Efficiency & effectiveness….which comes first?

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, good 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, making sure there’s balance between challenge and skill; it’s a constant cycle of improvement, from planning to golive.

It’s all about effectiveness.

Initial analysis has shown there’s a benefit in the learners 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?

photo credit: kevinzim via photopin cc

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 alluded to, efficiency reflects how much value a course is giving the organisation; basically is the training helping 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 has 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

Also, the clear observation is that they have all evolved their department to focus on their value back to the 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.

It’s worth noting that the T&D Departments that had this focus where the ones that had the least struggles with their budget.

Funny that.

This guest post was provided by Jason Ranston, one of our readers in New Zealand. Jason is a Learning Technologist and Knowledge Manager who specialises in organisational change through learning. He currently works for a New Zealand Health Board, designing educational solutions for improved patient outcomes. You can tweet him @NZeLearning or check out his website nzelearning.co.nz, or connect on LinkedIn.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the blog post author and do not represent the views of any organization that the post author is affiliated with or with the opinions of any other author who publishes on this blog.

photo credit: kevinzim via photopin cc

2 Responses to Efficiency & effectiveness….which comes first?

  1. Richard at 9:06 am #

    Thanks Jason for providing such a great guest post! I’m with you that we need to focus on value. In the past I have fallen into the trap of spending a disproportionate amount of time on a particular aspect of training (because I enjoyed that aspect) when its reach and impact was actually very limited.

    I think gaining an understanding of the efficiency of our training through evaluation mechanisms is critical in any organisation. Understanding where we should target our efforts to generate the greatest benefit will assist L&D professionals contribute towards the bottom line, be that patient care or maximising profits. This in turn should help improve our standing within the organisation – perhaps then enabling us to influence other areas of the business where we can make a positive contribution.

    Please comment below if you have any thoughts on Jason’s post. If you would like to offer your own guest post then please get in touch – it would be great to hear from you!

  2. Michelle at 9:58 am #

    Great post Jason, and definitely an area that I will investigate further. Thanks for the inspiration!

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