Known as ‘Results Assessment’ (RA) and developed by Ceres Management, RA aims to demystify evaluation - enabling HR and L&D professionals to become serious ‘business partners’, by aligning training activities to business goals and measuring the results that are important to the business.
RA is designed to link engagement to measuring value and provide practical ways to move beyond ‘level one’ evaluation. It does this collaboratively with key stakeholders initially defining what business success looks like; then aligning programme and evaluation goals with business needs; focusing evaluation effort around clear performance needs, and using results data to make important decisions about programme impact, on-going investments and so on.
Dr John O’Connor, of Ceres Management and the force behind RA, explained: “Many HR and L&D professionals are dissatisfied with how they currently ‘do’ evaluation but they don’t want to take unnecessary risks.
“Some of them don’t believe that detailed evaluation is necessary or valuable because of the fast-changing nature of their organisations – which will make the benchmark criteria irrelevant by the time the programme is complete,” he continued. “Or they argue that other factors, such as a low acceptance level of the new technology or change strategy, can hinder the validity of a tactical approach to evaluation.
“However, if an organisation is not currently measuring impact outcomes, it needs to realise that evaluation is possible and easy to do, and it provides a more integrated approach to business planning,” he said.
“And organisations that are currently doing evaluation need to realise that, without too much effort and building on what they already know, they could be doing it better using the business-driven RA process.”
Unlike traditional evaluation approaches that are, typically, implemented at the conclusion of a project, the RA model starts by validating the business need before the initiative is developed. With the help of Ceres Management, the RA process can be tailored to any project and those using RA can be coached, trained and certificated in its use.
Dr John O’Connor has many years’ experience designing and developing engaging and stimulating learning solutions. He commented: “A continued frustration for me has been the low status that L&D/training professionals are held in across almost every organisation with which I’ve worked.
“In my experience, training professionals are rarely, if ever, involved in strategic business planning. Investments in training carry assumed benefits but aren’t expected to show business value.
“Consequently, L&D functions often end up in self-contained corners of business operations. This story would never apply to IT, finance, or sales,” he said.
“In their haste to please, L&D professionals can get carried away with what they’re good at – that is, the design or the delivery systems - but can fail to link programme results with what the business wanted to achieve,” he continued.
“This is happening even more in today’s current fast-changing business world. Thinking in terms of ‘solutions’, we often overlook the need to align our development initiatives to business issues.
“I believe that Results Assessment addresses this issue by transforming the way L&D works with its business partners, entailing a shift in mind-sets and a change in behaviours,” he added.
“The RA model should help L&D teams to get a ‘seat at the Board table’ and to be able to demonstrate business value through their words, ideas, skills and actions. The beauty of RA is that it is simple to understand and easy to apply.”
For further details of Results Assessment, contact John O’Connor on +44-(0)7838165778.
About Ceres Management
Ceres Management (ceresmanagement.co.uk), which was founded, in 2009, by Dr John O’Connor, focuses on improving how we measure the impact of people development initiatives. It aims to enable clients to use the evidence of business results to make sound decisions about ongoing investments in people development.
Months of research, development and prototyping led to the launch of Results Assessment, a pragmatic, practitioner-centred evaluation model.
Results Assessment requires that ‘measurement’ be firmly situated at the forefront of every organisational development and training initiative. The model takes clients and stakeholders through an initial alignment exercise, which sets the roadmap for the remaining evaluation activities.
A practitioner in the field of learning and performance improvement for over 20 years, John O’Connor has a PhD in instructional design from Florida State University. He has worked internationally, with private as well as public sector clients, to design, deliver and measure high-impact learning & change initiatives.