Thursday, 29 September 2011

My new business partner

Dr Alasdair Rutherford is a research economist I first met two years ago, when we were both working for Volunteer Development Scotland; I was Learning & Development Manager, and Alasdair was Research & Development Manager. We collaborated on a number of learning evaluation projects, such as for the NHS in Scotland.

Alasdair has a string of impressive academic qualifications, including two first degrees (if that’s not an oxymoron), a study exchange in Germany, a Masters and a PhD, not to mention a sheaf of published papers. He is currently a Research Fellow at the University of Stirling.

We calculate that our respective knowledge and skill sets, one in learning and development, the other in research and development, complement each other perfectly for a business specialising in the evaluation of learning and development.

Alasdair’s interests and skills include econometrics, statistics, formative and summative evaluation, economic and social research, quantitative and qualitative research, data analysis, and database design and administration. I commend Alasdair to you, and I look forward to working with him in applying his extensive range of skills and methods to the learning activities of our corporate clients.


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Three theses on learning evaluation



Not enough is happening. Not enough learning and development (L&D) is being evaluated, and when it is being done, it is not being done robustly, systematically, or effectively. As a rule of thumb, organisations should spend 10-15% of their L&D budget on evaluation, but how many do that? Evaluation is insufficiently understood and applied.


There is too much dogma. There are a great many models and tools for L&D evaluation, and just as many petty disagreements about what works and what doesn’t. ROI doesn’t negate Kirkpatrick, any more than ROE negates ROI, and yet many L&D professionals take a partisan view supporting a particular tool, when the truth is that every model and tool has its place – the trick is to be able to select the right one for the right situation.

It’s not just about costs, but value. Many organisations are cost aware, but hardly any are value aware. To appreciate the full impact of L&D, we need to recognise all the different kinds of value it adds, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Organisations need to become more conscious of value, and strive for total value add.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Learning evaluation solutions

Keen readers of this blog may have noticed a shift of emphasis in recent posts. I've apparently become much more interested in the evaluation of learning and development. In fact, this has been a career-long interest, and has always formed a part of my professional work. However, I have let the cat out of the bag with my latest LinkedIn update - "planning a new venture!"

I've written about learning evaluation for CIPD's HR Inform website, and a quarter of my new book, 101 Learning & Development Tools, is about evaluation. Now I'm setting up a new firm, with a partner, in the business incubator at the University of Stirling. We'll be offering learning evaluation solutions to corporate clients from next month, October 2011.

More to follow, and in the meantime, I'd be interested in any questions, comments, or especially invitations to discuss how we may be able to help your business.