Recently, I’ve been talking with people about their Learning & Development measurement strategy. Two things regularly come up that reduce the motivation to do measurement well:

  1. The reliance on a strong relationship with the C-Suite
  2. An environment with too many numbers.

A Strong C-Suite Relationship
The first demotivator starts with this belief:  “I don’t need to prove efficiency, effectiveness or outcomes, because I have a close relationship with the C-Suite and they trust me.” That works — until it doesn’t.  What happens when a new leader emerges, or a financial crisis occurs? Then, when asked for numbers, it typically takes 2 months to get them. Even if it’s only two weeks, by then, it’s too late. The jobs and budget have already disappeared, because the C-Suite already has just ONE number – how much L&D costs.

Too Many Numbers
The second demotivator starts with something like Google Analytics or an LMS with a boatload of standard and customized reports.

L&D is quickly overwhelmed with numbers and reports, when what is really needed is a story that tells about everyone’s success, with numbers that support the story.
Get that? The numbers support the story, not the other way around.

Defeating the Demotivators: Create a Complete, Compelling Story
Crystal and I defined four ways the LCD Model uses measures. 

  • Articulate meaningful targets. Find out what is meaningful for leadership, stakeholders, learners and L&D. Then, go beyond “improve xyz” by adding a target such as “improve xyz by 2% within 3 months”. This addition helps us all know when we met the goal and can celebrate!
  • Broaden Awareness. Use data about how the learning cluster and assets make a difference for those who use them, and share this data so that others are aware and will want to use the cluster and assets.
  • Create internal feedback. L&D needs data to make sure the cluster is on/off track to deliver the SPO. Data gives insights on what works best or when improvement is needed in order to hit the target.
  • Demonstrate L&D Value. When L&D regularly delivers on meaningful targets, and others are aware of it, there is a desire to further support L&D with budget and resources, even in difficult times.

So start hunting for your stories among the data, by analyzing and interpreting the quantitative numbers and  wading into qualitative stories.

You ARE collecting qualitative data, right? These are the stories individuals tell about how the learning assets made a difference for them, their organization or their customers.  To be clear, stories alone without the numbers have no foundation, and can fall apart quickly. We need both.

Lastly, sharing the measures and stories with the right audience is crucial! A story is only compelling if you know who you are telling it to.

→ Learners don’t care that L&D created eLearning more efficiently than industry benchmarks. They’d rather know that others enjoyed the learning assets and that their peers benefitted (example: 60% of attendees were promoted within 2 years).
→ L&D cares about efficiencies, and a handful of efficiency measures shared with management is proof that L&D is running the business efficiently.
→ The C-Suite doesn’t care that the learners liked the course and learned; they want to know outcomes!. But L&D cares about Levels 1, 2 and 3, because these are leading indicators for Outcomes. If we’re missing the mark at levels 1-3, we’d best take action (and of course, the LCD model can help!).

Start now to pull together your measurement strategy. When someone comes asking for numbers, you will be able to pull out your last regular report as a starting point to meet their request.

Resources to Help:
Here are some resources that can help you get started.

This is the third of several blogs on Tracking Success for L&D. This blog series is a result of Lisa’s recent research and work to evolve the “Track Action” (short for Track Transformation of Everyone’s Results). Recap of blogs 1 & 2 : Those who write their goals and track progress, are more likely to achieve them. Barriers to tracking include fear, motivation, accountability, and complexity. Complexity can be tamed with goals, measurement infrastructure, and meaningful reports that declare successes and next steps.