Until now, managers wanting to evaluate their learning and development initiatives have had three choices:
1. Use their staff resources. This is problematic, as often staff don’t have the necessary knowledge and skill sets (e.g., in research techniques) to conduct thorough evaluation. Some organisations, such as the Scottish Government and British Sky Broadcasting, resolve this by having a dedicated learning evaluation specialist on staff, but this isn’t an option everyone – even many large organisations – can afford.
2. Buy in consultants. This is potentially expensive, and fraught with difficulties, as few consultants actually specialise in evaluation, and those that do tend to have an agenda. Dogma is rife in the world of learning evaluation, with consultants frequently championing one particular approach or method (which is fair enough) and denigrating every other approach and tool (which is not). Only yesterday, I saw a blog post that advocated ROE (oddly, Return on Experience, not Return on Expectation), but spoiled its case by headlining “forget about ROI”!
3. Use digital technology. This isn’t really a stand-alone option, although some disingenuous software vendors will claim it is. Technology helps, but anyone who spends tens of thousands of pounds on licences for the likes of Knowledge Advisors, and expects that to solve their evaluation problems, is in for a rude awakening.
An alternative to these three options is now available. Airthrey Ltd offers LEAD – Learning Evaluation Action Development – an individual development programme that yields practical benefits for the organisation. LEAD is not a simulation, but an opportunity for managers to conduct their own evaluation of real, live learning initiatives, with support from Airthrey specialists, their peers in an action learning set, and their own organisation. Effectively it’s a blend of training and in-house consultancy, which enables and empowers organisations to implement meaningful evaluation.
In my next blog post, I’ll explain how Airthrey arrived at the LEAD solution.
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