A little story
Once upon a time there was an L&D Manager. This manager was happy and a real ‘people person.’ They were in touch with the best companies to design and deliver courses and they always ensured that post course feedback evaluation sheets were completed and the results analysed. Everyone was happy.
Then one day the L&D manager had a new boss. This was not like any boss they’d had in the past; this one asked ‘harder’ questions such as “How do you know the L&D is working?” and “Which people are benefitting most?” and “Do we need to train everyone all the time, or could we just train a few and get the same result?”
The L&D manager was scared because they didn’t know the answer to the boss’s questions; all they could do was tell the boss that 89% of people liked the training they had and 94% liked the location where the training took place.
But the boss was relentless. “How do I know I’m getting value for money?” they would ask. “If I doubled the budget, would I get four times the return?” The questions kept coming and the L&D manager became very afraid.
Then one day the L&D manager met an old colleague who worked in L&D for another company. The L&D manager told his old colleague of the situation and how he couldn’t answer the boss’s questions and how he was becoming very afraid.
“Why don’t you dare to do data?” the old colleague asked. “It’s not as difficult as you think and it will eventually help you answer some of your boss’s questions.”
“I just don’t know where to start” said the L&D manager, “I don’t know what big data is, I don’t know if we have a data warehouse or a data lake and I don’t know how to do multiple correlation or Chi-Squared analysis. I feel totally lost.”
“It’s not as bad as you think” said the old colleague. “You already have all the tools you need; you may just not realise it.” “And how would you feel if you were able to answer your boss’s questions?” said the old colleague.
“Oh, it would be wonderful” said the L&D manager. “I would feel like a professional, I would be helping the business and I would have a much better understanding of what was making a real difference.” With a tear in his eye he added, “And I’d be valuable to the business.”
“And there you have it” said the old colleague, “you understand the benefit that data can bring and if you take the right steps you can start to make an impact almost immediately.”
The difference data can make
You may think this is a fairy tale but the data tells us differently. According to Towards Maturity who have been monitoring L&D metrics for many years, the data analytics capability of L&D has DECREASED by 35% over the last four years such that only 20% of the 365 surveyed saw a benefit. Most are worried that they either don’t see the value, are unsure of their own capability or feel overwhelmed.
This is backed up by the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI) whose Capability Map shows data analytics coming bottom of the professional skills needed in L&D, a position that has not changed in recent years.
And here’s the challenge; L&D (according to the LPI Capability Map) see themselves as being very capable of designing and developing solutions but if the same people are not comfortable with data analytics then what are they basing their design and development on? Gut feel most likely, which is no longer a wholly viable commodity within business. As L&D professionals we need to back up our actions with data. Can you imagine an accountant doing their job without looking at the data? No, you’d be horrified, and the same should apply to us.
If you’re like the L&D manager mentioned earlier then you are clearly not alone, but there is a way forward. Come along to Jonathan Kettleborough’s World of Learning Conference session where he will walk you through how you can start to make a difference. This isn’t an academic approach; this is something Jonathan has been doing for over 30 years; and it works.