Thursday, September 23, 2010

Until you set performance goals, you cannot become a performance organization

The the Sept issue of Chief Learning Officer Magazine, Bob Mosher tells us that instead of being a learning organization, we should build performance organizations. "We are in the performance business," he states. "Not in the knowledge-gain business." He is right, and most of us in the L&D field agree with this. However, I don't think we do anything about it.

In his column, Bob lays out three sound approaches to to becoming a performance organization. They are necessary conditions, but I do not think they are sufficient. There is a fourth approach that must be implemented or we cannot become performance organizations. We must set performance goals. In other words, the goal should be improved sales, productivity, or quality, rather than training attendance, programs delivered, or test scores.

Why don't we stick our necks out there and say, "We will implement this training program and our goal will be to improve sales of this new product by 30% or our goals will be to reduce customer complaints by 25%. As a matter of fact, I say skip Level 1 and 2. Don't even bother. If you conduct the training and customer complaints fall by 25% or more, you were successful. Move on to the next business problem to fix. Until we do that, we will remain in an insecure state of constantly trying to justify our existence.