How do you get from ROI to compliance training?

It was such an interesting chat today in the L&D Mastermind 2nd Friday natter on Clubhouse. We started off talking about the ‘ROI of Learning’ and we finished off discussing about how to find the higher purpose of compliance training.

If you have never attended anything on clubhouse, it’s an informal (non-video) way of having a great discussion. Our next L&D Mastermind natter is on December 10th at 9am on this link.  We will be talking about ‘Reflection: its purpose and value to L&D’.

 

These are some of the memorable take-aways I have from the natter (prompted by Cat Nelson, who was on fire btw!):

1) Measuring ROI can be a great weapon to use when someone wants training without a purpose – get them to define what they will get out of it and ask lots of questions

2) If you have a clear purpose to be fulfilled by the training it is easier to deliver it

3) The WAY that we train can have a completely different impact even with the SAME purpose

4) The L&D role is evolving and rather than think about L&D strategy we need to be clear about the business strategy so that we help deliver on it

5) Even in compliance training, by digging deeper into the wider purpose you can broaden the impact and gain more buy-in.

6) For ‘cost-centres’ like customer service start to look at the value you bring rather than the cost you incur – this forces you to look at your purpose

If you would like to learn more about how to get deeper into the organisational needs then this blog may also be of interest.

Why don’t you use subject matter experts?

You may already be using subject matter experts to deliver training and see the huge benefits that this model brings. You may have considered using them or used them already without success. Whichever camp you fall into, in this blog I am going to explore the pros and cons of using subject matter experts within your organisation. I am going to share a real live case study from Stockport Homes who have had great success with their ‘Facilitator Pathway’ programme, which was introduced in 2015 and has been reaping rewards ever since.

Liz Chadwick, Head of Organisational Development at Stockport Homes said about the (Learning Loop) Facilitator Pathway:

“The Facilitator Pathway is fundamental to SHG’s approach to personal growth and development.  It has enabled us to provide development opportunities for our team members whilst addressing learning needs across the organisation.  Having a tailored approach based on organisational priorities and policies allows us to get it right first time”

So why would you consider using subject matter experts and not external consultants? Here are just a few considerations:

  • Training budgets are limited or about to be cut
  • The specialist external consultants in the subject of interest do not always understand the intricacies of how it applies to your organisation and you want the training to be tailored
  • You have a lot of external consultants coming in as you need the training frequently as part of your compliance requirements.

Stockport Homes introduced the facilitator pathway alongside other career development pathways in 2015 to strengthen their personal growth offer and generate efficiencies. This pathway provided stretch and recognition of talent, whilst knowledge sharing with other colleagues. The pathway has been a fundamental part of SHG’s Learning and Development Plan, providing bespoke solutions internally across the group.

Here are some of the pros and cons of using subject matter experts:

Pros

  • They have knowledge not only relevant to your industry but the application in your organisation
  • Cost savings* see table below
  • Promotes a learning culture where learning is not ‘owned’ by L&D but can be seen to be done by anyone who is willing and with an aptitude
  • Person is a known and respected part of the organisation
  • Tailored to the organisation
  • Opportunities to build team cohesion when leaders and managers are involved

Cons

  • They are not trainers or facilitators, so may not be able to put their subject across in an engaging or impactful way
  • Their ‘day job’ pulls them away from delivering the learning
  • A consultant will know what trends are happening in the broader industry and be able to share those
  • Employees may not think out of the box
  • Lack of inclusion and diversity if hearing the same voices
  • Outdated content?

Since 2015, I have been running the Learning Loop programme for the Facilitator Pathway for Stockport Homes. Part of the needs analysis identified that the main driver was to save the £1000 per day fee that external consultants were charging. There have been significant money savings since 2015, although it is difficult to be exact in the tracking of all the days the subject matter experts have trained.

Below is a very conservative estimate of how much money will have been saved by the July 2022. Most cohorts have had 12 participants and the cost of the training (mainly safeguarding) has not been adjusted for inflation over the last 6 years. Some of the people on the Facilitator Pathway have done maybe 10 days training whereas others have done none. Therefore, to give an idea of the sort of savings that could be had, we have assumed just 2 days training per year per person since 2015. You can see that will mean by this time next year they will have (conservatively) saved £380,000

Facilitators trained (cumulative total) Days trained per person annually Money saved that year (£1000 per day)
2015 10
2016 10 2 £20,000.00
2017 20 2 £40,000.00
2018 30 2 £60,000.00
2019 40 2 £80,000.00
2020 40 0* £0.00
2021 50 2 £80,000.00
2022 2 £100,000.00
TOTAL £380,000.00

*2020 no training face to face due to COVID19

The impact of these figures speak for themselves. As a consultant, if the client knows annually, I am going to be saving them initially £20,000, my fee in comparison will seem insignificant.

Training subject matter experts is not the same as training trainers or facilitators. They do not have experience in how people learn or how to create engaging learning activities. The role of any programme to help them deliver training in an impactful and engaging way is to:

  • Role model great practice
  • Provide simple models to follow to make analysis, design, delivery and evaluation straightforward.
  • Give them confidence that they can facilitate (not just present)
  • Inspire them to design quickly for themselves, relevant and interesting activities without the need to buy in ‘activities’
  • Help them to deliver learning that is business focussed as well as brain friendly (not just one of these!)
  • Be pitched at a level where the SME’s may have no L&D knowledge

If you would like to know about the impact of the Learning Loop programme on the participants of the “Facilitator Pathway” look at some of the comments from past participants:

“Motivates me to think outside the box and make a different way of learning key to improving the organisation”

“Very interesting, not what I thought it was going to be. Have always had training but not like this. Was much better :)”

“Energising and inspiring. You get lots and lots of different tools and ideas to make training interesting.”

