SCALE: Aligning Talent Development Solutions to Strategic Objectives

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Consider your last talent development initiative and reflect on whether you had clear answers to the following questions before the solution was selected: 

  • What performance results do we expect from employees after implementing the solution?

  • How will we measure the impact of our solution on the organization’s performance?

  • What are the organizational barriers that may interfere with the impact of our talent development solution in the workplace?

  • How do (and will) our managers support performance in the organization?

  • How do we ensure that desired workplace performance is maintained? 

As a talent development executive, you have an important responsibility in uncovering the answers to these questions, as they help the team and other organizational members clarify strategic priorities, determine the use of resources, and offer guidance on how products and services may be offered to external clients. All of these decisions are focused on creating a sustainable strategic advantage for the organization, rather than on fulfilling training requests. 
Enter SCALE, a structured, yet flexible, process for ensuring that your talent development solutions are clearly aligned with strategic objectives and generate measurable evidence of your contributions to the organization’s success. 

The SCALE process consists of three phases, with three steps in each phase. 

Phase 1: Understand Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Needs 

Phase one helps you understand the performance needs from various stakeholder perspectives. Stakeholders in this instance include the person who made the original request for assistance with a performance problem, and those who will affect or be affected by a selected solution. By considering these perspectives, you can choose the appropriate level of organizational alignment for the performance solution. 


Critical steps include: 

  • discover issues from requestor’s perspective
  • discover issues from perspectives of others
  • align stakeholder perspectives to decide alignment level. 

Phase 2: Design Alignment 

Phase two helps you discover the gaps in performance results for the selected level of alignment, select the solution that is appropriately aligned to gaps in results and their root causes, and work with stakeholders to create an implementation plan. 

Critical steps include: 

  • discover gaps in performance results in chosen alignment level
  • select solutions aligned to gaps and root causes
  • implementation planning and execution. 

Phase 3: Track and Confirm Alignment Results 

Phase three helps you track and confirm the results of the selected solution. With the solution in place, you will discover the accomplishments to date, determine the alignment to date, and make decisions about how to continuously improve performance or sustain desired results. In addition to these technical aspects of SCALE, the essential skills that drive your ability to perform each of these steps successfully are identified with examples of how each is applied throughout the process. 

Critical steps include: 

  • discover accomplishments to date
  • determine achieved alignment to date
  • make continuous improvement decisions, as required. 

Editor’s Note: This post is excerpted from the June 2015 TD at Work , Turning Trainers Into Strategic Business Partners. This issue describes: 

  • how learning and talent development (LTD) professionals can reinvigorate their roles in their organization
  • essential skills for the new generation of LTD professionals
  • the SCALE process, and how it can help you match training initiatives with business objectives
  • how to uncover stakeholder perspectives, optimize strategic alignment, and monitor your training effectiveness.


About the Author
Ingrid Guerra-López, PhD, is an internationally recognized performance improvement expert and bestselling author. She is the chief executive officer of the Institute for Needs Assessment and Evaluation, a firm that provides consulting, coaching, and training and development services focused on strategic measurement, management, and alignment of learning and performance improvement programs. Ingrid is also a professor at Wayne State University, where she conducts research and teaches graduate courses focused on performance measurement, management, and strategic alignment. She recently completed a term as director on the board of the International Society for Performance Improvement, and completed her tenure as editor-in-chief of Performance Improvement Quarterly.

Ingrid has authored seven books, including Needs Assessment for Organizational Success and Performance Evaluation: Proven Approaches to Improving Programs and Organizations. She has also authored approximately 100 articles and facilitated hundreds of international and national presentations and workshops on topics related to performance assessment, monitoring and evaluation, and strategic alignment. Her clients include international development agencies, government, education, military, healthcare, and corporate organizations. Ingrid has coached and mentored hundreds of graduate students, executives, managers, and other professionals, disseminating evidenced-based performance improvement practices internationally in more than 30 countries.
About the Author
Karen Hicks, PhD, has more than 15 years’ experience helping organizations build measurement and evaluation and talent development capabilities. She works to demonstrate the value of talent development through strategic alignment, assessment, and improvement.
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