Kaplan Performance Academy

Kaplan Performance Academy is a digital environment that hosts and coordinates learning, coaching, and assessments.

As far as we know, it’s unique. There are Learning Management Systems and digital platforms that do a great job of making digital learning available. There are solutions to link individuals to coaches. Others offer assessments and self-development tools. But none do all three. And none offer all the other features built into our platform.

However, we didn’t create Kaplan Performance Academy just to be different.

Anyone who works in Learning and Development has long been aware of three inconvenient truths:

  • Providing learning that takes root in the organization and leads to tangible results is rare. The vast majority of learning interventions fail to have the desired business impact. That’s not necessarily a criticism of the quality or the quantity of learning provided. The failings are usually more structural—the learning does not address a pressing and relevant need, the business changes direction, the new skills or knowledge isn’t received well by the existing culture and practices, and so on.
  • Engaging managers in supporting their team’s learning is not always easy. It’s frustrating but understandable; most managers have seen their roles expand, so supporting training often gets crowded out.
  • Controlling and keeping track of costs is almost impossible. In many businesses, training is commissioned by various units with little oversight from the center. The scope for duplication and inconsistency is obvious. Suppliers tell of working for two parts of the same business and charging them different rates.

In recent weeks, a fourth uncomfortable fact has been revealed: delivering learning exclusively in face-to-face workshops is becoming logistically, commercially, and, possibly culturally, unsustainable.

Our aim for creating Kaplan Performance Academy was simple. We wanted to solve the question: how can we give our clients the tools they need to meet these challenges?

We started by doing some thinking. Over the past few weeks, colleagues from Kaplan and people with whom we have close working relationships, such as Dr. Jim Kirkpatrick and Leigh-Anne Moore, have posted a series of articles and blogs that together make up the point of view that Kaplan Performance Academy embodies.

Designing a Performance Academy

How could we make coaching available to more people? We all know the impact coaches can have by working with individuals. As Mira Raley, Andrea Zimmerman, Dave Bowman, and Ingle Dawson describe, one-to-one coaching is often the difference between learning being applied in the workplace or left in the classroom. By working with a coach, the individual becomes a “learner,” as they are given the time and space to reflect and consolidate what they have learned. Its value to the individual and the organization is evident.

But coaching is expensive and often limited to senior leaders and top talent. As Andy Perkins writes, we need to make coaching available to more people. But we have to make this commercially viable for our client organizations. And, as Andrea Spears makes clear, the coaches we provide must reflect and leverage the diversity within our organizations.

How could we align the learning process to the organization’s commercial or public service strategy? “Learning” is often seen as something separate—a valuable resource or a way of supporting the organization—but still separate from it. While many talk about creating “learning organizations,” the reality rarely matches their ambition.

We think that needs to change. It starts with having clarity about the organization’s strategic goals, and, as Matt Flynn reminds us, that’s always about how the organization (commercial or public service) meets customer or public needs.

However, while organizations are good at setting out their strategy in key documents, they are often less adept at communicating what that means for everyone in the business—how it should inform the day-to-day decisions they make, their actions, and behaviors.

This is where situational judgment assessments can be so valuable, as Sarah Cordwell describes. When these assessments are wholly contextualized to the organization’s day-to-day activities, they are a powerful means of translating the strategy into the skills, knowledge, and behaviors required.

As Dr. Tim Smaby details, the data they reveal allows the organization to target training at those who need it most, in the areas they most need it. And, best of all, to do so through the lens of the organization’s strategic and commercial objectives.

This only works as part of what Jono Endean refers to as a “systemic” approach: the ability to combine and choreograph the different elements of the learning—coaching, learning experiences, application, and assessment—and, as Jo Lee reminds us, remaining mindful of the critical role managers can play in supporting learning initiatives.

Only then can organizations harness the power of learning to shape culture and drive change, as Nuz Saeed and Tony Robertson have described.

Recent events have only served to highlight the need for organizations to reaffirm their purpose and values, as Dr. Andy Temte emphasizes in his blog on leadership.

How could we use assessments more effectively? We learned from Danielle Chircop, Anna Topczewski, and Robert Millard that assessment is part of learning and vice versa: we need to set goals and track our progress. But these must speak to the context in which the individual operates, as Dr. Simon Taylor’s blog on psychometric testing argues. Context, as Mohit Malhotra and Binod Shanker point out, has important cultural and regional dimensions we need to be aware of, too.

But, ultimately, we arrived at the need for learning to turn from development to performance. One of our close partners, Dr. Jim Kirkpatrick whose Kirkpatrick method is globally recognized, makes this case forcibly. The case that corporate training must move from learning to development to performance is undeniable.

Effective and Efficient Use of Resources

While we recognized the power in assembling these various elements, we needed to ensure that, as Joyce Schnur and Don Vanpool urged, we made it as efficient as possible. They described how we needed to provide the operational data and tools that allowed organizations to track progress, actively manage their training costs, and be able to assess the return on investment.

Kaplan Performance Academy

So, we created Kaplan Performance Academy. Andy Perkins recently appeared on a recent podcast telling the extraordinary story of its genesis and development. Our Performance Academy provides all the tools to create and choreograph learning and development programs to meet specific business needs at scale and at pace.

  • Learning content in a variety of modalities—videos, animations, job aids, articles, podcasts, and so on—designed for the professional development market.
  • Coaching—a global network of accredited coaches and subject matter experts available to support individuals in their personal and professional development. 
  • Assessment—“Kaplan Insight” is a unique confidence/competence developmental tool. It is our 180 Performance Tracker that ensures managers are engaged in supporting the learning, as well as a selection of third-party psychometrics and self-assessments.

Each learner has access to a suite of powerful self-assessment tools and learning tailored to their needs including practical, on-the-job assignments and one-to-one access to a coach. Available on any device, our Performance Academy offers learning resources to busy professionals where they need them, when they need them.

And the cost?

Our platform makes your investment transparent. A management dashboard features real-time data on each learner’s progress against the organization’s goals, the take-up of learning, and, most importantly, the running costs.

The perennial question about how to assess the return on investment in training has never been so easy to answer.

Kaplan Performance Academy: Make Learning Work.


Ready to see how you can meet your organization’s learning and development needs? Learn more about the unique digital learning environment of Kaplan Performance Academy.