“Very informative. Brilliant teaching techniques and great activities”

 “Really interesting training that helps to inspire you and bring out your creative side”

Liz Chadwick, Head of Organisational Development at Stockport Homes said about the Facilitator Pathway: “The Facilitator Pathway is fundamental to SHG’s approach to personal growth and development.  It has enabled us to provide development opportunities for our team members whilst addressing learning needs across the organisation.  Having a tailored approach based on organisational priorities and policies allows us to get it right first time”

Contact us to find out how we can help develop your subject matter experts to deliver training in-house to save you money year on year.

 

The QA and QC of Learning

I have never kept it a secret that in a former life I was an engineer. It is something I am immensely proud of and it has formed my thinking as an L&D professional. Learning is a process and it does not begin with a training session nor does it end with a learning outcome.

Fruitful learning can only begin with the clear identification of the problem you are trying to solve. Impactful learning will not only have learning outcomes but also observable measures, that improve the performance of individuals as well as the organisation.

As an engineer, after graduation and working for a boiler manufacturer in Glasgow, I first came across two departments: QC (Quality Control) and QA (Quality Assurance). Quality control came at the end of a process and rubber stamped the finished boiler, pronouncing it fit for purpose and meeting the production criteria. QA on the other hand, punctuated the whole process and steered it to ensure that the boiler would be able to meet those stringent production criteria.

So how does this apply to L&D and how do we know if we are QA or QC led or both? In L&D a QC approach would be to have definitive outcomes (learning and performance) that can be measured at the end of the learning process, once the learning has embedded. Nothing wrong with this, but let us imagine taking 3000 people through this to find out that only 30% of them have achieved what you set out to achieve. Even if you have correctly identified the problem and have clear outcomes, this would not be a satisfactory result.

Adding the QA approach, once you have a definitive problem and clear outcomes, builds in checks and balances to ‘right the ship’ if at any time it goes off course. These measures might be about how engaged the participants are, what the completion rate is, benchmarks on their achievement, maybe even ‘bums on seats’ and many other so called ‘vanity’ metrics: something which we may feel we have been told to steer clear of. The key thing is not to use these metrics as a confirmation of success, but as a confirmation that:

  • The participants are engaged on the journey
  • They are completing the whole journey
  • There is no point at which there is an exodus of participants or a drop in engagement

If at some point the participants become disengaged, using these metrics, you may be able to find out why and put things into place. If you notice that the number of attendees is dropping off even though there are many more who need to attend, it may alert you to checking in with their feedback. As a result, you may have to make changes or begin a new marketing campaign to encourage attendance.

So how do you do L&D. With a QA or QC approach or both and why?

The Transformation Curve from Towards Maturity

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’

 

 

LTSF19 – Finding the Story in the Data

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:

  1. Credibility
  2. To check if things are going to plan
  3. Demonstrate the value brought by L&D
  4. Transition from learning provide to performance enhancer
  5. Avoid the sheep dip approach
  6. It is expected
  7. 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!

 

 

 

 

Is OD just L&D with bells on?

So I am going to come clean. I have never really understood the difference between Learning and Development(L&D) and Organisational Development (OD).  I have looked at the definitions of OD and thought to myself  “So how does that differ from what I do?”. So I have hidden my ignorance and not really engaged in any discussions about the differences between the two.

Then last week I saw a post from Steve Benfield about what OD is really about and the difference between it and People Development. His definition:

“People development is about when there is an improvement to a person(s). A person can be exposed to an intervention (e.g. a training course, programme or event) designed to help that person make improvements – development! (It’s only the doing things differently that real learning can then take place).

Organisational Development (OD) is about developing the system of an organisation with the aim of improving the system. Just developing people, doesn’t necessarily mean that the organisation will improve.”

He then goes on to talk about how OD is linked to strategy, process and making a difference to the ‘system’, not just people.

My thoughts in response to this, have been about how I work with clients. I seek to find out what the organization needs as well as the individuals. First and most important (in my opinion) of the 5 secrets of Accelerated Learning are “Business-focused and learner-centered objectives”. Business focused, because if the learning makes no impact on the business then what are we doing it for? Learner-centred so that we get buy in and learning then accelerates through the organization.

So I get why Steve may say there is a distinction between People Development and OD, but L&D are changing. I spoke about L&D’s Identity Crisis in a recent blog and have been in many conversations about that urge to change with fellow revolutionaries in our LinkedIn group. It is no longer acceptable to design learning or training in isolation from the business. It is not acceptable to change individual behavior without a thought to the impact on the business.

So if that is the case, should we get rid of the distinction between OD and L&D? Is it helpful? Could we join forces and be one?

If you would like to read more about my thought on my approach to L&D then read my book “How Not To Waste Your Money On Training”.

I would love to hear your thoughts, really!

 

 

 

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