If you’re a chief learning officer, there’s no better way to get funds from senior management than to prove how effective and beneficial your learning program is to the enterprise. Metrics are the name of the game, but often you need something more substantial than course evaluations and learner satisfaction reports. Mountains of research and potential solutions to the problem of how and what to measure have been created, not to mention the technological advances promoted as the latest greatest thing. Zeroed-In Technologies has come up with seven key learning indicators to measure and predict the value of learning.
“The key learning indicator measures and predicts goal attainment. It describes some critical must-achieve business outcome, such as operational excellence, time to competency or learning effectiveness,” said Chris Moore, president, Zeroed-In Technologies. “The key learning indicator concept is based on what I’ll call ‘performance-based measurement.’ It takes the concept of an indicator, which is going to denote the must-achieve business outcomes, and associates it to the organization’s goals and underlying objectives. As the organization identifies certain measures for an objective, if they watch each objective and the corresponding measure, and of course that measure is being driven and influenced by the work processes under that objective, then they can determine and predict their overall goal attainment.”
Key learning indicators are operational excellence (are you operating at optimal efficiency for the level of resources and investments?); learning effectiveness, instructional design and delivery techniques; compliance, mandated regulations and information streamlined for audit processes; change readiness (can the workforce change swiftly in response to evolution of the business strategy?); time to competency (can employees perform their jobs and roles to meet expectations in the minimal amount of time and with the least amount of difficulty?); workforce proficiency (employees have the knowledge they need to perform their jobs); and point of engagement, a measure of motivation and commitment, the energy behind the employees, which can be measured through retention, punctuality and the employee lifecycle assessment process.
“I think a lot of learning executives today are already defining their blueprint,” said Moore. “They’re creating their strategy, identifying what their goals and objectives are, and they’re stating those to their learning organization. What they need to focus on is really identifying what measurements they can watch in order to ensure that they’re being successful. Think of each indicator as an end state, the optimal outcome. It identifies what measures are behind the scenes. The key learning indicator is measuring some goal for the organization. The learning indicator is going to measure that and predict whether they’re meeting that goal.”
Naturally, CLOs want to show value to the organization and prove that their learning efforts help the organization as a whole meet its business goals. Identifying which measurements are important enables them to determine whether they’re meeting realistic, time-based objectives and identify thresholds or conditions to trigger some kind of alert or warning if objectives are not met.
“(Key learning indicators) are tied to the objectives they state,” Moore said. “For instance, if an organization’s objective is to reach an 80 percent fill rate for all of its classroom training, a key measurement becomes the fill rate ratio. They’re not going to measure level 1 course evaluations, based on their objective of trying to increase the fill rate for their classrooms. When they define the measurement that’s behind certain indicators, they should also be thinking in terms of the work processes that influence those measures because as they watch the measurement, if they understand the work processes behind them, they understand where the possible points of breakdown reside.”
Consistently monitoring and influencing key learning indicators and the work processes that underpin them can help you correct a problem if a measure goes in an undesirable direction, said Moore. “If you look at the landscape of the chief learning officer and what they’re facing, they’re under a lot of pressure to demonstrate the value of the learning enterprise. They need to align learning with the business and show a measurable return, but historically there’s no consistent tools or methodologies in place that help them measure what they manage. Data is scattered across the enterprise. There’s been a lot of investment in today’s learning management systems and learning content management systems, but they’re data rich and information poor. They provide good activity-based reporting, which focuses on helping you manage the business, but it doesn’t help you lead. It’s the goal strategy setting, watching the goals, measuring the goals and objectives that really become leadership tools.”