I read this a while ago but have only just created this visual. It is hard to condense such a dense report and so I have been giving it some thought. I think the key things to take away from this are:
- To become more ‘mature’ as an organisation you can follow this curve
- The starting point is a discussion between you and stakeholders about the barriers and benefits to improving your maturity index
- The curve is actually a series of 4 steps
- Between each step is a transition to the next step called a ‘pivot of change’
- Each pivot point gives you some indicators as to when is a good move onto the next step, these are shown above but more detail van be gleaned from the report
- Many of the points in stage 4 can be reached by following the steps in my book ‘How Not To Waste Your Money On Training’
June the 11th 2019 was the date of the Learning Technologies Summer Forum in ExCel London. I was honoured to run a session on “Finding the Story in the Data” and here are some of my notes and thoughts about the session.
This session was a practical nitty gritty sort of event. I think people did forgive me if I was teaching my grandmother to suck eggs but I do hear from a lot of L&D people who just don’t know where to start. Data is all over the place and you can easily get swamped. So the purpose of this session was to get people started and get some confidence in looking at data in a practical way.
I started by asking a question: “Why bother collecting or analysing data?”.
Here are some of the reasons collected from the Learning and Skills group webinar by the same name the week before.
The chart was put together by Laura Overton and reproduced with her permission.
The two main reasons as you can see are to improve the user experience and also understand the effects or benefits. Not surprising really and in a report by Towards Maturity from 2018 they speak about 91% of the top deck saying that their learning interventions were aligned to the business goals. In order to do that, you need to be measuring what you are doing.
Other reasons may be:
- To check if things are going to plan
- Demonstrate the value brought by L&D
- Transition from learning provide to performance enhancer
- Avoid the sheep dip approach
- It is expected
- Stakeholder buy-in
My engineering brain….. in a former life I was a chemical engineer and fuel technologist and if you think that it is all about data and analysis with no room for intuition, then let me share a little story:
As an engineer, gathering data to site wind turbines, I became very skilled at finding appropriate sites just by looking at a map. This helped me to narrow down where to look from a myriad of places, that might be suitable. I would look at the maps, gather data from a mast and correlate it to the nearest met station. It is no different in L&D. You can use your intuition to see where things might be going wrong, from the data that you are already collecting and from your stakeholders. This means you can collect limited and focussed data to confirm your suspicions, to begin to find the story in the data.
Understanding the link between data and performance is crucial, as per the diagram below.
Knowing when to collect quantitative or qualitative data is also important.
Working through a case study helped participants decide when it was appropriate to gather quantitative data and then qualitative. A crucial part of this thinking was to think broader than the case study which is a great piece of advice to anyone doing their own analysis. Look and see what is happening in your industry just in case the sudden drop in sales is industry wide and not just a blip in your own organisation. It could save you a lot of time!
I then challenged the participants to say what they saw in a number of different graphs , encouraging them to be playful to find the story in the data. Sometimes the graphs raised more questions than they answered but it certainly gave everyone an insight into how easy it is to use Excel and simple charts to uncover that story.
I just had to share this picture from LTSF19 – Rachael Orchard, my fabulous host for the session, kindly brought her stormtrooper so we could endlessly make Star Wars puns and then playful Don Taylor agreed to pose with us both!
I began writing this on holiday, where I often get new insights with the refresh I feel physically, mentally and emotionally. We have been in Madeira, attracted by the climate, the amazing scenery and the promise of delightful walks. So why the subject of fear? Two incidents on the first two days of our holiday that had me genuinely scared.I will recount these briefly to give some context.
“Are you driving a getaway car?” I often ask hubbie, who is not known for his patience in planning our route to anywhere! This was no exception a quick tap into the sat nav, missed turns and before we knew it we were driving down the road shown in the photo below.
Thankful for his steely nerve and grippy sandals we survived to tell the tale. Note to self: if a concrete road has ridges and steps in it – DON’T DRIVE DOWN IT!!!
The following day, we decided to do a Levada walk, starting just up the road with Levada Moinho linking to Levada Nova. We didn’t even have to get in the car, which was a relief. For someone who has just written a book on needs analysis and using data, you may be shocked to hear I had not researched the route very much. If I had I may have read the warnings about steep drops and lack of handrails. By the time I reached the sections with a 500ft drop and no handrails we were well over half way around. No going back……
The picture below was on a relatively tame stretch ……..
