Latest Resources

Dave to Talk at the ATD International Conference and Exposition.

Dave be talking at the 2016 International Conference and Exposition in Denver on Wednesday May 25 from 10-11. Topic is Talent Development Reporting Principles: Your Guide to measurement and Reporting for L&D.

Hope to see you there.

2016 CTR Conference Slides

Please visit for access to the CTR conference slides from 2016 and 2014.


Bringing Standards to the L&D Profession: Three Types of Standard Measure: By Dave Vance

By Dave Vance

Accounting has four types of measures (revenue, expense, assets and liabilities) and three standard statements (income or profit & loss, balance sheet, and cash flow). What do we have in L&D which is similar? Five years ago a group of industry leaders came together to consider a standard framework for L&D. The group included leaders like Kent Barnett then at Knowledge Advisors, Tamar Elkeles then at Qualcomm, Laurie Bassi from McBassi and Company, Jack Phillips from the ROI Institute, Jac Fitz-enz from the Human Capital Source, Josh Bersin from Bersin & Associates, Cedric Coco from Lowes, Karen Kocher from Cigna, Rob Brinkerhof from Western Michigan University, Kevin Oakes from i4cp, Carrie Beckstrom from ADP, Lou Tedrick from Verizon, and a host of others – 30 in all, including myself. After 24 revisions, we all agreed on a framework which we believed would begin to provide the type of standards that accountants have enjoyed for some time and which would help us become more professional.

These leaders recommended a framework consisting of three types of standard measures and three standard reports. So three and three versus the accountant’s four and three. The three types or categories of standard measures are effectiveness, efficiency, and outcomes. The three types of reports are Operations, Program, and Summary. The goal was to keep the framework simple and easy to use. We also wanted to build on the excellent work done in our profession over the last 70 years, especially that done by the Association for Talent Development (ATD, then called ASTD).

Let’s look at the measures first. Effectiveness measures are those that address the quality of the learning program or initiative. In learning we are fortunate to have the four levels popularized by Don Kirkpatrick and the fifth level (ROI) popularized by Jack Phillips. These five levels all speak to the quality of the learning. Level 1 measures the participant’s or sponsor’s satisfaction with or reaction to the learning – certainly an initial measure of quality. Level 2 measures the amount learned or transference of skills or knowledge, and level 3 measures the application of that knowledge or change in behavior. If they didn’t learn anything or if they don’t apply what they did learn, I think we can all agree that we don’t have a quality program. (This may reflect a lack of engagement or reinforcement by the sponsor, but we still have a problem.) Level 4 measures impact or results and, since this was the reason for undertaking the learning to begin with, if there are no results it is hard to argue we had a quality program. Last, ROI provides a return on our investment, a final confirmation of quality assuming we have properly aligned the learning to our organization’s needs and achieved high quality on the previous four levels. Most organizations have level 1 and 2 measures but relatively few measure at the higher levels.

Efficiency measures are about the number of courses, participants, and classes as well about utilization rates, completion rates, costs, and reach – to name only the most common. Typically these measures by themselves do not tell us whether our programs are efficient or not. Rather we need to compare them to something else which may be last year’s numbers, the historical trend, benchmark data, or the plan (target) we put in place at the beginning of the program. Now we have a basis to decide if we are efficient and if there is room to improve, to become more efficient. All organizations have efficiency measures with the most common being number of participants, classes, and hours as well as some cost measures like cost per learner or cost per hour.

That leaves outcome measures. Unlike effectiveness and efficiency measures, most organizations are not measuring outcomes and few even talk about them. That is unfortunate because outcome measures are the most important of the three types, especially to senior leaders who make the funding decisions for L&D. In accounting this would be like reporting expense and liabilities but never talking about revenue or assets. No one would have a complete picture of what we do, and it would be hard for anyone to understand why we have the expenses and why we incur the liabilities. So, what are these all-important outcome measures? Simply put, outcomes represent the impact or results that learning has on your organization’s goals or needs. Suppose a needs analysis indicated that your salesforce would benefit from a consultative selling skills program and product features training. And suppose that you and the head of sales agree that it makes sense, and the two of you further agree on program specifics, including mutual roles and responsibilities, especially how the sponsor will reinforce the learning and hold her own employees accountable. Now, what impact on sales can we expect from this training? How much of a difference can training make? A lot? A little? Enough to be worthwhile? This is the realm of outcome measures which will sometimes be subjective (but not always) but very important nonetheless. Sometimes the level 4 impact or results measure from the list of effectiveness measures will do double duty as an outcome measure. That is okay and the same happens sometimes in accounting. Or other measures will be selected. In any case, with outcome measures we are at last focused on how we align with corporate goals or needs and what type of impact we can have, and this is what your senior leaders have been waiting for.

Next month we will look at the three reports and how the three types of measures populate these three reports. In the meantime, as a profession, let’s start talking about these three types of measures. It would be big step forward if we could just adopt a common language, which by the way, is a precondition to be a true profession.


CTR Conference A Great Success


Our 2016 CTR Conference held in Dallas last month was a great success! We had 134 participants, almost double the number at our last conference and far more than we had hoped for.  If you were not there, you really missed a great gathering. Everyone there was interested in measurement, reporting and management so there was a tremendous amount of focused energy, sharing and interaction. Cushing Anderson from IDC and Ed Trolley from NIIT provided the keynotes to start off each day, and they were not shy about sharing their thoughts! We had a great panel on Disruptive Ideas and a very nice tribute to Jac Fitz-enz, the father of human capital analytics. There were 16 breakout sessions hosted by industry thought leaders over the two days and our participants often struggled to decide which session to attend. Unlike many conferences, most of our speakers came for more than just their session and even asked questions of their colleagues during other sessions which livened things up considerably. Finally, we followed the 1.5-day conference with two half-day workshops: CLO for a Day and Strategic Alignment. Attendees really had fun with CLO for a Day which is the only computer-based simulation for our profession.  We are starting to plan next year’s conference so watch for the Save the Date message coming soon.

Conference survey results  

What were the most beneficial aspects of the CTR Conference?

What topics or speakers should we consider for the 2017 CTR Conference?


All Roads Lead to ROI

Have you ever thought about ways to prove the value of your work as well as show proof that it was worth the investment?

If you have, you’re not alone.

