Chief Learning Officer – May 2017

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May 2017 |


Rahul Varma

Learning’s Role in Innovation - E-Learning Today: High-Tech and High Touch - Can You Teach Diversity and Inclusion? - Mentoring: More Than Just a Match - Thinking Beyond a Seat at the Table


Less Is More in Learning, Too


here are no longer any valid excuses when it comes to — delivered significant health benefits to his test subjects, avoiding exercise. including lower blood pressure and better aerobic fitness. Too hard? Yoga, tai chi and swimming offer a range of The concept won’t be unfamiliar to many in the learnlow impact options for those averse to more traditional ing industry. Pressed for time and strapped for resources, cardiovascular exercises like running or biking. learning departments have embraced shorter, impactful Too expensive? Penny-wise fitness buffs have designed opportunities for learning and skill development. a dizzying range of physical exertions that require no more Time-strapped employees and results-oriented bosses than your own two feet. have pushed learning departments to embrace microlearnBut what about time — the No. 1 excuse for reluctant ing. These short, snackable bits of content often enabled exercisers? Sorry to break it to you but that’s no longer a by technology and delivered at the point of need are a valid reason to avoid sweating it out, either. All it takes to natural response to shrinking attention spans and competreap real benefits from exercise is one minute a day. ing demands on time. But they can also be strikingly effecAccording to exercise scientist Martin Gibala, just one tive when delivered in the context of the job. minute of vigorous exercise can have the benefit of 45 The implications of shorter, more intense bursts of minutes of traditional moderate exercise. A measly 60 sec- learning go beyond performance support. The rise of nanonds a day can lead to dramatic changes in fitness and odegrees, pioneered by MOOC providers and often dehealth. Who doesn’t have that kind of time? veloped in partnership with a corporation, are reshaping Gibala, a professor and head of the kinesiology depart- skill development, too. ment at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, reveals As opposed to a costly and time-intensive traditional degree, nanodegrees can be completed in a matter of weeks through a set of short courses tailored to a specific skill such as data analytics or software coding. The benefit works on two fronts, giving employees valuable and marketable new skills and helping employers fill critical talent gaps quickly and cost effectively. But what about complex learning objectives like career development? Can high intensity, interval learning play a the research behind this finding in his recent book, “The more significant role beyond skill development? One-Minute Workout.” And it’s not just super-fit elite It’s no secret employee tenure has been steadily deathletes or caffeinated exercise freaks who can reap the creasing. As a result, many employers often struggle to benefits of shorter workouts. According to Gibala, your justify expensive and time intensive leadership and career average couch potato can see results equivalent to 150 development programs. They fall back on an old excuse: minutes of moderate exercise in just three minutes a week. why should I invest in training them only to see them go Even accounting for time spent warming up, stretching work for a competitor. and cooling down, sofa spuds can see real health results in Thinking about career development as a series of in80 percent less time. The key is what’s known as HIIT, or tense intervals rather than an endurance race might just be high intensity interval training. In a nutshell, that means a useful way to tackle that problem. Employees see a direct pushing yourself nearly to exhaustion for a short period of investment in their careers — in a potentially more effitime, then resting for a few minutes before repeating. cient and effective way, to boot — and employers can reap Elite athletes and seasoned weekend warriors have long the benefits of better leaders sooner rather than later. known the benefits of short bursts of vigorous activity to Who doesn’t have time for that? CLO overcome performance plateaus. But until relatively recently, no one had really explored if it could be used to boost the health of more sedentary folk. The work of Gibala and others changed that, opening up the possibilities of high intensity interval training to novice exercisers, too. His one-minute workout — Mike Prokopeak three 20-second intervals at maximum effort on an exer- Editor in Chief cise bike with two minutes of slow pedaling in between

Short bursts of learning are transforming skill development. Is career development next?

4 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

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MAY 2017 | VOLUME 16, ISSUE 4 PRESIDENT John R. Taggart



EDITORIAL INTERNS Mia Mancini Camaron Santos




DIGITAL COORDINATOR Mannat Mahtani LIST MANAGER Mike Rovello BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION MANAGER Melanie Lee CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Ken Blanchard Randy Emelo Sarah Fister Gale Bravetta Hassell Dani Johnson Elliott Masie Lee Maxey Jamie Millard Bob Mosher Jack J. Phillips Patti P. Phillips Clark Quinn Frank Satterthwaite Kellye Whitney






CHIEF LEARNING OFFICER EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Cushing Anderson, Program Director, Learning Ser vices, IDC Frank J. Anderson Jr., ( Ret.) President, Defense Acquisition Universit y Cedric Coco, EVP, Chief People Of ficer, Brookdale Senior Living Inc. Lisa Doyle, Vice President, Learning and Development, Lowe’s Cos. Inc. Tamar Elkeles, Chief Talent Executive, Atlantic Bridge Capital Thomas Evans, ( Ret.) Chief Learning Of ficer, PricewaterhouseCoopers Ted Henson, Senior Strategist, Oracle Gerry Hudson-Martin, Director, Corporate Learning Strategies, Business Architects Kimo Kippen, Chief Learning Of ficer, Hilton Worldwide Rob Lauber, Vice President, Chief Learning Of ficer, McDonald’s Corp. Maj. Gen. Erwin F. Lessel, ( Ret.) U.S. Air Force, Director, Deloit te Consulting Justin Lombardo, ( Ret.) Chief Learning Of ficer, Baptist Health Adri Maisonet-Morales, Vice President, Enterprise Learning and Development, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Alan Malinchak, CEO, Éclat Transitions LLC and STRATactical LLC Lee Maxey, CEO, MindMax Jeanne C. Meister, Author and Independent Learning Consultant Bob Mosher, Senior Par tner and Chief Learning Evangelist, APPLY Synergies Rebecca Ray, Executive Vice President, The Conference Board Allison Rossett, ( Ret.) Professor of Educational Technology, San Diego State Universit y Diana Thomas, CEO and Founder, Winning Results Annette Thompson, Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Of ficer, Farmers Insurance David Vance, Executive Director, Center for Talent Repor ting Kevin D. Wilde, Executive Leadership Fellow, Carlson School of Management, Universit y of Minnesota Chief Learning Officer (ISSN 1935-8148) is published monthly, except bi-monthly in January/February and November/December by MediaTec Publishing Inc., 111 E. Wacker Dr., Suite 1200, Chicago IL 60601. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Chief Learning Officer, P.O. Box 8712 Lowell, MA 01853. Subscriptions are free to qualified professionals within the US and Canada. Digital free subscriptions are available worldwide. Nonqualified paid subscriptions are available at the subscription price of $199 for 12 issues. All countries outside the US and Canada must be prepaid in US funds with an additional $33 postage surcharge. Single price copy is $29.95 Chief Learning Officer and are the trademarks of MediaTec Publishing Inc. Copyright © 2016, MediaTec Publishing Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of material published in Chief Learning Officer is forbidden without permission. Printed by: Quad/Graphics, Sussex, WI






24 Profile A Commitment to Move Bravetta Hassell Accenture’s Rahul Varma hasn’t been afraid to start over and lean into the new, which has paved the way for significant L&D innovation.

