But It Was the Questions We Had Wrong!
As I reflect on recent conversations, industry research, data analysis and my own experiences related to elearning maturity, a lyric from an old U2 song begins to play in my mind: “We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong.”
What prompted that thought was an impact study conducted on a sales training program with the goal of 80% of trainees successfully selling a new product within 30 days after training. Two versions of the program were created and compared: a classroom training version and online training version.
When results from the distinct programs were compared, the classroom version yielded the desired impact – 80% sold the new product in 30 days. When the value of these results was balanced against costs, the program yielded a 150% ROI. In contrast, the online version drove only 20% of the desired sales in 30 days, but when balanced against costs the ROI was 450%. The final question posed in the study was, “Which is best?”
Even with limited information, it is clear that both versions individually exhibit a noticeable imbalance of efficiency and effectiveness. The classroom-only training generated the desired results in the timeline expected but the cost to achieve the desired results lowered the overall return on investment by 300% compared to a digital approach. With only elearning, the organization hung onto the benefits delivered and drove a higher ROI, but the sales force did not make as many sales in the time frame desired.
For me, the analysis simply stopped short of the finish line. At this point in elearning maturity and in light of resource constraints, a growing emphasis on continuous learning and ongoing demand for business results—a better question emerges: How to combine the strengths of both programs to save money and get the impact desired?