There is an effort underway by many leading L&D practitioners and thought leaders to bring reporting standards to our field. We firmly believe that learning and development should have its own set of reporting principles and standard, consistently-defined measures, just like accounting.
These standards would provide much needed guidance in defining the right measures to use and in constructing meaningful management reports. Once in place and consistently applied, the standards would also significantly increase the ease and value of benchmarking with other organizations. Our inspiration is the set of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which have provided standard definitions and statements (like the income statement and balance sheet) for accountants for decades.
Kent Barnett, CEO and founder of Knowledge Advisors, and Tamar Elkeles, VP for QUALCOMM’s Corporate Learning Center, launched this effort last fall. They established an executive council composed of leading practitioners and recruited me to help with the effort. Kent and Tamar also established an advisory group of thought leaders in the field including Jack Fitz-enz, Rob Brinkerhoff, Jack Phillips, Josh Bersin, Frank Anderson, and Laurie Bassi.
We envision three phases to the work. Phase 1 focuses on reporting for L&D in the private sector and was just completed with the endorsement of the executive council and the advisory board. Phase 2 expands the scope to the federal government sector and will refine the principles and reports from Phase 1. We hope to complete Phase 2 this year. Phase 3 will extend the work to all of talent development including recruiting, workforce development, etc.
Our Phase 1 recommendations include the following:
- Adopt a set of eight guiding principles
- Adopt standard measures and definitions
- Adopt three foundational statements
- Adopt three executive reports
The three foundational statements will be our industry’s equivalent of the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. The recommended three for L&D are the business outcomes statement, the effectiveness statement, and the efficiency statement. There is a standard format for each (just like with the three accounting statements), but the elements or measures for each will differ depending on the particular industry and circumstances. Any measures, however, will be defined consistently so that each measure is defined or calculated the same by each company which will not only provide much needed guidance but will allow for better benchmarking across companies.
The three executive reports are highly customizable and are intended to be used to manage the learning function to deliver the planned results. One is to be used with the CEO and other senior leaders. The other two are intended to be used by the CLO or VP for Training to manage programs and overall efficiency.
Read more about the Talent Development Reporting Principles (TDRP) at KnowledgeAdvisors.com where you can link to the reports from the home page.
David Vance is the former President of Caterpillar University, which he founded in 2001. Until his retirement in January 2007, he was responsible for ensuring that the right education, training, and leadership were provided to achieve corporate goals and efficiently meet the learning needs of Caterpillar and dealer employees. Prior to this position, Dave was Chief Economist and Head of the Business Intelligence Group at Caterpillar Inc. with responsibility for economic outlooks, sales forecasts, market research, competitive analysis, and business information systems.
Dave now consults with organizations on learning and performance issues with a particular focus on designing effective strategies for managing the learning function, including alignment, governance, organization, and measurement. His firm is Manage Learning LLC. Dave is a frequent speaker at learning conferences and association meetings. He also conducts workshops and simulations on managing the learning function.
Image Credit: Chandra Marsono on Flickr