54 Case Study Growing Up Patagonia Sarah Fister Gale The outdoor gear company’s naturefocused child care center has become a powerful recruiting tool.

58 Business Intelligence Align Workforce Development to Career Management Dani Johnson More companies are paying attention to career management — and the development employees need. ON THE COVER AND ABOVE PHOTOS BY DAVID LUBARSKY

8 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

M ay 2017


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Learning’s Role in Innovation


Clark Quinn Optimal execution is only the cost of entry, and continual innovation will be the only sustainable differentiator.

E-Learning Today: High-Tech and High Touch

Bravetta Hassell It’s not about the bells and whistles and shiny new toys. E-learning today is about choosing the right solution to advance business goals in ways learners want.

Can You Teach Diversity and Inclusion? Kellye Whitney The short answer is yes. But a better question might be, is the organization ready to do the pre- and post-training work needed to ensure diversity and inclusion content sticks?

Mentoring: More Than Just a Match Randy Emelo Too often, mentoring leaders think their main work is finished once the match is made between mentee and mentor. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Thinking Beyond a Seat at the Table Jack J. Phillips and Patti P. Phillips The CLO role is evolving by creating value, tackling many challenges and expanding responsibilities.

Elliott Masie Curation: Multi-cycle Support for Learning

12 SELLING UP, SELLING DOWN Bob Mosher What Language Do You Speak?


Ken Blanchard The Value in Cross-Generational Mentoring


Lee Maxey Listen to Learners’ Needs, Not What They Say


Frank Satterthwaite and Jamie Millard Create a Can-Do Learning Culture

Resources 4 Editor’s Letter

Less Is More in Learning, Too

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Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •



Curation: Multi-cycle Support for Learning If you’re not already picking and choosing amid learning options, do so • BY ELLIOTT MASIE

C Elliott Masie is the chairman and CLO of The Masie Center’s Learning Consortium and CEO of The Masie Center, an international think tank focused on learning and workplace productivity. To comment, email editor@ CLOmedia.‌com.

uration is one of the hot words in the talent field in 2017. As the quantity and diversity of content multiplies, learners and organizations are yearning for order, structure, efficiency and targeted knowledge and information options. The role of curation in that shifting landscape includes a panorama of content types. To figure out what you need, start with a simple investigation about the content in your organization. For instance, ask 10 random employees what video clips, news reports, PDFs, briefings, or other content they have viewed or read in the past three months to be better at their jobs. You will be amazed at the volume and diversity of sources they report. You might hear: • TED videos: Even when the organization has spent money on great content from a learning provider, TED videos are more viral, short and externally validated. • User content and knowledge: Workers want to watch or read what their peers say about almost every topic. They often would rather see/read that than use a well-designed learning packet from a validated subject matter expert. • “The amount of content is overwhelming!”: There is rarely help in sorting, ranking or choosing which content piece is most effective for the user at any given moment. • Fake news: I recently read a review of a learning product only later to find out the author received a fee to evaluate and promote the innovation. Here is where curation is playing, and will continue to play, a key role in the future of learning and development. And, let’s view curation as a 360-degree process that can play a powerful role before, during and after a learning activity or experience: • Learning choices: When I choose a restaurant, I have 100 percent reliance on user ratings. I open an app to see how other buyers have rated the offering, and I want to be able to drill down to look at greater details, such as menus or dress code. Learners want to evaluate the range of content choices from internal and external sources with curation assistance and context. • Recommendations: Soon, we will see the rise of a special form of curation system that will provide recommendations to the learner based on preferences and backgrounds, and maybe even assisted

10 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

with a machine learning form of predictive analysis. Workers will want to have their choices optimized and sorted for them. • Coming attractions: It works at the movie theater, so why can’t we scroll over an e-learning module’s

Curation is a 360-degree process that can play a powerful role before, during and after a learning experience. link and get a 30 second preview of its content, focus and activity formats? Curation helps the learner prepare for the learning moments ahead. • Curation in the learning moment: My favorite textbook from college was “Economics 101,” by Paul Samuelson. It was the only textbook that had the important sentences already highlighted in color. Curation can help the learner absorb, sort and notate — or notate for them — key takeaways. • Curate extending content/context: Learners should be able to touch or click to get personalized extensions of the core material. Give them a choice to see these now or on their own time later. • Curate “jump aheads”: Often, we already know 80 percent of the content in a new learning activity. Organize it with tabs, chapters, even instant mini-assessments to help the learner jump ahead to their new and needed segments. Then, use this big learning data to better curate content for the next set of learners. • Summarize and repackage content later: Take the content from a real-time class, webinar or even conference and re-package it into a high energy “Readers Digest” content roll-up. Offer it online. Curate before, during and after an event, because learning is truly multicycle and lifelong. CLO

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What Language Do You Speak?

Learn business’ language or your leaders will find someone who will • BY BOB MOSHER


Bob Mosher is a senior partner and chief learning evangelist for APPLY Synergies, a strategic consulting firm. To comment, email

remember walking out of a rather lengthy, frustrating, and occasionally tense meeting with a line of business my learning team was supporting, when the leader of that team stopped me and said, “That meeting sums up my frustration with our L&D department. You just don’t know how to talk in the language of our business.” Wow. Once I calmed down, licked my wounds and finished muttering a few things under my breath, I took a long walk. “Talk in the language of our business?” What exactly did that mean? I scheduled a follow-up meeting with that manager, who was a dear friend, by the way, and took some time to dig deeper. He told me that my constant and repeated “learning speak” and refusal to adapt my deliverables to the world he was trying to support only distanced me and my team from the reality he faced every day. If that drift continued, he would be forced to go elsewhere. He finished by saying I had two options. I could dig in, defend my turf and lose the battle, or listen, adapt and become relevant again. The challenge was reorienting myself and my team to the new marching orders. How could we honor years of training, research and effort to standardize and scale our solutions, and become the trusted business partner this individual was looking for? We began by adopting a new vocabulary. One not based on learning theory, or even business acumen, but on business results. We held weeks of meetings with the lines of business we supported and listened to them talk about the performance challenges they faced, and the goals they had set for themselves in the coming year. We listened to the strategies and programs the managers were going to implement to meet these challenges and goals. We repeated back what we thought we heard in their words, not ours. We didn’t suggest a thing. We went back to our team, shared our findings, compared notes and tried to come up with a different way to communicate and support our key stakeholders. Long story short, it worked. But it involved some difficult, and occasionally painful changes on our part. We live in unfamiliar times for the learners we support. Change is a constant and time is precious. The competitive landscape is shifting in ways we’ve never seen before. Our learners are caught right in the middle. When you look back at these challenges and stack them up against the learning solutions you provide, and the

