Balancing the cost of learning

Ensuring your learning strategy brings you ROI

8 February 2018 | Craig Smith | , ,

Investment v ROI is a business-wide discussion point and is often the backbone in measuring success in any business. Why is this not always the case for learning? We’d like to think it was, but as designers, managers and stakeholders, are we always sure that the money invested in training is invested in the right way to yield greater results in learning?

How often, as learning professionals, are we asked to produce another course on x or y because people have forgotten/are not doing x or y since the last time they were trained? Chances are that number is relatively high. I have worked in many organisations where the learning of a new process, strategy or skill comes late in the process, or even as an afterthought. Early engagement is key, and that is a discussion for another time. What we are thinking about here is making sure that the level of investment made in any learning intervention is right for the ROI that is required.

What exactly do I mean by that?

‘If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got’, perhaps an over-used saying of undetermined origin, but it’s very true though isn’t it? Why is it that we expect all learning ‘to stick’ all the time? By the very nature of this new request for the same learning we surely know that it will be asked for again down the line. This is where we, as learning experts, come in. Why not take the same message in a different direction? Don’t just roll it in glitter. Turn it inside out, break it, squeeze the actual goal out of it, then look at how differently it can be put back together. It needn’t be the same approach, whether that be face-to-face or e-learning. It can be something completely new. It can be broken down into smaller chunks. It can be built up into a larger piece. It can be fragmented and sprinkled across other messages…

Was it Einstein that said: ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’? If it was, he was right. Let’s not fall into the trap of repeating our mistakes. So how do we avoid the trap?

Investment. Investment in the right learning to do the right job, in the right way to produce the right results. Creating new learning in new ways isn’t always cheap. But it’s certainly less expensive than rolling out another short-term win in the long run. Which actually brings us full circle. It is only by looking at creating learning in the same way that we look at running successful organisations that we truly balance the cost of learning.