About Sundial Learning Systems

Our Philosophies

While our extensive experience and evidence-based methodologies are important elements in our consulting work, it is our underlying philosophies on how to engage with clients and ensure valuable outcomes that set us apart from many other consulting firms. After 20 years in business, Sundial Learning Systems understands the essential ingredients that must be present in all consulting projects to deliver on our promises and exceed client expectations. The following philosophies set our work apart and ensure our clients find value in everything we do.

Authentic Consulting

Sundial is a collection of like-minded friends who believe deeply in putting the needs of clients and their organizations first. We are multifaceted, eclectic, and creative. We embrace the challenge of identifying our clients’ needs and finding novel approaches to craft unique solutions. And we do so while maintaining our sense of humor.

Creative Solutions

When it comes to solving problems, innovating new approaches, or just trying new things, we are limited only by our imaginations. We understand that implementing change is a lot harder than sustaining change. So we always put the human at the center of every new idea. If we can’t get people to embrace the change, the organization’s culture will kill even the best ideas!

Focus on Learning

Learning is so much more than employee development. Every time we consider the external environment, we are learning. Every time we assess the organization’s performance, we are learning. Every time we formulate strategies, we are learning. Every time we build a team, we are learning. This is why the word “systems” is in our company name. It’s not just about developing training—it’s about engineering an environment where learning can “grow roots,” can lead to better performance, and can ultimately empower clients “to fish” so that someday they won’t need us!

The Importance of Leadership

Leadership is the bedrock of strategy, change, resilience, and engagement. Leaders must know how to envision the future, articulate a compelling understanding of the future, assess and mitigate risk, balance resources, problem solve, make complex decisions, and ultimately project an image of confidence, compassion, and collaboration. The key to being a good leader is to first be a good person. Leaders must have the self-awareness that is necessary to understand the implications of their own behaviors and the values they suggest by their own actions.

Meaningful Results

Organizational goals are important. However, they need to be tied to measures that really matter. There is way too much “counting of paperclips” (i.e., measuring unimportant things just because they are quantifiable) and lofty language around goals. We try to introduce our clients to “simple but elegant” ways of measuring success. Sundial Learning Systems also believe in measurement maturity. Often, the first idea for how to measure success is only a steppingstone to more meaningful measurements. We have to be patient until those better measures emerge.


Sundial was founded in 2001 in Alexandria, Virginia. Initially, the firm focused on designing and facilitating courses for not-for-profit organizations. Within a few years, however, our work had expanded into performance consulting, human capital consulting, and program evaluation. This work expanded our client list into Federal Agencies and the US Navy. Most of our consulting projects required a clear and measurable set of objectives for the client’s organization; however, we often found that our clients’ organizations lacked strategy and clear measures. This is when we developed our expertise in strategic thinking, strategic planning, and tactical implementation of strategy.


Today, we are a full-service, human capital practice that helps clients lead with strategy, manage change, align infrastructure, engage the workforce, and drive results. Through our network of like-minded professionals, we can bring the right team to bear. The following individuals lead our company and provide the consistent value that is important to our clients.

Ethan Sanders

View CV | LinkedIn profile

Ethan, Founder and CEO of Sundial Learning Systems, has provided consulting services to clients in the public, nonprofit, military, and private sectors for over 30 years. In addition to building and leading Sundial, he has led a Human Performance practice for ICF International, directed career management for the US Navy’s Human Performance Center, and managed instructional design and competency research for the Association of Talent Development (formerly ASTD). A nationally recognized speaker, Ethan has published numerous books and articles on topics related to workplace learning and performance. He is a certified performance technologist through the International Society for Performance Improvement, a certified action learning coach through the World Institute for Action Learning, and a certified Clifton Strengths coach through Gallup.

Ethan is the recipient of the ASTD President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement, the US Navy’s Meritorious Service Award, and the Association for Talent Development (ATD) “BEST Award.” He has served as a faculty member of ATD for over 25 years, an associate professor at the University of Maryland since 2010, and has presented at workplace learning and performance conferences around the world.

Scott Long

Scott, Director of Operations for Sundial, has over 25 years’ experience designing, developing, and producing courses for clients such as AARP, the Association for Talent Development (formerly ASTD), the United Way of America, and the International Training Institute. He has also served as instructional production manager and project editor for BOMI International, a nonprofit educational institute, and managing editor of Hammer and Dolly magazine, the monthly publication of the Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association. Scott brings to the Sundial team his skills in learning and development, creative problem solving, research, critical thinking, and content creation.

The Rest of the Team

We are fortunate to have a network of outstanding organization consultants, organizational psychologists, instructional designers, technical writers, and course production professionals. In addition, project management and customer relations are handled by our internal employees, who focus on delivering outstanding service and effective relationship building.