Jim is a seasoned professional with over 36 years of experience in learning and development. He holds an MBA in Digital Transformation and an MSc in Learning Technology.

A Black Belt’s Guide to Personal and Professional Development

Introduction: A Black Belt’s Guide to Personal and Professional Development

As a black belt in Wado Karate, I’ve spent countless hours honing my skills, refining my techniques, and deepening my understanding of this profound martial art. But the lessons I’ve learned extend far beyond the dojo. They’ve shaped my approach to life, influencing my personal growth and professional journey.

In business

In the world of business, the principles of Wado Karate find a unique and powerful application. The lessons learned in the dojo can be transformative for learners, managers, and directors alike, offering a fresh perspective on personal and professional development. The concept of continuous improvement, or “Kaizen,” is a cornerstone of both Wado Karate and successful business practices.

In the dojo, it’s about refining your techniques and deepening your understanding of the art. In the boardroom, it’s about constantly seeking ways to improve processes, enhance productivity, and foster innovation. Minor improvements, when accumulated over time, can lead to significant growth. This principle is as applicable to mastering a karate technique as it is to improve a business strategy. It encourages a culture of learning and development, where every team member, from interns to CEOs, is committed to personal growth and professional excellence.

For yourself

Perseverance is a key lesson from Wado Karate and equally crucial in the corporate world. The path to success is often troubled with challenges and setbacks. But just as a karateka rises each time they fall, so too must business leaders persevere in the face of hardship. This resilience, this unwavering determination, is what drives you and your company forward, even in the most challenging times.

The harmony of mind and body, a fundamental aspect of Wado Karate, finds its parallel in the balance between personal well-being and professional success. In today’s fast-paced corporate world, it’s essential for you as a leader to maintain this balance, to ensure not just your well-being, but also the health and productivity of your teams.

I believe in the transformative power of these principles. With over 36 years of experience in leadership, learning, and development, I am committed to helping individuals and organizations harness the wisdom of Karate to ignite their potential and drive their success.

In addition, Karate’s emphasis on respect and humility can be a guiding principle in the workplace. Respect for others, for their ideas and contributions, fosters a positive work environment where everyone feels valued. Humility allows us to acknowledge our mistakes and learn from them, a crucial aspect of personal and professional growth.

Finally, the sense of community and camaraderie that is inherent in a dojo can be mirrored in a team or organization. Working towards common goals, supporting each other, and celebrating each other’s successes are all part of a healthy, productive workplace culture.


In essence, the principles and values of Wado Karate offer a unique lens through which to view and approach personal and professional development. They provide a roadmap for continuous growth, resilience, and success in all aspects of life. So, let’s embark on this journey together, harnessing the power of Wado Karate to ignite our potential and transform our lives.

Arigato gozaimasu!

More about karate can be found here:

Read also my article on lifelong learning:


Jignite, end of year reflections and appreciations

Thank you for being part of my journey in 2023.

As the year ends, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all my friends, prospects and clients, especially this year FMO, PGGM and ICM, for their trust and collaboration in 2023. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with you on various projects related to learning and development, talent development and digital transformation. I am proud of our results together.

In 2023, we have explored various topics such as leadership, change management, e-learning, data analytics, agile methodologies, innovation and creativity. We have also faced some challenges such as adapting to remote work conditions, managing expectations during crises and ensuring quality standards during transitions. Through these experiences, we have learned a lot from each other and ourselves.

Learning and development is not only about acquiring new skills or knowledge but also about applying them in real-life situations. Talent development is not only about finding or retaining talent but also about nurturing and empowering them. Digital transformation is not only about adopting new technologies but also about changing the culture and mindset of the organization. These are the three pillars that guide my work as a consultant and trainer, and I am passionate about helping you achieve your goals in each of them.

I hope you have enjoyed working with me as much as I have enjoyed working with you. I appreciate your feedback and suggestions on how we can improve our services and processes. I also welcome your questions and comments on any topic related to learning and development, talent development or digital transformation. Please feel free to contact me anytime via email or phone.

As we enter 2024 with optimism and enthusiasm, I wish you all a happy new year filled with success and happiness. May this year bring you new opportunities for (personal)growth and innovation. May this year also bring you peace and harmony in your personal lives. Thank you for being part of my journey in 2023.


