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Surviving the jungle: how our methodology underpins decision-making in L&D teams

by | Jun 6, 2017 | Articles, Featured

Everyone is looking for evidence to make smarter decisions, but data can be overwhelming and even dangerous if you get it wrong. Our Senior Research Analyst explains how methodology ensures Towards Maturity research hits the mark and ensures successful interpretation that helps you make decisions that count.

14 years ago, Towards Maturity set out on a journey to understand how learning innovation delivers business impact, not just for a few, but for everyone. Since then, change has accelerated, more technology is around us, and the options have become overwhelming for L&D. Rather than things getting clearer, we can’t see the wood from the trees. Because of all this, more people are turning to data; big data, little data, even medium data. Everyone is looking for evidence to make smarter decisions. The trouble with this is that data, like all the above, is also overwhelming, overgrowing.

Think of raw data the same way you think of jungles; pretty to look at but easy to get lost in and – unless you’re a trained survivalist – you’ll probably die. A bit dramatic but you get the point. Taking that metaphor to its limits, our methodology takes that jungle and transforms it into a safari; well kept, clear signs of where to go, and in case you need the loo you know where it is.

Why even enter a jungle in the first place?

Well, someone’s going to have to be brave. A jungle of data is all around us – don’t panic, but it’s surrounding you too – there’s no choice, you’re already in it. What matters is how to make sense of it all, which is exactly what a methodology is for. It is a system of methods used to make sense of information in any given area. There are different methodologies, of course. You might have an old map (descriptive data), you might even have a compass (a manual on reading descriptive data). Anyway, this is no time to be critical but to find your way through this jungle you probably need a helicopter (advanced analytics or you are Bear Grylls).

What does Towards Maturity do?

To help on your journey we start with collecting data. For us, this involves being part of the jungle (organisations), listening to, and sometimes challenging, the great silverback gorillas (international experts) and all those other funny monkeys (learners). We use tools like our Benchmark Centre, focus groups, interviews, and the Learner Landscape to understand this ever-changing environment.

Those that go on safaris just know that staying in the jeep directly correlates with not being eaten by a jaguar. While that connection is clear and unambiguous, in the L&D jungle, things are still a bit fuzzy as to what is connected to what, why and how. What we need is a trusted, independent jeep.

To make unclear things clear, a) we need to understand relationships between where we’re trying to go and how we get there, b) we need to be able to confidently predict what might lie ahead, and c) we need to explore the unknown. Translating these into actions, we use concrete statistical analysis to a) find correlations, b) do regression – which means understanding the relationship between two or more variables and making a prediction on the effect, c) and measure hidden factors.

Through correlations, we look to answers questions like is there a connection between your Towards Maturity Index (TMI) score and the amount of benefits you achieve? Regression lets us predict how many benefits you’ll most likely achieve, based on your TMI.

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