Modernising learning? Evidence to cut through the noise

By Laura Overton, Managing Director, Towards Maturity

L&D leaders are clearly looking to bring learning in the workplace completely.

The latest CIPD research highlights the trends towards closer integration of learning and work. At any L&D event we see the focus on alignment, the role of technology (mobile, social, cloud - take your pick!), learning across generations, new models of learning and supporting performance.

We're asking good questions about our current learning strategy; is it fit to support today's learners in today's fast paced global work environments?  But with so many options open for modernising learning, where do you start?

In the past many of us based our decisions for change on the case studies that have inspired us or a compelling argument from a respected supplier. For many, this decision process, based largely on anecdote, has resulted in some successes but for others, they are left disappointed with the results.

For the last 10 years, our team at Towards Maturity have been focussed on gathering independent evidence about what works and what doesn't when it comes to modernising learning. Initially concentrating on purely technology enabled learning strategies, we've found that the top learning companies are differentiated by their approach to modernising learning rather than the tools that they use to achieve their vision. 

3000 organisations and 13,000+ learners have contributed to the evidence since 2003 and as a result, we've established a powerful independent evidence base to support decision making and are now working closely with the CIPD to ensure that more L&D professionals have access to great evidence.

Evidence or anecdote?

Over the year's we've found that basing decisions on independent evidence rather than anecdote results in a number of benefits:

  • Enchancing credibility - successful L&D organisations embrace change but we need to build our own credibility with decision makers and hard evidence helps.
  • Building the business case for change - Evidence allows you open up new conversations. You would certainly get attention if you could say 'This approach has resulted in a 19% improvement in productivity [1] in 500 other organisations - what would that mean to us, can we afford not to?'
  • Increasing engagement - Hard evidence about the way our learners actually learn [2] (rather than our assumptions) helps us design new solutions that connect and engage time starved staff.

Using hard evidence to improve L&D Performance

Hard evidence can also be used to improve our own performance as L&D professionals.  Our research is starting to identify characteristics of top performing learning organisations - what are they doing, how are they doing it, who are they influencing, what results are they achieving? Benchmarking is a process of using established, trusted evidence built up from over 3000 L&D leaders to help us all improve performance. It's a 3 step process:

  • Review your current strategy against a framework of established effective practices
  • Compare your results with peers to help you identify gaps and prioritise actions proven to deliver results
  • Act on the findings!

We know that for all of our 'customers', reflection is key to improving performance but how often do we sit down and systematically reflect on our own approaches?

Towards Maturity, in partnership with the CIPD would like to invite you to commit 1 hour to use the free online benchmark study to stop and reflect using the link below.

We've found that over 70% of benchmark participants find the review alone gives them ideas to take their strategy forward. On completion of the study you will receive:

  • Immediate access to more evidence based resources to inform decision making
  • A free Personalised Benchmark Report in September that highlights your own strengths and opportunities directly compared with your peers

An evidence-based approach to learning strategy helps us deliver results, faster so why not join us to Benchmark Today to help you modernise learning - the smart way!

   Click here to start the benchmark  

Note - the Towards Maturity Benchmark is free to participate in until 31st July. Find out more at

You can follow Laura Overton at on Twitter: @towardsmaturity and on the web at


[1] See Chapter 2 of New Learning Agenda for more business impact evidence of a modernised learning strategy

[2] See The Learner Voice Part 1 for insights into how 2000 managers, sales and operational staff are currently learning for themselves


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  • Only just stumbled across this, but glad I did, really interesting piece.

    As you point out, dragging L&D kicking and screaming into the 21st century is going to be really important.

    Our line of work (supplying training management software, CRM and digital solutions to training providers) has shown us that many of them need to make great strides in the commercial side of their business as well as how they actually deliver learning.

    The themes of social, mobile, digital marketing, automation etc. can all be harnessed to promote to first class learner experience and more productive and profitable organisations.

    We've published research ourselves which identifies the common traits that many leading and progressive organisations demonstrate, you can download it here;

    There's also information on how training management software can underpin better business here if any readers are interested;

    Thanks again!