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Learning Impact: Your Story is Your Contribution, Not Your Credit

June 2, 2019
Jun 2, 2019 7:00 PM

Performitiv was honored to present at ATD International 2019.  We had over 500 people attend our speaking session about modernizing learning impact!  During that session we wanted a message to come across to the audience about the contribution, not the credit, when it comes to showing impact and value.

Future-forward organizations want to re-imagine learning measurement so the conversations they have with stakeholders around impact are collaborative, not controversial.  They envision a dialogue that is data-driven, showcasing the alignment between learning and strategic business outcomes.

At Performitiv we are helping diverse organizations tell their story of impact with roughly reasonable, straight-forward and process-oriented approaches.  One fundamental principle is to focus on gathering and reporting evidence of impact.  Evidence of impact is not about how much credit you take as a learning professional, but where and how learning contributed to the desired business result.  

There are two major ways to show evidence of impact, therefore painting a picture of training's contribution to business results.  First, we suggest gathering Business Outcome Indicators on surveys.  This is scalable, simple, and part of the evaluation process.  Conditional questions appear aligned to a business result at key milestones in the learning process.  For example, if a leadership program happens and a major talking point with stakeholders should be around the impact the program has on employee engagement, we would want to ask a predictive question to learners about this point.  An example is below.

This question is pretty straight-forward, right? That's the intent.  A simple question that you can gather evidence of alignment to the result.  If you gather this at key milestones in a longer program, you can begin to trend it over time.  The outcome may look like the below.

This trend shows increased engagement indicators as the program progresses and ends.  While this data is not perfect nor precise, it is reasonable evidence that the program is aligned to the desired outcome of increased employee engagement.  It is evidence that can be used to show the contribution learning is making to the outcome.  

Next, what if we have another business outcome, like employee turnover, for the same leadership program and HR tells us the turnover at various points.  We can also use this information as evidence in the impact story.  The turnover is charted below.

This chart shows how turnover amongst this group of people in the program is going down while in the program and after the program completes.  This data is not a causal link between the learning and the result, as we did not do a regression analysis.  But the stakeholder most likely never would ask for a regression analysis.  What this does is provide evidence of impact to show how the learning program is aligned to the desired result.  It shows an association between the desired outcome before, during and after the program, which is an indicator of learning contributing to the result in a positive way.

Collecting a few data points like these can then be combined along with some further annotation to tell the full story of learning's contribution to the  desired business outcomes of a strategic program.  A chart like the one below can be constructed easily to do this.

The blue trend is the turnover scores decreasing, while the orange trend is the engagement indicator.  Turnover is going down (good) and engagement is going up (also good).  We then annotate our feedback and our contribution to these important outcomes.

In all of the above, the goal is to gather reasonable evidence of impact and document your contributions to it.  Most stakeholders are looking for evidence of the contribution, and those are constructive conversations as opposed to attempting to provide the credit learning caused, which can be controversial.

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The Performitiv Team