Learning measurement strategy: From intention to action
Posted on 16th May, 2018 by Kathryn Nixon
Move beyond intention and aspiration down to real, practical action’. That was the goal of our third measuring the business impact of learning workshop at the Royal Institution in London where guests, facilitated by LEO Learning experts, got to create their own learning measurement strategy.
For the past two years, our surveys on measuring the business impact of learning have delivered insights into the evolving learning measurement landscape in L&D.
While we know there’s high enthusiasm to measure the business impact of learning, many L&D professionals still report barriers that stop them getting started.
That’s why we tasked our workshop guests with building their own practical, bite-sized learning measurement strategy.
Learning measurement strategy: Getting the measure of the room with Watershed
Before our guests (and LEO Learning facilitators) got down to work, we took the opportunity to get another snapshot of the current learning measurement landscape.
With our partners Watershed, we set up two online surveys attendees could access on their mobile devices.
We asked them questions on two topics:
- Where they were on their measurement journey
- Assessing measurement capabilities and skills within their teams
The responses went straight into a Watershed dashboard, where we could instantly analyse the results.
Here are the key takeaways.
Data on decision-making
Almost half of our respondents said that data was very important to decision-making in their organisation. But only a very small number reported using visual dashboards (like Watershed) to present data on business impact to senior stakeholders.
Alongside this, many guests reported that their main goal for learning measurement was to be able to validate investment in L&D by demonstrating business impact.
Other business departments, such as marketing, have historically fared better at protecting their budgets in times of hardship. This is often due to the fact they have been much quicker to harness the power of data to prove the impact of their work.
Senior stakeholders use data to inform their decisions. L&D needs to take data-driven evidence of business impact to those stakeholders to succeed in securing, retaining and increasing investment.
Data analytics expertise is in short-supply
As the CIPD’s Andy Lancaster detailed in his talk at the event, there is a significant data skills gap in L&D.
This was made quite apparent by our survey results which suggested that knowledge of key tools and learning measurement, such as xAPI, was low.
Our industry is dominated by those with arts and humanities backgrounds – only four people in the room were from a maths or science background. To be successful at learning measurement strategy, we need to invest in and build skills that will make embedding large-scale learning measurement initiatives possible.
But securing the investment to develop these skills relies on demonstrating the value of L&D. This is both a barrier and major driver when it comes to getting started with a learning measurement strategy.
Linking learning to business KPIs is still seen as a challenge
Our survey results showed that business KPIs are not playing the critical role they need to in order to demonstrate the impact of learning programmes – and that data on KPIs was hard to access.
As part of building their bite-size measurement strategies, we asked our guests to start with identifying critical business KPIs and to look at ways to source data that demonstrates performance against them.
Identifying relevant business KPIs for learning programmes is vital to building a strong chain of evidence of learning impact.
Overcoming barriers to measuring the business impact of learning
During the course of creating their bite-size measurement strategies, our guests realised they could overcome many of these barriers to getting started on measuring the business impact of learning.
These learning measurement strategies, each of which is captured in our new insight, ‘Creating the chain of evidence: Real stories of practical learning measurement strategies’ demonstrate that:
- Mapping learning to business KPIs is achievable
- Data sources related to key business activities are accessible to L&D teams
- Taking a ‘big data’ approach to a small data set enables teams to get started with measurement without dedicated data analytics roles
When it comes to learning measurement, the barriers are not insurmountable. L&D can move, and is moving, from intention to real, practical action.