Aligning learning initiatives with business objectives and measuring its value

Samuel Björklund
Mar 14 · 3 min read

A group of learning executives in the pharmaceutical industry discussed challenges and shared best practices on how to measure value from learning initiatives, and how to align learning initiatives with business objectives.

The discussion resulted in four conclusions. The most successful L&D organizations are the ones that (i) move away from measuring learning experience to measuring business impact, (ii) truly understand business needs and aligns learning initiatives with business objectives, and (iii) understand that virtual learning is here to stay and adapts delivery to the modality, and (iv) rationalize learning tech ecosystem and leverage tools to the fullest before adding innovation.

One of the largest challenges and biggest opportunities for L&D is to move away from measuring learning experience and move to measuring the business impact (do we make money, save money, or reduce risk?)

  • Traditional L&D measurement focuses on learning experiences and how people feel about learning initiatives
  • However, there is broad consensus that “happy sheets” (L&D lingo for feedback forms following a training) provides little or no information about the quality of the training, the behavioral changes, nor the business impact
  • Learning initiatives must be evaluated based on the business impact — does the initiative make money, save money, or reduce risk, or improve a proxy for it (e.g. favorable behavioral change)?
  • Once business impact measurement is established learning initiatives can better be prioritized, the business be better aligned, and value communicated to executive stakeholders for getting buy-in for business critical initiatives

Truly understand business needs to build a stronger, more autonomous L&D function that aligns learning initiatives with business objectives

  • The business looks at L&D as the training hospital. Learning initiatives must be upstream in the employee lifecycle to not be reactive in its nature (and causing illness)
  • L&D organizations that act as order taking functions are deemed to produce elearning that will just linger in learning management systems. Learning teams should embed themselves more tightly in the business to truly understand performance drivers
  • Once a thorough business understanding is achieved, learning teams can act on longer term development needs that drive business performance

Virtual learning is here to stay, but L&D must adapt delivery to the modality

  • Virtual learning is here to stay as it will not make economical sense to move back
  • However, organizations must adapt learning delivery based on the modality. Instead of just moving ILT online, leverage tools for self-paced learning for foundational levels of learning, and focus ILT on higher levels of understanding

Simplify ecosystem and leverage existing technology to its fullest before augmenting with complementary tools

  • Most organizations have double digit learning tools. The technology stack must be rationalized before adding innovation. Start by killing what is not absolutely needed, and only add technology that can help drive business impact
  • L&D functions are victims of the technology race, and are keen on hunting the next shiny object. Justifying any new technology should have a strong business case that can be measured

Conclusion

Industries that come together to jointly discuss challenges and share best practices in the learning domain will be better equipped to tackle the ever-increasing complexity in the workplace and increased need for up- and reskilling. At Sana Labs, we are honored to facilitate conversations among learning executives to help build better learning.

This white paper is based on insights generated from a roundtable discussion moderated by Phil King (Phil King Consulting) with participation from Giorgio Cavalleri (Chiesi Farmaceutici), Kristoffer Lolk Fjeldsted (LEO Pharma), Tim Batchelor (Otsuka Pharma), and Samuel Björklund (Sana Labs). Thanks for your participation and invaluable insights.

Sana Labs

AI for Learning.

Sana Labs

Sana Labs is the global leader in the development and application of AI for learning. Sana makes learning personalized, measurable and engaging.

Samuel Björklund

Written by

Currently on a quest to improve learning with Sana Labs.

Sana Labs

Sana Labs is the global leader in the development and application of AI for learning. Sana makes learning personalized, measurable and engaging.

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