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Laura Overton

Learning analyst

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Turning data into insight and insight into action


Towards Maturity, the organisational development and learning experts, have sliced and diced their latest research and serialised it exclusively for TrainingZone. Here, MD Laura Overton gives us an overview of what to look forward to.

The world is changing faster than ever before; driven by technology, we have digitally-savvy workforces and digitally-savvy customers and the traditional silos of geography and hierarchy are breaking down. For business leaders, talent, technology and ongoing business change present serious challenges to business performance. And yet this is exactly where L&D teams can make a difference by aligning their activities to real business need.

Most organisations are looking to respond faster to changing business conditions, but many fail to deliver their learning initiatives in time to meet the needs of the business. This new work context presents L&D teams with tough challenges but also a massive opportunity to help build intelligent, consistent knowledge that is shared rapidly and that will give your business a competitive edge. But how? Towards Maturity is celebrating 10 years of researching the ‘how’. By asking nearly 3,000 organisations how they use technology to enable learning and deliver results we have amassed a deep research base which provides insights into how top learning companies are driving business performance.

In this four-part serialisation of our latest benchmark report we aim to turn our data into insights so that you can turn insight into action. We encourage you to use this series within your L&D team to help you deliver learning innovation that helps your business stay sharp, agile and ahead of the game - in short to help your organisation get the edge.

The series brought to you in conjunction with TrainingZone, covers:

  • Delivering business impact
  • Building skills and talent
  • Underpinning strategy with technology
  • Overcoming barriers to change

The aim of each article is to provide you with data and insights into making an impact with a technology-enabled learning strategy. But that’s not all. Also included are tips and ideas from top learning companies. Our aim is to help you turn data and insight into action. As we move through the series we will also bring in the learner perspective, based on our data from 2,000 learners. We know that learners are increasingly keen to take control of their own learning, so when it comes to building skills and talent L&D needs to understand how best to leverage this hunger for learning.

"We encourage you to use this series within your L&D team to help you deliver learning innovation that helps your business stay sharp, agile and ahead of the game"

The first article in the series will provide you with the insights you need to show commercial awareness as well as the impact learning is having on the bottom line. By looking at top learning companies we are able to quantify the impact learning and development is having on the bottom line.

Research published yesterday from the CIPD in conjunction with Cornerstone shows that over 50% say business knowledge and commercial awareness is critical to success in L&D/OD, which is the top factor attributed to success in L&D. There is also an increasing emphasis on evaluating training, with the number of organisations measuring return on investment from L&D practices increasing from 26% to 48%.  

The first paper in our serialisation - Delivering business impact - shows us that the key to delivering impact is alignment with business objectives. And organisations aligned with these objectives find their L&D activities are also better supported by the business. There is a real hunger to deliver impact but that desire is not being realised for many organisations.

Only 36% are working with business leaders to identify the business metrics that need to be improved through learning, with less than half of those businesses going back to review progress against the agreed metrics. This is where the research comes into its own – we are able to draw on practical ideas from top learning companies to show how they align their learning to organisational needs, and also how they demonstrate the values that they are giving back to the organisation.

We titled this year’s report the New Learning Agenda because it acts as a summary, not just of the latest research, but of the whole ten years' worth of accumulated research. It is a synopsis of everything we have identified that really helps L&D teams to deliver. And we don’t mean deliver courses. This is where the shift is taking place in learning and development – from delivering courses to delivering real business impact.

But for many who have worked with the status quo of delivering courses for so long, this represents a huge shift. And it is this shift that our research can support by providing practical insight and evidence from those who have made - and are making - it.

The New Learning Agenda provides a vision of how L&D can build new skills andcapability within the organisation. This is a vision of what is possible and thisserialisation will show you how you can achieve it in your own organisation.

To download the first part of the research click here

Laura Overton is managing director of Towards Maturity

Author Profile Picture
Laura Overton

Learning analyst

Read more from Laura Overton

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