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If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Manage It

13 Oct , 2014,
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Imagine for a moment, your child came back from school and happily showed her report card and all that you can find is “84 man-hours” of learning.

It is in this context that I absolutely abhor one metric organisations use: training hours per employee per year. It does not make sense to me. How can sitting in a classroom ever qualify for training – particularly if there are more than 15 people in the room? Imagine a salesman’s target as “number of field hours per year”. Wrong goals lead to wrong approaches and therefore a poorly trained workforce. The common reason given is that there is little else available to measure. This is actually quite baseless in the context of product training.

A measurement hierarchy in the learning world is the Kirkpatrick’s Model propounded in the 1950s. It has 4 levels – reaction, learning, behavior and results. Where does the current metric “training hours per employee” fit in this model? Well, nowhere. Because this metric merely represents “effort”. While effort is laudable, it can’t be a measure of your learning program. In what field of life do we celebrate mere effort without bothering about outcome?

Now for the solution. If not effort, what do we measure? Here are 4 non-negotiable measurements that you need to bring in your organisation:

1. Learning effectiveness survey results on a dashboard
2. Continuous learning assessment across organisation levels
3. Competition benchmarking of product awareness through mystery shopping
4. Quintile study comparison of job output vs learning scores
Each of the above methods is a very practical solution towards making learning interventions more accountable. It is time to move beyond measuring effort to measuring outcomes. Only a rigorous process of continuous measurement can help you create a truly world class learning organisation.

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