Efficiency then Effectiveness

For the sake of clarity in this post, I’d like to start with the definitions of three words:

  1. Value: The monetary worth of an asset, business entity, goods sold, service rendered, or liability or obligation acquired.
  2. Efficiency: The comparison of what is actually produced or performed with what can be achieved with the same consumption of resources (money, time, labour, etc.).
  3. Effectiveness: The degree to which objectives are achieved and the extent to which targeted problems are solved.

As Training and Development (T&D) professionals we’re constantly looking for ways to make courses better for improved outcomes. Reducing course redundancies, maximising the germane load while managing the intrinsic and making sure there is a balance between challenge and skill. It’s a constant cycle of improvement, from planning to ‘go live’.

It’s all about effectiveness.

Initial analysis has shown there’s a benefit in the learner completing a particular type of training, so it’s T&D’s job to make sure it fully extracts that benefit by making the training as effective as possible, right?

No, not just yet… not before the following question is answered:

How much value will this course add to the organisation verses other potential courses?

In a nutshell, what’s the courses efficiency?

This is one of the most important, yet the least answered questions when considering organisational training. Too often T&D departments are focused on the effectiveness of their courses not their overall efficiency.

As the questions above have alluded to, efficiency reflects how much value a course is giving the organisation; for example is the training helping to solve a $100,000 problem or a $10,000 problem? Will it improve an output by 50% or 5%? Benefits are benefits, there’s no mistaking that, but for T&D to be seen as a high performance area its biggest focus should be on providing training to the organisation that is the most efficient. Spending time, resources, and therefore money to make a course more effective is a huge waste if the course is providing low efficiency.

T&D needs to provide the highest VALUE to its organisation, and the easiest way to do that is to focus on training that has the highest organisational efficiency.

After a number of peer discussions and research, I’ve noticed that the best and fastest moving T&D departments are the ones that focus on efficiency first and use it in two ways;

  1. as a means for the evaluation of current training
  2. as a means for the selection of new training

The clear observation is that departments are now focusing on giving back value to their organisation. They drive for efficiency first, and then look to scale their effectiveness across each piece of training. The more efficient the course is, the more focus on effectiveness it gets.

With all the talk of better value in health care, what about better value in training as well?

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