We truly feel that we are making a difference in the worldavtor Natalie Cvikl Postružnik 9. junija, 2020
Executives recognize that coaching is necessary to meet the challenges of a complex and global economy. And individuals recognize that coaching positively impacts their life when goals and dreams are realized. Unfortunately, there are some persistent concerns within the coaching community about how and when coaching should be evaluated particularly at the impact and ROI levels. Drs. Patti P. Phillips, CEO, ROI Institute, and Jack J. Phillips, Chairman, ROI Institute, addressed this issue by highlighting the reasons why coaching is a necessity; how it adds value to an organization’s bottom line; and, using a methodical, multi-step, results-driven process based on design thinking, explained how to enhance the investment in coaching. We spoke to Patti and Jack at the occasion of Coaches and mentors conference in Slovenia, June 11th and 12th organized by Slovenian Coaching Association (Using Design Thinking to Deliver Business Results from Coaching).
What are the common denominators that you have found while working with executives in the field of learning?
These are the common threads among learning objectives.
- Resisting the need to connect the learning to the business need and present it to various stakeholders.
- Assuming that if an executive requests a learning program that it will result in a positive ROI.
- Delivering results is a team effort, not the role of the evaluator.
- A related thread is a failure to design for the impact (business results) in the beginning of a program.
Can you explain these five key findings?
- Learning is the best solution, but first to be cut in a downturn. This comes from practitioners who say that when there is a problem in an organization, executives think that training is the solution. If people are not doing something, executives immediately think this because they don’t know how to do it. So, in the minds of some executives, learning is always the solution when there is a problem. However, when budgets cuts are made, the learning budget is one of the first to be cut. The dilemma here is that they cut the budget because they do not see the value that is delivered, although they may have requested it in the beginning. The problem is that we fail to follow through and show the value of a learning solution.
- Most training is wasted. Unfortunately, practitioners agree with this statement. By wasted, that means that training and learning is not used in the workplace or in the environment where it should be used. This is our classic Level Three (Application) and Level Four (Impact). This is caused by the breakdown and the transfer of learning to the workplace. And it’s a problem that still exists, although we’re making much progress.
- The success of a learning program must be defined by application and impact. While this is a bold statement, it is necessary to see the value of learning. The point is if participants learn something but never use it, it is of little value to the organization. Although it may be valuable to the person, it certainly hasn’t helped the organization. Therefore, from an organizational perspective and the funders’ perspective, the individual should use what’s learned and have an impact. To make a difference in an organization, they have to be using the learning and have a consequence that’s positive, and that’s the impact.
- The learning results desired by executives are rarely measured. What executives want to see is the connection of learning to the organization. In their minds, that is usually an impact measure. For businesses, it is profitability, productivity, quality, process times, absenteeism, employee turnover, etc. But, for governments and nonprofits, it’s also outputs, quality, cost, and time. It’s getting the work done; it’s making fewer mistakes, errors, waste, rework; it’s taking less time to accomplish things. So, you have these impact measures in any organization and that’s the categories where executives want to see the connection.
- Some learning is not necessarily better than none. This suggests that if we offer a learning opportunity and it’s not used then we’ve wasted it, and it would probably be best to not have done that. We also have a concern that if we offer learning and they’ve learned it but never use it, the perception of the people who support it and participate in it won’t see the value of it. It’s an image problem. The image of learning and development is that they waste money, not contribute to the business. We saw this with the last recession when organizations converted structure-led learning to e-learning in a chaotic, fast paced manner without regard to the success of the learning measured at the application and impact levels. It turns out it was wasted, and not only did it waste resources and efforts because it didn’t deliver application and impact, but it also gave the horrible image of online learning that we still are suffering through today.
How can we proceed practically with identification of 8 steps that will enable teams to protect and increase budget? Can you give us an example for each step? How is this connected to design thinking?
These steps are the steps to design and deliver any project. This has been expanded for a step-by-step application—expanding the step, “Make it Credible” into five elements: Isolate the effects of the program on the data, convert the impact data to monitor value, capture the cost of the program, calculate ROI, and connect the intangibles to the program.
- Start with Why: Align programs with specific business
- Make It Feasible: Select the right solution to drive the business
- Expect Success: Design for business results. Objectives are set to push accountability to the business impact level, with reaction, learning, application, and impact objectives. Designers, developers, facilitators, participants and managers of participants know what they must do to deliver business
- Make It Matter: Design for Reaction and Learning, ensuring that the content is important, meaningful, and actionable, setting the stage to drive business
- Make It Stick: Design for Application and Impact, ensuring that a participant is using the learning (Application) and that it has an impact. Results are measured at both Application and Impact levels and barriers must be removed or
- Make it Credible: Measure results and calculate ROI – With impact data in hand, the results must be credible. The first action is to isolate the effects of the program on the impact data. If ROI is planned, the next action is to convert data to money. Then the monetary benefits are compared to the cost of the program in an ROI calculation. This builds two sets of data that sponsors will appreciate: business impact connected directly to the program and the financial ROI, which is calculated the same way that a CFO would calculate a capital investment. Evaluation at this level is pursued very selectively, usually involving 5-10% of programs each year.
- Tell the Story: Communicate results to key stakeholders – Reaction, learning, application, impact, and perhaps even ROI data, form the basis for a powerful
- Optimize Results: Use black box thinking to increase funding. Designing for results usually drives the needed results, but there’s always an opportunity to make the results even better. Process improvements increase ROI in the future. Increased ROI makes a great case for more funds.
These eight steps become 12 steps, as step six is amplified into five steps. The steps are detailed in our 12-step ROI Methodology process model. Attached is a case study, Precision Manufacturing, which shows what is done at each step along the way.
How come you started working in the field of education and business counselling? We are very much interested in your personal story, as our experiences show, that decision like that is connected to a personal growth, personal pain, if you want.
Jack Phillips: I started working in the field with an engineering degree. At the beginning of my career, I had the opportunity to move to the training department, where I found it to be very interesting and there was an inherent opportunity to influence many people. I had a responsibility for one particular program and was asked by a senior executive to show the value of that program in monetary terms, and that became my first ROI study. I did this with a lot of thought and effort. In fact, it became my master’s thesis for a master’s degree in decision science, which is another way of saying a master’s degree in statistics.
More structure was continuously added around the process and I found it to be very helpful to show the value of major programs. As it increased management support for these programs, management commitment was also generated, and we could build better partners with our key clients—which meant we could continue to keep funding. What we found is that this process worked for us internally. We began to promote it through articles and presentations, and ultimately in 1983, we wrote the first book on training evaluation in the United States, Handbook of Training, Evaluation, and Measurement Methods, published by Routledge, a publisher in the U.K. This text is now in its fourth edition.
A personal pain came when we began to promote this methodology for use in the learning and development space. We were met with much resistance, as we described earlier. But since we knew it worked well, and could help others, and as we began to hear success stories of our book, we realized that there was an opportunity to take this globally. We did so in 1993 when we founded the ROI Institute. Since then, we now operate in 70 countries and this methodology has become the most used evaluation system in the world. It is now documented with about 75 books.
What is your inner driver, why do you pursue this topic, what’s in it for you – your inner intrinsic motivation?
Our driver is the desire to make a difference with individuals and professionals. We help people in all functions and across all sectors see the value of their programs and show the value of their programs, and it helps them grow professionally and be successful in their work. It’s the notes and the cards and the letters that we get from our satisfied customers that really make a difference with us. We truly feel that we are making a difference in the world with this methodology.
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