The Business of Learning

Unleashing Performance Analytics To Drive Learning & Business Outcomes

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Learning organizations at leading companies have recently shown that performance analytics is effective in focusing the efforts of learning and  development (L&D) to help drive overall business value. In this blog, we will look at their experiences and suggestions.

Why is Analytics an Issue for Learning Orgs?

Most people probably agree that learning and development is key to improving job performance and creating high employee engagement. Yet, sadly, most people probably also agree that proving the business case for training has been difficult. As a result, L&D has always struggled in the competition for scarce resources.

By suggesting that “analytics” might be a solution, we are referring to one of the most popular yet confusing concepts of our times. Big Data or Analytics is a response to the tsunami of data that has overwhelmed our traditional analysis methods, many of which were developed during times of relative data scarcity.

What Analytics?

In the typical L&D organization we might want to do two different types of data analysis in order to achieve two different objectives.

  • Learning analytics – A data-driven approach used to optimize how organizations manage and deploy learning and development to ensure employees’ peak performance, engagement and work confidence.
  • Performance analytics – Analytics that focus on how learning contributes to achieving business key performance indicators.

Which is important? Both. Which should you do well? Both. Which do you do well in your organization today?

Notice that each type of analytics is focused at a different level in the organization. Learning analytics are usually focused on the learner and try to maximize the effectiveness of the learning organization. Performance Analytics typically focus on enterprise level objectives. Establishing the connection between the two has been the difficulty.

Learning Best Practices

In 2015, Raytheon Professional Services and Human Capital Media conducted a survey that sought to understand the usage of both learning and performance analytics by learning organizations.  Gathering data from more than 450 organizations, the results gave excellent insight into a wide range or practices and outcomes

So what did we learn about the habits and practices of the vanguard and elite companies?

  1. Know what you want to achieve – Define both your goals and KPIs in advance. Each of these are different. A goal is the desired final outcome. KPIs are the key metrics indicating whether your performance is good enough to achieve your goals in the end. Have these defined at all appropriate levels in the organization. This is important because you need to…
  2. Define why you want to use analytics – What compels you to use this technique? We need to come to alignment on the reasons why we are embarking on this process. Between these two steps we have the answers to two key questions – why did we start this journey and how will we know when we reach our destination. These will serve as guide posts for our change journey.
  3. Get the right resources – It sounds simple, but the biggest stumbling blocks reported in the survey were the lack of:
    1. Trained analysts
    2. The right analysis software
    3. Integration between the various data systems
  4. More is better – The most successful companies live by the slogan “More, more, more.” They get more date from more sources. They involve more folks in the discussions. They communicate more with more leaders. In the end, they make more discoveries, overcome more roadblocks, and achieve more successes.
  5. Demonstrate successes and gain early wins – The achievers have an ability to communicate progress and final results better. They use a variety of methods, and are able to keep people throughout the chain of command up to date on progress and successes. The way data is packaged is better and makes it easier for everyone to use the data.

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