08 December 2019

Learning Impact: Having It, Not Just Showing It

Dani Johnson
Co-Founder & Principal Analyst


  • Introduction to the report, Having Learning Impact (Not Just Showing It)
  • How learning and development (L&D) functions should revamp their learning analytics practices
  • 7 steps reviewed by our learning expert

We've been talking about learning measurement for more than 6 decades. Ever since Kirkpatrick came up with his 4-level model, learning & development (L&D) functions have been trying to understand the relationship between what they do and business outcomes. Since that time, more than 20 models have been developed to help L&D functions support their claim to impact. But to what end?

Through our research on this topic, we made 2 large realizations:

  • There has never been a more important time to get learning impact right – L&D functions desperately need to rethink their measurement strategies and understand the implications that they have – not just for employee development, but for organizational performance as well
  • Learning impact is hard – how learning impacts an organization is specific to that organization, its goals, and its resources

And, while learning metrics and tactics should be aligned to the company’s business goals and employee development needs, our extensive research led us to 7 patterns that more evolved organizations follow for moving beyond simply showing impact to actually having impact.

  1. Tying to business results
  2. Leveraging all the methods
  3. Making metrics and choosing data sources
  4. Considering leading and lagging indicators
  5. Focusing on consistency
  6. Continuously analyzing and adjusting
  7. Telling the story

This report outlines these 7 patterns, provides helpful hints and insights, and shares leading practices from leaders who have implemented them – steps that L&D functions should use in order to revamp their learning analytics practices.


Dani Johnson

Dani is Co-founder and Principal Analyst for RedThread Research. She has spent the majority of her career writing about, conducting research in, and consulting on human capital practices and technology. Her ideas can be found in publications such as Wall Street Journal, CLO Magazine, HR Magazine, and Employment Relations. Dani holds an MBA and an MS and BS in Mechanical Engineering from BYU.


Share This