The True Value of Learning

Yogi Berra, that paragon of word manipulation, exposition and baseball, is often quoted as saying, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” And, surprisingly, so it is in the world of learning measurement. We cannot sustain our training departments based on how well we do against our training budgets. This only leads to the budget being cut on a year by year basis. If we measure ourselves as an expense, so we shall be treated like an expense. That means we are the first to go when funds are needed elsewhere.

Traditional learning; traditional measurement

Traditionally, learning organizations have measured their performance in learning terms: How many courses have been taken? How many learners completed courses? How many students showed up? How many scored over 70 percent on the test? While these measurements have validity for the training department, they mean very little to department heads and CFOs, whose prime concern is meeting monetary and fiscal targets.

Traditional approaches to measurement also lead to the question, “How do I measure the use of informal learning?” My answer to that is, “You don’t directly measure informal learning!” First, understand that informal learning occurs in all companies, whether it is measured or not. Regardless of how you use informal learning the outcomes of its use should be measured along with any other tool you decide to use.

Informal learning is the improvised, unplanned instructional efforts that are part of the everyday fabric of business operations. Informal learning represents 70 percent of learning that occurs in the workplace. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Dennis Brown, Senior Director, Market Development,