Why Analytics Trumps Intuition in Today’s L&D

by | Jun 22, 2015 | Articles

From a business perspective, the focus on data-driven decision making is big news. Research from MIT and IBM[1] showed that analytics trumped intuition every time with top performers five times more likely to be using analytics than low performers.

It looks like the same is true for HR: Bersin reported[2] that 14% of HR organisations believe they “regularly use data to make talent and HR strategy decisions” and those organisations are twice as likely to believe they are excellent at selecting the right candidates and that they are delivering a strong leadership pipeline. They are generating 30% higher stock returns than peers and are three times as likely to believe they are operating HR efficiently.

When it comes to L&D, our aspirations to support performance, provide a more agile, responsive service, to deliver more for less are higher than ever before. We have made a decision to adopt more learning technology (we’re using 200% more technologies in the mix than five years ago) and in the past couple of years we’ve increasingly turned to MOOCs and models like 70:20:10 to support our goals. Yet, fewer than 30% are achieving the results that we are looking for.

Why is that? We have more choices and options available, but when it comes to making critical decisions about modernising learning, we seem to be relying on gut feelings. Fewer than 1 in 5 L&D leaders use analytics or benchmarking to improve the services that they deliver.

It’s time for new learning benchmarks

Today is the launch of the 2015 Towards Maturity Benchmark. Since 2003, we have been gathering and sharing evidence from L&D leaders about the strategies that work in today’s fast pace, technology enabled global economy. Over that time, we’ve seen many L&D tools, models and technologies appear (and disappear) but for 13 years we’ve been concentrating on identifying the L&D approaches that deliver bottom line business outcomes.

Traditional ‘benchmarks’ of L&D budget, time spent learning, cost-per-head, L&D staffing/payroll all show us how much we’re costing an organisation, but provide no sense of how to improve performance. Which is why we believe we need new learning benchmarks that instead focus on business outcomes and what the modern L&D department needs to do to achieve them.

From 1 June to 14 Aug, we will be encouraging L&D leaders to use the Towards Maturity Benchmark to review their own L&D strategy, to identify how their L&D function can improve performance, reduce risk and increase the value they add to business.

Over the years we’ve analysed millions of data points gathered from L&D leaders. In 2014 we found that the top performing learning organisations are twice as likely to agree that their strategy has helped them improve productivity and respond faster to change. They are also three times as likely to agree that their staff put into practice what they’ve learned compared to the average. Guess what – they are three times as likely to be using learning analytics and twice as likely to be benchmarking their strategies with peers.[3]

At Towards Maturity we work hard with thought leaders and practitioners to develop benchmarks that reflect current and future practice. We focus on learning outcomes, such as revenue, productivity, customer satisfaction, time to competency and more.

We know from the IBM research and from our own too that top performing companies turn data into insights and insights into action. Benchmarking is a data-driven approach that supports L&D performance and helps prioritise actions. It gives L&D professionals the data they need to help connect with business leaders by providing insights to help persuade and plan and also with employees by using using data to help to personalise learning and plan for their future.

Our philosophy is to make this level of benchmarking service completely free to all L&D leaders during June, July up until 14 August (thanks to our wonderful Ambassadors). We close the programme on the 14 August so that we can send EVERY participant a detailed Personalised Benchmark Report in September.

If you have benchmarked before, you can review your previous data in just 20 minutes. If you are new to benchmarking, then set aside 60 minutes to use the Towards Maturity Benchmark to reflect on your current L&D strategy. Please encourage others in your networks to take part.

Review your L&D strategy and see how you compare with peers around the world with the Towards Maturity Benchmark:

This is the largest independent benchmark of L&D activities, worldwide. It’s completely confidential and your views contribute to a compelling evidence base that L&D leaders around the globe can use in order to make decisions that bring the right results.


Would analytics trump intuition in your organisation?

Leave us a comment on Laura’s LinkedIn article.


[1] http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/global/files/in_idea_smarter_computing_to_big-data-analytics_and_path_from_insights-to-value.pdf
[2] http://www.slideshare.net/jbersin/the-datafication-of-hr-people-science-is-here
[3] Towards Maturity, Modernising Learning: Delivering Results, 2014-15 Benchmark Report.

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