Seeing two guys walking a dog, one with flip flops on, strangely comforted me. “ The walk must be easy from here on in” I thought to myself. I am extremely scared of heights and having walking poles helped to some extent, it helped steady me, though I could only use one as the path was not wide enough for two.
With each precipitous section I would steel myself and sing “The sun has got his hat on” (heaven knows why!) and marching tentatively to the rhythm of the song. Other times I would swear…… badly and other times pray.
I got through it, but the feeling of fear has stayed with me and got me thinking. Got me thinking about how at times I have been fearful and overcome that fear anyway. Got me thinking about times that fear has prevented me from being who I really am. Got me thinking about when others have said that I am brave.
So times I have been fearful and overcome it:
- As a graduate engineer working on partially constructed gantries hundreds of feet up in the air. Had a job to do and just got on with it
- Same job, getting into small, dark, enclosed spaces (another fear). Had a job to do and just got on with it.
- Moving from engineering to IT training when I used to get panic attacks just presenting, found my love of helping people to develop. The fear melted when I felt the interaction grow and that I was conversing with individuals not a whole room of people.
- Speaking to a large conference audience over 200, I survived by doing what I know I do well, having a clear plan, audience participation and a sense of fun
- Selling over 2000 valentine cards to raise money for tsunami victims (I had only asked for 100!), I found resources I never knew I had.
There are many more stories I could add but all the stories have different learning points about fear and how sometimes it has a point and at other times just holds me back.
‘Feelings of fear are engendered by dangerous situations’ says Frederic Neumann. Fair enough, your fear may have a genuine reason for it. In situations where your life is threatened it’s essential so that you don’t go too far and lose your life. Other times the fear is not rational and hence can be a hinderance.
Here are some of the things I have learned so far about fear:
- Fear can keep you alert when in dangerous situations and focus your mind on staying alive. In those situations, it has a clear purpose.
- Overcoming a HUGE fear of public speaking led me to the most delicious career I could have chosen, it was worth it. Removing the fear allowed me to see and experience something I may not ever have thought I would enjoy.
- I often have exceeded my own expectations, surprised myself, because a fear may have held me back even from believing I could achieve something. So, the fear does more than stop you, it limits further belief in yourself.
- People have called me brave, for starting my own business, for writing a book, but in all honesty in those particular situations I have not been fearful, so was I brave?
Whatever your experiences of fear, at times I think it helpful to reflect on which type of fear you are experiencing. Is it ‘staying alive’ type or the ‘holding me back’ rational or irrational type? Once we have identified the root, in my experience we can then decide whether it is worth getting over it or just going with it.
Over the next few weeks I am going to be a lot more conscious of my fears, just because of this reflection and hoping that I can be wholly me, no holds barred. There are still a few little corners here and there littered with ‘what-ifs’ and ‘maybes’ so worth the effort, I think.
So I am curious……which fears are serving you well and which are holding you back I wonder…… ?
I often speak about L&D professionals becoming part of the business, getting nosey and aligning ourselves with the goals of the organisation. Sometimes though, it’s hard to do. There are barriers, sometimes from the very stakeholders you need to get on board. If only they would! Life would be easier. You would get the support, encouragement and resources you need, when you need them.
So practically, how do you get them on board? A while back, I looked at Robert Cialdini’s 6 Principles of persuasion and thought it might be useful to apply them specifically to our profession and getting stakeholders on board:
- Reciprocity–“I do something for you, you do something for me”
So, a stakeholder approaches you to deliver something for their team and being a ‘people’ person, you agree, after making sure that they are clear on performance outcomes of course! Consider this, before you agree, tell them about that other stakeholder you struggle with, the one who is always putting your team down. Ask if they could put in a good word for you, if you deliver on what they want (they can use principle number 6 to influence that stakeholder).
- Scarcity– “Not much of this” or a limited time offer
Agree to deliver something, but within a specific timescale to fit in with other commitments. Ask them to get back to you by a certain date otherwise you will be busy ……do not make it up but share what your busy schedule looks like and that you have to prioritise.
- Authority– “We are qualified to do this”
In a social space for your organisation, do a “Spotlight on Katie” (other names can of course be used), where you describe the achievements and qualifications of your individual L&D team members. Change this once per week/month. Have posters with their qualifications and achievements in the training rooms
- Commitment –“Having agreed to this, can you agree to that?”
If there is something you would like a stakeholder to agree to, then first of all get them to agree to something small before you go for the big ask.
