The Business of Learning: What It Takes to Deliver Results and How TDRp Can Help

by David Vance

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Learning must be run like a business to ensure that it has the most significant impact on business results. This implies four steps.

  1. Learning must be focused on the highest-priority goals of the organization.
  2. Learning must be carefully planned to deliver results agreed upon in advance with the stakeholder, including the expected impact of the learning initiative on business goals. Ideally, this step includes the creation of a business plan for the learning and development of a business case for the key programs.
  3. Learning must be executed and reported with the discipline to ensure the promised results are achieved.
  4. Results must be measured and compared to expectations to learn and improve continuously.

Talent Development Reporting Principles (TDRp) are now available to make the process of running learning like a business much more straightforward. TDRp provides standards and guidance for the L&D profession to plan learning initiatives, report progress using standard definitions, and demonstrate the value of learning. Put simply; it answers the questions of what data to collect, how to define the measures, and what to do with the measures. This grassroots effort was initiated by Kent Barnett (CEO, Knowledge Advisors) and Tamar Elkeles (VP of Learning and Organization Development, Qualcomm) in the fall of 2010 and has benefited from the guidance of industry thought leaders and leading practitioners. TDRp is now complete for L&D, including principles, definitions of terms and measures, and three recommended statements and reports. The outcome statement collects the most critical business goals and learning’s expected impact on them, clearly showing the value of learning to the organization’s success. The effectiveness and efficiency statements collect all the quality and cost/activity measures. Customized management reports pull the most important measures from the statements to use in actively managing the function to deliver the promised results. An L&D summary report is recommended for the CEO and senior leaders, while program reports, as well as an operations report, are recommended for the CLO and senior L&D leaders.

More information about TDRp is available at

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