[This week's emails are contributed by Rakshith, and he ponders about a serious topic in a lot of detail: How to develop a Learning Organization?]
They say, "Where there is a will, there is a way." But how does one find the will to develop a learning culture in their organization? I believe, broadly, there are three steps to that goal.
Step 1: Align learning goals to business goals
Step 2: Design learning into the workflow
Step 3: Drive adoption with GPS
Let’s talk about step 1 today. L&D is often considered a qualitative field. In most training programs I’ve orchestrated measurement of success or failure of the training is restricted to:
(a) measuring reaction and satisfaction of learners immediately after the training and
(b) measuring skill and knowledge enhancement through quizzes and post-training assessments
These are typically classified as levels 1 and 2 respectively in the Kirkpatrick Model of Evaluation. To find the will (and the budget) to develop a learning culture, L&D has to measure behaviour change (level 3) and organizational performance (level 4). What this means is that, as trainers, we must work with participants, the L&D department, and the management to measure on the job application of knowledge and skills and then measure the business impact from the application. And if you can’t be involved in that measurement activity, give the L&D department the tools to do so and follow up with them until they do.
Now, you may ask me, why should we care so much? Maruti Suzuki answered that question a decade ago in a catchy ad. An enterprising salesperson lists out all the latest, cool, aspirational, luxurious features in a car, an aeroplane or a yacht. He is sure that these features will lock the sale. Until a discerning customer asks for the only information he cares about, "Kitna deti hai?" What’s the mileage on the car?
Your training might use the most amazing games, the most original activities; your training makes people feel great at the moment, it might motivate them to go back and talk about it for days… but if you cannot measure it, the business will not manage to find a budget for it. This is not a lack of budget. It is a lack of will. Of buy-in.
So what can you do?
To measure the application of knowledge and skills, at the time of program design, work with the business and L&D to specify what the learner will change after the program. After the program, evaluate what the participant has changed/accomplished at a specified follow-up time. Document the circumstances under which the participant performed the task. Evaluate the degree or level of proficiency under which the task or job was performed.
To measure the business impact from the application, specify what the participant has accomplished in the business unit as a result of the program. The impact might be output-focused, quality-focused, cost-focused, or time-focused. Pick the one that the business wants to see a difference in and design your program to achieve that impact/objective.
As I write this, I have paused multiple times to think, "Why am I writing this really long mail?" This morning I had to arrange for food for my grandmother who lives alone. Being Covid positive, I couldn’t go myself. I was only able to manage food because friends, neighbours, and strangers worked together to ensure my grandmother received food. If this pandemic has taught me one thing, it is that we are better when we work together.
I believe that trainers can no longer work with just the L&D department or the HR department. To truly make a difference, we must bring all stakeholders together, identify a business need that training can solve, design and deliver the training, and follow up to measure the impact of that training. If the business is an atom, we must be the nucleus that brings and holds everyone together.
Forming a nucleus,