Connecting People Development to Business Impact?

Connecting People Development to Business Impact?

Innovation People exists to research and develop new approaches to people and organisational development with a vision to empower businesses to flourish by connecting people to ongoing performance improvement and development anywhere, through affordable, efficient, and accessible tools for businesses of any size, anywhere.

Tools for Evaluation Built on Research and Innovation

We’ve carried out our research and development through working with many different kinds of organisations and through university collaborations.  Perhaps just as importantly, we’ve drawn of 40 years’ worth of direct experience.  So, I reckon we know what we are talking about, and we have a voice.  This is not just in terms of the theory of developing people and performance.  It’s also on account of direct experience developing the business through challenging times.  In fact, I started the business at just about the time of the 2008 financial crash and we developed through that.  I often say we ‘walk the talk’.  We don’t just spout ideas and theories.  We’ve developed through practical, hands-on experience.

Connection People to Performance and Development

At the heart of our experience are insights on the importance of connecting the development of people to their measurable performance.  It is our own view that the connection between performance improvement and people development is very often tenuous and unconvincing. For example, we might see a colleague undertake a development programme of some kind, they’ll maybe be able to say they’ve acquired some new knowledge and maybe some new skills (both of which are good) but the chances are a business will not be able to measure its return on investment from that colleague undertaking the development or the degree to which they have in fact developed and changed as a result.

At this point, learning and development professionals might throw their hands up in horror, but hear me out because I am simply raising questions that have been around for the whole of my 40year career and more.  It is resolving those questions that have been at the heart of our research as a business and the solutions we have created.

Challenging the Open Secret of Poor Evaluation

Of course, it is an open secret in Learning and Development that what passes for evaluation tends to be little more than asking participants for their reaction to programmes in the form of the typical ‘happy sheet’.  But that’s not really evaluation.

Evaluation has to be about seeking to determine the perceived change in participants as a result of a piece of development and should lead to a measurement of impact from development.  Without this fuller form of evaluation and without the measurement of impact, how on earth can a business know whether their investment in development has generated benefit, apart from being able to tick a few boxes?

Effective Evaluation, the Evaluation of Change

Evaluation is all about the assessment of change in participants.  Evaluation is much more than an exercise establishing what someone might have learned or the skills they have acquired on some eLearning or face-to-face programme.  Evaluation is also much more than assessing whether participants have had a nice time on a programme or vaguely feeling happier or more confident or whatever.  Evaluation has to be about perceiving and describing change in participants, especially likely behavioural and performance-based change.

Evaluating Outputs and Outcomes 

At Innovation People, we make a distinction in evaluation between outputs, the things that can be counted and seen and outcomes, the things that are strictly behavioural.

Evaluating outputs is pretty straightforward.  It’s about working out things that are strictly quantifiable in terms of performance and assessment.  For example, we can specifically measure whether someone has acquired specific skills or knowledge.  Evaluating outcomes, behaviour change gets to the real heart of the purpose of evaluation.  It’s not just about evaluating the acquisition knowledge and skills.  It’s about finding out how behaviours – motivation, engagement, etc – are perceived to have changed as a result of development.  However, the evidence is that this form of evaluation is rarely done. Our argument is that, if we rarely evaluate effectively, evaluate both outputs and outcomes, we can’t really know the benefit of development on performance?  How do we know what a business’s return on investment is in people development and change, if we don’t evaluate consistently?  The answer is, we can’t know.

Specialist Tools, Accessed Easily

As a business, at Innovation People, we have developed resources to support the evaluation of both outputs and outcomes, enabling businesses to evaluate and then measure the impact of development on business performance.  These tools are embedded in our SPICE Framework digital resources.  You can read about them at where you can also access the resources in a 28day free trial.

In fact, SPICE Framework resources integrate tools for the ongoing assessment of people, for the delivery of blended learning, its evaluation and then the measurement of the impact of development on performance.  We recognise this integration is critical to a business understanding it’s return on investment from people.  Indeed why wouldn’t a business want to be able to understand its return on investment from people?

An Invitation to Access Tools for Evaluation

We’d invite any business to compare the SPICE Framework with any other eLearning, mLearning or blended learning offering. We challenge you to find one that enables businesses to evaluate and measure impact from both outputs (skills and knowledge) and outcomes (behaviours) simply and efficiently and with the minimum of cost.

To help you make that comparison and to try out our tools for evaluation, by all means access the SPICE Framework on us for 28 days and see what you think.

Five Marks of Effective Evaluation

We’ve embedded within the SPICE Framework tools, what we call the five marks of effective evaluation.  Whether or not you take up our offer of a trial of the SPICE Framework, you might like to reflect on the evaluation you undertake in your business against the five marks.  They are summarised here.

Our research and experience tell us effective evaluation needs to be:

  1. Evidence-based. A business leader needs to be able to ask, ‘prove it’.  So there needs to be evidence of change resulting from planned development
  2. As close to the point of delivery as possible. By this we mean, close in terms of time and location.  We often say, ‘context is everything’.  So gather information quickly and a close to source as possible.
  3. Encourage participant involvement – Those involved in the evaluation and impact measurement need to have a stake in it, to be engaged with it.
  4. Give immediate feedback – Provide text-based summaries and infographics summarising outcomes and action points
  5. Ensure evaluation is ongoing – How can a business see continuous improvement, if it isn’t continuously evaluating change and development

Access the SPICE Framework now to support your business

Based on our insights and indeed other specialists in evaluation, these five marks are critical.  But we know businesses, especially in challenging times need to focus on those challenges, without time-consuming distractions.  This is precisely why we have created resources that measure and add value, that are affordable, efficient, and accessible from any web-enabled device. Visit our website to find out how you can connect your people’s development to their performance:

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#workingat home. #learninganddevelopment. #evaluation

Written by Michael Croft

June 2, 2022