How ‘Risk’ Focussed Microlearning Puts a Business on a High Growth Trajectory


Business Risks- both external and internal- must be identified, prioritized and acted-upon to create a strong enterprise. Among the internal risk, it is critical to find out risks that arise due to what people do or don’t do, and to mitigate them! We can call them knowledge gap risks i.e. gaps in the knowledge, skill and capabilities at an employee-level.

Risk-specific training holds the key to mitigating these risks besides making a business strong and sustainable!

Let’s understand how to create synergies between the concept of risk mitigation and microlearning.

What are Knowledge Gap Risks?

A host of risks emerge out of how people across levels think, analyse, interpret, decide or act while at work. They turn into knowledge gap risks that can bleed a business badly!

Even a small critical knowledge gap left unattended can be disastrous in the long-run. For instance, a great product or service in the absence of a smooth customer service or an adequate support service can be a massive risk if left unattended!

These knowledge gap risks are best avoided by integrating microlearning into your overall training plan across your business, departments, functions and/or processes.

How Microlearning Obliterates Potential Knowledge Gap Risks

Microlearning revolves around the learner, and the specific learning needs/goals of the learner.

Risk focused microlearning approach is built on the premise that a ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ just doesn’t work! This is why microlearning is meant to be tailor-made to individual goals and learning-curve. This feature helps eliminate knowledge gap risks!

An example of an IT service firm is given below to explain this

ABC IT firm came across two knowledge gaps (operational risks) with their team members. These were:

  1. team members could not deliver within the project timelines resulting in delays, loss of focus and increased chances of software glitches post-delivery, and

  2.  client feedback revealed that the team members were hard to communicate with, and were not client-friendly.

The root cause of these issues-

(1) knowledge gaps on technical skills, and

(2) lack of communication or client-management skills.

The microlearning initiative required:

  •  finding and filling each learner’s knowledge-gaps that result in project delays.
  • communication skills were enhanced using videos, podcasts, quizzes, games etc. in microlearning snippets.

An on-going microlearning initiative was implemented. With a spaced repetition algorithm and retrieval practice (tests, quizzes) built-in within the microlearning platform, astounding results were achieved.

The outcome

  • Within 2 months of launch, the project delays decreased by 95%, and customer satisfaction scores shot-up significantly.
  • Each learner continued to get measured and monitored (tests, quizzes, gamification scores etc.) for each one’s specific learning needs using a robust microlearning platform. It became an on-going microlearning program!
  • After 6 months, both the operational risks were contained and eliminated completely.
  • Overall business increased, and the business’ valuation grew by over 30% within 1 year.

Why Microlearning Works in Eliminating Knowledge Gap Risks?

Unlike conventional training, microlearning gives bite-sized chunks of content to your workforce across levels. It’s quick, and doesn’t eat into too much of their productive time.

With microlearning you get to sharpen the analytical, logical, creative, qualitative and quantitative knowledge and skills of your learners across levels. It works to build both operational, functional and/or strategic skills.

Microlearning effectively puts the kaizen approach to practice by continually improving and building your workforce’s skills, knowledge and competence.

Microlearning is based on proven psychological and learning theories and best practices that keeps the brains of your workforce refreshed by continually building strong memory.

It uses concepts like spaced repetition and retrieval practice to enable your workforce upgrade from basic level of competencies to higher levels of mastery over one’s work-related tasks.

Your people transition from basic to higher levels of learning as follows:

Awareness (basic) → Explanatory → Practitioner → Mastery (highest)

Microlearning acts upon the forgetfulness factor of the human mind (Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve). So, most of the operational and strategic risks are avoided when your workforce is continually exposed to knowledge inputs to keep them on top of their game.

Microlearning: Necessarily An On-Going Effort

Microlearning must NOT be looked upon as a one-time treatment. It has to be an integral part of your overall training initiative.

Microlearning is just like drip-irrigation where the people are nourished continuously, and in short chunks of information with content that’s relevant, important and helpful. It builds greater competence in your workforce on an on-going basis.

Higher the competence, lesser is the risk or uncertainty!

Types of Risks and Their Relevance to Microlearning

A risk is the likelihood of something happening that has an adverse consequence. Risks are a part of all the functions viz. finance, marketing, manufacturing/production, customer service operations, logistics & supply chain, IT, business strategy and so on.

You name it, and there could be a risk (small or big) across levels in all the industries or domains.

Risks are measured in terms of the intensity or severity of consequences and the likelihood of their happening.

So, based on its impact and likelihood, a risk could range from a very tiny issue to very big catastrophe e.g. a simple customer service interaction gone bad, OR a event causing a business to shut down.

Risk professionals use a ‘heat map’ to prioritize the impact and likelihood of a risk on a business as shown below.


Risk items are listed and plotted on this 25-blocker grid

  • Extremely low risk items have the least impact and low likelihood of occurrence.
  • Extremely high risk items can have catastrophic impact, and are dangerous if the likelihood is extremely high.

How Does the Heat Map fit into Microlearning?

Trainers can very effectively use this heat map concept to list and map the knowledge gap risks. This helps you in viewing training needs with a risk-perspective. This further enables you in creating a vibrant learning organisation, with a workforces high on its core competencies.

Using the heat map concept, a risk assessment exercise can be done in 3 steps:

Step 1: List down and measure all that can possibly go wrong on people-related front- knowledge, skills and capabilities.

