ATD 2015 Panellists’ thoughts on ROI

Some thoughts from a panel on ROI at the ATD2015 conference comprising Rick de Rijk, James Kirkpatrick, Laura Paramoure and Shaun Riley…


We tend to frame programmes around curricula – the objectives we hope will deliver the change we’re looking for. If we framed them around the KPIs that defined success instead, we’d be much more tightly focused on the outcome than the journey. A programme objective of ‘understanding techniques for greeting customers’ is likely to produce a learning experience that looks quite different to an experience framed around ‘ensuring 95% of customers are engaged when entering the store.’


One of the hardest parts of conducting an evaluation of a programme’s impact is knowing how much of the change that occurred was due to the programme, as distinct from ‘other influences’. If you’re having trouble drawing a long bow, don’t. Start smaller and closer to home. Identify the strategic objectives that you’re confident can be directly impacted by training, and focus on them. The chances are, you’re going to get the best bang for your buck this way anyway.


From Shaun Ridley’s training transfer research out of Western Australia University, the main characteristics of programmes that succeed in impacting change in the workplace are:

  • A robust Training Needs Analysis
  • Strong processes around participant selection and preparation
  • Well structured motivation systems. The best ones ensure  participation, learning, and transfer. For each stage there are three critical components: they are able to do it, they have a reason to do it, and they are energised to do it
  • The quality of the learning experience itself
  • The existence of proactive transfer behaviours
  • The absorbative capacity of the organisation; read: a culture that embraces the learner’s desire to apply learning and change behaviour

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