As being part of the business world, we all want to know we’re spending money for a good reason.

This one-hour webinar will present real-life case studies detailing what is being accomplished and how it is being used to make human capital analytics work within organizations.

Five types of projects will be discussed:

  • Converting data to money
  • Showing relationships and causation
  • Applying predictive models
  • Conducting impact and ROI analysis
  • Forecasting ROI

It’s time to make human capital analytics work for you! 

Register Now

Develop Your L&D Team’s Competencies to Deliver on Business Goals Webinar Recording

In this webinar, Caveo’s Strategic Learning Partner Alwyn Klein uses real-world case studies and proven concepts to show how to develop your L&D team to become proactive and high performing, balanced with the appropriate mix of roles and competencies. You’ll learn to…

      • Leverage the L&D Compass for your team’s journey
      • Plan team development strategies and tactics
      • Determine future competencies and roles
      • Maintain a focus on current and future business alignment
      • Deliver consistent and measurable business value

Please Visit  for access to the recording.

Develop Your L&D Team’s Competencies to Deliver on Business Goals (Webinar)

Tuesday, March 15 @ 11:00–12:00 p.m. CST

Develop Your L and D Team's Competencies to Deliver on Business Goals

More than half of training spend is done outside of learning & development organizations, and a big reason is the limitations of L&D team members’ competencies.

Strategic thinking, a performance improvement mindset, ROI and financial acumen, effective instructional design, executable program management, and proficient technology skills are just a few competencies that are required for your L&D organization to gain credibility and deliver on business goals.

By taking an inward focus on the development of their teams, learning leaders can solve these common pain points:

  • Team members that lack key L&D competencies
  • Lack of L&D “readiness” to support the next key business strategic initiative
  • Ineffective execution of learning initiatives to meet business goals
  • L&D team members that have “business” experience, but have underdeveloped performance improvement and instructional design experience, or vice versa

In this webinar, Caveo Strategic Learning Partner Alwyn Klein will show you how to develop your L&D team to become proactive and high performing, balanced with the appropriate mix of roles and competencies.

We’ll share real-world case studies and proven concepts to help develop your L&D team. You’ll learn how to:

  • Leverage the L&D Compass for your team’s journey of development
  • Plan team development strategies and tactics
  • Determine future competencies and roles
  • Leverage expert and industry resources
  • Maintain a focus on current and future business alignment
  • Deliver consistent and measurable business value

Register today and take the first step toward building an L&D team that drives business value!

Who Should Attend

Chief Learning Officers (CLOs), VPs of Training, Training Directors and Managers, Human Resources VPs and Directors, CEOs, and COOs.

Webinar Presenter: Alwyn Klein

Alwyn KleinAlwyn Klein is a popular conference presenter and facilitator with over 20 years’ experience in the L&D field, having previously headed up a team of over 60 learning professionals. He is a Certified Performance Technologist with the International Society for Performance and Improvement and a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance with the Association for Talent Development. In 2014, Klein won South Africa’s prestigious Chief Learning and Development Officer of the Year Award. He is constantly working to implement innovative, people-focused training initiatives that are strongly aligned to organizational goals.

We Don’t Exist to Increase Employee Engagement: By Dave Vance

We Don’t Exist to Increase Employee Engagement

By Dave Vance


A surprising number of L&D professionals seem to believe that our primary mission, our main purpose, is to increase employee engagement. They are wrong and their mistaken belief will lead them to misallocate resources, choose inappropriate learning, and deliver suboptimal outcomes.

It is always good to start at the beginning, and the beginning for any department is to know why it exists. What is its mission or purpose? Ideally, learning leaders have thought carefully about this and have created a written mission statement or at the very least can articulate the mission informally. In most organizations, the learning department has the capability and potential to do much more than provide or facilitate learning to increase employee engagement. L&D has the potential to help the organization achieve many, if not all, of its goals. This means helping to achieve business goals like increasing revenue by 10%, reducing costs by 5%, improving patient satisfaction by 3 points, or reducing injuries by 20%. This also means helping to achieve HR goals like improving the leadership score on the annual survey by 5 points, meeting all compliance-related goals, and yes, increasing employee engagement. It  means providing the basic skills needed by employees new to a position and the more advanced skills needed by experienced employees especially in knowledge-based companies like those in consulting and accounting. Last, learning can help address many needs and challenges that fall below these high-level goals but which nonetheless must be addressed for the organization’s overall success.

So, learning has a very broad reach and can help an organization achieve many of its goals and address numerous challenges. A good mission statement should reflect this broad reach. For example, “Help our organization achieve its goals” or “Help our organization be successful”. If L&D’s mission is simply to increase employee engagement, then whose mission is it in your organization to help achieve all the other goals and meet the numerous needs and challenges that can be addressed though learning? It is true that your sales department could do its own learning, quality its own, manufacturing its own, customer care its own, and so forth. Basically, any department that needs learning does its own. That leaves L&D to address just HR goals and maybe just employee engagement if a separate department takes care of leadership development. This is a very sad state for L&D and for your organization as a whole. Think about what this state implies. Most often, other departments do not have learning professionals so the quality of the needs analysis and the learning is low. Someone is assigned to take care of the training needs on a part-time basis and they may not be happy about it. And training people in these departments are all isolated from one another with no opportunity to pool resources, share knowledge, and specialize.

For most organizations, the learning department can have a much more powerful impact if it has a broad mission which includes helping the organization achieve its business goals and if it is organized to support more than a single department. Let’s nor limit ourselves to simply addressing HR goals like increasing employee engagement. Instead, let’s address business and HR goals as well as the basic and advanced skills our employees need for success. What is your mission?

A New Year’s Resolution to Better Manage Learning

A New Year’s Resolution to Better Manage Learning

By Dave Vance

In the spirit of the New Year, here are my suggestions for ten steps to better manage learning to have greater impact on your company and to run your department more effectively and efficiently.