12 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

language you use to describe them, does it match? When we covered a whiteboard with all that we’d heard, many of our words and deliverables clearly missed the mark. To butcher an old sacred cow, the word “training” just didn’t fit. Sure, learners still needed to grasp and understand things, but training them in various ways, be it live, virtual, or e-learning based, wasn’t nearly enough. I often get labeled as the anti-training guy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m frustrated by how training alone is unfairly blamed for poor employee performance. Performance is the key. It was all over our whiteboard, literally and figuratively. Solving business challenges had little to do with knowing something. That was part of the journey, but the challenges the busi-

We need to talk in terms of key performance indicators not completion rates. ness faced hinged on the learner’s ability to translate and apply that knowledge into performance under stressful conditions. Learning deliverables need to focus on that. We need to talk in terms of key performance indicators not training outcomes, certifications or completion rates. We need to retool ourselves as performance consultants not instructional designers. Finally, we need to design performance-based support and learning solutions ahead of training deliverables. In the past 12 months I’ve sat through strategic planning meetings with training teams from major corporations who are literally trying to justify their existence. Most are in a position of weakness due to the deliverables they are known for and talk about. They are desperately trying to retool to change the perception, and the actual outcomes, for their learning programs. We can get ahead of this curve. Which position will you put your learning organization in? CLO


The Value in Cross-Generational Mentoring If you want job security, commit to continuous improvement • BY KEN BLANCHARD


Ken Blanchard is chief spiritual officer of The Ken Blanchard Cos. and coauthor of “Collaboration Begins with You: Be a Silo Buster.” To comment, email editor@

orking within a mentoring relationship is a powerful way for individuals to grow their careers. Whether young people are learning from seasoned pros, or career achievers are passing along their wisdom, mentoring offers a host of benefits: increased knowledge, new skills, elevated energy levels and career satisfaction. Cross-generational mentoring has been a fundamental factor in my success, so it’s no surprise that I’m passionate on this topic — so much so that at 75 I felt called to write “One Minute Mentoring” with Claire Diaz-Ortiz, a 33-year-old former Twitter executive. Without the many mentors I’ve had along the way, my career and company would never have happened. Starting our own company was the last thing my wife, Margie, and I had in mind in 1977. That was the year we were on sabbatical leave from teaching at the University of Massachusetts, and Margie had recently finished her doctorate. Our destiny changed when we went to a weeklong Young Presidents Organization conference in Honolulu, where I’d been invited to speak. I began the conference as a relative unknown, but people apparently liked what I had to say — attendance at my talks grew from 200 on Monday to almost

People can be great at what they’re doing today and be out of business tomorrow. 1,000 on Friday. Impressed by my performance, a group of YPO presidents asked Margie and me about our post-sabbatical plans. “We’re going back to the University of Massachusetts at the end of the year,” we said. The YPO presidents were taken aback and strongly encouraged us to rethink our future. “You need to create your own organization,” they said. “When you’re hot, you’re hot!” We were flattered, but didn’t know the first thing about running a company. We couldn’t even balance our own checkbook, Fortunately, five of those YPO presidents offered to mentor us, and eventually became our advisory board. Like most mentoring partnerships, it was mutually beneficial; Margie and I learned from their collective experience, and our board members ben14 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

efited from our fresh ideas and enthusiasm. Fast forward to 2017. Given the accelerating pace of change, people can be great at what they’re doing today and be out of business tomorrow. The only job security any of us has is a commitment to continuous improvement. Cross-generational mentoring relationships can provide career-enhancing wisdom for young people, and protect older people from obsolescence. Peer-to-peer mentoring can be just as beneficial. In a writing career that has produced more than 60 books, I’ve worked with dozens of co-authors, including positive thinking guru Norman Vincent Peale, Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, and former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula. People sometimes ask me why I don’t write books by myself more often. I tell them, “This is how I learn. I already know what I know!” To help people establish mentorships and to provide guidelines on how to make those relationships work, Claire Diaz-Ortiz and I developed a framework we call the MENTOR model. M is for mission: Begin by crafting a mutually agreed upon mission statement for the mentorship. What does each party intend to get out of the partnership? A mentoring mission is a picture of how things will be if everything goes as planned. E is for engagement: Engagement — how often a mentor and mentee communicate with each other and by what means — provides the structure that solidifies the mentoring partnership and its mission. N is for networking: Each partner in a mentoring relationship brings a network of connections to the other. These connections become a pipeline to new knowledge, skills and opportunities. T is for trust: By telling the truth, staying connected and being dependable, mentors and mentees can build a relationship that nurtures genuine communication and growth. O is for opportunity: For both partners, mentoring opens opportunities to: events, learning experiences, connections and career options. R is for review and renew: A regular review keeps the relationship on track and ensures goals are accomplished. If your organization doesn’t already have a formal mentoring program, consider introducing one. Mentors can assure the preservation of your organization’s knowledge and culture. The mentees you nurture today may become your organization’s leaders tomorrow. CLO


Listen to Learners’ Needs, Not What They Say Do you know what your learners really want? • BY LEE MAXEY


Lee Maxey is CEO of MindMax, a marketing and enrollment management services company. To comment, email editor@

e are entering a time of uncertainty and upended mores. Perhaps it’s a time for hope. But I’m reminded of a so-called Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times. Corporate learning is changing. Workers want ongoing and accessible education. They want to acquire skills without leaving full-time employment. But according to an August 2016 Saba Software survey of 1,800 HR managers, only 22 percent of employees feel their employers are “very effective” in providing easy access to learning. Do these shifts in learning mean leaders should get in front of the curve, or pause to study the issues and possible ways forward? If you choose to lead, what does a leadership role look like? If you want to take a go-slow approach, what are the consequences? “Regarding uncertainty, I see it as a mindset,” said Rob Lauber, chief learning officer, McDonald’s Corp. “In the 1950s, we had uncertainty about the Cold War; in the 1960s we had uncertainty about Vietnam; and in the 1970s and 1980s, it was largely about economics — interest rates, inflation and unemployment.” Both he and Michael Huffman, director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Office of Continuing and Professional Education, agree there is disruption. For-profit institutions, massive open online courses, competency-based degrees and credentialing are challenging traditional higher education models. Huffman said if administrators choose to lead during times of uncertainty, their schools will be the ones that provide answers to vexing questions through teaching, training, research and service. In practical terms, he said he sees an opportunity for higher education and corporations to work together. For example, in January 2017, Trinity College’s Dean of Student’s Christopher D. Card wrote “Certain Uncertainty: Higher Education in the Trump Era” on HigherEdJobs, an academic career website. In the article, Card states that colleges should reach out to employers to make sure students are meeting the “core competency demands of the workplace,” and evaluate whether degree-holders are truly equipped to do the jobs they’re hired for. But CLOs shouldn’t wait for educators to reach out to them. “Leading means taking teams with you by defining a shared purpose, clarity of focus and a willingness to be clear about what you’re not interested in putting energy

