Optimizing Data in Learning

An Interview with ADT Security's Director of Learning Execution and Impact Marshall Friday

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When it comes to learning, measurement is the top priority for learning professionals. 

During the IQPC’s Chief Learning Officer Exchange in Austin, Texas, HR Exchange Network editor Mason Stevenson had an opportunity to sit down with Marshall Friday in an exclusive one-on-one interview.  Friday is the director of learning execution and impact for ADT Security.  In the interview, Friday explains why it’s so important to measure learning and how to optimize gathered data for success.

Mason Stevenson: Let's get into our questions. So you’ve spoken to a lot of people here at the Chief Learning Officer Exchange, what are the challenges you're hearing from them? And these are things that transcend industry.  Also, what are some of the creative and/or innovative ways that they are addressing those issues? 

Marshall Friday:  If I think about what I’ve heard, just in the past 14 days, a lot of it hinges around measurement. So if you're looking for maybe two or three items, that are our problems in the learning space right now, or challenges in learning space measurement is definitely going to be the first.

The second one is going to be ROI, which is an extension of measurement. I think, as we talked through this, you'll see that it's a lot of what I’m doing in my space right now for ADT Security. And then the third one is technology. So it's the difficulty that we're having, when technology changes so quickly. And the next best thing comes out, its, how's that going to integrate with the thing that we've used before, how's it going to integrate with the thing we use in two weeks from now.

So in talking to folks this week, it aligns pretty closely with some of the problems that I’m experiencing, as a learning professional myself. But from a solution standpoint, if we just look at measurement and ROI, almost as one, a lot of folks today talked about using multiple departments, departments that they may not have worked with in the past. Understanding not just what folks want from a learning perspective necessarily, but what folks want to measure as a result of the learning that they work on together.

So for me, in ADT, one of the things I’ve done is I’ve worked with, obviously, our business leaders in sales and operations and our contact centers, on creating solutions from a training perspective for their leaders. But I’m also working now with analysts in those departments on the back end to say, what are you currently measuring for that department? And if your leaders gave us what they're looking for to improve on, could you help me build out a measurement tool for what we're delivering from a leadership perspective? 

Mason Stevenson: Do you feel like that’s super challenging? Every company has things they want to make sure they're delivering. So, how are you able to measure that, and then able to build a system based off of those measurements? 

Marshall Friday: Every company has something they want to deliver on, absolutely. So we have some guiding principles overall, that our CEOs laid out for us. What we do is when we drive down and have those conversations with business function leaders, we say, ‘As you recall, Jim mentioned that these are the guiding principles that we're aiming to accomplish in the next 12 to 24 months, what are some of the things you're looking to accomplish?’

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The conversation with each of those business functions is generally geared around what they want to improve on from a conceptual standpoint, and then we try and bring that down to a business results standpoint for them and say, ‘What does that mean for you in terms of business results?’ If they can define that for us, and then we can use some competencies that our talent management department has put together to help us understand exactly what the business is trying to accomplish from a competency standpoint, now, we can start to marry some of those ideas together. And we have the opportunity now to come back to the business and say, ‘You're looking to move performance in these categories. This is the way the company has said they want to move performances through these competencies, here's the idea that we have married together with you.’ And then from a measurement perspective, it's partnering with those data resources inside each of those organizations.

Our L&D department internally is growing right now to include analysts to help us understand what's going on. But it's a new space for a lot of folks. A lot of analysts today are coming from finance, from accounting, they’re IT analysts out there. Finding folks who understand the learning space is definitely one of the next big challenges. 

Mason Stevenson: When talking about analytics, you see such an increase of HR professionals looking for those analytical skills; those key buzzwords in either job descriptions or titles to bring these people on board. And data… it's all about figuring out what data you want to measure and what it means.

Marshall Friday: And there's a lot of strategy to that as well.  The thing that excites our business partners is that we say, ‘We're going to take a look at the data, we're going to present some items to you,’ and they think that's awesome. But in reality, it could just end up being another form of the data that they're already looking at. So it requires a little bit of strategy when it comes to creating the visualizations that we're aiming for.

So it can't just be a presentation of all the data from that business brought in with our learning analytics that we have for our organization, it has to be something that tells a compelling story to that end user, that makes them want to come back to that.

Mason Stevenson: I’m curious, are you looking at feedback from employees in this space and are you using that data?

Marshall Friday: A lot of what we're measuring requires feedback from employees. So I don't think we could successfully tell the data story of what's happening in learning and development without feedback from employees.

Mason Stevenson: So, I'll make this the final question for you. Is there one specific thing that jumps out to you that you would say it was a massive success? 

Marshall Friday: I think the big success point we had last year was, as a team, we worked more with the business metrics.

We brought in subject matter experts below that VP level that helped us understand what their business initiatives were, and said, ‘Give us the language of how you want this written to impact these business metrics. And oh, by the way, these are the competencies that the company is trying to go after through training like this.’

So the business leaders helped us bridge the gap between the metrics that the business wanted, as well as the language that our corporate HR function wanted to hear from the competency standpoint. When we presented it back to senior leadership in the field sales organization, they said, ‘I know this was supposed to be an onboarding program next month for 15 new managers, but we want to put all 300 of our existing managers through this.’

Little bit terrifying, but in six months’ time, that's snowballed from Field Sales to field operations to our contact centers to our national sales center. Instead of finishing out 2018 with a solid case study on how about 75 managers dealt with new onboarding process, the only team was able to successfully train 1100 managers in our organization.

Mason Stevenson: From 15 to 1100, that is impressive. Marshall Friday, thank you very much.

Marshall Friday: Thank you. 


Want to know more about the CLO Exchange?  Read our Day 1 and Day 2 reviews.