Why The Learning And Development Industry Should Think Differently To Improve Performance

Why The Learning And Development Industry Should Think Differently To Improve Performance
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Summary: Hands up if you know what is working in your learning departments and why. Do you make assumptions about what’s working in your organization, or do you gather evidence and use it to understand why learning initiatives succeed or fail? In this article I will share why the Learning & Development industry should think differently in terms of how we are using evidence in order to improve performance.

It’s Time For The Learning And Development Industry To Think Differently About How We Use Evidence To Improve Performance 

In this new era of learning analytics and big data, eLearning teams will be required to show value. Organizations that are already collecting and analyzing data to make decisions –be it in sales, marketing, business planning, or strategy– will be looking across the organization to see which other departments and disciplines can provide data that shows their effectiveness and also that links in with business performance analytics.

When you think about analytics in these terms, you can see that the need for Learning and Development to have evidence of what's working and how our activity becomes business critical and urgent. If you are basing your Learning and Development strategy on intuition and gut feel, then you might find the rest of the business starting to ask some searching questions. And you will need answers backed up with evidence!

Research from IBM shows that analytics trump intuition with top performing companies five times more likely to be using analytics than low performers.

If good data helps business perform better, isn’t it time Learning and Development started to collect its own data to show its impact on the business and help improve performance? Most definitely yes.

The trouble is, most of the data we currently monitor are traditional “benchmarks” such as cost, completion rates, headcount, and hours spent training. These track cost and spend, but don’t help us make decisions about the future. We need to focus on evidence that helps us improve performance and move forward.

The Towards Maturity Benchmark™

If you do not know how or where to start, you are in luck. Benchmarking organization Towards Maturity has just launched its 2015 benchmark program. Each year the program provides Learning and Development leaders with a chance to review their strategy against their peers and receive personalized feedback on their effectiveness. It originated in Europe and now Learning and Development leaders from 44 countries around the globe get involved. The data from Towards Maturity shows that only 1 in 5 Learning and Development leaders use analytics or benchmarking to improve the services that they deliver. Clearly, there is room for improvement here.

As an industry, we need to step back and reflect on the effectiveness of our Learning and Development strategy in order to deliver a new vision for the future; we need to ensure we measure the right things to help our organizations understand the impact we have. The Towards Maturity Benchmark has been tracking this progress since 2003 and in that time has developed benchmarks that reflect current effective practices that are focused on business outcomes; not analyzing happy sheet data.

I’d urge all eLearning professionals to get involved with this benchmark; the more that take part, the better the data and the better the outcome for your organization and the industry as a whole. The benchmark provides a confidential framework to reflect on your current learning strategy that has been refined by 3600 Learning and Development leaders and a wide range of industry experts. All those completing the process will receive a detailed Personalized Benchmark Report comparing activities against the top performing learning companies around the globe. What’s more, it is free during June and July.

We have it in our powers to generate the evidence we need to demonstrate our value. Why wouldn’t we take that opportunity?

Review your Learning and Development strategy and see how you compare with peers around the world with the Towards Maturity Benchmark: Start Your 2015 Benchmark