Jim van Hulst

Founder of Jignite

Talent Management in the Age of AI: What You Need to Know

What can AI do in Talent Management?


Artificial intelligence (AI) is not a new concept, but it has become more prevalent and powerful in recent years. AI refers to advanced data analysis procedures that allow us to study not just the clean, organized, numerical data that traditional regressions can handle, but also messy, unstructured, non-numerical data too. AI can help us make sense of large and complex datasets, uncover hidden patterns and insights, and automate tedious and repetitive tasks.

AI and Talent Management

One of the areas where AI can have a significant impact is talent management. Talent management is the process of attracting, developing, and retaining the best people for an organization. It involves various functions such as recruitment, performance management, learning and development, succession planning, and employee engagement. Talent management is crucial for organizational success, as it can enhance productivity, innovation, customer satisfaction, and competitive advantage.
However, talent management is also challenging, especially in the current context of the 2022-2023 Great Resignation, where millions of people are voluntarily quitting their jobs and looking for new opportunities. Traditional approaches to winning and keeping talented workers may not be enough in this fiercely competitive market. Moreover, talent management involves dealing with human complexities, such as emotions, motivations, preferences, and biases, which are not easy to measure and understand.

Where can AI help?

This is where AI can help. AI can assist talent management in various ways, such as:

  • Optimizing the recruitment process by comparing employers’ hiring profiles and prospective employees’ skills, qualifications, and personality traits. AI can also help reduce bias and increase diversity in hiring decisions by screening candidates based on objective criteria and removing irrelevant information from resumes. LinkedIn has found that an AI-assisted job search is at least 50% more efficient.
  • Enhancing the development process by providing personalized and adaptive learning experiences for employees. AI can also help identify skill gaps and career aspirations and recommend suitable courses, mentors, and projects for employees to grow and advance. AI-based talent intelligence tools can help HR teams demonstrate their commitment to career management by mapping employee careers within the company based on data from resumes and historical data about skills needed in certain roles.
  • Improving the retention process by monitoring employee engagement, satisfaction, and well-being. AI can also help predict employee turnover and attrition and suggest interventions to prevent or reduce them. AI can further help create a culture of recognition and feedback by enabling timely and meaningful rewards and appraisals for employees.

What you need to know

AI can offer many benefits for talent management, but it is not a silver bullet. There are also some risks and drawbacks that need to be considered, such as:

  • Low trust in AI decision-making. Employees may not trust or accept the outcomes of AI systems, especially if they are not transparent or explainable. Employees may also feel threatened or dehumanized by AI, especially if they perceive it as a replacement or a competitor. Therefore, it is important to involve employees in the design and implementation of AI systems and to ensure that they have a voice and a choice in the process.
  • Bias and ethical concerns. AI systems are not immune to bias, as they may reflect the data and assumptions that are fed into them. Bias can lead to unfair and discriminatory outcomes for employees, such as being overlooked for a promotion or a training opportunity. Therefore, it is important to audit and monitor AI systems regularly, and to ensure that they adhere to ethical principles and standards.
  • Legal risk. AI systems may pose legal challenges, such as who is responsible and accountable for the decisions and actions of AI, and what are the rights and obligations of employees and employers in relation to AI. Therefore, it is important to consult with legal experts and regulators and to establish clear and consistent policies and guidelines for the use of AI in talent management.


AI will transform talent management further in 2024. However, AI is not a substitute for human judgment and interaction. AI should be seen as a partner and a tool that can augment and complement human capabilities and efforts. Talent management is about people, and AI can help us understand and serve them quicker, not perse better.

  • HBR. Where AI Can — and Can’t — Help Talent Management, see link
  • Forbes. Rethinking Talent Management Through AI, see link
  • Gartner. AI in HR: A Guide to Implementing AI in Your HR Organization, see link
  • Cangrade. Artificial Intelligence in Talent Management and the Future of Work, see link

The Triple Threat: Juggling Teaching, Entrepreneurship and Management

Balancing roles


I have always been passionate about learning and development. This blog is about juggling the three roles I now have.  I am a full-time ad interim manager for a Talent and Development team, a teacher for two classes on educational design and lastly an entrepreneur. In this blog I want to share some of the challenges and rewards of balancing these roles, and how I work from the heart and the head.

