Medical boards around the world face the challenge of creating competency-based postgraduate training programs. Recent legislation requires that all postgraduate medical training programmes in The Netherlands be reformed. In this article the Dutch Advisory Board for Postgraduate Curriculum Development shares some of their experiences with guiding the design of specialist training programs, based on the Canadian Medical Educational Directives for Specialists (CanMEDS). All twenty-seven Dutch Medical Specialty Societies take three steps in designing a curriculum. First they divide the entire content of a specialty into logical units, so-called 'themes'. The second step is discussing, for each theme, for which tasks trainees have to be instructed, guided, and assessed. Finally, for each task an assessment method is chosen to focus on a limited number of CanMEDS roles. This leads to a three step training cycle: (i) based on their in-training assessment and practices, trainees will gather evidence on their development in a portfolio; (ii) this evidence stimulates the trainee and the supervisor to regularly reflect on a trainee's global development regarding the CanMEDS roles as well as on the performance in specific tasks; (iii) a personal development plan structures future learning goals and strategies. The experiences in the Netherlands are in line with international developments in postgraduate medical education and with the literature on workplace-based teaching and learning.