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Impact of Learning – or Common mistakes in how to measure learning impact

Measuring Learning
The easiest way to measure something is always by capturing numbers. Hard facts. But there are also soft facts that are equally important but a great deal harder to capture, measure and track. These soft facts ultimately drive hard facts. Without accounting for the soft facts, numbers will not change.

Leader know how many variables can impact hard numbers in a complex business – sometimes even anecdotal evidence about how learning impacts performance is more compelling. Including the views of all stakeholders and making sure that you are not basing your concepts on assumptions are a way to ensure that you are on the right track.

While the perfect way of how to measure the progress in a complex process may really make sense, the practical implementation may fail because the measurement responsibility is usually distributed among many heads and the more complex it becomes, the less likely it is that the task will be executed accurately, thus providing figures that do not actually measure what you are trying to measure. This results in a lot of energy and resources spent with a mediocre or even worse result: numbers that you can’t count on.

How much time does it take to collect the required data and does it really prove what you are trying to prove?
What about questions that do not have a single right answer? Those dilemmas need to be managed. Such as measurement of learning impact – the subject of this article.

A very common pitfall in measuring impact is the lack of alignment with cultural norms and values. This is best explained with a personal question as an analogy to understand its relevance for organizations: Are you measuring happiness or personal success in terms of happy feelings or money in the bank?
The answer will most probably be a mixture of both, depending on your values and expectations in life.
Well, the same applies to organizations.

After you have done the hard work to define your mesaurement parameters, identify the sources and collected all the date, now it is about presenting. What can be learned from the collected data? Was it worth the effort? Do you know what needs to be changed to improve performance? Can you present the information in a way that everybody can understand its implications?

My bottomline is this question: Which of your business goals are related to learning?

If your answer is more than one – learning is an activity that needs to become part of everybody’s daily activity. Therefore it is more important and ultimately more effective to focus on creating a culture that allows open discussion about issues and problems as well as successed to allow the consequent learning impact to happen.

Listen to some thoughts about Reinventing The Workplace

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