Gut vs. Facts: Intuition is good, but data is better

How often do you rely on your gut instinct to make decisions? You know, that feeling deep, deep down inside telling you something is right or wrong. Should you go on a second date? Will driving a different route during rush hour get you to your destination faster? Is left over sushi from three days ago going to make you sick? You get the gist.


While my examples are meant to be funny and trivial, we often rely on our gut to make hard and fast business decisions throughout the day. You can probably look back at a time in your career where you’ve made a decision based purely on gut instinct. These simple yet important decisions can have profound results.


Learning leaders make some of the most important decisions influencing the continuing education and development of their internal workforce and external partners, resellers and customers’ day in and day out. The power is in their hands to deliver learning programs that develop and sharpen people’s knowledge and skills. At some point, you’ve probably had to make a big decision about the future of your learning programs based on your instinct.


Should those decisions always be based on your gut instinct, which can sway based on context and background knowledge? What about the facts?


Human instinct is a powerful tool, don’t get me wrong, but decisions backed by data are often better.


We live in a digital world with an endless amount information at our fingertips. Organizations collect and analyze an astronomical amount of information every day, including learning data. But are we putting it to use?


Measuring and analyzing learning data is becoming more and more of a priority for organizations, but they are still struggling to make sense of all that information.


Finding meaningful insights from the data you track – and turning those insights into action – is far more difficult than it seems. According to Bersin, “More than 95% of organizations feel the real need and urgency to demonstrate the impact of bottom-line value of training, however less than 5% feel confident in their ability to measure and report on the very same business impact.”¹


Done right, collecting, measuring and analyzing learning data gives learning leaders the ability to make swift and strategic decisions that directly influence the growth and success of the business. Done wrong, the process results in a business so overwhelmed by data, they can’t map to performance and business outcomes.


One of the biggest challenges of learning measurement and analytics isn’t collecting data, it’s collecting the right data and making that information actionable.


Most organizations can track and report on the basics – cost or ROI of training, learner satisfaction, user engagement, enrollment statistics, learner demographics and time spent learning. However, what leaders really care about is how learning influences and improves job performance, and in return, the overall performance of the business.


Connecting learning and training activities to bottom-line business outcomes is what business leaders want to see. But it’s not easy! To help, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you turn your learning data into action. Check out our whitepaper, “Your Gut vs. The Facts: How to Turn Learning Insights into Action” for a three-step approach to measuring and analyzing your learning data.


¹ “Tools and Technology for Learning Measurement,” Bersin by Deloitte, 2015