

I like to compare innovation sometimes with marketing. In the 70s it was totally new and people couldn’t explain exactly what it was. And today, it’s just a normal function in the organisation.

Could you imagine a company without a marketing department? And this is also where innovation is heading. And this, this learning, this practice, is part of the process.

Interview with Rob Aalders
Founder/CEO of Startup Spirit & Lean Startup Workshop
This blog was originally posted on and written by Tracy Bradley

Dutch agency Startup Spirit closes partnership deal with French innovation giant

By Learning, Talent No Comments

The Dutch agency Startup Spirit has closed a partnership deal with French innovation and startup giant NUMA. Startup Spirit will develop an Advanced Lean Startup Training together with innovation expert Tristan Kromer. Startup Spirit is an agency that focuses on developing innovation projects within corporate and startup organisations. It offers training programs and workshops, organises events and offers a global network of innovation and startup experts to corporates. Startup Spirit is based in Heerlen, in the South of The Netherlands, nearby German cities Aachen, Cologne and Düsseldorf and the Belgian capital Brussels.


NUMA is a leading global organisation when it comes to stimulating innovation within corporates and championing startup culture. NUMA offers workshops and training programs, supports startups in developing businesses and creates programs that lead to new products and businesses. Amongst NUMA’s clients are large companies such as General Electric, Pernod Ricard, World Bank Group and Total. The company has French roots but is now situated in 8 locations across 4 continents.


This is not the first collaboration between Startup Spirit and NUMA. Last year both companies successfully came together for the organisation of an Advanced Lean Startup workshop. “We are very proud of this partnership with NUMA”, says Startup Spirit founder Rob Aalders. “NUMA is a big international player with locations in Paris, Barcelona, Moscow and Bangalore. They have an impressive track record in the world of innovation and startup culture. We will now work with NUMA for the second time on this Advanced Lean Startup training, which feels like the ultimate recognition for Startup Spirit and everything we stand for.”


The Advanced Lean Startup Training will take place on October 11 and 12, in Paris, France. The training gives corporate organisations the chance to learn how to integrate the lean startup philosophy into their daily business. Focus lies in creating lasting value from working with the lean startup method and fortifying the impact of innovation within the company. Tristan Kromer will lead the training. He is a very experienced Silicon Valley ‘veteran’, with a long and successful track-record helping companies innovate their businesses and products. Kromer has worked for clients like Disney, Fujitsu, Stanford Business School and


Find more info on NUMA here.


How relevant is talent for innovation?

By Culture, Talent No Comments

How relevant is talent for innovation?
Today, every organisation is working on innovation. There are tons of blogs, books and articles out there. There are labs, training programs and accelerators, but life isn’t getting easier for corporate innovators. Not so much, or in fact, very little attention is paid to innovation talent.

From our everyday practice, we get the clear impression that it is hard for companies to find the right people and it is also difficult to retain talent. Frequently we hear innovators being dissatisfied within their roles and with the corporate landscape. A Capgemini study found that getting the right people is actually a key constraint to innovation success.

What’s remarkable is that while working with startups, we see that the one thing that always stands out the most to investors is the team, whereas in corporate innovation there is a lot of talk about organisation, methods, processes and management.

We all know that in corporate innovation a great team will also make a difference, and that many projects are slowed down or killed by teams not performing well. As Eric Ries himself puts it,  a startup is ‘a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty’.

As a former intrapeneur and coach to intrapreneurs, I am convinced that the motivation and passion of innovators is the key success factor. They need to have a ‘Founder’s Mentality’ (Bain & company). Founders are the ones operating under conditions of extreme uncertainty, fighting the battles, and pushing forward on a daily basis. Talent are the special forces in your organisation, and special forces need to be trained – continuously. They can only succeed in their tasks when the team members are motivated and fit.

What can you do about it? One way is to equip talented innovators with the right skill-set and mindset and to connect them with peers so they can share their challenges and frustrations. Learning is among the largest drivers of employee engagement and strong workplace culture, and not merely a way to build skills.

A new type of employee learning is emerging that is more “consumerlike” and that brings together design thinking, content curation and an integrated model offering an end-to-end designed learning experience (Deloitte, Global Human Capital Report). This is exactly what we are developing for innovators.

We call it ONTREK. Trekking is a journey undertaken in areas where there are usually no means of transport available, usually on uncharted paths, in challenging environments. It’s just like innovating and you can be part of this adventure. Contact us and ask for ONTREK.