This article, written by Lorrie Lykins, managing editor at i4cp, was featured in the September 2012 edition of Chief Learning Officer. Lorrie's article discusses how learning investments should drive the ability to achieve business goals, which requires aligning activity closely with the organization's strategic business concerns.
Demonstrating the link between learning and business results can be arduous, expensive and more costly in terms of resources than actually executing learning. But aligning learning efforts to core business goals and strategies is critical to clearly define learning's contributions to organizational growth and profitability.
A fall 2011 study conducted by ASTD and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) titled, “Developing Results: Aligning Learning's Goals and Outcomes with Business Performance Measures,” examined the current state of alignment, as well as the ways high-performing organizations evaluate learning and link those measurements to overall business performance measures.
The study found a strong correlation between goal alignment and market performance as well as between alignment and a learning function that is effective at meeting its own and the organization's goals.
Before establishing linkages between learning strategy and business results, organizations must first ensure the learning function can effectively meet its goals. Less than half (43 percent) of survey respondents indicated that their organization's learning function is highly effective in achieving learning goals, and when asked about achieving organizational goals, 38 percent reported that their learning function is highly effective. Less than a quarter of the study participants indicated their organizations are very good at evaluating the learning function in the first place, although high-performing organizations expressed more confidence in their learning function's ability to meet learning and organizational goals (55 percent) and the company's ability to measure learning's effectiveness (60 percent) (Figure 1).