Paraffin’s ‘must read' books on capabilities for learning professionals

Building capabilities within teams is never simple. How can building capabilities drive business growth? How can you embed new behaviours and create lasting change? How can you improve your team performance? Well, let me start by explaining what capabilities are and the approach we take.

Capability can be defined as the culmination of skills, mindset and behaviours. Paraffin’s approach centres around creating provocative and memorable experiences that create change and are designed and delivered by practitioner or ‘doers’ than trainers which means we have a true understanding of the target audience and their roles.

Every corporate culture is different and Paraffin pride themselves in using deep human connection to understand the behaviour change that is required and what will work in their environment. Whether people in the organisation value an interactive open discussion or prefer a formal process, whether they are results focused or action driven – it is important to understand and tailor the whole learning journey to reflect the culture. Understanding what motivates people and what they care about is at the forefront of our approach to supercharging teams and embedding new behaviours. Our approach, shown below, takes influence from several leading behaviour change models, such as McKinsey’s Building Blocks of Change or Prosci’s ADKAR to name a few.

training, toolkit and behaviour change

Paraffin have used inspiration from all these books below to craft learning experiences and ensure they are always human-centred. Each project builds on the strengths of the team and so every programme we create is unique. Throughout the learning programmes we’ve led with our clients, we’ve used our expertise to provide the right conditions, skills, valuable content and tailored digital toolkits to stimulate critical and creative thinking and help unlock lasting change. In turn this helps to build high-performance teams who can drive business growth.

Learning professionals come from any and all backgrounds, so why not take the time to establish a foundation of capabilities knowledge to transform the future of your work culture in the way that suits your team.

Here are our top 5 book recommendations, which have all inspired the work we do at Paraffin. If you don’t have time to read them all, or are interested in discovering how you can cultivate your team, grow your business and gain a larger competitive advantage, please get in touch… 


How People Learn – Nick Shackleton-Brown

This book confirms my experience that learning, and marketing have a lot in common. It shows how to develop people-centred learning experiences by ensuring people are motivated to learn and then providing the right tools and resources to help them apply it their day-to-day roles.

SWITCH Chip & Dan Heath

Successful capability building ultimately requires behaviour change. Switch is an engaging human-centric book with a clear and memorable methodology for changing behaviour at all levels from individuals to organisations.

A New Culture of Learning – Douglas Thomas & John Seely Brown

This 2011 book still offers good insights for learning in a digital age with learnings and examples from education that can be applied to the development of workplace learning programmes.

The Business of Corporate Learning – Shlomo Ben-Hur

A useful book for those who are new to, or working with, corporate Learning & Development teams. It has functional insights and advice for those developing, aligning and implementing learning strategies in large organisations.

Do Story: How to Tell Your Story so the World Listens – Bobette Buster

Stories have always been used to pass on knowledge and make learning easier to remember. These 10 storytelling principles for constructing stories can be adapted and applied to create effective and memorable learning experiences.