It can be difficult to be the first in anything. The first person to push back on common practice often gets hit with a mountain of ridicule from those who have done the same thing forever. When you are the first, others tell you all the reasons why what you are doing is wrong. You hear things like We have never done it that way; It will never work; or my personal favorite, If your way was the right way, everyone would be doing it.
Years ago, we at eParamus experienced the challenge of being the first in our approach to evaluating learning. We heard all of the reasons why learning could not be measured. We heard things like Learning is just too touchy feely to measure; Technical skills are one thing, but you could never measure a soft skill; Learning is not about the numbers, which means you can never get a real ROI on learning programs; and Learning departments are not like other business units, so you cannot expect them to quantify their outcomes.
Yes, being first is rough.
Still, armed by our convictions, we continued.
A Decade of Learning Measurement Success Silences Critics
After 10 years of sharing our message about the link between instructional design and learning measurement outcomes, we are happy to report that our critics have grown silent.
With the consistent use of the ROI by Design measurement model, we help companies across industries as varied as healthcare, finance, and technology understand the deep connection between learning programs and organizational success.
Recently I was asked, “What has been your biggest challenge in moving the learning measurement practice forward?”
This question prompted me to think about the challenges we faced in our early years. Some of the barriers to learning measurement we saw then are no longer barriers now.
In truth, we have seen many areas of progress. Specifically, learning professionals now understand:
- Sending a survey to program participants does not constitute measurement.
- Learning is not an event but rather a process and our ability to meet organizational needs depends on how well we collaborate with other business units.
- Instructional design of our learning programs is how we create impact (organizational capability).
- The universal measurement for learning outcomes is behavior change.
It has been nice to watch this shift in perspective in recent years. We have incorporated lessons learned from our customers to refine and improve results for learning programs. We have created tools to enable training teams to elevate their instructional design practice. Those same tools help our clients create standardized learning components with repeatable results.
Clear Learning Measurement Data Creates Business Results
Over the years our customers have generated clear data on learning results that enable them to improve their business daily. They can speak to the effectiveness of learning in the classroom, how that learning changed job performance, and how changes on the job impacted the organization.
Instructional designers using the ROI By Design model have all the information they need to diagnose and repair any problems with their learning programs. Learning professionals and business unit leaders can now verify their analysis of the business problem and repair any issues when learning is not applied on the job. Finally, all stakeholders have trustworthy data showing the ROI for learning.
Looking at things from a different perspective or doing something that has not been done before can be scary. Few of us would intentionally sign up for criticism from the establishment. However, when we see the excitement in the eyes of learning professionals who finally have credible data to improve their practice, or data that can show the value of their work, it is all worth it.
Using the ROI by Design model creates transparency. It enables the competency and methods of learning professionals to be understood and integrated with the competency and methods of professionals in other business units.
Watching the shift in an organization when everyone begins to understand how learning professionals create capability and fill business needs is a beautiful thing.
Sure, listening to the naysayers in the beginning was difficult. It was hard to push through the initial challenges of doing something new. It was tough to speak to groups and get the message out that there is a better way. But today, we are still here, stronger than ever.
We are armed with years of practice, happy customers, and mountains of data on the impact of learning. We continue to champion the learning profession and help these professionals show their value. We continue to spread the word and now, with a little thicker skin, we welcome you to join the conversation.
If you want to master instructional design techniques that ensure learning and support application then contact us at eParamus. You can learn the skills needed to create, evaluate, and measure your learning programs. The Measurable Instructional Design® Certification can set you and your learning programs on the right path.
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