Step 2: Once the risk prioritization matrix is developed, an appropriate microlearning initiative can be rolled-out to mitigate these risks.

Step 3: Post-launch, measure and monitor the knowledge gap risks on a regular basis.

This is how you keep revisiting the microlearning initiative. Repeat the knowledge gap risk assessment periodically. Adjust, adapt and implement accordingly.

Stages of Strategic Risk Management and Microlearning

Given below is a risk related construct where microlearning fits very well.


This 5-step Risk Management Process construct talks about taking action and monitoring/reassessing the entire range of potential risks identified and listed priority-wise.

This action, and monitoring bit needs to be done on the range of knowledge gap risks identified using microlearning.

This way, microlearning enables an organisation’s governance, risk and compliance strategy!

Why does Microlearning Become So Relevant?

To err is human…and to prevent them from erring, you have microlearning!

People forget things all the time. At work, they fail to adhere to protocols/procedures, skip process steps, take wrong decisions, behave badly at times, act without confidence, procrastinate etc.

All these acts of omission, errors, lapses, wrong decisions etc. pose a risk.

Microlearning becomes relevant because it plugs the knowledge gaps at an individual level.

Microlearning mitigates a host of business as well as knowledge gap risks by augmenting, reinforcing, supplementing and remediating your training efforts.

Done right, microlearning initiatives can successfully target risk categories such as Compliance (or mandatory requirement) risks, Financial risks, Operational risks, Hazard (or pure) risks, Strategic risks, Control (or uncertainty) risks, Opportunity (or speculative) risks or Reputational risks.

Benefits of microlearning for containing Knowledge Gap Risks

To deal with knowledge gaps risks, you need a microlearning approach/strategy supported by a robust platform.

Microlearning by nature is very diagnostic, corrective, enabling and empowering. This helps mitigate risks!

A good microlearning platform are backed by strong built-in algorithms. These help you measure and quantify learners’ learning progress/transition from Awareness to Explanatory to Practitioner to Mastery.

The Benefits-

  1. Training ROI becomes healthy and sustainable with a good microlearning platform. Enabled by robust algorithms, it helps you measure learners’ proficiency and learning curve.
  2. With microlearning algorithms, you get to counter the risk of ‘forgetting’, the risk of offering ‘irrelevant’ learning content, the risk of content being ‘too easy or heavy’, and the risk of the content being ‘boring’.
  3. Risks are contained better when training becomes relevant, personalised and adaptive. This can be done by training your learner based on one’s department, date of joining, and job-profile.
  4. Risks are dealt with a sniper-like approach when goal-specific training becomes possible with microlearning with focus on individual learning needs.
  5. Microlearning monitors every employee’s proficiency levels, and this dynamic monitoring and measurement makes the learning process responsive to emerging and changing knowledge gap risks at an employee-level.
  6. Knowledge gap risks go down when your workforce becomes resilient, driver of change, innovation, disruption, and demonstrate higher core-competencies.
  7. Your workforce is better equipped to changes in external, internal and risk environments making them resilient, proactive and responsive to averting operational and/or strategic risks.
  8. Your learners are better prepared to  ‘prevent, protect and prepare’ things/events when required.
  9. With constant eye on gaining mastery over what’s learned, your workforce get well-prepared to ‘respond, recover and review’ disruptive events confidently.
  10. Microlearning sharpens their ability to think, solve, build, review, adapt and act
  11. Microlearning makes the workforce ready for a host of challenges by creating a simulated environment where employee turns into a player who likes to win. Elements like questions/quizzes, scores, badges, leaderboards, gamification etc. strengthens their learning progress.
  12. Microlearning initiative turns your organisation into a learning organisation with well-equipped and knowledgeable workforce- a strategic competitive advantage that’s valuable, non-substitutable and rare!

Risk Assessment Approaches to Implement Effective Microlearning Initiatives

People-specific risks due to knowledge gaps can be assessed using simple methodologies such as-

  1. Heat map– a simple risk prioritization matrix explained earlier.
  2. SWOT analysis- A simple way to assess and list down the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats faced by the organization. This can be further broken down department wise, function wise or process wise SWOT analysis.
  3. HAZOP and FMEA– HAZOP or hazard and operability, and Failure Modes Effects Analysis (FMEA) are structured approaches that ensure that no risks are omitted. These can be specifically tailored to list and eliminate all the peoples’ knowledge, skill and capability related risks or failure points.
  4. Classifying these risks into short, medium and long term helps to identify risks as being related (primarily) to operations, tactics and strategy.
  • Short-Term risks impact the ability of the organization to maintain effective and efficient core processes that are concerned with the continuity and monitoring of routine operations.
  • Medium-Term risks impact the ability of the organization to maintain effective and efficient core processes that are concerned with the management of tactics, projects and other change programmes.
  • Long-Term risks have the ability to impact the organization sometime after the event occurs (1 to 5 years). Long-Term risks usually impact the ability of the organization to maintain the core processes that are concerned with the development and delivery of an effective and efficient strategy.

Using any of the above methods, a risk assessment exercise can be done with a view to implementing microlearning initiative.

To conclude, microlearning helps you Embrace, Manage, Mitigate and Minimize (EM3) the occurrence of knowledge gap risks confidently. This makes investing in an enterprise-wide microlearning initiative worth it!

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