Team-Based Learning

Based on our observations of the medical training program at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, we have created and successfully implemented in a business context, an education and change process that we call Team-Based Learning (TBL). TBL drives concrete improvements in work quality, staff engagement, team trust and overall productivity.

Even in an environment where failure could mean death, Hopkins has chosen not to focus solely on execution at all costs, but rather has built a set of routines and a philosophy that leverages education and individual accountability as a way to more effectively and efficiently deliver care to patients.The Hopkins residency training program is so effective that it is consistently ranked as the best in the United States.

The primary lesson from Hopkins is that work offers the best place to develop capability.The trick is building a mindset and a set of disciplines and expectations that consistently deliver on that opportunity. We have altered the routines and philosophy that Hopkins uses and have combined them with other best practices that we have seen in other businesses.

The TBL approach works within existing business processes to embed learning and development inside the work of an organization.The approach includes:

  • Routines that improve productivity by driving tasks to lower levels of the department or team.
  • A Socratic approach to developing capability in the course of real work that can easily be learned by line managers.
  • An emphasis on preparation and accessing company knowledge management systems.
  • The opportunity to learn research, writing and presentation skills at work.
  • A focus on accountability for the work and ownership of the problem, project or client.
Achieving these benefits requires an up front investment and ongoing support. The process takes place over the course of two to three months. Following a day of training, TBL takes on average about seven hours for each person to learn the routines. Groups are then supported by Duke CE coaches as they embed the routines in their work processes and deliverables.