Define and measure performance
To effectively monitor performance and refine results, a company requires clearly defined business and social outcomes. Whenever possible, the Key Performance Indicators should be kept simple, while measuring both business and social performance.
In 2013, Pearson, the world’s largest education company, adopted “efficacy” as a key organizational focus towards achieving its long-term mission and business success. The company’s approach to efficacy brings greater emphasis on measuring the impact of its products and services on learner outcomes, and using those results to improve existing products and inform the development of new ones.
“We are leveraging the resources of the company to address an important issue: improving learner outcomes. We call it Efficacy. It is not CSR. It is not separate from the agenda. It is core to our strategy.”
Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Adviser, Pearson
Embedding efficacy into existing processes – including, most notably, the product development process – is critical. All existing and new products are required to fulfil specific efficacy and research criteria at each stage of the product life cycle. For example, product teams are required to define and prioritize intended learner outcomes; to measure whether the use of the product delivers those learning outcomes; and to integrate those lessons into their product roadmaps.
To fulfil this requirement, product teams are responsible for identifying geographies where they will conduct efficacy evaluations and research studies to measure their product’s efficacy, and mobilizing key research partners who will be involved in this evaluation. To help product team members master these new skills, they are supported by a number of designated efficacy and research leaders who aid in the execution and assurance of outputs.
Senior leadership has formally endorsed efficacy as being central to the company’s growth and impact plan, as it continues to be refined by a central unit, the Office of the Chief Education Adviser. To hold themselves accountable for results, they have made several significant changes. The CEO and the Executive Team’s performance evaluation now includes an Efficacy Performance Indicator, and efficacy reporting dashboards are provided to the Executive Team on a monthly basis to enable them to make evidence-informed decisions. Moreover, Pearson has committed to externally reporting on the efficacy of some of its portfolio by 2018, in a rigorous and audited fashion.
Early examples already show the value that efficacy has in supporting business success. For instance, the efficacy activities conducted with Pearson’s Wall Street English team generated multiple opportunities worldwide to improve the student learning experience, which led to meaningful improvements in centre design and content delivery. Such outcome-based, evidence-informed decision-making is embraced by the senior leadership as an obligation to the company’s customers and learners, while enabling company growth.
Home page image: REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi