Stephania, Co-owner, ThinkingKap Learning SolutionsStephania, Co-owner
Have you ever heard an employee say, “I love spending the next three hours with my training instructor!” Of course not. Let’s face it; the word “training” rarely inspires joy. If your employees label your eLearning or instructor-led training (ILT) courses dull and lifeless, you’re not alone. After all, can you blame an employee for being unenthusiastic about seemingly endless, sleep-inducing training sessions? With companies resorting to outdated strategies, it can be tough to engage an audience. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Industry veteran Tim Buteyn has more than two decades of experience in the training and instructional design field and has spent more than ten years running ThinkingKap with his wife and co-owner, Stephania. The company is run with the mindset that training can be memorable, productive, and even fun! ThinkingKap focuses on corporate and client-based training and has been proven to consistently help clients identify opportunities to improve business processes. “I’ve worked with many diverse companies as a custom training provider and also led numerous corporate training departments. I’ve gained a lot from these experiences on both sides of the company-vendor relationship, and this helps me empathize with the clients’ needs and motivations,” says Tim, Founder and President of ThinkingKap.

With his passion for creating novel learning experiences, Tim founded ThinkingKap Learning Solutions in 2011 to help companies offer an array of cost-effective educational programs that deepen employee engagement. Tim believes that many organizations don’t deliver a training experience that genuinely elevates employee performance. Often, these companies either don’t invest in their training programs or spend their money unwisely on solutions that fall short. “Companies need to invest in their employees through their training programs,” says Tim. “We find that the best solutions are simple yet effective.” ThinkingKap produces success using in-depth knowledge of adult learning theory, instructional design process, instructional strategies, and training evaluation. ThinkingKap’s ability to create quality, engaging training experiences is evidenced by the prestigious industry recognitions received, including multiple Articulate Guru Awards.

Delivering User-Experience- Focused Global Training Programs

ThinkingKap’s team of accomplished training professionals, extensively experienced as both designers and developers, create a wide range of effective training programs designed to address diverse client needs. ThinkingKap develops content spanning topics within the technology, healthcare, finance industries, and more. Its client training materials are deliverable through multiple methods: self-paced eLearning, instructor-led training (either in-person or remote), and blended strategies featuring the best of both approaches. ThinkingKap works with a multitude of client types, from small businesses lacking an in-house training department to Fortune 500 clients looking for external experts to help carry the load. In short, ThinkingKap does it all.

I’ve worked with many diverse companies as a custom training provider and also led numerous corporate training departments. I’ve gained a lot from these experiences on both sides of the company-vendor relationship, and this helps me empathize with the clients’ needs and motivations

Through its unique design and development process, ThinkingKap serves as a mentor to businesses new to eLearning. According to Stephania, “Creating good training is both difficult, and is also a process with which most businesses are unfamiliar. We’re outstanding at coaching employees through the challenging process of creating eLearning for the first time.” One of the reasons ThinkingKap excels in this area is they start with the end in mind and have a proven, easy-to-follow process that guides all their projects.

For Fortune 500 companies that already have an established training department, ThinkingKap takes on a supplementary role. Sometimes extra help is needed to fill expertise gaps, like instructional designers or eLearning developers not on staff. Other times, even fully formed training departments need help tackling a surge in course demand. ThinkingKap serves as an extension of the team, taking on overflow coursework.

“We consistently foster a collaborative culture, one where everyone at both ThinkingKap and on the client’s team share a collective effort and accountability,” says Stephania. “Our clients frequently comment that they feel like we’re part of their team. They trust us with their budget, and know we’ll help them allocate it responsibly. They realize we’re all pulling in the same direction on a project, as opposed to the typical vendor-client relationship.”

Long before the global health crisis forced workspaces and in-person educational institutions to go virtual, ThinkingKap championed eLearning for enterprise organizations. “Many companies were thrust into using Zoom training out of necessity but that hasn’t necessarily made it effective. Just as kids in school have fallen behind from a year of poorly designed remote learning, the same thing is happening in corporate education,” says Tim. However, ThinkingKap believes that emergence from the pandemic will create opportunities for organizations to rethink their training approach. “Workforces are more distributed than ever,” asserts Tim, “and to some degree, that isn’t going away. Going forward, we need to shift our thinking from reacting to planning. Creating quality, sustainable remote solutions should be the focus.”

One way that ThinkingKap sees this happening is by moving past uninspired eLearning or monotonous Zoom lectures that lack a vital interactive element. For situations requiring live instructor intervention, merging the philosophies of ILT and eLearning is a start. However, we can also create solutions that blend methodologies and deliver material in various mediums – eLearning, webinars, self-paced assignments, videos, etc. When live instructors aren’t required, taking self-paced eLearning engagement to the next level is crucial. In addition to flexibility for learners, this is an opportunity to cut training delivery costs and time by using instructors strategically, only for topics that benefit from interfacing with others. The other core content can be delivered through various self-paced options.

Training Strategies with ROI and Saving Money in Mind

ThinkingKap’s lengthy success record can be attributed to its focus on both content as well as on how and when to provide training. “One of the most overlooked training audiences are new employees. While most companies provide some baseline content, or have new hires shadow a mentor, many don’t provide structured training,” according to Tim. “I’ve seen various sources that claim new employees are somewhere between 60-70% more likely to stay with their company for at least three years if they went through a structured onboarding program.”
Tim Buteyn, Founder & President
Following this logic, ThinkingKap has scripted several success stories highlighting its commitment to a high standard of excellence. In one such example, a Fortune 500 technology company client was losing millions per year in profit due to vaguely written project contracts. ThinkingKap trained their sales staff on exactly what needed to be included in a quality statement of work, utilizing real proposal examples and best practices. “One of the ways we created motivation for salespeople to follow the process, was by reinforcing the connection between profit margin and sales commissions. Describing the impact on both a personal and corporate level highlighted the need for a change in behavior,” according to Stephania. With these new tools, staff seized opportunities to build cognitive connections, rectify past issues, and differentiate high-quality proposals from substandard ones, significantly improving the client’s profit margin.
  • No matter how relevant the material is, you need to grab the learner’s attention, and create an enjoyable experience that’s grounded in solid education

Setting a Benchmark with Innovative Training Programs

ThinkingKap has recently focused on designing a new style of eLearning, aptly titled “Interactive Conversations.” Tim explains that a typical eLearning course can be a one-sided learning experience where training feels like a lecture. Effective learning experiences are formed when employees collaborate rather than passively observe. “We’ve developed a style of self-paced eLearning that creates the illusion of being involved in a dialogue with the instructor, or working directly with a live expert,” according to Tim.

This solution puts the learner at the center of the course, and these Interactive Conversations continually engage the learner by asking questions within the context of a dialogue, rather than the typical monologue found in most eLearning. Every learner-provided answer is acknowledged and acted on by the “instructor” in the course. “Think of those chat bots you find on some websites, how they ask questions and redirect you accordingly. Now imagine merging that concept with an eLearning course, except with a lot more personality,” says Tim. ThinkingKap employs several narrative styles, including conversational, funny, or conservative, depending on the client’s work culture. According to Tim, “We match the tone and approach of the course to the client’s organizational vibe to make it more engaging.”

While learners love the personality these courses bring and how they don’t feel like typical eLearning, the solution is grounded in solid educational principles. “Learners get caught up in the experience because it feels more dynamic and lifelike than typical eLearning. The course checks for understanding after challenging topics, and provides more details when requested. All learner responses are acknowledged, remembered, and can be used later to tailor the experience to each learner,” notes Tim. This unique approach has made ThinkingKap’s Interactive Conversations some of its most highly rated courses.

Like ThinkingKap’s Interactive Conversations, the company strives for all of their courses to create learning moments, drawing in learners and enhancing not only their retention but their ongoing performance as well. Tim says, “We believe that training needs to be learner-centric, and that learner engagement is a predictor of successful training. No matter how relevant the material is, you need to grab the learner’s attention, and create an enjoyable experience that’s grounded in solid education.” ThinkingKap’s remarkable track record proves this point.