Training Magazine - November/December 2007 - (Page 40)
training EXCLUSIVE: PART 2 pains: PART 2 Learning measurements aren’t rocket science, pointed out a learning executive at an Expertus forum earlier this year. But they are good business and can help you educate your stakeholders and raise important business issues. BY LINDA GALLOWAY That’s how Kathy Thomas described the situation many training executives find themselves in when it comes to learning measurements. “Too many times, we get ourselves wrapped around the axle when it comes to measurements,” said Thomas, vice president of learning and development for Norththrop Grumman. “We spend hours and hours compiling data and reports that don’t mean anything to our customers.” Recent conversations with learning executives reveal that attitudes about learning measurements are changing. Overall, executives are talking less about traditional measurements and more about business-related measurements. The Kirkpatrick measurement model is mentioned, but most often in descriptions of what organizations are not doing. As discussed in Part 1 (Training, October 2007, p. 64), obtaining visibility into the business impact of learning has become increasingly important because corporate learning now is widely viewed as a business service. The vast majority of reporting is done for internal business customers, such as sales executives, call center managers, and business unit leaders. This is the second part of a two-part series exclusive to Training magazine on the challenges related to learning measurements. The first article provided an overview of the topic, along with statistics from several recent surveys. This article brings to the topic the opinions and perspectives of senior learning executives. Expertus, a provider of operational outsourcing for training organizations, hosted two executive forums in spring 2007. Nearly 30 learning executives participated in these forums. Several agreed to go on record. This article is based on forum discussions and follow-on conversations. 40 measuring Death by data. “We have to move from measurements based on ‘training by the pound’ to those that are relevant to the business,” Thomas said. According to Thomas, relying solely on measurements such as total learning hours, pages accessed, class registrations, completions, and assessment scores has little if any value to internal customers—or business-focused learning executives. The “so what?” aspect is what’s most important, according to Mary Alice Colen, senior director of education services for Salesforce.com. “We can’t train just for the sake of training. We must be able to answer questions about business impact. The Kirkpatrick model is great theory, but it’s very expensive and time-consuming to get to Level 5. Practically, you have to find a measurement system that uses what’s already in place.” Measure What? Most executives are swimming in numbers. Knowing the ones on which to focus—“the ones you can’t leave home without,” as one said—is an important part of a learning executive’s job. As such, many executives are relying on their customers, both internal and external, to help them determine meaningful metrics. “One of the most important questions to ask is, ‘What do you want to accomplish with training?’” said Glenn Oclassen, Jr., director of education partner programs for Salesforce.com. “If you can’t come up with some basic measurements that answer that question, then you have to question the training itself. w w w. t r a i n i n g m a g . c o m | NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2007 training
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