  1. Be clear about your mission. Why was the learning function created and what is it expected to do? Is your primary purpose to help the business achieve its goals, increase employee engagement, improve retention, or what? The answer is hugely important.
  2. If your mission is to help the company achieve its business goals, know what those goals are each year. Meet with the owners of those goals and reach agreement on whether learning has a role to play.
  3. If your mission is to increase employee engagement or retention, then meet with the head of HR and other senior leaders to plan how learning can contribute.
  4. In either case, set specific, measurable outcome-related goals for your learning initiatives. How much of an impact can learning have on achieving the business or HR goals? A lot? A little? You and the owner of each goal need to be crystal clear on this.
  5. Once you have agreement on the planned impact of learning, you and the goal owner need to reach agreement on your respective roles and responsibilities. What, exactly, must each of you do for learning to have the agreed-upon planned impact? The planned impact will only happen if both of you work together to make it happen.
  6. Set specific, measurable goals for the L&D department for the coming year. These generally will involve targeted improvements in effectiveness and efficiency measures across all the learning you offer. Examples of effectiveness measures would be improvement in participant and sponsor satisfaction, first-time pass rates, and application rates. Examples of efficiency measures would be number of participants, percentage of courses or hours that are web-based or blended, percentage of employees reached by learning, and completion dates.
  7. Create a convincing business case for the coming year incorporating the planned impacts and actions and the costs to achieve them. Include this in a written business plan for the year which would include an executive summary, last year’s accomplishments, a discussion of current and proposed staffing and spending, the business case, work plans, and a measurement & evaluation strategy. Have the plan approved by your CEO and governing board.
  8. Create reports containing plan and year-to-date results to use each month to manage the department to deliver the planned results. Update monthly. You should have a report for each major goal supported (program report) and a report for the key effectiveness and efficiency measures (operations report). You should also create a one-two page, high-level report with no learning jargon to share with the CEO, governing body, senior leaders and employees to highlight your alignment to and impact on key company goals and your efforts to improve effectiveness and efficiency (summary report).
  9. Use these reports in regularly scheduled monthly meetings to review progress against plan and, when results are not on plan (which will be often in the real world), to discuss and decide on appropriate management actions to get back on plan.
  10. Look for ways to celebrate your success and to continuously improve. It is a journey and you will never be perfect.

Note that the ten steps above did not include a request for more staff or budget. You can begin implementing these steps with your current resources if you are willing to make some trade-offs. For example, you may need to re-assign some staff or reduce the number of projects. At the end of the day, you may have to decide if you want to do better or if you want to do more. My suggestion is to consider doing better rather than doing more, which in the longer run is actually the best way to also do more. Show your company’s senior leaders you are an outstanding manager of the resources they have given you and they are likely to give you more. So, manage learning with business-like discipline by knowing your mission, aligning your learning priorities to that mission, setting specific & measurable goals, and using monthly reports to ensure that planned results are delivered.

Best wishes to all in this great profession in the New Year!



The Move to Learner-Centric or Self-Directed Learning: Don’t Be Fooled by the Current Hype!

The Move to Learner-Centric or Self-Directed Learning: Don’t Be Fooled by the Current Hype!

By Dave Vance

In just the last month I have seen more and more about the wonderful new world of learner-centric or self-directed learning and it is really beginning to worry me. Article after article talks about the need for companies to stop trying to direct employee learning and instead shift to a role of curator and enabler to make it easier for employees to find whatever learning interests them. Here is what concerns me.

First, the history is wrong. Each article begins by stating that in the “old days” corporate L&D departments directed all the learning for all the employees. This is patently false. At Caterpillar we certainly never dreamed of directing, prescribing or controlling ALL of the learning for ALL of the employees. And I have never met a CLO or L&D department head who believed it was their mission to control all the learning in their company. So, what are these authors talking about? Yes, working with senior company leaders we did develop learning to address particular needs and help accomplish company goals. Yes, we did have orientation programs where we provided helpful learning to new employees who otherwise would not have a clue about what they needed to know. Yes, we had compliance-related learning. And, yes, we provided a number of general education courses and suites of online learning for employees to access to further their own development.  And we also facilitated the creation of individual development plans using required, suggested and discretionary formal and informal learning. But we never even entertained the notion that we, as a corporate university, would prescribe all the formal learning for all the employees or that we would control all the informal learning. The concept itself is ridiculous. So, let’s begin by getting our history right.

Second, the notion that employees always know best and should be left to choose all their own learning is equally ridiculous. Many employees new to a company or position simply don’t know what they need to know. Why wouldn’t the business want to provide direction? A needs analysis may even indicate that experienced employees lack some important skills, knowledge or capability to perform at the desired level. Why wouldn’t the business want to provide that learning to the appropriate employees? Now, it should go without saying that L&D professionals should of course use all the tools available and appropriate to meet the need. So, the “old days” of reliance solely on instructor-led learning should be behind us as should use of only formal learning. Even 10 years ago at Caterpillar we had 35,000 employees actively engaged in 2000 communities of practice and we always considered performance support tools. So, by all means, make full use of all the new learning openly available on the internet both in your business -directed learning and in your employee -directed learning. But don’t stop providing business-directed learning to employees where it makes sense.

Third, the “new role” for L&D is a move in the wrong direction and it is clearly a demotion. Some now suggest that L&D should play a more passive role and simply respond to the desires of employees.  Basically, L&D leaders should find out what employees want and give them more of it. This is fine if the mission of L&D is simply to help boost employee engagement. But our mission should be much, much more. Yes, we can help increase employee engagement by providing or facilitating more learning opportunities, but we are also in the best position to help our companies achieve their business goals. This requires strategic partnerships with the businesses resulting in business-centric or employer-directed learning. More than any other department in a company, L&D is in a unique position to help the company achieve most of its goals by becoming a valued, trusted, strategic business partner. Advocates of self-directed learning appear to be going in the opposite direction and focus only on supporting the goal of engagement or other HR-related goals like retention. HR goals are not the same as business goals like increasing sales, reducing costs, or improving quality. L&D leaders should strive to support BOTH business goals and HR goals – not simply HR goals. So, it would be a huge mistake for L&D to move away from a very active role supporting the company’s business goals to a more passive role supporting only HR goals. I would also suspect that the budget and staffing for an L&D department that moves away from actively supporting business goals will eventually be cut 50%-75% in line with their new nonstrategic, passive role focused only on one HR goal.

Let’s get the discussion going on this topic. Let’s identify where self-directed learning makes sense and where business-directed learning makes sense. Let’s not get carried away by the current hype.

