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Bola Owoade

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Book Review – The Little Book of Impact


The Little Book of ImpactIntroduction

On the 17th of June 2014 I attended the Learning and Skills conference. Just like last year's it was SO GOOD! I learnt loads, but also was reminded about why I love my learning and development career. At the conference I picked up a couple of mini-free books, so over the next couple of weeks I am going to be reviewing them starting with The Little Book of Impact published by Reed Learning.

Reed Learning has published a number of "little books" on key learning and development topics and I intend to review all of them. The Little Book of Impact focuses on a very important and sometimes controversial subject for learning and development professionals. That of assessing the impact of learning back in the workplace or as we more commonly know it, evaluation. Hence it's subtitle: Measurable outcomes from learning. According to Reed, the book was written in conjunction with Training Journal and some of L & D's top thinkers such as Martyn SlomanNeville Pritchard and Tony Bingham. The book consists of 20 short topics, each spanning no more than 2 pages. In total it has 21 pages, so calling this a little book is an overstatement, it is actually a mini one. It is a higly readable book which is very colorful and contains comic strips too.

If you are not one for reading large, voluminous books, you have no excuse not to read this one. It will take you about 30 minutes to go through it. Below I have written very short reviews of each topic in the book.

Learning With Impact: This is an introduction to the book.

Popular Evaluation Models: A quick review of some of the most popular evaluation models. The models reviewed are Kirkpatricks four levels, Phillips evaluation model which adds a fifth level to kirkpatricks, Brinkerhoff's success case method, CIRO evaluation model and Scriven's key evaluation checklist.

Citrix's Training Made An Impact Across 3 Continents: This is a short case study about how learning and development made an impact at Citrix.

Why 90% of Training Doesn't Have Impact: It looks at reasons why training may not have impact. Four areas discussed are, what happens before training starts, the actual training, transferring learning back to work and measuring impact of training.

ROI: Two views of ROI (Return on Investment) are debated by Martyn Sloman and Neville Pritchard.

Is Salary Based ROI The Way Forward: A view which states that ROI should be calculated from the salary paid to the person doing the learning, not on the final bill of the learning itself.

Happy Sheets: A discussion on the problem with using happy sheets as an evaluation tool.

How Not To/To Learn With Impact: Here is a comic strip which looks at learning with impact. The first part of the comic strip looks at how not to learn with impact, while the second part is all about how to learn with impact.

The New World Kirkpatrick Model: A newly reviewed (in 2010) Kirkpatrick model is presented. More detail which is much more relevant to the current learning and development landscape has been added to the model.

Evaluation at Hertfordshire County Council: A case study describing how Reed Learning together with Hertfordshire Council implemented a learning programme which resulted in a 17 per cent increase in learner confidence.

Top Tips: This article offers some tips for using surveys to measure impact. The three tips offered are:

  1. Ask the right questions
  2. Ask the right people
  3. Ask at the right time.

Learning Transfer: How Do You Do It: The three essential factors of learner characteristics, learning design and work environment are used to explain how to improve the transfer of learning to the workplace.

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail!: What preparation needs to be embarked upon to ensure the best result is got from a learning programme? This article outlines a couple of steps to take. They include:

  • Identify business needs
  • Identify both learning and behavioral goals
  • Ensure the right people are nominated for any learning programme
  • Encourage learners to use what they have learnt back at work
  • Provide opportunities for people to use their learning and incentives for those who use their learning

From Transaction to Transformation: The importance of learning and development professionals understanding the business is emphasized in this article.

The Future of Evaluation: This article discusses the importance of aligning learning to business objectives. Ultimately the message here is that learning will only have real impact when it is aligned to the business's needs.

The Evolution of Evaluation: This last section of the book is quite interesting and insightful. It gives a brief history of evaluation right from 1792 up to current times.

One Response

  1. The Little book of Impact’s impact

    Having just read the latest in the 'little book' series it has once more managed to condense a large amount of context in a short volume. The article do vary in their style and quality of content but this adds to the feeling that this short read is giving a good overview of the major themes and opinions about the topic of training evaluation.

    The design is not quite so engaging as previous volumes and the use of super heroes to illustrate the points does feel a little like dumbing down but it does make the point to some extent. So overall a good little read and helpful in putting the current situation regarding thinking on training course evaluation.

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Bola Owoade

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