Organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, have for many years used one standard metric to determine the value of every resource allocation decision: Return On Investment (ROI). This measurement is completely appropriate for investments that have quantifiable results, such as software acquisition or new staff positions, but savvy Chief Learning Officers have begun to understand that ROI simply can’t provide a true measure of learning.

Corporate education professionals are recognizing that they must measure whether their efforts are affecting the priorities of their internal clients in ways that are meaningful to those clients. They must measure the business impact of their efforts.

Mike E. Echols, Director of Bellevue University’s Human Capital Lab and Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for Bellevue University, describes business impact as “the specific measurable performance indicators that relate to the strategy and goals of the enterprise.”  Similarly, Karie Willyerd, partner of Future Workplace and Chief Learning Officer of Sun Microsystems, often speaks on her methodology to evaluate this by focusing on behavior, business goals, and bottom-line financial results.

At Blackboard, we call this Impact On Business™ (IOB™): the ability to positively impact the behavior, business goals, and bottom line of your clients. How is IOB achieved? It is achieved when you develop training programs that align with the business leader’s goals. These are the true metrics in support of your business goals, and we at Blackboard can help you develop strategies, programs and measurements that demonstrate your value in helping internal stakeholders successfully reach those goals. That’s what IOB™ is all about.

To learn more about Impact On Business, including four steps to achieving IOB, download our white paper, Why Impact on Business is the New Measure of Corporate Learning.

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  • Rich Shadrin

    For so long corporate education – and for that matter education in general has searched for metrics to capture performance. It seems your metric – to me at least – has great appeal. And it’s for one reason in particular: The emphasis on behavior is first; not a third player behind knowledge and skills.
    In particular, page, item 2 calls for a re-engineering of learning strategies. I believe this to be essential. Still, the root cause of the failure to deliver high end results stems from a failure at the beginning of the project. Like the architect who is off an inch at the base finds his building tipping over by the 10th floor so it is true in learning. The reason to me is clear.
    Too few learning designers forget to look at the client’s client – the actual end user as the primary driver of the project. Too much pleasing the client – not enough thinking about what the real end user must exhibit…unless everyone buys in.
    Learning leaders get frustrated when the foundation of a project starts off right but compromises are made both intent and execution drift. It’s more than just tuning up techniques, technology and processes, it’s an allegiance to the objectives that’s of primacy – and that’s to change behaviors. If an element does not add to the IOB it has little use in the curriculum. And decisions made with those objectives held on target will improve results markedly.

  • Patrick Devlin, Vice President, Sales & Market Development Professional Education Solutions

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Rich. You make several good points (and I especially appreciate the architecture analogy). Learning programs provide the opportunity to fundamentally shift behavior toward achieving overarching organizational goals. As you point out, as long as we continue to measure success by satisfying only the direct client, organizations miss that opportunity entirely. We at Blackboard seek to ensure our customers, at all levels, realize this and avoid this all-too-common pitfall.