Two Surprises at CLO Symposium By Dave Vance

Two Surprises at CLO Symposium

By Dave Vance


I was surprised by two things at the Fall CLO Symposium in Austin. First, I was surprised by the L&D mission statements of many speakers. Second, I was surprised by what is apparently an industry-wide and unchallenged swing to a learner-centric approach. The two surprises may be related.

My first surprise occurred as I listened to three speakers in a row start their talk by stating the purpose of their L&D group. I applaud them for starting with a mission because I believe a good, clear mission statement is vital. My surprise came as each one stated their mission in a way that was not directly tied to their business. The first and third said the purpose of their function was to increase employee engagement. Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that providing employees with learning opportunities will generally increase their engagement. Furthermore, highly engaged employees are likely to work harder and provide more discretionary effort, both of which should translate into better corporate results. And the more engaged they are the less likely they are to leave which avoid the considerable cost of replacing them.

So, engagement is a great thing, but should that really be their primary purpose? In industries with very high turnover, perhaps it will be a top business goal. For most organizations, however, there are a number of business goals which the L&D department should be supporting like increasing revenue and productivity, decreasing operating costs, improving quality and safety, enhancing customer or patient satisfaction, and sparking innovation. Not a single mention of any of these. It seems to me that the primary purpose of L&D should be to help the organization achieve its goals. This should be done by aligning programs to the business goals so you can impact those directly AND by finding ways to increase engagement which will contribute indirectly (but importantly) to the business goals. In other words, I think your CEO would like to hear about more than engagement.

The second speaker said their mission was to “leverage technology”. Period.  This reflects an absolute confusion between the means and the end.  Leveraging technology is a means to an end – it will never be an end in itself. Why do you want to leverage technology? To accomplish what? The “what” would give us insight into the mission. Of course you should leverage technology, but you need to be clear upfront on why. So, three out three speakers did not provide a compelling reason for the L&D function to exist. And we wonder why L&D gets cut first?

My second surprise may be related to the first. For the first day and a half, it seemed every speaker I heard on learning (I did miss some so consider this an imperfect sample) talked about the wonderful move to a learner-centric or self-directed approach. Some companies have already reorganized their departments around this approach. Common elements in support of this approach are trying to find out what learners want and giving them more of it. Much talk about the need to move away from creating content or teaching classes. L&D’s new role will be that of curator. Some at the conference even told me that company goals and learning needs are changing so rapidly now that there is no role for any business-centric or company-directed learning. Worse, I didn’t hear anybody challenge these assertions. If there was a debate over the last couple of years I missed it, and it seems this is now the accepted wisdom in the field. Pardon me, but I object!

We need to have a good discussion around this topic before our profession does some serious damage to itself. Like so much else, it seems to me there needs to be a middle ground here. It is wonderful that employees want to learn and that there are more ways than ever before for them to do just that. The potential to connect with and learn from others has never been greater, especially when you think about social media and all the online learning available. L&D departments should certainly find ways to help employees find the learning they need and do what they can to encourage informal learning. But that does not mean L&D departments should stop providing business-centric learning which we will define as learning planned to help achieve business goals. Senior leaders and experienced employees have wisdom. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that wisdom and let new employees know what they will need to be successful or what experienced employees need to take their performance to the next level? True, a good employee with enough time will probably figure out what they need to know and may be able to secure that knowledge informally, but why not speed the process up? Plus, I think many employees would appreciate the guidance. So, it seems to me there will always be a role for business-directed learning, not just for compliance but to help employees more quickly be as productive as possible in pursuing the business goals.

I think the learner-centric approach does make perfect sense when the learning is not aligned to business goals but in support of an effort to increase employee engagement. Many employees want opportunities to grow and develop outside the requirements to be successful at their current job. Self-directed learning is perfect in this case since each employee will have unique needs, and L&D departments should help facilitate this process by making as many learning opportunities available as possible.

So, my two surprises may be related after all. If the mission of L&D is simply to increase employee engagement, a learner-centric approach makes perfect sense. However, if the mission of L&D is to help the organization achieve its business goals, then there is most definitely still an important role for business-centric learning. Blind acceptance of the current industry trend away from business-centric learning will put an end to our quest to be valued, strategic business partners. If we continue in this direction we will not deserve a seat at the table and L&D budgets should be dramatically reduced.

The 9th Annual Global Learning Summit Singapore

CTR is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of the Global Learning Summit. David Vance, our executive Director, will be running a Pre Summit Workshop on the 7th of March 2016. Dave will also be a Keynote Speaker for the Global Learning Summit Conference. Dave was one of the first speakers at the First Global Learning Summit. The conference is located at the Raffles City Convention & Exhibition Centre, Fairmont Singapore and will be from the 7th to 9th of March 2016. Visit  to learn more and to register.

Venue Location 

Neighbouring Hotels- Room Rate (December 2015)

160307 Global Learning Summit 2016 SG GOWREG

Special Webinar Sponsored by Skyline Group, A CTR Sponsor

Special Webinar Sponsored by Skyline Group, A CTR Sponsor

What Talent Development Professionals Need to Do to Become a Valued, Strategic Business Partner

December 8, 12 pm MT

Despite an increasing appreciation of the critical role talent management professionals play in the success of a business, a large gap remains between the value talent management professionals could bring and the value they are actually delivering today. Why does this gap still exist? The gap remains because many talent professionals simply do not know how to think like a business person or what it means to run HR with business discipline. It is time to close the gap between the potential that talent management can deliver and what a company can achieve!

In this engaging and conversational webinar attendees will gain insight into the following:

  • Five steps to become a valued, strategic business partner
  • Insight into how business leaders think and how you need to communicate with them.


Join Dave Vance from the Center for Talent Reporting and Stacy Shamberger from the Skyline Group for this interview style webinar. Register now

CTR Week (CTR Conference)

Center for Talent Reporting Third Annual Conference

Dallas    February 24-25 noon


The Center for Talent Reporting (CTR) is excited to host our third annual conference in Dallas February 24-25, 2016. If your interest is measurement, reporting, or management of learning and development (L&D) in particular or HR in general, this is the conference for you. We distinguish ourselves by bringing you industry thought leaders in an intimate setting where you have the opportunity and time to interact with them. Past participants have commented that this is the best conference they ever attended and if they could attend only one, this would be it. The conference begins Wednesday morning at 8.00 am and concludes Thursday at noon. We hope you will join us for what promises to be our best conference yet. Register now.


