RTLAB: A Transformative Framework for L&D

Latest research indicates that, while employee development has never been as important, the faith of the organization in the L&D function to deliver value has also never been so low. In fact, according to Deloitte's most recent research, among over 700 business and HR professionals, corporate L&D received a net-promoter score of -8. This is about as low as it can go.

More and more senior executives are now looking for ways to ensure that training activities are aligned to the needs of the business and all spend is evaluated in terms of net value created.

Clearly, there’s a need to transform and accelerate corporate learning. This transformation is not about changing curriculum, instructional design practices or courses. It’s about restructuring the training function to solve core business problems and drive value. 

When a learning function has to earn the loyalty of customers (internal stakeholders), it becomes subject to the same dynamics that affect any customer-focused organization. Suddenly everything becomes all about, customers, productivity, and quality.  

Running training like a business (RTLAB) is a transformational framework for L&D that focuses on generating clear business value. In this framework, L&D is not a cost center but a valuable cost service. Attendees and their sponsors are customers and the cost of training is treated as investment in learning. At the output end, training is not the end result, quantifiable business impact is. 


In a way, you apply the same high standards to training that one normally does to other core business functions like sales or engineering.

Success is no longer measured in terms of promoter scores, smile sheets, and the number of learning events delivered. Instead, the measurement yardstick is now the results being delivered to customers in the form of quantifiable business outcomes like increased revenues, reduced compliance lapses and improved productivity etc.

Such a transformation is also about bringing cost down to acceptable levels, uncovering and exposing hidden costs and getting them under control, and managing the total cost of training as opposed to just what ’s visible. Any corporate training budget almost always only represents a small portion of the direct spend on training. But that’s just a small fraction of the total cost. A lot of costs are indirect and comprise of components like cost of time off the job, cost of poor quality, and travel costs amongst numerous others.

So the training organization makes a transition from being a “function” that offers classes to an “enterprise” that offers strategically valuable business solutions.

In fact, in companies where training is run like a business, L&D is treated as a key strategic partner and contributes towards solving core business problems. 

Where to Start?

A good approach to go about this transformation is to first look at the big picture and consider the entire value chain of training. 

NIIT’s running training like a business self-assessment is a great tool that helps benchmark L&D functions against the core tenets of the framework and provides inputs on the next steps in this journey towards L&D transformation.