So many just don’t get it!
I was reading a discussion yesterday about measurement and metrics, which concluded by asking if metrics were really necessary. Really? Like many others, these folks thought of metrics as something nice to do if you had the resources. Now, I hope they were just referring to higher-level measurement like Kirkpatrick/Phillips levels 4 and 5 or the optimization work of Capital Analytics. I still would argue these higher-level measurements are worth doing for your most important initiatives, but I understand resources are limited and you may not be able to pursue some of the more expensive measures.
It sounded, though, like they were referring to metrics and measurement in general, which really worries me. I believe metrics are absolutely essential to manage the business of learning. You simply cannot manage your training budget without metrics.
Metrics cannot be delegated to a “measurement group” or outsourced. If you aspire to be a good leader and effective manager, you must establish targets for what you wish to accomplish (metrics), track progress on a monthly basis (more metrics), and forecast how the year is likely to end (more metrics). You need an understanding of leading or predictive indicators for your key goals (yet more metrics). Again, it is the leader who must have these metrics to manage – not the measurement staff. Consequently, a good L&D leader must be intimately involved in setting goals and choosing metrics and in designing a scorecard to show all this information. There is just no way around it.
So, let’s not discuss metrics and measurement as if it were just a “nice to have.” It is a “must have.” At a minimum this means having specific, measurable goals for your learning programs including number of participants, completion dates, learning (level 2) if applicable, hopefully the application rate (level 3), ideally some measure of learning’s impact on the organization goal, and definitely the expected cost. For your one or two most important initiatives it would be great to have the isolated impact of learning (levels 4 and 5) and insight on how to optimize your investment. Bottom line, without at least the basic metrics, you simply cannot manage the learning function to deliver your promised outcomes effectively and efficiently. Period.