Center for Talent Reporting TDRP Basics Workshop

Dallas    February 22-23

The next TDRp Basics Workshop will be conducted in Dallas February 22-23 as the kick-off to CTR Week which includes the Third Annual CTR Conference and two great post-conference events.  The two-day workshop covers all elements of TDRp including assumptions, principles, types and definitions of measures, creation of measures lists, and creation and use of the three reports. They will also discuss how to manage human capital like a business, how to implement TDRp in your organization, and how to manage the required change. Typically a workshop will have 15-20 participants. Pre-workshop reading and assignments will be available approximately four weeks prior to the workshop. There will be numerous breakouts during the workshop for discussion. Participants will have an opportunity to apply what they have learned first in a case study and then with their own (or a client’s) organization. Register now.


CLO for a Day Simulation

Dallas   February 25 1-5 pm


Join us in Dallas for the first public offering of this very unique and engaging computer-based simulation for learning professionals. The simulation puts you in the role of a CLO where you have to decide

  • Which corporate goals to support
  • Which learning programs to include in your business plan
  • What type of learning to recommend (classroom, e-learning, simulation, job aides, or a blend)
  • How long each initiative should be
  • How many participants should take each course
  • Whether to reinforce the learning

Just as in the real world, you will have a limited budget and staff, which means that you will not be able to do everything you want. Trade-offs will have to be made. What will you sacrifice? How much can you accomplish with the resources you have? Participants will work in teams of two to see who can deliver the greatest impact, effectiveness and efficiency. Register now.


Strategic Alignment Workshop

Dallas   February 26  8 am-12 noon

Join us for this special Strategic Alignment Workshop to explore what senior leaders really want to see and to learn how to achieve and demonstrate strategic alignment. We will begin with a review of the literature on alignment and suggest a working definition. Then we will discuss the theory of alignment and how to have good business discussions with senior leaders. Next, we will share a six-step process to achieve and show alignment. Last, we will address real-world alignment issues. Extensive use will be made of case studies to allow you to immediately apply what you have learned at each step. Alternatively, you can bring your own organization’s goals and programs to use in this workshop. Register now.

Want to share and learn with a crowd of your peer-group?

Want to share and learn with a crowd of your peer-group?

Center for Talent Reporting community are welcome to share practical Best Practices & Next Practices with the Executive learning Exchange  curating solutions as a global cohort online.  Join the following Google+ community to learn more:

Simple & cost effective ways to measure big results (Google id required)

Get To Know Your Board Member (Cushing Anderson)

Cushing Anderson is program vice president for IDC’s Project-Based Services research. In this role, Cushing is responsible for managing the research agenda, field research, and custom research projects for IDC’s Business Consulting, Human Resources and Learning research programs. Cushing has been actively investigating the link between strategic business planning and training in the extended enterprise, the value of certifications and the impact of training on IT team performance. He has also extensively researched the value of partner certification programs to software companies. He also conducts regular research on the views and experiences of enterprises’ with global consulting firms. Cushing speaks on a variety of topics and has received a number of industry accolades. He is on the editorial advisory board and authors a regular column for CLO magazine and is on the board a Center for Talent Reporting board member. Cushing holds a bachelor’s degree in Government from Connecticut College and earned his M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston College’s Graduate School of Education.

Join Cushing and CTR as he keynotes our Conference February 24th 2016.

Is L&D Fundamentally Different Than Other HR Disciplines?

Is L&D Fundamentally Different Than Other HR Disciplines?

By Dave Vance

I just attended my first “HR” conference. I normally attend L&D – focused conferences like ATD, CLO Symposium, and Skillsoft Perspectives. This conference was 2.5 days and while it had an L&D track, the primary focus of the other four tracks and all the main session topics were on other aspects of HR like talent acquisition.

The conference certainly broadened my understanding of the challenges and issues facing our colleagues in other HR departments. It also provided a much better basis for answering the perennial question of whether L&D “belongs” in HR. I used to answer that question somewhat ambiguously by saying that HR was probably the best fit for most (but not all) L&D functions. (Note: At Caterpillar the L&D function was within the Human Services Division.) My first impression after the 2.5 days is that L&D may indeed be fundamentally different and may not be best positioned in HR.

Here is what struck me and I wonder if you have seen the same in any HR conferences you may have attended. I did not hear a single speaker talk about HR as a direct contributor to achieving the annual business goals of the organization, like increasing sales by 10% or reducing operating costs by 5%. They talked about how HR can help achieve long-run goals like developing a more diverse workforce and ensuring that the right workforce will be in place in five years. They talked about the important role of HR in managing the leadership pipeline and improving the performance management process. Don’t misunderstand me, these are all important goals but they will contribute INDIRECTLY to achieving the long-term business goals and even more indirectly to this year’s business goals.

Speakers also talked about big data and talent analytics and how these can help address current business issues like finding the best candidates for open positions or the best place to locate a new office. Again, very important and issues that HR is now better positioned than ever before to address. But there was no mention of current business plan goals like increasing sales by 10% and how HR might directly contribute.

Using the language of TDRp, the measures in support of these HR initiatives were primarily efficiency measures like number of hires, diversity of the workforce, and cost per hire. There were a few effectiveness, like bench strength and quality of hire. But there were no outcome measures which we define as the direct impact of HR initiatives on organization (business) goals. When speakers talked about goals, they were really talking about efficiency or effectiveness goals – not business goals. So, they talked about how HR initiatives would help accomplish HR goals.

Now, contrast this with L&D’s ability to directly impact business or organizational goals. Think about the common business goals like increasing sales, reducing costs, improving quality or productivity, and reducing injuries. In most organizations, L&D can and typically does contribute directly to achieving these goals. Consequently, we have outcome measures for L&D to measure our impact on these goals. (Of course, L&D can often also contribute to HR goals like improving employee engagement and leadership.)

So, perhaps L&D is fundamentally different than other HR disciplines because we can directly impact many, if not all, business goals. Initiatives from other HR functions play an important role in enabling organizational success in the current year and in the future, but often are not direct contributors. More thought is required here.

Get to Know Your Board Member (Patti Phillips)

Patti Phillips

Dr. Patti Phillips is president and CEO of the ROI Institute, Inc., the leading source of ROI competency building, implementation support, networking, and research. A renowned expert in measurement and evaluation, she helps organizations implement the ROI Methodology in 50 countries around the world.

