ATD Blog

What CEOs Want—and How to Give It to Them

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The 1,020 CEOs responding to The Conference Board’s 2014 CEO Challenge tells us that their needs are really simple. CEOs are interested in, among other things, operational excellence, customer relationships, innovation, and the people to make it happen. Bottom line: human capital is the number one challenge of CEOs around the world. 

The question is, are we giving CEOs what they want? According to the ROI Institute/ATD research study on what CEOs think about investment in people, the answer would be a resounding “No.” 

Of the 96 Fortune 500 CEOs responding to the survey, 96 percent said that they want data demonstrating the connection between investment in people and improvement in critical business measures. However, only 8 percent report getting that information. Meanwhile, 74 percent of respondents said that they want to see the financial ROI in people, projects, and initiatives. Unfortunately, only 4 percent are receiving that information.  

This observation is confirmed by research conducted by Bersin and Associates, which indicates that organizations spend more time generating information that is less valuable to them than information that matters. Indeed, according to McKinsey/The Conference Board Report, False Summit: Why the Human Capital Function Still Has Far to Go, human capital analytics is the linchpin of human capital investment.  

Indeed, measurement, evaluation, and analytics drive talent decisions (see figure below). Whether we are investing in the development of people, the acquisition of people, engagement of people, or planning a workforce, analytics can help organization leaders make better decisions and ensure they position investments to drive the most important outcomes.  


But to make analytics work, we need five components: 

  1. a framework that includes measures important to all stakeholders
  2. a process model describing step-by-step how to capture, analyze, and report data
  3. standards that ensure reliable implementation of the process model
  4. reporting that answers critical questions senior executives ask
  5. seamless integration that ensures we give CEOs what they want, routinely.

To get started on your journey to implementing a measurement, evaluation, and analytics practice that gives CEOs what they want, join in me on December 1-2, 2014, in New York, New York, for the Measuring Return on Investment Certificate Program. In this program, you will build the skills needed to develop and deliver effective evaluations for learning performance, organizational development, human resources, technology, change, and quality solutions.  You will learn how to demonstrate the impact your investment in human capital has on operational excellence, customer relationships, and innovation.  


By building a foundation on measurement to the highest levels, you will be positioned to successfully move forward with your measurement, evaluation, and analytics practice. This is our final offering for 2014, and by attending, you will not only walk away with knowledge, skill, and information that you can use immediately, but with a variety of resources you can reference as you apply what you learn.  I hope to see you in New York. 

About the Author

Patti Phillips is president and CEO of the ROI Institute and is the ATD Certification Institute's 2015 CPLP Fellow. Since 1997, she has worked with organizations in more than 60 countries as they demonstrate the value of a variety of programs and projects. Patti serves on the board of the Center for Talent Reporting, as Distinguished Principal Research Fellow for The Conference Board, and as faculty on the UN System Staff College in Turin, Italy.

Patti has written and edited numerous books and articles on the topics of measurement, evaluation, and ROI. Recent publications include Measuring the Success of Leadership Development, Making Human Capital Analytics Work, Measuring the Success of Learning Through Technology, Measuring the Success of Organization Development, and Measuring Leadership Development: Quantify Your Program's Impact and ROI on Organizational Performance.

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