Rewiring corporate learning #3: Focus on impact

Nigel Paine, former chief learning officer at the BBC, continues his series on rewiring corporate learning. Here he looks at impact.

It is easy to demand a focus on impact.  Harder to define the measures that will deliver that.  Here are ten hints to help you achieve that:

  1. Try to take a long view: the real impact of an initiative can take weeks or months to fully reveal itself.
  2. The best people to judge changes are those in the firing line: the line managers or the recipients or indeed customers. They have to be consulted.
  3. It is not just about quantitative data, you need hard data if you can get it but supplementing that with good qualitative data is valid.
  4. Stories about real people and real outcomes always make a huge impact.
  5. If someone outside the project can gather information or draw conclusions it can help avoid the ‘she would say that’ syndrome.
  6. Brainstorm all the ways that you can gather information on impact. There are always many more than is first apparent. Decide what is most impactful and feasible and then share your strategy and gain agreement.
  7. Your conclusion should be overarching. What can we do now we could not do before? What is happening in our company or with our customers that was not happening previously. It is important to not lose sight of the big picture.
  8. Data over time beats one point data most often.
  9. Draw conclusions from the data but do not expect the numbers to speak for themselves.  They rarely do.
  10. You want a concise executive summary that can be substantiated in the main report. Get your conclusions and message out in five minutes. If this is not possible your message is too complex and might not be understood.

Next in the series: Do data

Previous articles in the series:

 

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