Using the CLICK Model to Keep Your Skills Fresh

By Tara Denton, Life Cycle Institute

Today’s workplace demands the flexibility to change, grow and constantly update your skills. No profession is immune from this requirement. For example:

  • An accountant will run into software changes or new laws that affect financial reporting,
  • A manager will adapt to new HR policies and regulations,
  • An inventory manager will have to learn a new ERP system,
  • A receptionist will need to learn new communication hardware/software to connect parties,
  • A doctor’s office will revise processes to meet new regulations.

As a course of business, the amount of change to accept and the accompanying knowledge to ingest will not slow. On the contrary, it’s likely to increase. To meet this continuous learning challenge one must become a knowledge worker. What is a knowledge worker and how does a person become one? Read on to learn about today’s knowledge worker and the CLICK model of personal development.

The Knowledge Worker

Peter Drucker’s early definition of the knowledge worker describes a person who “uses and develops knowledge in the workplace” ( Although the term has broadened, one characteristic that endures is that a knowledge worker is dedicated to developing him or herself to meet a challenge or grow abilities to excel at a profession.

To expound on the concept and mentality of the knowledge worker, take Issac Asimov’s provocative quote: "The day you stop learning is the day you begin decaying, and then you are no longer a human being."  For the purposes of this article, let’s separate “human” and “being”, allowing “being” to be a verb – a present tense verb. The individual who doesn’t have a commitment to lifelong learning is no longer thriving in the present, no longer “being” or “becoming”; but “decaying” into a human who’s “been.”

Knowledge workers are concerned with the ever-changing now. They do not rest on the laurels of past accomplishment or stagnate in the comfort of unchanged skill levels and competencies. Instead, the knowledge worker searches for and discovers ways to understand and overcome a problem or challenge, turning it into an opportunity to learn and grow abilities.

How do they do it? For most of us, some guidance, a map or process would help tremendously.

The CLICK Model

The CLICK model, a concept I read about in a T&D article entitled “CLICK: A Model for Self Motivated Innovation and Learning” written by Omagbitse Barrow, is a simple blueprint to transform an individual into a knowledge worker and extraordinary professional.

The CLICK model stands for Challenge, Learn, Innovate, Change and Know. The CLICK model can be used to build brand new skills or to motivate continuous learning and keep your skills fresh.

To illustrate the CLICK concept, let’s take two examples: a first-time webinar delivery and the occasional trainer’s continuous improvement challenge.

The First Time “Webber”

Your manager has asked you to host a web meeting to deliver a client report. You’ve never hosted an online meeting before. What do you do?

Challenge: Look at the challenge like a detective. Analyze what the objective is – what does success look like? A clearly delivered and technically smooth web meeting?  What resources will you need to meet the objective? What kind of knowledge or skills are needed to meet the challenge, and realistically (not dramatically) determine the gap between what you currently know and what will help you meet the objective. For example, maybe you’ve sat-in on a few web meetings and are familiar with the interface, but have never used the online presentation tools.   

Learn: This is the tough part, and where a lot of people decide to give up on the challenge. Sometimes the gap between what you know and what you need to know seems vast and overwhelming. Don’t give up! Outsourcing or passing off the challenge denies you the opportunity to build your skills and become more valuable to the organization.

Once you know what you need to know, it’s time to source where to get the information you need. Learning does not have to happen in the classroom. In fact, many learning professionals believe 80% (and higher) of learning happens outside of the classroom. Find an article, blog or book you can read; a colleague or manager you can speak with; someone you can observe host a webinar; webinars you can attend or tutorials you can take. As Barrow states in his CLICK article, the learning phase is about “dedicating the time to pursuit of that knowledge, then acquiring it” (Barrow, 69).

Innovate: Innovation means you take the results from the learning phase and document a plan to help you achieve your objective. In a sense you take the “reading, practice and coaching from a peer or supervisor to create your own product” (Barrow, 69). In this instance, you could build a checklist to help you remember all the steps to set-up a web meeting and present materials to your audience.

Change: Congratulations! You did it! Remember how you felt when your manager challenged you to host a webinar? You have changed.  Reflect on and embrace the knowledge and skills you were able to acquire and apply.

Know: Armed with the plan created during the innovation step, you have a new knowledge base from which to pull. The next time you’re asked to host a webinar, you can be confident that you’ve cultivated the skills to perform.

The Occasional Trainer

Many organizations with a training staff have a qualification process that enables an individual or subject matter expert (SME) to become a training professional. The processes vary in level of formality and can be administered internally or by a third party. After certification, a trainer’s development should continue throughout the individual’s career. Ideally, even the occasional trainer would be offered individual development plans, observation and support by a coach, continuous improvement opportunities and an internal training community to network and share methods/ideas.

Without a business case to support the ideal scenario, many (if not all) investments in development and improvement halt once the individual is certified a “trainer.” It is then up to the training professional to build and keep his skills fresh. This is a precarious position, especially for the occasional trainer or full-time SME, because without practice new techniques can be overshadowed by the comfort of previous habits (e.g. lecture-style delivery, passive learners with minimal involvement, text-filled slides).

For these experienced learning professionals, CLICK can be used to motivate personal development.

Challenge: This challenge is all about continuous learning -- keeping active facilitation skills fresh and growing the ability to meet learner needs given any environment.

Learn: Where are the bodies of knowledge? Join an industry association like the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) to build an external network; sign-up for relevant e-newsletters; subscribe to industry leader blogs; read magazines; observe those who you think are successful; sign up for appropriate webinars; or ask an experienced colleague to observe you and provide feedback. Even if you only choose one outlet to learn current trends, you open yourself to new ideas.

Innovate: Use an online or print journal (I use Microsoft OneNote) to record ideas you can use in your next delivery. Pep-up your next delivery by trying a new technique. In this example, you could periodically create outlines or mind map the course to keep learning objectives and exercises fresh in your mind.

Change: Applying these innovations can make a person more flexible to change, aware of the learning climate and in tune with learner needs. Keeping abreast of course material and effective techniques helps the facilitator concentrate on classroom management and frees him or her from the stress of last-minute preparation and insecurity with the learning process.

Know: Once you have dedicated yourself to continuous learning and keeping your skills fresh, you give your best to learners and colleagues with whom you share ideas. You become the example – the knowledge worker that inspires others to learn, innovate and change. You can inspire others to CLICK.

Barrow’s CLICK model is a simple model any individual can use to motivate personal development. When a more formal or group development program is needed, the Life Cycle Institute can use a combination of approaches and activities to encourage and sustain top facilitator performance:

  • Train-the-Trainer courses,
  • Coaching on active training principles,
  • Performance coaching based on eight facilitator competencies,
  • Assessments and individual development plans,
  • Workshop particular course “problem areas”,
  • Course/Workshop preparation strategies

Whether it be CLICK, a formal continuous development program or a combination of the two, remember the importance of continuous learning and keeping your skills fresh to meet the challenges of today’s workplace. Be the knowledge worker that aspires and inspires to great heights.


Barrow, Omagbitse. “CLICK: A Model for Self Motivated Innovation and Learning” T&D, ASTD press. September, 2009.

Tara Denton is the Product Manager for the Life Cycle Institute. Tara has designed and delivered formal and informal learning events and training material since 2001. Her passion for adult learning principles leads her to build learning products that meet business objectives and practice facilitation techniques that ensure knowledge transfer. Tara’s learning products have been named a finalist in training product competitions; her flexibility allows her to work on a range of projects, from advising a Fortune 500 company on an internal certification program to delivering Web training seminars. Tara can be reached at [email protected].

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