This question was raised in the Creativity Zone at Learning Live 2017 by a number of people. From observation, I have noted that a great many L&D professionals and teams find evaluation tricky. From Towards Maturity report “Driving the New Learning Organisation”, the “Top Deck” are twice as likely to identify metrics they want to improve through learning. That sounds so simple and yet there are many organisations not doing this. This may be for a number of reasons:
- Lack of clarity about who to talk to about the important metrics
- Lack of knowledge in how this data could be captured
- Lack of confidence in an approach that might work
Our Learning Loop Approach gets people thinking about the end before they rush into a solution. Care is taken to engage with stakeholders. Objectives are set rather than woolly aims. Performance objectives are used to drive better performance. Learning objectives are leveraged to help improve performance and a culture of social and self-reliant learning is encouraged.
So what might we advise you to do to start a fresh approach to ROI:
- Identify your key stakeholders
- Spend most time with the “evangelists”, asking them what performance improvements they need and how these could be achieved through learning
- Ask them which metrics will help THEM know the desired outcomes have been achieved
- Get THEM to measure these outcomes instead of you in L&D sweating about how to get hold of the right numbers
- Look at the MANY different ways that you can measure if learning has been effective as part of a larger evaluation strategy (see below for MANY different ways to evaluate)
Go on take a fresh approach and become a new type of learning leader that will forge a new way into this century!
This is the first in a series of blogs inspired by David Hayden, at the CIPD NAP(Northern Area Partnerships) conference June 2016, in a short workshop. The title of his workshop was “Is L&D prepared for the Future of Learning?” and the basis of the discussion was around key statistics uncovered in the “Towards Maturity” report of April 2016 “Preparing for the Future of Learning”. David presented around an infographic, part of which is displayed to the left. What fascinated me were some of the statistics in this segment.
In the report, the survey showed that 17% of those polled, measure business metrics to improve business performance, but 86% would like to improve business performance. That is a huge mismatch and it got me thinking “Why then, if the will is there, people do not measure L&D’s performance against business metrics?”
So I have a theory and it all stems from “Begin with the end in mind”. It is all very well to have a great intention of “improving business performance” and a whopping 86% of the respondents wanted this, but you have to start off on the right foot. At the beginning you have to do the right kind of analysis to determine the needs and the outputs, making sure that there is in fact a strong link between them. Then you need to:
- Identify those people who have a stake in improving the business
- Of those stakeholders, identify where they are on the stakeholder analysis grid, that way you know where to focus your efforts
- Be part of the business and have your finger on the pulse, so you always get the bigger picture
- Ask questions about organisational benefits and impact, not just learning outcomes
- Do a thorough needs analysis (not just an LNA or TNA) to uncover what individuals, teams and the organisation needs
- Set objectives with the stakeholders and have targets that THEY can measure success against
- Agree post learning activities and follow up
- Keep them up to date with what is going on and get them to support the learners
- Check in at various points and update them on progress
- Ask the stakeholders how the measures put in place are stacking up
I’ve written before about “Needs Analysis” and spoken about it at the CIPD L&D exhibition in May 2016 – what surprised me was the number of people that are REALLY interested in this topic! The last point in the list, is a crucial one, because another reason I believe only 17% measure business metrics in evaluation is that the best people to do the measuring are those who are most interested in those metrics and have EASY access to them!!! Is that a little too obvious?
Now L&D does not sit in some sort of vacuum or at least it shouldn’t. L&D is an important and necessary part of any successful businesses strategy – and if it isn’t we should be asking ourselves “why?” and “what can we do to become essential and not just a cost?” If you are not conducting a needs analysis that involves the correct stakeholders and using or developing metrics then what are you doing?
This is what David Hayden, L&D Professional at the CIPD said about the statistics:
“The challenge of 17% only measuring demonstrates it can be a massive challenge and rethink on what we measure. My advice is to start small and build up – pick one or two projects or interventions and work on the business metric links for those – and make it explicit in any pre intervention communication, during the intervention at regular points and in any post intervention communication. Become known for knowing the business goals!! Be that role model!”
“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”
― H. James Harrington
If you would like to discuss further with a group of L&D professionals, then come along to our next free Showcase event : “Taking the fear out of ROI”
There is a truism that training and R&D are the first places to get hit when companies want to cut costs. But how do companies get to the point of cutting these areas that are vital to future success?
When speaking to companies I often hear of the intense pressure on L&D to “deliver” and as a result, staff are under pressure to do more and more with less and less. Let’s be clear, no organisation has an unlimited training budget (but if there is one, please contact me immediately!) but I don’t think it is necessary either.
Senior executives have to see a correlation between the value that L&D brings to an organisation and business results. If they can’t see one, then that is an uncomfortable place to have to be because it may mean a skill gap in both L&D and senior management.
You might think the way to show a link is through measurement? Not necessarily. Certainly it is much easier for large organisations to measure lots of things these days using IT, yet it does not mean that you are measuring the right things. You can only measure the right things when you have a comprehensive understanding of your business and the business environment in which you operate. Once you have found the areas, which make your business successful, doing a good analysis at the start, you can then decide how best to measure performance in those areas.
When you have made those links you will need to identify the stakeholders and agree objectives. That may sound simplistic but this is a great truth for many organisational activities – well beyond L&D! Identifying stakeholders is important and gets much more difficult with large and complicated organisations. This can also become problematical in large organisations when people who were not considered in the initial consultations undermine the L&D initiatives. There are ways of minimising this but, again, it’s for further discussion.
So, L&D can deliver! And L&D can be very effective if it delivers to objectives that are linked to real business success.
You can read more about our approach to learning through “The Learning Loop approach“.