- Liking –“I will do it just for you”
Build relationships and rapport with your stakeholders and do it in a genuine way. Be interested, curious and approachable. People will help people they like!
- Social proof –“Others have done this”
Maybe you are trying to get your stakeholders to try new things and new ways of working but are meeting with some resistance. Find a stakeholder who is a willing guinea-pig and then use the story of how you helped them to adopt those new ways and how it benefitted them to win over others.
If you would like know more about getting closer to your stakeholders and being able to deliver learning with demonstrable value then you can order Krys’s book: “How Not To Waste our Money On Training”
On the 27th of March 2019 we had the first online meeting for the L&D Revolution. What an exhilarating and inspiring hour that was! Anyone interested in watching how it went, I will share the links at the end of this post. This post is about sharing the outcomes of the discussions we had.
People have been asking me “What is the revolution about?” and I covered that in a previous blog. It is something which has percolating over years and has also led me to write a book “How not to Waste Your Money on Training***”. It now feels like this ‘movement’ is gaining some momentum, as I speak to more and more people who are keen to improve the reputation of L&D by helping it to focus on performance and analytics. Two of my favourite topics!
Back to the online meeting, there were two key things we discussed:
- The link between learning and performance
- Data driven decision making and demonstrating value
Let us look at both in turn and extract the main points from the discussions:
- The link between learning and performance
It seemed to be widely agreed, that in order to have any sort of link between learning and performance, there has to be a strong connection between L&D and the business. It was also about a change in mind-set for L&D, shifting from being order takers to taking a consultative approach. Included in this link was also a desire to connect what was happening with data that was collected from numerous sources. Line managers have always been crucial to any lasting change in organisations and close links between L&D and line managers are essential if we are to observe improvements in performance as a result of learning.
Once L&D have made that shift closer to the organisation and its needs they can more easily distinguish between what stakeholders say they want (desires) and what they need in reality. This cannot be achieved without doing some sort of up-front analysis BEFORE and learning interventions are agreed. Part of that may well include really understanding the team strategies required to achieve the business goals.
It was agreed we are making a start but there are many things we can improve on:
- Being more rigorous about digging into underlying performance problems before jumping into solutions
- Defining clear outcomes and measures and challenging the business by using data to justify but also to persuade, where necessary
- Helping individuals and line managers see the clear link between their job roles and performance (individual and company wide)
- Become more creative in our approach by using other methodologies like AGILE
2. Data driven decision making and demonstrating value
There is so much happening out there, I am pleased to say. Some great applications of data readily available:
- Net Promoter Scores (NPS)
- Behaviour indicators
- Business indicators
- Employee engagement
- Learner and/or customer voice(s)
- Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)
- Even Moodagrams (which I had never heard of before!)
With all this happening there is still room for improvement. By collecting data we will of course get better at providing that link between learning and performance improvements. Again a shift of mindset is required by L&D: to shift from trusted advisor to performance enabler and maybe even add a few business analyst skills for good measure.
If we thought this might be a bit much, then learning from other parts of the business might help, for instance marketing and finance are great examples. We are not alone in the business and need to become more integrated in our approach, starting those awkward conversations sooner rather than later and always asking why, why, why, why why? (5 why’s). If we do this up front along with a needs analysis, then evaluation will be a doddle, won’t it?
We then moved into a discussion on how do we drive this revolution forwards rather than watching the evolution happen slowly. In order to do this individually, there are lots of things we can be doing in our own organisations:
- More promotion or publicity about what L&D do and their successes
- Promote performance improvement rather than learning outcomes
- Be more AGILE
- Find out what the business does (ask daft questions)
- Use data to our advantage and be selective in what we or others collect
We also have some collective ideas on how to drive the revolution forward. Let me know if you would like to take part in those.
Here are some useful links:
Below is my summary from all the discussion points we had in the online meeting.
*** This is what Karen Grave, President PPMA (Public Service People Managers Association) says about the book:
“PPMA has been working with Krystyna for only a short time but we have already realised that she is an enormous asset to the field of learning. She has a natural passion and empathy for people, which she combines with creativity and an engineering background to help organisations focus on how best to deliver on training investment. Krystyna’s style is deeply engaging, laced with a lot of humour and a willingness to challenge the ridiculous. It’s a powerful combination. We love working with her and I have no doubt you will find this book a hugely interesting and impactful read.”