Optimize LMS

Training Optimization: How to Get an ROI from Your LMS

There is one concept in life that most everyone would agree upon and I’m not talking about the inevitability of death and taxes. I’m talking about change. Change is hard and so hard that even when individuals and companies are in a ‘change or die’ situation, most still don’t have the ability to do what is necessary. Alan Deutschman wrote the must-read book, Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life and highlighted cardiac patients whose lifestyle would surely cause an inevitable short-term death if they didn’t change. 90% of coronary-artery bypass patients had not changed their lifestyle after two years.

That means that even when faced with death, the odds of making positive change were 9 to 1…against them. Let that sink in.

It’s not that people don’t want to change – many people spend their entire lives fighting to be richer, smarter, or more beautiful. Take the diet industry. It alone accounts for over 60 billion dollars in revenue a year while the self-help industry accounts for another 10 billion dollars.

On a corporate level, training expenditures increased 14.2% to 70.6 billion dollars in 2015 according to the 2015 Training Industry Report.

According to the same Training Industry Report, the most frequently anticipated purchases are:

  • Learning management systems (38%)
  • Online learning tools and systems (37%)
  • Content development (36%)
  • Authoring tools/systems (33%)
  • Classroom tools and systems (29%)
  • Mobile learning (25%)

Like many individuals who are willing to spend money to better themselves, the training industry is wanting to affect change through technology, but my experience is that they don’t understand how to make it happened.

Why is it that some companies, like IBM in the 1990’s had the ability to make dramatic turnarounds while others like Blockbuster went out of business (regardless of the inevitability)?

To sum up Alan Deutschman in Change or Die, the answer is “multi-faceted.” It almost always is.

The reason that change is so hard is that it never results from a single influence and humans want simple or most times, nothing at all. Training is flawed based on the notion that learning occurs around a single event. But training is not uniquely flawed in that sense, it’s a universal solutions flaw. We want the silver bullet but no matter how well you polish that bullet, you still need an accurately sighted gun, a well-practiced shooter, and an appropriate target.

That’s why learning and development has had such a difficult time showing ROI for their initiatives. Training is a given; we wouldn’t imagine going about bringing on a new hire without some sort of onboarding program. Unfortunately, traditional training (in any form) is delivered as an event whereas learning is a process.  To get ROI from an LMS, the LMS has to be part of a training process that ties directly to a business improvement objective (change) rather than course completion.

Change is about moving people from “Point A” where they are to, “Point B”, where they want to be.

Point A to Point B

Steve Jobs said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology-not the other way around.”

In this situation, the learner is the customer and the technology (LMS) has been widely adopted without them and a specific performance outcome in mind.

Look at mLevel’s multi-faceted performance improvement model:

Learning Engagement x 4 + Spaced Reinforcement x 2 + Knowledge Retention = Performance Improvement

Performance Improvement Formula


Now, look at the LMS performance improvement model:

Learning participation + Assessment = Completion

Course completion has been the standard objective for Learning Management Systems and other traditional training methods to deliver. Unless your training is designed to have a direct correlation to a specific behavioral outcome and it is measurable then I will make the bold statement that you are wasting your time and money.

To solve the multi-faceted performance-driven learning challenge, you can’t just string a bunch of videos together with a few quizzes and a check box and call it a day.

mLevel is a microlearning platform that bridges the gap between traditional training and performance by incorporating engaging activities with traditional content and measuring the outcome.


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Empowering learners Together

We’re excited to announce that we are now a part of the Axonify family. To all of those who have supported the MLevel journey, we thank you!  Here’s to the next chapter and to furthering data-driven learning.