Role: Interim Manager

As an ad interim manager, I am responsible for leading a team of professionals who design and deliver learning solutions for internal business clients. I have to oversee e.g. project management, budgeting, quality assurance, and stakeholder communication. This role requires me to work with the head, meaning I have to use my analytical, strategic, and problem-solving skills to ensure the success of these projects.

Role: Teacher

As a teacher, I am responsible for facilitating the learning of around 20 students who are pursuing a degree in educational design. I have to design and deliver engaging and interactive lessons, provide feedback and guidance, and assess their learning outcomes. This role requires me to work from the heart, meaning I have to use my emotional, creative, and interpersonal skills to inspire and motivate my students.

The key to balancing these roles is finding the harmony between working from the heart and working with the head. Both roles require me to use both sets of skills but in different ways and degrees. By being aware of my strengths and weaknesses, my preferences and biases, and my goals and values, I can adjust my approach and attitude accordingly. By being flexible and adaptable, I can cope with the changes and challenges that come with each role.

Role Entrepreneur

I am also an entrepreneur who runs my own consultancy business, Jignite. I am fortunate to have clients who trust me with their needs and who offer me projects. This adds another dimension to my professional life, but also another challenge.

As an entrepreneur, I have to manage all aspects of my business: from marketing and sales to accounting and legal matters, to customer service and quality control. I have to be proactive, innovative, and competitive in a fast-changing market. I have to balance my own interests with those of my clients and business partners. Being an entrepreneur requires me to work with both the heart and the head as well. I have to be passionate about what I do, but also rational about how I do it. I have to be creative in finding solutions, but also analytical in evaluating them. I have to be empathetic with my clients, but also assertive with my expectations. Being an entrepreneur is not easy either. Sometimes I encounter problems in delivering projects or meeting deadlines. Sometimes I struggle with managing my team or complying with stakeholders. But being an entrepreneur is also rewarding. I get to pursue my vision and mission in learning and development and am able to create value for myself and others.

The key to being an entrepreneur is finding the balance between working with passion and working with purpose. Passion is what drives me to do what I love, but purpose is what guides me to do what matters. Passion is what fuels my energy, but purpose is what directs my actions. Passion is what makes me happy, but purpose is what makes me fulfilled.


Balancing roles as an ad interim manager and a teacher, while being an entrepreneur at the same time, is not easy. It requires me to work from the heart and work with the head in different ways and degrees. It also requires me to find the balance between passion and purpose in everything that I do.

But balancing these roles is also the most rewarding. It allows me to learn from different experiences and apply them to each other. It allows me to experience the diversity and complexity of learning and development in different contexts and settings. It allows me to challenge myself and grow as a professional and as a person.

I hope that by sharing my story, I can inspire others who are in similar situations or who are considering taking on multiple roles. I hope that they can find the harmony between working from the heart and working with the head, and between working with passion and working with purpose. I hope that they can live, just like me, a rich and fulfilling professional life.





Talent Development & Learning Development. How to identify the differences.

Is it different or more of the same?


I am currently working as ad interim manager for an organization that switched the department’s name from Learning and Development to Talent and Development. I received many questions on what the difference between the two is. This was the inspiration to write this blog post.

What is Talent Management?

Talent management is key to organizational success in today’s fast-changing and competitive business environment. Talent management is attracting, identifying, developing, and retaining high-potential individuals who can help the organization achieve its objectives and sustain its competitive advantage. However, talent management is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It consists of different elements that address different aspects of employee development. Two of the most important elements are learning and development (L&D) and talent development (TD). These terms are often used interchangeably but are not the same. I will explain the difference between L&D and TD in this article and why it matters for your organization.

What is Learning and Development?

L&D is a specific area within talent management that focuses on enhancing employee knowledge, skills, and competencies through targeted learning initiatives. L&D can include formal training programs, workshops, e-learning courses, coaching, mentoring, and self-directed learning. The main objective of L&D is to equip employees with the skills they need to perform their current job roles effectively and efficiently. L&D can also help employees prepare for future career opportunities by developing their potential and expanding their capabilities.
According to Josh Bersin, a leading expert on L&D, the future of learning and development in the workplace is shaped by four major trends: digital transformation, personalization, continuous learning, and business alignment. These trends require L&D professionals to adopt a more agile, flexible, and innovative approach to designing and delivering learning solutions that meet the needs of both learners and organizations.

