Fostering an Environment for Learning

By October 30, 2019March 30th, 2021LTEN Focus On Training


Fostering an Environment for Learning

From The President – David Fortanbary

In order to learn what’s needed to succeed in today’s world, we must rely on more than just our training teams.

I don’t think many could argue that our environment is changing daily. Our knowledge and navigation through events and challenges such as mergers, acquisitions, new and ever-increasing access barriers, healthcare quality measures and many more complexities to get our messages and products to patients who need them are critical. Today, the skill of learning has become as essential as selling skills.

How then might we possibly know all that needs to be known about our customers, their business issues, a patient’s journey, our sales data, market access dynamics and various competitive products? The list goes on and on.

Cognitive overload is inevitable and trainer burn-out is almost certain if we place all this “one-way” responsibility on us as learning professionals. We will never have enough time, resources or capacity to teach all that our teams need to be taught to win in today’s volatile marketplace. The environment, competitive knowledge, business acumen and learning must always be greater than or equal to the rate of external change or one risks becoming irrelevant.

It seems ironic, that in order to learn what’s needed to succeed in today’s world, we must rely on more than just our training teams. The critical ingredient to learning at a rate that is equal to or greater than the rate of external change is the learner. And, the learner prefers this over being told when, where and how to learn the nuances of their job enabling them to stay ahead of change.

The trainers and educators of the future will be connectors. They will be change agents and catalysts of curiosity. They will find ways to facilitate a learning environment that motivates those around them to seek more knowledge and skills to compete in an uncertain world.

As life science trainers and education professionals, we are at a significant crossroad. We will always be relied upon to deliver the “what” (product knowledge, message impact, etc.). However, it is time that we take on a much larger role in our organizations to shape a learning mindset and culture that fosters an environment to learn. By doing so, we will show value to our business partners and do more for patients than we ever thought possible.

In this issue of LTEN Focus on Training magazine, we’re going to look at some out-of-the-box ideas for training people:

  • Guest Editor Kim Murphy of Takeda Pharmaceutical talks about failure as a learning tool.
  • Jon Murray describes AmerisourceBergen’s training transformation.
  • Analyst Josh Bersin shares information on creating an environment where learning flows naturally with work.
  • Other articles address needs analysis, managing change, handling pressure and connecting with learners. All important elements in preparedness.

There’s always an X factor of things we can’t control – that’s part of life – and innovation isn’t completely controllable. When’s the last time you put your team in a conference room and said, “No one leaves until we innovate?” It usually doesn’t work like that. The best we can do is create the mindset where we’re ready to recognize and seize opportunity.

David Fortanbary is president of LTEN and head of U.S. learning and development for UCB. Email David at


About LTEN

The Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network ( is the only global 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization specializing in meeting the needs of life sciences learning professionals. LTEN shares the knowledge of industry leaders, provides insight into new technologies, offers innovative solutions and communities of practice that grow careers and organizational capabilities. Founded in 1971, LTEN has grown to more than 3,200 individual members who work in pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and diagnostic companies, and industry partners who support the life sciences training departments.

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