Learning Process or Learning Outcome—Where Do You Focus?

As a learning professional, has most of your work life been focused on the learning process or the learning outcome? If we’re honest, most of us would say much of our energy has been spent on the process. We focus more on the steps between the training request and course delivery than we do on what the impact of the learning will be.

Why does that happen? There are a few reasons.

We let business units dictate our workload. For many businesses, the training request is what launches the development of a learning program. Too many business units see the learning team as a business function rather than a business partner. A business unit leader notes a problem. He or she decides that a learning program will “fix” the problem. A stakeholder requests to launch a learning program and the learning professionals make no connection between the business objective and the learning objective.

We don’t teach ourselves to use business language to describe learning. Business leaders think in terms of performance. That’s often measured by job outcomes and metrics. Learning professionals too often think in terms of learning goals along with their internal L&D processes and measurement. That often means effort measured by surveys and by the number of courses planned. Learning professionals have to learn how to work with business units to reach agreement on the expected behavior change and the operational metric that the learning should affect. When learning is framed around changing job behaviors that lead to improvement in operational metrics, then the business teams can see the value and the impact of the learning programs.

We don’t measure the outcomes of our learning programs. Metrics are the language of business, and are also the way learning professionals can measure the effectiveness of their learning programs. When you learn how to create measurable learning, through the measurement of change in operational metrics, then business leaders begin to see the learning function in a new light. Like other business departments, the learning team’s value will be tangible, provable, and measurable. Measurement of the learning outcome becomes the goal.

Design Backward to Move Your Learning Programs Forward

To shift our attention from the learning process to the learning outcome, we have to learn to design backward. What does that entail? It means, as learning professionals, the first step in effective program design is defining the desired learning results. Learning professionals need to define the business outcome expected from the learning program.  Knowing the business/job outcome you need to achieve, helps you then describe the learning goal and objective. Knowing the goal and objective helps you then plan the specific training steps that will reach the goal.

Having perfect clarity on your learning outcome, goals, and objectives makes your job as a learning professional that much easier. As your learning design team becomes armed with this knowledge, you can make a positive impact on both the learner and the business. And that is the entire point of our profession. Our aim is to change outcomes, improve performance, improve workflow or all of the above. If that’s not the result of our work, then we’re failing as learning professionals and we’re failing to deliver the learning outcomes that the business leaders expect from us.

At eParamus, we teach learning professionals  how to link their programs to business results to ensure the desired learning outcome. Want to learn more? Then please contact us here at eParamus. We can help you learn how to craft effective, measurable learning programs that deliver the outcomes and results your stakeholders demand.

Please follow eParamus on LinkedIn and feel free to connect with me, Laura Paramoure, PhD to discuss the learning challenges you face.

Photo copyright: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

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