I don’t love my LMS anymore. Why am I still staying with it?

Dear Jonathan,

It’s over. The flame has quenched. After four years of struggle, fights, adjustments and arguments with my Learning Management System (LMS), it became clear. It’s time for something new. I’ve sent an invitation to Tender. Not Tinder, Tender. Come to think of it, I’m Tindering for learning platforms. There’s so many exciting systems out there! User-friendly design. Easy workflows. Social Learning. Necessities for sustainable employability. Features that motivate to learn. Some have been through a lot, they came out wiser. Others are new and have a fresh look on things. Things that I never thought possible.

But why is there a little voice in my head that keeps telling me ‘nevermind’. Why do I want to stay with my current LMS? It no longer works. Not for me, but also not for them – our employees. The possibilities are endless, but I’m frightened. What should I do?

I’ll look forward to your advice

Thanks,
An anonymous L&D Manager

Dear Jonathan,

It’s over. The flame has quenched. After four years of struggle, fights, adjustments and arguments with my Learning Management System (LMS), it became clear. It’s time for something new. I’ve sent an invitation to Tender. Not Tinder, Tender. Come to think of it, I’m Tindering for learning platforms. There’s so many exciting systems out there! User-friendly design. Easy workflows. Social Learning. Necessities for sustainable employability. Features that motivate to learn. Some have been through a lot, they came out wiser. Others are new and have a fresh look on things. Things that I never thought possible.

But why is there a little voice in my head that keeps telling me ‘nevermind’. Why do I want to stay with my current LMS? It no longer works. Not for me, but also not for them – our employees. The possibilities are endless, but I’m frightened. What should I do?

I’ll look forward to your advice

Thanks,
An anonymous L&D Manager

28

AUGUSTUS, 2017

L&D

Dealing with loss and changing direction is never easy. It’s been scientifically proven that us humans have trouble adjusting course. Our natural ability is to sail ahead, to ‘just power through it’. It’s a favourite subject for both psychologists and economists. They call it ‘The Sunk Cost Fallacy’.


Daniel Kahneman wrote about our brain’s natural imbalance loss and gain. Every decision you make confronts you with insecurities about the future. In order to deal with this, Kahneman says, our brain has developed a system. In this system you weigh a potential loss whenever you need to make a decision about the future. Your brain skews its perspective automagically. You probably know the system from a different context. Charles Darwin coined it centuries ago. Survival of the fittest – avoid risk to effectively procreate. Our brains have been programmed this way through millennia. Because of this, our brain skews the balance between gain and loss through pre-programmed behaviour – developed over the course of millennia. As humans, we have an aversion towards loss. This is the principal of the Sunk Cost Fallacy. As a subject of much research, I’ve highlighted two examples:

Example 1: The Pain of Paying

The ‘Pain of Paying’ is Dan Ariely’s primary example of the Sunk Cost Fallacy. It’s a pain felt when you have to give something of yourself up. The exact amount doesn’t matter.

To test this, he set out an experiment in the form of a stand. In this stand, passersby could by chocolate. A Hershey’s Kiss for a penny, or Lindt Truffles for fifteen cents each. The majority chose the Truffles. Considering the difference in quality and normal costs, it was easily the best deal. For those of us who do not recognise the delight of a Hershey’s kiss – think of the difference between a Twix and a boutique chocolate bar.

Humans have a natural aversion
towards loss.

Accordingly he created another stand in which he sold the same chocolates, but he reduced the price by one cent. The Kisses ended up free, the Truffles were now fourteen cents. Most people chose the Kisses and avoided the pain of paying – and a great deal.

If people would base their behaviour on mathematical logic, everybody would still be buying the Truffles. The difference in price was the same as before. But we aren’t wired that way. Your aversion towards loss comes creeping around a corner. It’s on ‘stand-by’ and tries to prevent you from giving up more than you can afford to lose. Ariely speculates that this is why we collect ‘free junk’ (hey, it was free, right?) and that this also causes us to be tempted by questionable offers whenever they include a free ‘toy’ or service. Whenever something is free, your aversion towards loss remains inactive. When it remains inactive, the scales of potential gain and loss are weighed in less detail than when a potential loss is considered.