16 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

toward,” Lauber said. “We in higher education have a unique opportunity and responsibility to provide a wide range of rich, diverse opportunities to help people advance personally and professionally,” Huffman said. Nobody is suggesting that online learning is a fad. But how to deliver a course, its cost and the setting where students take it are all very much up for debate. One of the uncertainties might be format. If you’re old enough to remember video cassette recorders, you’ll recall the format wars be-

Success will come from research, collaboration and listening. tween VHS and Betamax. Betamax came first in 1975, enabling 60 minutes of recording time. VHS followed on its heels and offered twice the recording time but lower video resolution. Ultimately, Betamax lost out to VHS because it didn’t grasp what consumers wanted from a video recording product — more recording time. Essentially, when faced with uncertainty, sometimes caution or patience is rewarded. Whether a leader in higher education or corporate learning decides to charge ahead or take a slower, contemplative approach, success will come from research, collaboration and listening. Often, listening is harder to do because what education consumers, or consumers in general, tell you they want isn’t really what they ask for. For example, when offered a chance to obtain an online degree, a worker might say, “Thanks, but I’d really prefer a flexible work schedule. That way, I could collaborate online and in a classroom.” But what they may mean is: “I’m not sure an online degree will be valued by our company in the same way as an on-campus degree.” Once you’re confident you know what your learners want, then you can develop solutions tailored to their needs. Knowing that will draw clarity from uncertainty. CLO

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Learning’s Role in

Innovation Optimal execution is only the cost of entry, and continual innovation will be the only sustainable differentiator. BY CL ARK QUINN


he world has changed. Organizations are facing increasing disruptions, more information is available, and new technologies are making it easier and faster to compete. The ability to plan, prepare and execute is no longer sufficient. Agility and the ability to adapt is imperative. Going forward, optimal execution is only the cost of entry and continual innovation will be the only sustainable differentiator. This puts a huge emphasis on innovation. As a consequence, the amount of organizational effort is growing. John Kotter, the father of organizational change, in his book “Accelerate” is now calling for a dual operating system structure for organizations to successfully integrate execution and innovation. New concepts like design thinking, big data, analytics and teaming are being explored as solutions.

Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •


Drive Innovation with Experiential Learning Innovation is making something better by doing it in a new or different way. Often people confuse this with creativity, which is creating something entirely from scratch. An artist is creative when molding a clay vase; a professor is innovative when he or she identifies a new way to bring math concepts to life for students. Creativity is difficult to teach, but innovation doesn’t have to be. The principles of innovation can be codified, and the steps necessary to go from ideation to realization can be laid out in a defined process. However, teaching and then learning those principles and steps can be challenging. Experiential learning combines immersive activities that mimic real-world challenges with a targeted debrief that connects the lessons learned with workplace reality. It’s not unlike learning by doing. It’s a powerful way to teach both the principles and the skills of innovation, and ultimately change behavior. Its effectiveness lies in three areas: 1. It’s fun. Participants take part in an experience that’s themed, challenging and highly engaging. They strive to excel within teams, in real time, with real issues, yet are often captivated by the event. 2. It’s real. Participants bring their own skills to the task, and can then gauge their personal effectiveness against what’s really possible. 3. It’s transformative. After an effective debrief of the experience, individuals can immediately see different ways to achieve an outcome and how those different ways could produce better results. Personal behavior change naturally flows from those convictions. Organizations looking to drive workplace innovation are often challenged to determine how best to teach the steps and process of innovation at a deep enough level to actually change employee behavior. Experiential learning can be an innovative way to teach, and then drive, true innovation. By its very nature, experiential learning transcends age, gender, level, function and cultural background. Regardless of differences, individuals often learn best by doing; learners prefer doing over listening, and they often select being personally engaged and stimulated over being lectured or taught. As such, experiential learning is an effective tool with which to support creation of an innovation culture by building conviction and skill around four concepts: a maximizing mindset, freedom of expression, analytical tools and behaviors, and effective collaboration. For those committed to bringing the skills and power of innovation into the workplace, steps and behaviors taught in experiential learning can be used to accelerate skill acquisition. Then, the benefits that can flow from each individual’s potential to innovate can be realized.

— Phil Geldart 20 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

Provided that learning and development leaders could and should have a central role in innovation, what is the chief learning officer’s responsibility? The old model of innovation has been busted. The story used to be the Promethean genius that brings in the new idea and transforms the world. However, research has documented instead that innovation is the product of an environment where ideas can gestate and interact. Innovation comes from creative friction, people interacting over time. R. Keith Sawyer’s 2007 book, “Group Genius,” documents how ideas combine in different ways to create new ones. Steven Johnson, in his 2010 book, “Where Good Ideas Come From,” discusses the role of networks to support innovation, and again the notion of time comes into play. A key concept is the adjacent possible, where exposure to related ideas can yield new opportunities. In short, innovation is about creating an environment where people can be exposed to different concepts, interact productively, experiment safely and be allowed time to reflect. And this is contrary to much of the working world where interaction is kept to a necessary minimum, time is to be spent on work tasks and mistakes are punished. Jennifer Magnani, senior director of Sanofi Pasteur Quality Academy, faces a challenge in aligning these two elements. “People think of quality as a constraint that creates an environment where innovation is not possible,” and yet “there’s a continuing demand for more products that are more cost effective,” she said. Even in the most regulated industries, we have to enable opportunities to innovate and change. One realization is that most of the benefits to business are coming increasingly from so-called knowledge work, work that processes information in productive ways. Our cognitive strengths are pattern-matching and meaning-making, while computers instead excel at performing rote tasks and complex calculations. The organizational focus should be on finding a balance between these two. It’s been documented that computers can find some solutions that people struggle with, but the converse is also true. Appropriately reconciling roles will be a critical determinant of success. Another way of looking at innovation is that at its core it’s about learning. When you are problem-solving, researching, trouble-shooting, designing, etc., you don’t know the answer when you begin. Thus, you’re learning. It’s not formal learning, e.g., instruction, it is informal learning, as Jay Cross documented in his 2006 book, “Informal Learning.”