What is Talent Development?

TD is a broader term encompassing all aspects of attracting, identifying, developing, and retaining high-potential individuals in an organization. TD is a strategic approach that aligns with the organization’s vision, mission, values, and goals. TD involves creating a learning, growth, and innovation culture that fosters employee engagement, motivation, and loyalty. TD also includes designing career paths, providing feedback, offering recognition, and facilitating succession planning. The main objective of TD is to create a strong and agile workforce that can help the organization achieve its objectives and sustain its competitive advantage.
According to Marc Effron and Miriam Ort, two renowned consultants on TD, the talent development framework consists of four elements: context, content, process, and outcomes. These elements provide a comprehensive and systematic way to plan, execute, and evaluate talent development programs that align with organizational goals and individual needs.

How are L&D and TD Different?

L&D and TD are important elements of talent management, but they differ in scope, focus, duration, and outcomes.

Below is a table that summarizes some of the key differences between L&D and TD:

Learning & Development
Talent & Development
Narrower scope
Broader scope
Focuses on specific job-related skills.
Focuses on general competencies and capabilities
Short-term or medium-term duration
Long-term or continuous duration
Outcomes are measurable and observable
Outcomes are intangible and qualitative.
Addresses current skill gaps
Anticipates future skill needs.
Supports individual performance
Supports organizational performance.

Why Does the Difference Matter?

Understanding the difference between L&D and TD can help you design more effective talent management strategies that suit your organisation’s needs. Here are some of the benefits of implementing L&D and TD strategies in your organisation:

  • L&D can increase employee performance and productivity by improving efficiency, effectiveness, quality, and innovation.
  • L&D can reduce employee turnover by increasing satisfaction, commitment, and retention.
  • L&D can enhance employee compliance by following the organisation’s standards, policies, and regulations.
  • TD can attract high-potential candidates by showcasing the organisation’s culture, values, and opportunities.
  • TD can develop future leaders by nurturing their potential, expanding their capabilities, and preparing them for succession.
  • TD can foster employee engagement by creating a sense of purpose, belonging, and recognition.


L&D and TD are both essential for the success of your organisation. However, they are not the same thing. L&D focuses on building specific job-related skills, while TD focuses on building competencies beyond the current job role. L&D addresses current skill gaps, while TD anticipates future skill needs. L&D supports individual performance, while TD supports organisational performance. Understanding the difference between L&D and TD allows you to design more effective talent management strategies that suit your organisation’s needs.


The Future Of Learning & Development In The Workplace. – Forbes.

A talent development framework: tackling the puzzle. – Emerald

How Organizational Learning Can Create Competitive Advantage – BCG.

Training VS Development: Training And Development Difference. – BlueDolphin.

Talent Management Versus Learning And Development.- People managing people.

What’s Next For Learning And Development? The Past, Present, And Future. – Forbes

What’s the future of workforce development? – Blog – FutureLearn.

The Future of Workplace Learning – MIT Sloan Management Review.

The Future Of Learning And Development: A New Paradigm Or? – Forbes.

A New Approach To Talent Management – Forbes.

Taking a skills-based approach to building the future workforce. – McKinsey

Why Learning And Development Is Now A Competitive Differentiator – Forbes.–development-is-now-a-competitive-differentiator-and-how-to-get-on-board/.

7 Ways Learning & Development Creates Competitive Advantage. -Employmenthero

Difference Between Training and Development (with Comparison Chart ….

Training vs Development: Difference and Comparison.- Askany

The Future of Talent Management: 4 Shifts Urgently Needed – AIHR.

Future Of Talent Management: Are We Ready To Give Up Full Control? – Forbes.

The Future of Talent Development – IEDP.

The Future of Talent Development | Creative Business Services.

The future of the workforce: Investing in talent to prepare for uncertainty. – McKinsey

Talent management vs. learning and development: Understanding the ….

Talent management vs learning and development: Unveiling the … – Risely.


Identifying your talents and How to Coach them Unbiasedly.

How to Identify and coach your talents in an unbiased way.


