Smarter, Faster, Simpler

A Purple Voodoo Case Study

The Story:

The head of learning and development of a Canadian pharmaceutical company was reviewing the goals and objectives for the group for the upcoming year. She recognized the increasing demand from internal customers was going to impact the team. If they were going to continue to achieve excellence in what they did, they needed to change how they did things. An increase in headcount was not possible which meant that her team had to reevaluate, reprioritize and reconsider what they were going to accomplish this upcoming year. An area of concern was, it seemed that all too often, product managers would approach team members right before roll-out of a program and ask for a “quick and easy” training to ensure success; or sales leadership would come before a meeting and ask for “just a half-day workshop” at the national sales meeting. When she watched these programs being executed, she couldn’t but notice there were common elements shared between the groups and the deliverables.

A review of all the programs, how requests were made, why they were made and when started to highlight a pattern of behavior within the department and externally. The group was proud of their ability to align with the needs of individual stakeholders and deliver quality programs but if they were going to maintain the level of excellence, they needed to better anticipate the basic learning needs to see how programs could be linked and leveraged between groups. They needed to improve the strategic approach to workflow, to align objectives and outcomes to overall business imperatives. They needed to change the way the department was viewed, from a service department to a strategic business partner.

The Process:


  • Reviewed existing and historic learning and assessment materials and programs
  • Created an overarching learning and measurement strategy and presented to key stakeholders and core team


  • Devised communication/change management plan for L&D team and vendors
  • Created learning strategy presentation and supporting schematic based on strategy
  • Developed process for requirements identification and strategy implementation (i.e., who, what, when, how)
  • Mapped a plan to implement the new changes, including explicit ways to on-board the L&D team and their internal clients to the new way of working
  • Outlined clear metrics to track and evaluate the impact of all initiatives


  • Established library of support documents around learning strategy implementation (e.g., learning request forms, decision matrices used by L&D team, etc.)
  • Created tools & templates to support using the learning & measurement strategies
  • Led team workshops to explore, practice and implement the new processes

The Results:

  • Increased efficiency and productivity for the L&D team
  • Aligned a well-articulated learning and development strategy to business objectives
  • Drove change in the work place by providing a clearer approach to decision-making, diagnosing root issues and implementing programs

The Take-Away:

A common theme in business is to do more with less as organizations look to improve productivity and results through efficiencies. The learning and development department is central to delivering on these skills and metrics within an organization. Taking the time to step back, define the challenge, design an approach and deliver tools and strategies to optimize the department’s efforts facilitated a great team’s ability to continue to be viewed as an excellent business partner.