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Executive Education as a Strategy

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note: this a google translation of the original portuguese text, not yet revised

In his book “Marketing as Strategy“, Nirmalya Kumar, Professor of Marketing at London Business School, describes a paradox of vital importance to marketers:  most CEO’s rank challenges in marketing as priorities at the top of their agenda but increasingly doubt that marketers can effectively cope with these challenges.

The same goes up for years with the heads of Human Resources. Almost all organizations have already solemnly declared that «people are our most important asset» but in reality those responsible for HR, like those responsible for Marketing, were not able to make the CEO’s hear their voice and, therefore, failed to win a seat at the table of the Board.

Why does this happen? Mainly because we, marketers or HR managers, we have succeeded in demonstrating the impact of our activities in terms of business results. We still have to show the numbers (ie the now-famous English catchphrase “show me the numbers”). We still have to speak the lingua franca of business, the universal language of management: tangible, financial, expressed in monetary value.

This is particularly true for training. Training is often viewed not as an investment, but as an expense, or worse, as a cost because the costs of training are almost the only indicator easy to measure. We have to change this situation. It is possible, if not accurately measure the financial impact of training at least estimate with a reasonable degree of confidence, the contribution of training to improve KPI’s, key business indicators.

To do this, we must begin with the ultimate goal: we want to achieve? What are the indicators of performance that we want to improve? What is the problem or opportunity that we wanted to grab? The desired end result should be clearly defined before we can move on to the next step: choosing the Executive Training Programme to develop a more appropriate internal action or Training. This is where it becomes extremely important to develop a Plan of Training Evaluation that will monitor four different types of indicators.

Most training programs only evaluates the first type of indicators, “the participants liked the program?”. We are all accustomed to these satisfaction surveys at the end of training. This is not enough. The next question we need to see answered is: “what the participants learned?”. This question is often put in the school or university but most of the trainers in the context of Executive Education are reluctant to ask this question to the participants. But not enough that the participants have learned something. To obtain concrete results, it is still necessary that the participants apply the concepts in his return to the workplace. From what we have to ask: “What have implemented?”. And if the concepts were applied, then we can ask, “how much this training has produced in terms of impact on business?”.

If the Training Evaluation Plan was designed correctly, then arrived at this point, we have carefully collected data both before to after training. These data will allow us to estimate the “income” of training, through a process of isolating the effect of the same for the other factors and conversion of data, or at least part of them, in monetary values. Then we can calculate the return on investment of training and communicating their results to the client, ie the management team of the business.

None of this is easy to do. But this is the only way to change the way it is for training in organizations. This is the only way to change the paradigm of an “education-entertainment” (ie “like the training?”) To a “training-result” (ie “generated as a result this training?”)

This article was inspired by the teachings of the book “How to Measure Training Results” by Jack J. Phillips and Ron Drew Stone and was first published in the journal BOOM (internal magazine of sonaecom).

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