Talent management is a term coined by McKinsey in the late 1990s to describe attracting, developing, and retaining the best people for an organization. It was made famous by the phrase “The War for Talent” and the subsequent book by Michaels.

Talent management is closely linked with effective performance management, which involves setting clear goals, providing feedback, and rewarding achievements. According to a McKinsey survey, organizations with effective talent-management programs have a better chance of outperforming their competitors and generating higher shareholder returns.

Bias and Talent Management

Talent management requires focusing on the right traits, such as potential, learning agility, curiosity, and motivation, rather than relying on past performance or complex skills. These traits are more likely to help employees adapt to changing environments and future challenges (see my earlier articles on this topic). Talent management also involves identifying and developing talent unbiasedly, avoiding common biases affecting hiring and promotion decisions, such as similarity bias, confirmation bias, halo effect, or stereotyping. Organizations can use technology and analytics to mitigate performance management and feedback bias. Let me give you three examples:

  1. One example is to use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze the language and tone of employee feedback. AI can detect if there are differences in the nature and quality of feedback provided to different groups of employees, such as by gender, race, or age. AI can also suggest alternative words or phrases that are more objective, constructive, and inclusive. This can help managers and employees avoid bias in their communication and feedback. Also, look at the words describing your talent positions, e.g., recruitment.
  2. Another example is to use data visualization to display the distribution and trends of performance ratings, promotions, and rewards across the organization. Data visualization can help managers and employees see patterns or anomalies that indicate bias or favoritism in performance management. Data visualization can also help managers and employees compare their performance and outcomes with their peers and benchmarks. This can help managers and employees identify and address any gaps or discrepancies in performance management.
  3. A third example is calibration to ensure consistency and accuracy in performance evaluation and feedback. Calibration is the process of making data-informed and fact-driven decisions instead of making decisions driven by groupthink or gut instinct. This may be the easiest way to execute if you work in a smaller company. It can be used in any decision-making context, especially in performance reviews and multisource feedback with real-time data to provide continuous developmental and coaching feedback throughout the year. Calibration can help managers and employees reduce bias and increase fairness in performance management.

Talent Management and unbiased Coaching

Coaching talents are one of any leader’s most essential and challenging tasks. You want to help your employees grow and achieve their potential while avoiding bias and favoritism. How can you do that effectively and efficiently?  Coaching can enhance employee engagement, productivity, creativity, and retention. However, coaching is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Different employees may have different needs, preferences, and styles of learning. Therefore, coaches need to tailor their coaching methods to suit each individual. One way to do that is to use the One Page Talent Management (OPTM) framework developed by Marc Effron and Miriam Ort.

OPTM is a simple, powerful, scientifically proven approach to increase your ability to develop better leaders faster. It involves eliminating frustrating complexity, focusing only on those components that add value, and building transparency and accountability into every practice. OPTM consists of two brief statements: one describing where the employee is today (from) and one describing their next big (not ultimate) destination (to). Then it creates a personal experience map that shows which experiences the employee wants to acquire in the next two to five years.

How to use OPTM?

For example, let’s say you have an employee who is a senior analyst now (from) and wants to become a future manager (to). You can use OPTM to help them identify the skills and behaviours they need to develop, such as communication, delegation, feedback, and decision-making. Then you can help them plan how to acquire those experiences, such as taking on a project, leading a team, mentoring a junior colleague, or attending a dedicated training course.

By using OPTM, you can coach your talents in an unbiased way because:

  • You base your assessment and feedback on objective data and criteria, not subjective impressions or opinions.
  • You align your expectations and goals with the employee’s aspirations and motivations, not with your own preferences or assumptions.
  • You provide clear, specific guidance and support for the employee’s development, not vague or generic advice or suggestions.

Why work on this?

In today’s fast-changing and competitive world, talent management is essential for achieving organizational excellence. Talent management is not only about finding and developing the best people for your organization, but also about unleashing their full potential and helping them thrive. By mastering the skills of identifying talent in an unbiased way and coaching highly talented employees effectively, you can boost your own performance as well as your team’s performance. You can learn more about these skills from the scientific references and online resources that I share with you in this article. They will help you improve your own talent management practices and thus enhance the capabilities of your organization.



Other articles