A Publication of WTVP

Everyone can agree that learning is crucial to the success of any organization. Yet learning and talent development professionals often fail to show that their efforts are directly improving their company's performance. The result? CEOs and other key decision makers don't see the value of your program, and it runs the risk of ending up on the chopping block—along with your budget.

You need to demonstrate your value at every phase of the learning system. (Yes, this is most likely going to require a drastic change in how you initiate, design, deliver, and evaluate learning.)

More and more, CEOs are telling CLOs, "You say this program will impact our company's bottom line? Prove it!" Their new demands are the result of a paradigm shift that is reshaping many different aspects of the learning and development world and also the nature of the business world itself.

What this means is that learning professionals must keep specific, measurable business outcomes firmly in mind at every step of the learning and development process.

Learning and development professionals need to take a cue from other fields and rethink the learning process. Specifically, they need to design for success, with that success defined as credible data connecting the learning programs to the business. Our new book, The Business Case for Learning, offers up an eight-step process for doing just that.

When you don't focus your learning and development on results, damaging repercussions can occur. For example:

The cumulative effect of these consequences may be tough to measure, but they are almost certainly devastating, both to learning and development professionals and to the organization as a whole.

The approach our industry has followed for many years is not sustainable. Continue on the same path and you will lose budget, influence, and respect. You must alter your thinking to focus on results at every step of the learning cycle. This will increase your influence on the talent development investment in the future. Who knows? It might also save your company. iBi

Jack J. Phillips, PhD, and Patti Phillips, PhD, are co-authors of The Business Case for Learning: Using Design Thinking to Deliver Business Results and Increase the Investment in Talent Development. Jack is chairman of ROI Institute, a leading provider of services for measurement, evaluation, metrics and analytics, and Patti is president and CEO. For more information, visit