I read a brilliant piece the other day from Leo Babauta. I put it on Twitter and it was soundly retweeted. The author quite succinctly made the suggestion that the measurements we take and make are focused on parts of what we are doing and don’t necessarily relate to context.
More importantly, he suggests relaxing about measurement and calls it untracking. I’m going to start using that word as I think it describes what I want to do in L&D.
I’ve been talking about this obsession with measurement for a while now and my words were nicely summarised by Paul Webster a while ago as ‘we spend too much time measuring the Tiny rather than standing back and looking at the Big’.
Leo put this neatly in terms of parenting:
do we measure all the activities we do as parents, so we are motivated to improve and keep doing it?
Let’s apply this to the role of L&D. Are we motivated to improve our practice and that of our organisations to see if there are better ways of doing things, or by the desire to create metrics to justify our busyness?
I ran a webinar for Learning Pool this week about our learner mindset presentation and yet again, the same question came up about how we measure informal learning.
The answer’s the same…I don’t think we can. More importantly, I don’t think we should.
It’s not our role to try and capture and categorise every snippet of new knowledge and behaviour that an individual uses. This is why I am very scared about how the new Tin Can API will be sold to businesses. I have a fear it will be a tool that measures everything but understands nothing about the value of its content (like most LMS I hear some of you say). I believe the manager’s role is to measure the performance in the workplace, yet there seems to be a desire to retain this measurement within L&D to ‘prove’ it was our work that created the difference. What this means is:
- We absolve managers from taking responsibility for measuring their staff’s development
- We create complex metrics
- We create the learning objectives for the performance support
Why do we create learning objectives? Surely these should be created by the learner for us to build support around? Or do learners create objectives to ‘fit’ in with our provision, because, we are the experts after all?
Remember that as we come up to Christmas; make sure you establish learning objectives for all the toys you buy young children. I mean, how else will they learn how to use them? And more importantly, without those learning objectives, how will you know how much they’ve learnt, the depth of that learning, and whether you’ve achieved a decent ROI?
Comments, as always, very welcome.