What is L&D’s Role? There are four core areas that are involved in successfully fostering innovation. A nurturing innovation environment requires explicit skills, ongoing facilitation, leadership and a welcoming culture. Each is a role that learning and development can take on, or at least partner in. For one, as innovation is about learning, learning and development could and should be in the lead. It helps if there’s a solid understanding of the cognitive science behind learning. Similarly, there needs to be a comprehensive understanding of innovation. To take the lead, the learning organization has to not only nominally be related, but also pragmatically have the necessary learning knowledge to hand. Explicit skills: Learning organizations need to have concrete, baseline practices and processes in place for workforce development. It’s a mistake to assume people possess basic skills. Educational institutions

K-12 and higher education do not always develop necessary abilities. Both individual and group skills play a role, including the ability to do independent research, reflect via representation and experimentation, and communicate and collaborate effectively. For example, not everyone is capable of asking a question in a way that others will want to answer, nor providing answers in a way that anyone will listen. Similarly, brainstorming has nuances that, if ignored, can render the exercise relatively useless. There are a host of such skills, and being explicit about them, and applying full learning support to develop them, is essential. A 70-20-10 approach makes sense here, including not only instruction, but also coaching and opportunities to practice. It’s arguably the best investment an organization can make. Process facilitation: Developing such skills isn’t sufficient, however. Part of that coaching may be required of the learning and development team. Until the skills have been adequately developed, it’s not going to be a fair assumption that the coaching can be undertaken by developed employees. Another factor is ongoing facilitation. One of the key factors, with innovation being a socially mediated outcome, is the development of communities around the necessary areas. Community management is an important component, as not just individual coaching is needed, but ongoing maintenance has reliably been demonstrated to be useful. While such actions could fall under a specific community function, there at least need to be strategic relationships between whatever function takes on the ongoing facilitation so that the actions are in concert with the explicit skills. The point is not to leave it to chance, but to successfully integrate and align the elements with the organizational goals as well as how our brains work. Culture: Unlike the movie “Field of Dreams,” it’s not a case of, “If you build it, they will come.” Innovation and learning require a learning environment. If such outcomes are predicated on social interaction, then such interaction needs to be happening. And it doesn’t happen in environments where interaction has risks. Instead, the environment has to be focused on experimentation and learning from mistakes. Charles Jennings, executive director of the Royal Military College at Duntroon, Australia, recalls that when

serving as the CLO for Thomson Reuters, he instituted a budget for innovation. “The goal was to carry out proofs of concept and pilots,” he said. However, this wasn’t without an important ancillary constraint. “We gathered data and reviewed the outcomes.” With this approach, he was able to repeatedly address crushing business problems, but only after a constrained experiment demonstrated a valuable cost-benefit outcome. The characteristics of a culture where learning can flourish include diversity, openness, reflection and safety. Moving to this new culture is an important task, as is understanding the elements that contribute. Diversity isn’t just to be tolerated but instead must be valued. Openness to new ideas is critical; a “that’s not how we do it here” mentality will preclude the new ideas that are necessary. Time for reflection can be challenging to argue for, but the outcomes demonstrate that the investment is worthwhile. And it must be safe to contribute; if you work in a “Miranda Organization” (where anything you say can and will be held against you), employees won’t be offering up current progress, providing pointers and sharing valuable ideas. Here, organizational change can be considered a role for organization development, but again there’s clearly a role for learning and development. Helping individuals understand the elements and adopt the necessary practices is clearly in learning and development’s wheelhouse, and aligning development and coaching to the policies and practices is critical for success. Leadership: To create a learning culture is clearly a leadership issue. While leadership should support the process — anointing, resourcing and evangelizing it — there’s more to the role. It’s clear that individuals won’t truly believe it is safe to share if they don’t see their leaders sharing, particularly documenting mistakes and the lessons learned. Sanofi Pasteur Quality Academy combines two of these areas, explicit skills and leadership. “Courses are developed and taught by leaders to encourage and demonstrate how change is an opportunity to make a difference,” Magnani said. The core is structured around two ideas. “People should share, and best ideas come from passion and working collectively.” These two ideas alone can constitute the basis for a change.

Practices like working out loud, developing community, experimenting and tolerating failure are the path to learning.

INNOVATION continued on page 60 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •


The 2017 State of Employee Engagement

Organizations Not in Tune with Employees When it Comes to Learning While most business leaders agree that talent is their most important asset, results of a recent survey to 1,800 HR leaders and employees across the U.S. and UK reveal that most businesses are not in tune with employee perceptions. One example of this perception gap can be seen in employee training and development, which supports the critical outcomes of developing high-potential employees, reducing time to competency and improving retention, especially with millennial employees. The survey revealed that 80 percent of HR leaders believe they are delivering training and development that is both accessible and effective. Despite significant investment in training tools and programs, however, employees don’t agree. In fact, one third of employees (33 percent) report that training and development programs are not effective. TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT

Belief: training and development are accessible and effective

80% 67%

of HR leaders agree

of employees agree

Belief: training provided is effective in developing and advancing careers

80% 65%

of HR leaders agree

of employees agree

Employees also don’t think their organizations are hitting the mark on the desired outcomes of training and development. When it comes to career development, for instance, 35 percent of employees surveyed do not believe that the training provided by their employers is effective in developing and advancing careers. Meanwhile, 80 percent of HR executives believe the training they’re providing is effective at helping employees develop skills and advance careers. Overall, roughly a third of employees (35 percent) consistently say that their company’s training tools are not effective in achieving the most basic talent outcomes. And here’s the kicker: due to this ineffective training and development, nearly 70 percent of employees surveyed said they would take an offer outside the organization if it came along.

Closing the Perception Gap in Learning and Development At some point, every business must conduct a reality check on the effectiveness of its current learning management technology and approach. The ultimate goal of learning and development initiatives is to improve performance – both for individual employees, and for the business overall. When these programs do not drive performance, by improving skills, advancing careers, or improving engagement and retention, a perception gap is created between management and employees around just how effective these training programs really are.

Success is no longer about course completions or stack rankings. Organizations must prioritize modern and continuous learning and development technologies, and rethink their measurement of learning success to focus on performance-based outcomes. By focusing on performance-based outcomes in learning and development, connecting learning initiatives to critical talent outcomes, and creating a channel for more frequent and consistent employee feedback, L&D leaders can get a more accurate, real-time pulse on the effectiveness of their training programs. Armed with this insight, they can convert feedback into action, close the perception gap to drive employee engagement and, ultimately, demonstrate the impact L&D has on the overall performance of their employees and their business.