Example 2: What’s gone is gone

In 1985, Hal Arkes and Catherine Blumer created an experiment in which asked demonstrated our prejudice towards sunk costs. They asked participants of the experiment to make an assumption: They’ve spent $100 on a ski trip. Shortly after they’d find out there was another, better ski trip available for $50. They bought a ticket for this too. Subsequently they found out the trips overlapped – meaning they could only go on one of the ski trips. More than half chose the $100 trip. It was less fun than the $50 trip, but the loss seemed greater. That’s the misconception of the Sunk Cost Fallacy – you won’t be getting the money back. No matter what. This causes you to not base your judgement on what the best future experience would be. It’s just about avoiding the worst and avoiding the feeling of loss in the past.

Perseverance or stubbornness?

Perseverance is a beautiful, human form of behaviour. Research has shown that kinds (and ‘simple’ animals such as bugs) aren’t susceptible for this misconception – and a misconception it is. Staying the course isn’t always the most noble or effective of solutions. Especially in the world we live in today – one of ever-accelerating change. As adults, we’ve been ‘blessed’ with self-reflection and regret. You can predict a future scenario in which your work was all for naught, your losses are permanent and you’ll need to accept the bitter truth – the truth that it will hurt. That causes problems.

Children only see immediate gain or loss. As humans we’ve been ‘blessed’ with
self-reflection and regret.

Break-up or stay? 7 tips to help you make the best choice for an LMS

You’ve realised you need an LMS or learning platform to become a real learning organisation. You’ve read this article up to here, which means you know that we’re only limited in our rationality as human beings. You haven’t given up on the idea that the future can be different than the past. That’s why I recommend the following:

 

  • Take a step back. If you would have to buy the same LMS system anew, would you? Why (not)?
  • If your LMS would spontaneously cease to exist, freeing you of your contract, would you still want the same system back? Why (not)?

  • Are you giving up other options because you’re stuck on sunk costs? For example, are you giving up the possibility to become a learning organisation by staying with your current LMS? What does it cost to not take a chance?

  • Could it be that the advantages have decreased, compared to your current costs?

  • Think back to when you first purchased your LMS. Did you have all the knowledge you needed? Could you claim, with the knowledge you’ve acquired since, that your current LMS does not fit the needs of your organisation?

  • If you were to observe another in the same situation, would you recommend him/her to give up on the sunk costs and make the leap to a new LMS? By not giving up on sunk costs, we often try to justify our own behaviour. When advising someone else it’s easier to negate this as we aren’t judging our own behaviour.

  • Would abandoning the sunk-cost ship be classed as a good decision? We’ve all made choices that didn’t work out, both in – and out – of work. Knowing when to quit is a sign of good decision making.

Dear anonymous L&D Manager,

Becoming a learning organisation is a lot of work. HR and L&D have no easy path ahead. To become a truly agile organisation, you need to organise learning in an agile way. An LMS or learning platform should support this to the very fabric of your organisation. It breaks down barriers to learning interventions, whilst your organisation maintains an overview on the expertise you’re building and costs you’re making. A bad LMS or learning platform leaves your employee’s learning wish in limbo. It won’t service your organisation where it needs it most. But you’ve already experienced that.

I hope this article and its tips help you to make the best choice. If you’re still having trouble figuring it out, just give me a shout. It’s my job to help learning companies develop.

All the best,
Jonathan from Springest

Dear anonymous L&D Manager,

Becoming a learning organisation is a lot of work. HR and L&D have no easy path ahead. To become a truly agile organisation, you need to organise learning in an agile way. An LMS or learning platform should support this to the very fabric of your organisation. It breaks down barriers to learning interventions, whilst your organisation maintains an overview on the expertise you’re building and costs you’re making. A bad LMS or learning platform leaves your employee’s learning wish in limbo. It won’t service your organisation where it needs it most. But you’ve already experienced that.

I hope this article and its tips help you to make the best choice. If you’re still having trouble figuring it out, just give me a shout. It’s my job to help learning companies develop.

All the best,
Jonathan from Springest

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