Bill Brandon recently interviewed Gene Pease, founder and CEO of Vestrics, for Learning Solutions magazine. Gene has been using Human Capital Analytics to measure Return on People for a long time, so it doesn’t surprise me a bit that this article hits the nail on the head. My favorite observation: when it comes to measurement, L & D is where Marketing was 10 years ago. Gene is spot on. As Learning still is in many organizations today, Marketing was at one time a necessary, but shrinking, budgetary line item, and measuring marketing ROI was somewhat of a dark art. Today, marketers are increasingly being asked to justify their spend, and are relying on increasingly sophisticated testing and measurement in order to do so. Today’s savvy marketers are well versed in analytics, including making predictive hypotheses and using A/B testing to sample results for continuous improvement. New learning delivery platforms like Xperiocity are designed with that in mind.
However, the enterprise marketing measurement problem lived more or less within a single discipline. It was arguably easier to educate and effect radical change when everyone under the Marketing umbrella read the same journals, attended the same conferences, and relied on similar tools and methodologies. When your competitors all began using email marketing, it was fairly easy to see the consequences of not jumping on the bandwagon. Pretty soon, the question became not whether or not you should be doing it, too, but how well you are doing it and where you are getting the greatest return on your efforts and spend. Your marketing people knew where the bar was, and you could hold them accountable for moving it in the right direction.
In L&D, we’re just dipping our toes in the Human Capital Analytics water. We’ve come a long way from measuring ROI through butts in seats, and most organizations have instituted some form of enterprise Talent Management. However, overcoming the next hurdle in measurably improving people development will be much more difficult. Unlike marketing, Human Capital measurement crosses organizational boundaries. It requires taking a holistic view and a cross-disciplinary approach, aligning business strategy across recruiting, talent management, learning, OD, line of business leadership …
The larger and more traditional the organization, the harder it is to affect change across internal functions and disparate systems. It’s especially difficult when leadership doesn’t yet readily feel the pain of failing to invest in learning and development strategies that promise measurable Return on People. Those who do feel it — those working to develop the organization’s people — can not affect cros-functional organizational change from the bottom up.
Improved talent development methodologies and measurement must be initiated by decree from the top down. The good news, because the barriers to entry are so high, organizations that take the risk early will surge ahead and reap early rewards. This change will come – it must! But oh, my, what a bloody uphill battle we are waging in the trenches. Smart leaders will send in the cavalry now.
Read the full Gene Pease interview in Learning Solutions here.