The Saba Pulse 360 Advantage Saba Pulse 360 enables you to capture employee feedback in real-time, quickly identify and fix problem areas and, most importantly, prove the business impact of your learning programs and investments. These capabilities can bridge the critical perception gap that still divides HR executives and employees when it comes to talent management. Access the full 2017 State of Employee Engagement Report at Š 2017 Saba Software, Inc. All rights reserved. Saba, the Saba logo, and the marks relating to Saba products and services referenced herein are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Saba Software, Inc. or its affiliates. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Saba | 2400 Bridge Parkway | Redwood Shores | CA 94065-1166 USA | (+1) 877.SABA.101 or (+1) 650.779.2791 |


A Commitment to Move Accenture’s talent and learning officer Rahul Varma hasn’t been afraid to start over and lean into the new, which has paved the way for significant learning and development innovation. BY BRAVETTA HASSELL


ahul Varma was dead for two minutes. Literally, dead. He was in the early years of his career at Accenture as the international consultancy was in the midst of deepening its presence in India. He had been named the company’s first human resources director for India and was working around the clock to bring this fast-growing venture to life. Born with severe bronchial asthma, Varma’s condition worsened as Accenture expanded its India footprint from 200 people in 2001 to an astounding 40,000 employees by 2008. Having already suffered two bouts of asthma during this time, he experienced a third event while visiting New Delhi — collapsing in the midst of a meeting during the final attack. Colleagues rushed a passed-out Varma to the hospital where he went into cardiac arrest. Varma said he was gone for two minutes before regaining consciousness. “The reason I’m alive today is because of my Accenture colleagues. My association with Accenture and with our people is much deeper than what might appear at the surface,” said Varma, who today is Accenture’s talent and learning officer. His commitment to Accenture and his passion for developing talent are such that he’s never backed away when the company presents him with a new endeavor. Varma started with Accenture straight out of school in his home town of New Delhi, then to Mumbai, India, and on to Singapore before landing in New York. He has chosen to stay open to new ideas and ways of doing things, he said. Alongside that journey, he’s led the creation of learning and development programs intended to drive Accenture forward. Driving efforts like Varma’s at a company that employs 394,000 people takes boldness and unrestrained thinking, said Accenture Senior Managing Director for Talent Strategy Nate Boaz. “Rahul does all of this with humility and courage.”

24 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

Innovations in Learning and Talent For Varma’s part, the chance to create opportunities for people and helping them do what they love is what has sent him from one country and one challenge to another. “From the very first day until almost 23 years later, that very purpose hasn’t changed,” Varma said. “But there’s a lot more clarity to it and there’s a lot more shape and form to it.” In creating Accenture Connected Learning, he sought to strike a balance between the advantages found in employees’ off-site learning and training and what he

“The reason I’m alive today is because of my Accenture colleagues.” — Rahul Varma, talent and learning officer, Accenture calls “learning all the time.” Whether through an in-person classroom or by way of an online application, multiple environments were needed. ACL, which was launched in 2015, includes physical classrooms that are virtually linked to one another across Accenture’s training network. In each classroom, tables are also “connected” to one another to facilitate learning and collaboration. ACL also includes Pinterest-like online learning boards that enable employees to access expert-curated information on different topics. On top of that are more than 100 professional communities for people based on work, skill and project area. “We want our people to have access to the very best learning when they need it and how they need it,” said Varma, who served as the company’s chief learning officer from 2011 to 2016. “(ACL) was not about bringing people to great learning. It was bringing great learning to people.” He was leading learning when in 2014 the company


Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •


Profile began grappling with its performance management sys- ulty and other leaders in strength and engagement. tem that he said had outlived its utility. “It was demoti- What’s more, the company’s HR professionals would vating,” said Varma. In recent years, the effectiveness of have to undergo a fundamental shift in their approach traditional performance management practice has been — moving from being administrators of a performance widely challenged. Issues range from inconsistency in management process to architects and coaches of the implementation and a lack of clarity in expectations and Performance Achievement approach. To quickly roll out metrics to the infrequency of critical performance dis- the program, Accenture would have to create its own apcussions between managers and employees. plications. Varma said the team used the iterative agile “Imagine if your Fitbit only gave you a step count at methodology to develop the software needed. the end of the year — there’d be no motivation to enact “All of this can fail if you forget through this journey change or improve,” said Kris Duggan, CEO of perfor- that this is all about the person and not about the promance management software company BetterWorks and cess,” he said. Broken into three components — focusan expert in the space. “When companies transform ing on employee strengths and goals, team work, and their performance manage- development actions for individuals — the program was ment process to become launched to the company over the course of 2016. more feedback driven, it’s The Learning Center of the Future, slated to offimotivating for employees cially open in Bangalore, India, during the spring of and allows the organization 2017, has been in the works since about 2014, Varma to stay agile and productive said. “This is not going to be a center where people will over time.” get great learning or better learning or continuous learnA growing market of ing,” he said. “The real purpose of the center is to make companies like BetterWorks a better learner.” In conceptualizing what the center would include — Rahul Varma that specialize in performance management tools and do, Varma’s team traveled to Silicon Valley and Jareflect the transformation at hand. So does a growing list pan for inspiration. The team met with experts to hear of companies that includes IBM, Google, GE and Ado- about advances in technology and neuroscience. It also be that have reimagined their systems. sought out insight into the use of space, learning from At Accenture, Varma’s team kicked off its journey to concepts like Zen minimalism and ancient Indian Vedic a new performance management approach with a two- texts on learning. Taken together, the research would month research sprint to find out what created great translate into an environment where, Varma said, “every individual and team performance. From that, five basic inch of space would be a learning space.” truths about performance surfaced, Varma said: The center includes four connected classrooms, 16 • Great performance happens when people do what surface hubs to allow people to connect and work tothey love and play to their strengths. gether, writable surfaces in all directions to facilitate fur• Focus on a vital few priorities. ther collaboration, a broadcast studio to share content, a • Teammates should complement each other’s human performance and learning space, and areas strengths and skills. where workers can quietly reflect on their work. • Feedback should take place not as an event but in Varma said the pitch to leadership for the learning the moment. • Empower employees with forward-looking actions to grow. “Workers see the ability to progress and grow in their career as a reason to stay at an organization long-term,” Duggan said. Creating Performance Achievement, Accenture’s new take on performance management practice, required a number of key elements, Varma said. The company’s roughly 100,000 supervisors and leaders had to be trained on engaging employees through strengths-based conversations and real-time feedback. This meant that thousands of people took a Rahul Varma, talent and learning officer at Accenture, sees his role with the consultancy as one-day training course led by expert fac- a chance to create opportunities for people and help them do what they love.

“All of this can fail if you forget through this journey that this is all about the person and not about the process.”

26 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

Profile center was pretty straightforward. Because the work of Accenture is engaging clients and co-creating with them, its workforce needed to constantly stay up to speed in a range of areas. But with change happening fast, keeping every piece of content current is nearly impossible, said Varma. “If you create a continuous learning culture and you create an infrastructure, which is centered around the human being — which they can access when they want, where they want, how they want — you will actually be able to equip people with the ability to have high learning agility,” he said. Varma credits the learning and development organization’s ability to chart new areas in learning and performance innovation to a clarity of purpose and high involvement by the company’s leaders. “Driving change — it can’t be HR-led, it has to be business-led,” Varma said. “It has to be led by top leadership of your company.” When it came to the Performance Achievement program, for instance, Varma’s team showed the executives what they’d be introducing to workers by giving them first-hand experience with the program’s components. Leaders completed the strengths profile that employees would be asked to take. They also defined their individual priorities and met as a team to discuss them and exchange feedback. “If it’s not role-modeled by our business leaders, it will never come to fruition,” he said.

