Joining the dots . . . on research reports

stack of documents on a desk with a laptop showing it's a work context

Content strategist and L&D pundit Martin Couzins considers insights and alignment – two watchwords for learning teams . . .

The L&D industry generates useful research and in recent months we have seen the publication of the CIPD’s Learning at Work research, Mind Tools for Business’ Learning and Performance benchmark (part 1) and the Learning and Performance Institute’s L&D Dashboard.

This is not impact data. It cannot tell you how useful and relevant resources were to an individual

All three reports are well worth a read. They all provide data and insights against which L&D teams can benchmark their own performance and learn from others about their challenges and solutions to those challenges.

Interpreting the reports

However, data and insights present a challenge for learning teams. Mind Tools for Business research shows that L&D struggles with research, data management and evaluating impact.

This is backed up by the LPI’s data that shows learning teams struggle with defining the metrics that matter and measuring effectiveness and outcomes.

Data and insights from research provide a huge opportunity for L&D teams to align with the business, align with learning and demonstrate impact. But for this to happen learning teams need to start to collect the data – the right sort of data.

The rapid acceleration to digital over the last couple of years means that L&D teams are more familiar than ever with collecting quantitative user data such as page views and dwell time. This can be useful for understanding the tools the audience is using and the types of learning resources they are accessing.

However, this is not impact data. It cannot tell you how useful and relevant resources were to an individual and how those resources helped someone in their job or with their development or wellbeing. And it cannot tell you if what your team is providing is aligned with performance and business goals.

To do that, L&D teams must collect a different type of data – qualitative data.  This is the data that will help learning teams to improve learning efficacy, adapt to change and demonstrate impact.

Impactful data you need

So how can you collect this type of data? The most effective method is to interview learners. To ask very focused questions that will provide the answers you need to demonstrate impact. Questions might include:

  • How has the learning resource helped you in your job?
  • What impact has this had on your personal goals?
  • What would you improve about the learning resources?
  • Would you recommend this learning to others? 

These types of questions provide deeper insight into the effectiveness and impact of the learning. But they do more than that. They demonstrate that L&D is a pro-active team that is focussed on continuous improvement. This will greatly increase the credibility, visibility and profile of the team.

These types of questions also help you identify possible case studies and ambassadors for learning – which will help tell the impact story. They also help identify problems and learning enhancements.

From an organisational perspective, the process of collecting this type of data ensures that learning is aligned with business priorities and team and individual goals. This type of data provides the insights that help join the dots between learning, performance and business impact.

Martin Couzins

Martin Couzins is director of Insight Media and you can contact him direct at

Martin Couzins

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