Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Conference Day One: Don't Forget Your Intangibles!

I am here at The Conference Board's Human Capital Metrics Conference in NYC. We have kicked off the conference by discussing, "How to Demonstrate Business Impact of Fuzzy Variables."

The presenters, Dr. Jennifer Murnane and Dr. Jennifer Moss both from Bellevue University are delivering and excellent presentation on the "How to." I find the "how to" is often missing from most presentations I attend. I like practical take-aways that I can use later.

Intangible measures are those hard to measure activities in organizations, like training, leadership development, inclusion and diversity, and employee satisfaction. Today we are focused in the training and development area.

The topic is one that has drawn HR professionals from companies like IBM, Phillip Morris and KPMG just to name a few.

The question "What are the positives and negative of measuring intangibles?"

Some positives include:
1) Gives focus and priority of resources
2) Better decision making
3) Can be predictive
4) What gets measured gets done
5) Allows for focused investment

Some negatives include:
1) Difficult
2) Expensive
3) Unsophisticated users
4) Analysis paralysis-too many measures
5) Time consuming

I think the business case made by Dr. Moss and Dr. Murnane is very powerful in the specific area of the intangible learning and development activity.

-US organizations spend approximately $150 billion on employee learning and development (ASTD 2008)
-Average direct learning expenditure per employee was $1103 in 2007 (Approx $460 in 2009)
-Learning leaders are expected to articulate the benefits of learning and quantify if possible
-Less than 5% of organizations actually measure learning effectiveness

The Jennifer's have also updated the Kirkpatrick's 4 model into a Level 6 model adding ROI and business impact. The new model really demonstrates where measuring training and learning has been and where it is going.

I look forward to the rest of the day and will comment further later this afternoon. Looking forward to see how to overcome the negatives above.

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