Since 1997, following a 13-year career in the electric utility industry, Phillips has embraced the ROI Methodology by committing herself to ongoing research and practice. To this end, she has implemented ROI in private sector and public sector organizations. She has conducted ROI impact studies on programs such as leadership development, sales, new-hire orientation, human performance improvement, K-12 educator development, and educators’ National Board Certification mentoring.

Phillips teaches others to implement the ROI Methodology through the ROI Certification process, as a facilitator for ASTD’s ROI and Measuring and Evaluating Learning Workshops, and as professor of practice for The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Campus Ph.D. in Human Capital Development program. She also serves as adjunct faculty for the UN System Staff College in Turin, Italy, where she teaches the ROI Methodology through their Evaluation and Impact Assessment Workshop and Measurement for Results-Based Management. She serves on numerous doctoral dissertation committees, assisting students as they develop their own research on measurement, evaluation, and ROI.

Phillips’s academic accomplishments include a Ph.D. in International Development and a master’s degree in Public and Private Management. She is a certified in ROI evaluation and has been awarded the designations of Certified Professional in Learning and Performance and Certified Performance Technologist.

She, along with her husband Jack Phillips, contributes to a variety of journals and has authored a number of books on the subject of accountability and ROI, including Survey Basics (ASTD, 2013); Measuring the Success of Coaching (ASTD, 2012); 10 Steps to Successful Business Alignment(ASTD, 2012); The Bottomline on ROI 2nd Edition (HRDQ, 2012); Measuring Leadership Development: Quantify your Program’s Impact and ROI on Organizational Performance (McGraw-Hill, 2012); Measuring ROI in Learning and Development: Case Studies from Global Organizations (ASTD , 2011);The Green Scorecard: Measuring the ROI  in Sustainability Initiatives (Nicholas Brealey, 2011); Return on Investment in Meetings and Events: Tools and Techniques to Measure the Success of All Types of Meetings and Events (Elsevier, 2008); Show Me the Money: How to Determine ROI in People, Projects, and Programs (Berrett-Koehler, 2007); The Value of Learning (Pfeiffer, 2007); Return on Investment Basics (ASTD, 2005); Proving the Value of HR: How and Why to Measure ROI (SHRM, 2005); Make Training Evaluation Work (ASTD, 2004); The Bottom Line on ROI(Center for Effective Performance, 2002), which won the 2003 ISPI Award of Excellence; ROI at Work (ASTD, 2005); the ASTD In Action casebooks Measuring ROI in the Public Sector (2002), Retaining Your Best Employees (2002), and Measuring Return on Investment Vol. III (2001); the ASTD Infoline series, including Planning and Using Evaluation Data (2003), Managing Evaluation Shortcuts (2001), and Mastering ROI (1998); and The Human Resources Scorecard: Measuring Return on Investment (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2001). Patti Phillips can be reached at

Want to Have a Greater Impact?

Want to Have a Greater Impact?

By Dave Vance

Learning and development (L&D) has the potential to significantly contribute to your organization’s results. What steps are you taking to maximize your impact? Here are four for your consideration.

First, know your organization’s goals and be sure you are doing everything possible to support the CEO’s highest-priority goals. This sounds so simple and yet many L&D functions do not do this. To be clear, we are not talking about HR goals, we are talking about your organization’s “real” goals like increasing revenue, reducing operating cost, or improving productivity. Now, if your CEO’s top five goals include improving leadership, increasing retention or boosting employee engagement, then by all means focus on these as well. If you are not currently supporting these “real” goals, what programs could you design that would help achieve them? If you are supporting them, are there any new programs which might do an even better job? As a self-check, what percentage of your total L&D spend is for learning directly aligned to your organization’s top five goals? Most CEOs would want you to do everything you can to help achieve their top goals.

Second, speak the language of business. Senior leaders should not have to learn our language. We need to learn theirs. After all, we exist to support them; they do not exist to support us. So, no talking about competencies and competency models unless they bring it up. No talking about level 1 or level 2. Do not use the words “pedagogy” or “learning modalities”. The language of senior leaders is generally money, results, impact, priorities and trade-offs. (See the 2010 research by Jack Phillips on what CEOs want from L&D where the two highest rated requests are impact and ROI.) They are busy people and they want you to get to the point. How can learning help them achieve their goals? What impact will it have? How much will it cost? They don’t need a lot of technical detail. Start with big picture and talk in business terms. They will ask for more detail if they need it.

Third, given the focus of senior leaders described above, get agreement upfront on the planned impact of your strategic learning initiatives. If you and senior leaders believe learning could help achieve a goal to increase sales by 10%, how much of a difference might learning make? Here we are talking about a plan for the isolated impact of your learning initiatives on sales. This will be a just a plan and there is no guarantee it will be realized, just like there is no guarantee that sales will go up 10% next year because that is the plan. While planning of this sort may be new to you, it is not new to your senior leaders who have to make plans all the time in a world full of uncertainties. So, for example, could your learning initiative, properly designed, delivered, and reinforced, be expected to deliver a 2% increase in sales? What would it take from you and from the head of sales for learning to have this impact? You want to be on the same page as senior leaders upfront on planned impact and on roles and responsibilities, and then you need to hold yourselves mutually accountable for delivering results.

Fourth, now that you are speaking the language of business and have a plan to contribute to the organization’s top goals, you need to execute it with discipline. This means you need to generate monthly reports showing progress towards plan or goal. The report should show the plan, year-to-date (YTD) results, and a forecast for how the year is likely to end if no special actions are taken. This report will be used by the program manager and department head to manage the learning initiatives to come as close as possible to achieving the agreed-upon impact. Each month the report should be used to ask whether you are on plan, and if not, why not and what can be done to get back on plan. Or, you may be on plan but the forecast shows you falling below plan by year end. If so, then you need to discuss why and what steps can be taken to stay on plan. Bottom line, you want to know where you stand each month, and you want to know as soon as possible if it appears plan may not be achieved so you can take some action to get back on plan.

These four steps will help you have the greatest impact possible on the goals that are most important to your CEO. Following them will also make you a much better business partner and increase the likelihood of additional resources.