Bringing Innovation to Life Varma’s education isn’t in learning or development specifically, but his career has prepared him for the path his work has taken. The experiences accumulated over time with Accenture, like wrestling with complex talent challenges in India, enabled him to reimagine how the company did learning. Experience taught him to be inventive, open and quick on his feet. Varma remembered a call he received one evening while working in India more than a decade ago. It was the head of technology asking Varma’s team to ramp up its recruitment efforts. While this division had previously been recruiting about 100 people a month, 500 people would be needed in five weeks. “You can imagine my reaction. And he wasn’t joking. He was serious,” Varma said. There’d been a surge in client demand and “this was one of those big moments of can Accenture actually do this?” His team rallied around the challenge. Varma met with peers for advice. He even reached out to his business-school alma mater Symbiosis Institute of Business Management in Pune, India, asking the director for help. “ ‘What I’m going to ask you is going to seem very, very bizarre,’ ” Varma said recalling the conversation in which he asked for students to help. 28 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

Varma is in his fifth city and third country with Accenture.

He would ultimately collaborate on the technology department’s request with a peer who had a background in recruiting. Together they examined how to apply supply chain and distribution principles to recruiting. Varma said the supply chain-based model they created for that pressing recruitment need is still used in some parts of Accenture today. “No textbook tells you to do these things,” he said. The journey is often about necessity being the mother of invention. “It requires doing crazy and wild things that haven’t been thought about before.” The journey has also required personally stepping into the unfamiliar. As Accenture’s talent needs evolved, Varma had to pick up, move and start over in a new place. Starting over would mean leaving India, where he enjoyed deep relationships with friends and family, and moving to Singapore, where he knew no one. “But over time I began to feel more and more a part of the fabric of the society,” he said. When Varma was asked to lead learning for Accenture in 2011, he and his wife, Preeti, who is an artist, would move again, this time to New York. A commitment to his field of work and the company spurred him on, in spite of what initial difficulties he experienced in assimilating to new environments. “The reason I chose HR in the first place was this was the one discipline, if you will, that has the ability to help people unlock their potential in the context of an organization,” Varma said. “So as I’ve done this, I’m now living in my fifth city and third country in Accenture and have just been very blessed and very privileged to have lived and worked in different cultures and just learned a hell of a lot along the way and made many, many good and strong friends all over the world.” Good, strong friends and colleagues who have literally been life-savers. CLO Bravetta Hassell is a Chief Learning Officer associate editor. To comment, email

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industryinsights This is an executive summary of “The Collaborative Disconnect: Finding the Missing Link in Constructing a Productivity Enterprise” white paper. By Vitalyst

Employee collaboration is essential to increasing the speed and efficiency of business operations. It eliminates geographic constraints and enables organizations to stay nimble and competitive to meet the changing needs and demands of their industries. But companies often miss the mark on collaboration. Those businesses that have not embraced this digital evolution are happy to supply their employees with basics such as email, internet access and spreadsheets, but struggle to understand the immense value that more integrated, collaborative platforms can bring to an organization. Within ”The Collaborative Disconnect: Finding the Missing Link in Constructing a Productivity Enterprise,” we examine the rise of collaboration as a business ideology, what companies so often miss when pursuing it, how to rectify that disconnect, and what the benefits are of a “true” collaborative enterprise.

The Disconnect Key influences on collaboration have reshaped the modern workforce and workplace, opening up new channels of productivity for enterprises. Productivity rates and revenue are up, and a majority of employed adults attribute improvements in their work lives to new, better collaboration technologies. However, providing collaboration technology alone—without critical efforts to boost user adoption—can have little or even a negative impact on productivity. Technology is most impactful on productivity when it is completely integrated into the business environment. Employees need to be motivated to use the new technology, and empowered with the support and resources they need to do so.

The Evolution of Collaboration Collaboration in the workplace isn’t a new phenomenon. It has been at the root of many important discoveries and advances throughout history. However, true collaboration didn’t become possible until relatively recently, when technology advances expanded the power of working together. Key influences on collaboration in the modern workplace fall into two buckets—drivers and enablers.

• Drivers include the accelerated speed and

increased efficiency of technology, the global expansion of the workforce, and the increasing need to be competitive and agile.

• Enablers include the advent of broadband,

the prevalence of big data, and collaborative systems and applications.



Too few organizations allocate enough resources toward deploying, supporting and educating about the software that facilitates collaboration, and even fewer earnestly examine whether employees are using the technology to its fullest potential. The foundation of any successful enterprise technology integration is user adoption. Without it, businesses will never gain the momentum necessary to achieve true collaboration. The Solution Well before any organization formally introduces rules, tools or processes to make the company more collaborative, it must first work to ensure that every employee possesses an equal base level of software skills. A technology skill equilibrium—one where every employee is able to speak the same language and share documents and ideas that enable collaboration—is the first step in developing a collaborative culture in companies of any size. Enterprises can achieve this equilibrium by providing services and support that make employees more proficient with the tools they use every day. Training, in particular, is critical. It should be human-centric— customized not only to particular applications, but also to how end-users learn best. It should be ubiquitous—structured in a way that infuses easily accessible training options with a system of ongoing support. Finally, it should be meaningful—incentives

can encourage employees to build their skills, and clear communication can enable them to better understand training’s effect on individual productivity and workload reduction. Benefits Creating a collaborative environment is not the end goal. It’s a means to an end—it’s the key driver to increasing enterprise-wide productivity. It also leads to a better work environment, more favorable results and higher revenues for the company. By fostering collaboration and increasing productivity, organizations can digitally transform and:

• Improve company-wide communication • Easily share ideas for improvement • Increase the speed at which information is shared and decisions are made

• Reduce workloads and duplication of efforts • Remain competitive and agile in service delivery/ offerings, and much more.

Check out the entire white paper, and learn more about the drivers, enablers and the solution to ensuring there isn’t a collaborative disconnect within your organization.

