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Using Data in Learning

Data is key to understanding impact in any environment and function. Functions such as Sales and Customer Contact have had data at their core for years and Marketing has used data to try to understand and enhance its impact. Learning as a function has not had such a natural affinity to data. The impact of learning has often been viewed as too hard to measure or prove, there have been too many variables. Many learning functions are developing a greater affinity with data and some are even starting to have analyst roles or capabilities as part of the function.

At times of uncertainty, where your approach is developing and evolving, having data at the heart of what you do is even more critical. Data becomes the way in which is evolve your strategy and approach, identify what is and is not working and enhance your impact and performance. Data is not about proving your value, justifying existence, protect a budget or finding evidence to back up a point of view.

Adapt Your Approach Using Data and Insight

Data and information are often used interchangeably but what you are really looking for is insight. Lots of data sources brought together and evaluated provide you clarity on a situation. These insights allow you to evaluate the success of your approach and adjust appropriately.

A data driven approach is much easier where you are clear on the goal you are looking to achieve. Goals should be related to performance, changes and behaviour and impact.

Take for example a delivery driver who is now working in an everchanging world. Government guidance is regularly changing, his employer is changing its processes, ways of working, policies and guidance. Customers are having to understand changes to processes and expectations.

It is not enough to just push out some comms or e-learning explaining new processes. You need to take a multi-faceted approach. You need to have effective messaging using all available routes (for guidance on this see yesterday’s article).

To evaluate the impact, you need to be looking at not only measures as to whether people have consumed the learning but are your new policies working are your customers noticing them in action. Having open dialogue for questions and feedback allow you to understand the challenges and adapt your approach. At times of change people are looking for guidance and clarity, but the types of questions they ask also give you insight into where your messaging needs to be targeted.

Take a response to government guidance on only travelling when essential as an example.

Many are asking questions as the how the government will police it, these types of questions come from a place where someone has not bought into the importance of the underlying message. You focus in this point should be to as much as possible make it real, create the new way of working as the socially acceptable norm and create consequences for non-compliance.

Another set of questions are of the tone does this apply to me, or how does this work if, or the new rule does not cover. These questions are driven by people who would be willing to take on new processes but need more help or information or to work through processes to ensure they can apply them. Engage with these people they are helping voice the concerns of many and resolving these challenges with them collaboratively can help a wider audience and drive a positive solution-based culture as the situation continues to evolve.

Other questions might focus on providing feedback or alternatives to the solutions you have put forward. These are similar to the previous set of questions, but these people are your early adopters and beta testers, they are keen to engage and solution focussed. Take a similar approach to those in the previous group but as this group may be more actively willing to test and try solutions it might be good to bring them in early on future solutions and iterations of your response.

The last group are those who say nothing. Now often this group get ignored as they are not actively visible or “making a noise”. This group is an unknown and data can help you understand their approach. Your prior knowledge may well tell you these are team members of sites who just get on with it or the opposite and they struggle with change and need more support. Data can help provide insight into these groups, it may be that there are no questions because they are not engaging with change or struggling to adapt. Conversely it may be they are just getting on with things and have adapted very well, it may be that they have worked through some of the problems related to new processes or ways of working and actually their best practice and insight would be valuable to share with the wider team.

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