Steps in Creating a Measurement Strategy

Steps in Creating a Measurement Strategy

By Dave Vance


Many learning professionals have been tasked with creating a measurement strategy. If you are among the chosen, here is some advice.

First, meet with your department head. They are the key to a successful and impactful measurement strategy. After all, the measurement strategy should support their management needs so it really is all about them. Unfortunately, many department heads do not understand that measurement is a means to the end and the end is their good management of the department. Here are some questions to get the discussion going:

  • Why do you want a measurement strategy?
  • How will you use the measures? How frequently do you want to see them?
  • Who else will use these measures?
  • What do you think of our current strategy or the measure we currently collect?
  • What measures do we currently collect?
  • What do our current reports look like? Who receives them? Who actually uses them? What do they do with them?
  • What strategic company goals are we supporting this year or next?
  • What are your key initiatives for the department? What goals do you have to improve effectiveness or efficiency? Do you have any measures in mind for these?

Answers to these questions should provide good insight on the current state of measurement.

Second, create three lists of measures: one for effectiveness measures, one for efficiency measures, and one for outcome measures (if you have any – most do not).  Your measurement strategy should include measures in each list so it is important to have a balance. Add any additional measures gleaned from your discussion with the department head. You may also want to meet with other senior leaders in the department to get their input.

Third, reflect on the department’s initiatives in support of the strategic goals. You will need an outcome measure for each company goal you are supporting. You will also want some accompanying efficiency measures (like number of participants, completion date and cost) and effectiveness measures (participant and sponsor satisfaction, amount learned and application rate). You will want to talk with the program directors to learn more about the initiatives and agree on the appropriate measures. Ultimately, the program directors will need to work closely with the goal owners or sponsors (like the VP of sales) to agree on the final list of measures and a plan or target for each.

Fourth, reflect on the department head’s plans for department-level initiatives. These may include leadership programs or programs to increase employee engagement or improve retention which are important but are not strategic company goals. These also include initiatives aimed solely at improving efficiency (for example, improving cycle time or increasing the ratio of web-based to instructor-led learning) or improving effectiveness (e.g., increasing the application rate of learning for the top ten programs or increasing the enterprise participant satisfaction rating). You will need efficiency and effectiveness measures for all of these and you will need outcome measures for your major initiatives like improving leadership. Add any additional measures from your discussions with other department leaders.

Fifth, meet with the department head and senior L&D leaders to share your preliminary thinking about the measures and how they flow from the key initiatives. Undoubtedly, the department leaders will have some additional thoughts and suggest more measures, but hopefully they appreciate the measurement framework and the alignment of measures to their important initiatives. Again, the measurement strategy should be all about helping the department head and senior L&D leaders better manage their initiatives. It should provide the measures that they need and want to see every single month to know how they are doing.

Last, the department head and senior L&D leaders need to decide which measures they want to actively manage versus passively monitor. Any leader can only actively manage 10-20 measures with their direct reports – so what are your vital few measures? Although you have been tasked with creating a measurement strategy, it is your leaders’ responsibility to decide which of the many measures will be managed. And they need to establish a plan or target for measure to be managed and then review progress against plan every month, so work is required here. Once they decide which to manage, you can them create reports like those in Talent Development Reporting Principles (TDRp) to show the measures, plan and year-to-date results.

I hope this provides some helpful structure to the measurement strategy process. It is very much an iterative process and generally requires multiple meetings until everyone agrees on the final list of measures and particularly the final list of measures to be managed. However, it will be time well spent, and your role in pulling the measurement strategy will give you great insight into the department and your leaders.


Revised Introduction to TDRp White Paper Now Available

Revised Introduction to TDRp White Paper Now Available

The Introduction to TDRp white paper (24 pages) has been thoroughly updated and revised to include all the latest recommendations and reports, including a discussion of creating lists of measures and distinguishing between measures to manage and measures to monitor. The paper also contains the latest report formats. This is the best introduction to TDRp and the recommended starting point for anyone who wants to learn about TDRp. The Executive Brief (5 pages) has also been revised. Find both on the home page, at Resources > Whitepapers, and at the Members Resource Center under Whitepapers.  A 2-page introduction for VPs of Training and a 1-page introduction for CEOs can also be found on the website at Resources > Communicating TDRp to Others.

Get To Know Your Board Member (Jean Martin)

Jean Martin

Jean Martin - Headshot 2014 (2)

(Executive Director, Talent Solutions Architect, CEB)


As executive director of CEB and CEB’s Talent Solutions Architect, Jean leads CEB’s insight and product development in talent management. Her areas of expertise span the HR spectrum and range from the future of the HR function to leadership to labor market trends. Specifically, Jean spends time working on issues relating to CEO and leadership succession, employee engagement, how companies can attract and keep the best employees, and how companies can seek out top talent globally and build out their global leadership bench.

Jean is often asked to share her knowledge in larger forums and has spoken at venues such as the Gathering of Leaders, the Economist Talent Summit, the Singapore Human Capital Summit, Wharton Women in Business Conference and the European Union. Jean also regularly presents to executive teams including Bombardier, Intel, Cisco, BBVA and Eskrom among others. In addition, her work has appeared in publications such as the Associated Press, Harvard Business Review, the Economist, Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, and Human Resources Executive Magazine.

Prior to CEB, Jean served as a special assistant to President Clinton’s Domestic Policy Council. Additionally, Jean was a Presidential Management Fellow serving as a Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President for small business/community development banking at Bank of America. Also during her time as a PMF she was project manager for public-private partnerships in disadvantaged communities at the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development and for microfinance and microenterprise development at the U.S. Agency for International Development in Tanzania. Prior to that she worked a management consultant with the Institute for Human Services Management.

Jean received a Masters of Public Policy with a concentration in Economics and Finance at Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts with highest distinction from the University of Virginia.  She also has served on several non-profit and public boards, such as City Year, Turnaround for Children and the San Francisco Presidio Planning Commission.  She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and three children.

The Right Conversation By Dave Vance

The Right Conversation

By Dave Vance

In Chief Learning Officer’s June issue on the 2015 Learning Elite winners, Kimo Kippen, CLO for Hilton Worldwide and winner of Third Place in the Elite, talks about the importance of having the right conversation with senior leaders. He says the discussion is about “driving better business results and not simply justifying L&D’s existence.” He goes on to comment, “I never, ever got questions as to why learning was important…. I was never asked, ‘Why are we doing this?’”

