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Looking Back and Ahead on the Measurement and Management of L&D

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  • The future is bright for L&D if we continue to build on the work of those who have come before us.

Source | | David Vance

This is a good time of the year to look back and ahead. Looking back, as a profession we are blessed to have some great thought leaders who have provided a terrific foundation for the measurement and management of L&D.

On the measurement side, I am thinking of Don Kirkpatrick, who gave us the four levels, and Jack Phillips, who gave us isolated impact for level 4 and ROI for level 5. I am also thinking of all the work done by the Association for Talent Development to promote measurement and to benchmark key measures through their annual industry survey.

On the management side, I am grateful again for the contributions from Don and Jack, and now Jim and Wendy Kirkpatrick and Patti Phillips as well, for their guidance in how to manage, particularly with respect to partnering closely with goal owners and focusing on what it takes to achieve level 3 application. In addition, I am particularly grateful for the work by Roy Pollock and his associates in giving us “The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning,” which is a must read for anyone focusing on measurement and management of L&D.

Of course, there are many more, such as Ken Phillips and John Mattox, and I apologize to all those whom I have not mentioned. We are fortunate to have so many who have contributed to the advancement of our profession and to measurement and management of L&D in particular. And beyond L&D, the HR profession in general has benefited tremendously from thought leaders like Jac Fitz-enz, Jeff Higgins, John Boudreau and Wayne Cassio. Like Kirkpatrick and Phillips did for L&D, these thought leaders basically invented measurement for the rest of HR.

We are fortunate to have this strong foundation built throughout the past 30 to 40 years. Looking ahead, the question is where we go from here. As a profession, we now have more than 170 measures for L&D and more than 700 for HR in general. I don’t think we need more measures. We do need to better utilize some of the measures we have, especially levels 3 (application), 4 (results or impact) and 5 (ROI) for L&D. Level 3 is the starting point and should be measured for all key programs.

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