Brandon Hall Group™ studies continue to show that learning measurement is a perennial challenge for Learning and Development teams. Despite the emergence of more sophisticated learning and business analytics techniques, struggles with learning measurement continue to persist at frustrating levels. Closing the gap between the language of the boardroom and the language of L&D around actual business results and organizational impact is a required skill for today’s Learning leaders to master.
In a VUCA environment where technology is again outpacing the ability of the workforce to keep up, the tangible, measurable impact of learning is no longer a nice to have. Any function within the business that cannot clearly show the value and impact of its work on the results delivered in the business will be in jeopardy. Now is the time to strengthen your measurement strategy and learn to manage the business of learning.
The problem is that most Learning leaders are incredibly skilled at building learning that works — as learning. Meaning that the learning program meets its objectives and is sound from an instructional perspective. Regardless of modality, most Learning teams can produce, or curate, content that meets learning objectives. Because of that skill, we often consider the job done at that point.
It’s a problem because the job is only done if the learning causes the learner to move the needle on expected business results. We spend a lot of energy on learner experience and satisfaction, and a little less energy on validating knowledge and skills. We spend very little time on actual performance results, yet that is where the real power of Learning and Development lies. In the era of big data, it’s past time learning stepped into the arena.
When looking at how L&D teams approach measurement, data clearly shows proficiency in identifying learning outcomes and targeting learning effectively. The same data also shows a frustrating lack of proficiency in knowing how to collect data, pull business data, integrate LMS data with other business systems, even in leveraging LMS pre-built reports. All of that points to a serious skill deficiency among Learning leaders.
CLO, Director of L&D, Head of OD, Training Manager — whatever the title, you have to understand that you are the general manager of the business of learning for your organization. Budget pressures are nothing new to Learning. The expendability of Learning as a so-called nice to have is also nothing new. While there certainly is no magic bullet when it comes to protecting the Learning function, between the shift to a Learning business partner model and an increased ability to connect the dots between learning and business results, CLO acting like a CEO has never been more important.
Learn to speak the language of business inside the language of learning. Your deliverables are the company’s deliverables, and your team has a critical role to play in the success of the business in the long term. Learning impacts business results. One way to start down that path is to leverage a model like Brandon Hall Group’s Learning-Performance Convergence Model. The model starts with the business result that learning is meant to impact, a KPI or OKR that is being measured at the enterprise level. From there, the next step is to map to the Learning or Individual Performance Outcomes that should reflect the specific outcome expected from a learner. That will organically lead you to the Learning Objectives for the program.
- Business Outcome (KPI, OKR)
- Performance Outcome (Measured how?)
- Learning Objective
The model goes on to lay out learning modality assessments and scenario construction which then leads back to measuring the performance outcomes.
Brandon Hall Group™ members can find a copy of our Learning-Performance Convergence Model here.
Non-members can find a copy of the Learning-Performance Convergence Model here.
- What business metrics are we using to measure the effectiveness of our learning?
- Are we becoming more proficient at measuring learning year after year?
- What technology can we leverage to compile analytics to make our business case?
- How can we use analytics to show that we are a true partner when it comes to business performance?
BRANDON HALL GROUP™ POV:
- Leverage business targets to drive learning design. The Brandon Hall Group™ Learning-Performance Convergence Model lays out a methodology you can use to work for business target to learning objective to instructional modality. Speak about learning in terms of the business.
- Be in it for the long haul. Many organizations don’t measure learning because they don’t even know what they’re looking for. Stick to a proven strategy — or fail quickly with one that’s not working. But stick with learning measurement. Many of our respondents tell us they have shown an increase in proficiency — with learners and well as their learning function itself — from just two years ago.
- Measure more than once. One-and-done measurement of a class or course doesn’t cut it anymore. Show how learning helped employees go from point A to B to C, instead of just showing what happened at the finish line. The most powerful analytics are those that show progression over time.
- Leverage technology to gain broader and greater insights. Leveraging your company’s existing data strategy and analytics capabilities in the context of learning can be a powerful way to build your skills and exposure of the work of learning to the broader organization.
To lead learning like a CEO, focus on results and outcomes first. Connect the dots between learning and business results. Do not get stuck on “correlation is not always causation”. You’re looking for evidence, not statistical certainty. You can also ask learning participants and their managers to rate to what extent a learning initiative had a hand in achieving specific results. It’s qualitative evidence — but can be a critical tool for C-Level support. As with all change, start where you are and take the next right step for your business.