Why is the right conversation so important, what is it about, and who is it with? First, the right conversation needs to be with the right person, and the right person is the senior business leader responsible for delivering a company goal like higher sales or improved guest satisfaction. Typically these leaders will be SVPs and direct reports to the CEO. In other words, they will be the top leaders in your organization. Now, the discussion about learning and its impact on business results may have started much lower in the senior leader’s organization but ultimately the right conversation will be with the SVP.

Second, the discussion must ultimately be about learning’s ability to help drive business results which is why it needs to be with the owner of the business goal (for example, increase sales by 10%). Both the senior business leader (like the SVP of Sales) and the L&D leader (like the CLO) must agree that learning has a role to play and they must agree on the specifics of the planned initiative like target audience, learning modality, location, duration, objectives, and cost. More than this, though, they must also agree on the planned impact and other measures of success so they both can agree on what is expected from this investment in learning. And last, they must agree on their mutual roles and responsibilities. What must each do to deliver the planned impact? Neither one can do it alone. The senior business leader must rely on the learning professional’s expertise to ensure that learning can contribute to achievement of the goal and, if it can, to design and deliver the right learning. On the other hand, since the employees report into the senior leader’s organization, only the senior business leader can provide the appropriate reinforcement and leadership to ensure her employees actually apply the new knowledge or behaviors which will result in the intended impact. (You can see why this discussion must be with the senior business leader….a lower –level leader in her organization simply does not have the power to compel the needed behavior by employees and leaders in the organization.)

Hopefully, by now you have a sense of why this conversation is so important and transformative. The conversation is about learning’s role in helping the senior business leaders accomplish their goals. Done properly, both parties (business and L&D) will walk away in agreement on the need for learning, the particulars, the planned impact and other measures of success, and what each must do if, together, they are going to deliver the planned business results. As Kimo said, after this conversation, there is no question about learning’s role or importance. You are now a business partner with an important role to play in achieving your company’s goals. Notice, too, the purpose of this discussion was not to ask for resources or justify L&D’s existence. It is a business discussion. If learning has a role to play and both parties agree upfront on the particulars and planned impact, the discussion about cost is straightforward. It will cost $X to achieve the planned impact. If that seems like a good investment, proceed. If not, don’t. No begging. If the available budget is less, you can scale back the program AND the planned impact.

Bottom line, these types of discussions are required if you are to become a valued business partner. More, they are just very interesting and fun. You will learn a lot from your senior leaders and gain a lot of insight. If you are already having these “right conversations” keep up the good work and share your experiences with others. If you are not having these today, resolve to move in this direction going forward. You will be amazed at the difference they make.

TDRp Featured in July Talent Management Magazine

Talent Management magazine just published  a cover story on Western Union ‘s adoption of TDRp

The cover story for the July issue of Talent Management magazine is Delivering Value which describes how Western Union has used TDRp to align learning to business goals, have better discussions with goal owners, choose appropriate measures, and generate monthly reports. The article includes the reasons Josh Craver, VP of Talent Management, selected TDRp to help transform learning at Western Union into a more business-focused and results-oriented effort. The article also includes feedback and success stories from one of their important business partners. Read the article at


Don’t Sell Training to Senior Leaders

Don’t Sell Training to Senior Leaders

By Dave Vance

In the last blog I talked about marketing your training to participants. I concluded that while it may be appropriate for general learning it would not be appropriate for learning strategically aligned to your organization’s goals since the goal owner is responsible for identifying the specific target audience and ensuring that they take it. So, while you may help the owner communicate the benefits and expectations of the training, there is no need for L&D to market it in the traditional sense of marketing. (The owner, however, may very well want to market it to their organization, especially if it is voluntary.)

Today I want to talk about a related topic and that is selling your training to senior leaders. Here the general rule is much simpler: Don’t do it! Now I know that you may be tempted to sell the training because you firmly believe it will be of value. You have completed your needs analysis, and you know that training, specifically the training you are recommending, would close an important gap in employees’ knowledge, skill or behavior resulting in greater organizational capability and better results. Since you are convinced of this it is only natural that you want to convince the leader as well so their employees and your company can benefit from the training.

Here is the problem. At the end of the day, you can design and deliver the very best learning which meets all of your carefully researched and planned objectives. The participants may love it and give you high satisfaction ratings. They may demonstrate that they learned the material through a test. But if they do not apply it, it is scrap learning, a waste of time and company resources. So, who is in a position to ensure that the participants actually apply your great learning? Sadly, it is not you. Only the senior leader is in a position to compel their employees to apply the learning. You can (and should) provide advice to the leader about steps they can take to ensure the highest level of application. You can advise them how to kick off the training, how to let their supervisors and employees know what their expectations are for this training, and how to devise a reinforcement strategy of positive and negative consequences. (The Kirkpatrick’s’ rightly focus on the importance of this step.)

If the senior leader does not have the time or inclination to undertake these steps to ensure application, chances are the application rate will be very low, resulting in low impact and almost certainly a negative ROI. This is why hard selling training to senior leaders simply will not work. They have to believe in it. They have to want it. They have to be committed to it enough to dedicate the time to make it successful. You can share your proposal for training with them and outline the expected benefits, but no hard sells. If they are not convinced you might try explaining the benefits one more time, but if they still do not seem convinced, walk away. These should be business discussions about how you can help them achieve their goals through training. And you need to be clear about what will be required from them in terms of their time and commitment. If they don’t see the benefits, or if they do but don’t have the time or energy to do their part to achieve them, then let it go and don’t take it personally. Respect their judgment.

The danger here is that you go into hard sell mode and you succeed. They give in and you proceed to deliver the training. But since they never really believed in the benefits, or they do not have the time to do their part, the training is not properly positioned or reinforced it, and consequently the application rate is low. It is a waste of time and resources. You succeeded in selling it but the training failed to have impact. And all of this was predictable. Thus, my advice: No hard sells. It simply won’t work because the leaders have to be fully committed and it shouldn’t take a hard sell to get that commitment. They will realize the training is in their best interest or they won’t, and this can be accomplished through a business-like discussion of benefits and costs. Don’t try to force them to do training when they don’t really believe in it or are not fully committed to it. In other words, be more of a consultant and business partner and realize that this means they will not always take your advice. And that is okay.