The L&D Olympics

and they’re off…L&D consultant number 1 is looking good as she delivered 6 sessions and had a total of 30 participants, but wait…L&D consultant number 2 is catching up fast, no wait, she actually had 10 people not turn up to her session and what happened to L&D consultant number 3 – she only managed to run 4 sessions, everyone turned up but numbers were down.  Looks like the gold goes to…L&D consultant number 1.  Congratulations!!!

Why has learning and development become a numbers game in some organisations?  I recently saw a spreadsheet that one organisation has prepared for its L&D consultants to record the sessions they delivered during the month, the numbers registered, the numbers who attended and the numbers who advised that they wouldn’t attend.  Sounds like a lot of work for the consultant doesn’t it?  What does it all mean?  Where is the value in collecting this type of data and what does it prove?  In what way does this data address the quality of learning programs?  Finally, who is this data capture about?

I refer you to the quote below by the wonderful Steve Jobs.  Have a read of it now…

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the
technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where
 you’re going to try and sell it…..we have tried to come up with a strategy and
a vision for Apple, it started with “What incredible benefits can we give to the
customer? Where can we take the customer?” Not starting with “Let’s sit down
with the engineers and figure out what awesome technology we have and then how
are we going to market that?” And I think that’s the right path to take.”

I know that the topic is around technology but this idea can be applied to any organisational concept.  It must be about the customer, always.

The example provided above is about the organisation, specifically the L&D function who are trying desperately to justify their existence.  You see, it doesn’t matter how many people turn up to a learning session – that means absolutely nothing (unless you have no one turn up and then you need to look at how relevant your programs are!) what matters is the quality of the program and the post learning impact on the individual, team and ultimately organisation.  If you want to capture something, capture that…

If you work in an organisation where data is captured on a regular basis, take a look at the data being collected and ask some questions around the relevance of that data.  Ideally, you need to be asking “Who is this about” and if it’s not about the client or customer then stop doing it.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vicki
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 08:50:20

    That sort of data collection is never about the customer and it never will be. It seems that ALL fields these days are about this sort of useless data that achieves nothing other than justify a practice, or put pressure on employees to improve performance. So many businesses wonder why they have unhappy employees or their businessess aren’t doing well. The Customer always needs to come first.


  2. judythesweetspot
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 03:12:55

    Thanks for your comment Vicki. I agree that it puts pressure on employees to improve performance. In the example I provided, the consultants are under pressure to improve their quantity of programs, not the quality of programs. So, it literally does become a competition as to who can run the most sessions with the most people. I am surprised that this mentality still exists in organisations today. Part of me wants to work with these organisations to improve their processes and the other part of me wants to run screaming into the streets…


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