Research on the dollar-value of L(earning)
How to Calculate the ROI on Your L(earning)


Research on the dollar-value of L(earning)

The definitive study of the dollar-value of L(earning) involved 115 Harvard MBAs whose careers were followed for 20 years. This study by Prof. John Kotter revealed a notable correlation between continued learning and career success.

Comparing those who were clearly successful with those whose careers had foundered or stagnated, we find a startling revelation..

Those who demonstrated that they had been constantly acquiring new knowledge, skills, and understanding, were consistently in the top 1/2 of their classes in earnings and achievement.

"What is so interesting about these people," comments John Kotter, Professor of Leadership at Harvard, "is their ability to turn turbulence in their business environments, into something useful. New competition, raiders, reorganizations, and the like become (for them) not just destructive, but an important source of growth. Because they look honestly at their successes and failure, they learn and grow."

Such learning was not confined to these people's careers, by the way. Many of them whose careers seemed untroubled, actually had to contend with grievous personal and family problems: illness, death, divorce, etc. Among those individuals, too, the capacity to learn, cope, and move on, differentiated those who overcame their trials, from those who foundered.

"Lifelong learning has become a major ingredient in economic success," Prof. Kotter concludes.

My scenario of "When Harry Met Sally" is based on Prof. Kotter's research.

Source: THE NEW RULES, by John P. Kotter, Free Press, 1995.

Two Invaluable Book on Proving Your're Qualified

Two wonderful books with self-explanatory titles are "Proving You're Qualified: Strategies for Competent People without College Degrees," and "Training Yourself: The 21st Century Credential." Both are by Charles Hayes, and both are available at or from Autodidactic Press at

How to Calculate the ROI on Your L(earning)

Here is a simple formula for calculating the dollar-value of your own L(earning). Your judgement will be subjective, but it's a serviceable start. To make it more rigorous, refine your estimate in Step 2 with input from your boss, peers, clients, internal customers, or direct reports.

Step A: What percentage of your total working time do you spend on task in which you will use what you have learned?

Step B: How much of an increase in productivity or profitabilty do you estimate you will experience, by using what you have learned to execute this work faster, better, or more easily?

Step C: Multiply your answer to Step A by your Annual Salary, then multiply that product by your answer to Step B. The resulting figure is the dollar-value added to your performance.


A x (Annual Salary) x B = Dollar-value of your improved performance

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