Vitalyst is a leader helping organizations humanize technology by providing services and solutions that deliver a unique employee-centric transformation experience. Using a proprietary methodology, we help clients assess their environment, then create programs that maximize adoption and proficient use of IT and digital technology, which ultimately drives business results. As a result, organizations are able to develop a sustainable collaborative environment to set the stage for continued innovation and growth. Copyright © 2017 Vitalyst, LLC. All rights reserved.

industryinsights The Skills Revolution How to prepare your workers for the coming wave of job digitization By Tim Harnett

Automation has been increasing its presence in the workplace for some time and will continue to define the tasks we do in the future. For some, the impact is immediate: one study estimated that up to 45 percent of daily tasks could be automated with current technology.¹ But rather than eliminate jobs, many employers are upskilling their existing employees. To prepare for digitalization, 83 percent of employers plan to either maintain or increase their headcounts over the next two years.² Organizations will also face a greater demand for highly skilled workers as job requirements change.³ While digitalization won’t be easy, automation doesn’t have to be a battle of human versus robot. With tasks becoming automated, employees must adapt to remain current. Increased demand for highly skilled workers also comes as organizations experience recruiting challenges. Globally, 40 percent of employers report greater difficulty hiring people with the right skills — the highest talent shortage since 2007 (41 percent).⁴ We’re seeing the emergence of a Skills Revolution, where the greatest challenge will be upskilling current employees to prepare them for the ever-changing world of work. “Companies have become consumers of work, not builders of talent. That needs to change,” says Mara Swan, executive vice president, global strategy and talent for ManpowerGroup and global brand lead for Right Management. When workforce skills needs change so rapidly, organizations will need employees with high learnability. “While we cannot slow the rate of technological advance, we can invest in employees’ skills to increase the relevance and resilience of our people and organizations. In a Skills Revolution, people’s employability — their ability to gain and maintain a desired job — no longer depends on what they already know, but on what they are likely to learn.”

How to prepare for jobs that don’t exist yet It’s estimated that 65 percent of jobs that Generation Z will perform over their lifetime don’t yet exist.⁵ To prepare, employees will need learnability: the desire and ability to learn new skills for long-term employability.

Employees should be open to learning new skills and tackling new roles. Curiosity will be a critical attribute, as will the motivation to proactively seek new learning opportunities to remain relevant. Employers can use assessments to explore the learnability of their workforce and give individuals insight into their own learnability. Assessment has several uses. It helps discover fit for purpose, which is useful for determining how an individual’s skills match those needed for the role. Employers should ask themselves, Am I giving the talent I have the opportunities where they would be most successful? Is the role playing to an individual’s strengths and interests? Alignment ensures employees will be engaged with their roles and continue to develop critical skills. When we think about an individual’s Learnability Quotient™ we think about learning types: how intellectual are you? How adventurous or unconventional? Understanding how employees are wired to absorb, process and act on information helps determine the optimal way to develop and engage with them. For the individual, a Learnability Quotient™ assessment can lead to a better understanding of their learning type so they can better approach their career progression. Knowing where employees are will help employers plan for where their employees need to be. “Skills and talent matter more than ever,” says Swan. “We need to fast-track the training and reskilling of existing employees to ensure we have a future-ready workforce. We need to be ready for new jobs and skills. Learnability should be the number one consideration when hiring.”

Leaders also need new skills To lead effectively in a rapidly changing work environment, leaders will also need different skills. Right Management’s P3 Leader model identifies four key skills leaders will need for the Skills Revolution: brightness, agility, endurance and drive. Endurance will be critical to the new leader skill set in the future. Because we’re more

Right Management is the global career and talent development expert within ManpowerGroup. We help organizations become more agile, attractive and innovative by creating a culture of career management and learning that nurtures future talent, motivates and engages people, and provides individuals with opportunities to increase their value throughout their careers. We design to deliver solutions in talent assessment, leader development, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement and workforce transition and outplacement that align talent with business strategy.

global and consume information faster than ever, leaders need the endurance to react to 24/7 challenges. Leaders will also need to be learners, with their own agility and adaptability. “As leaders, we need to model learnability. Ask yourself, when was the last time you read something from an unusual perspective? If we want our employees to embrace learning as a habit, we need to set an example and find the time to dig beneath the surface,” says Swan. Workplace success requires constant communication. Ongoing career conversations will prepare employees for tomorrow’s jobs. That’s why Right Management has created a series of six questions for leaders to explore

with employees to help answer the questions they care about most in driving their careers. Ongoing career conversations ensure the employer and employee are aligned on future skills needs and how to be wellequipped to meet those challenges. With much of the workforce in flux, keeping employees informed about opportunities and how their work impacts the business will keep them motivated and engaged. By assessing your workforce and giving employees real-time feedback, you’ll ensure your workforce is ready to tackle new responsibilities. Visit for more information on the Skills Revolution.

Human Age 2.0: Future Forces at Work. ManpowerGroup 2017. The Skills Revolution: Digitization and why skills and talent matter. ManpowerGroup 2017. 3 “Artificial intelligence: The impact on jobs: Automation and anxiety.” The Economist 2017. 4 Human Age 2.0: Future Forces at Work. ManpowerGroup 2017. 5 ibid. 1 2


High-Tech and High Touch

34 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

It’s not about the bells and whistles and shiny new toys. E-learning today is about choosing the right solution to advance business goals in ways learners want.



he corporate world made e-learning popular in the 2000s, but the concept has been around since the early and mid20th century thanks to inventions like the teaching machine created by psychologist Sidney L. Pressey and refined by behaviorist and psychologist B.F. Skinner. For Skinner, the in-person classroom experience was flawed; students learn at different rates, and they need reinforcement, which can be hard to provide on an individual basis. Skinner’s GLIDER was the beginning of an answer to this; the mechanical device housed a set of questions that learners could view and answer one at a time through a small window. Later came the first computer-based training program, and toward the end of the 20th century, the introduction of the computer and internet set the stage for e-learning to manifest in a vibrant and voluminous market that now transforms along with technology. E-learning also has changed and adapted in response to the demands of a rapidly changing global business environment with high levels of connectivity, interactivity, speed and agility. Today, e-learning’s flexibility to reach learners wherever they are, to connect them with information and with each other, and ultimately deliver results continues to drive its adoption. The PDFs, slideshows and online test forms that once drove

Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •


the e-learning story have become more dynamic with the advent of videos, webinars and discussion forums. Further, even more nimble, user-centric and accessible digital products offer experiences like microlearning that are giving older, less agile software and legacy e-learning systems a run for their money. While wading through e-learning delivery options to identify what will effectively meet their company’s needs, learning leaders must navigate the waters with a clear objective in mind to zero in on how to accomplish it.

Don’t Be Fooled by the Shiny and New In its “eLearning Market Trends and Forecast 2017-2021,” cloud-based LMS company Docebo estimated the global e-learning market — worth more than $165 billion in 2015 — would grow by 5 percent between 2016 and 2023. The number of products and services available is great, but learning leaders should focus more on learners’ user experience than on absorbing an increasingly packed and growing market. The abundance of choices has created many diverse opportunities to reach, engage and help transform workers. But — Demetra Anagnostopoulos, with more options there chief strategy officer, are also more opportuniSurePeople ties to get it wrong, to spend wrong and pay the price for a misinformed investment. Learning leaders have to consider how to keep e-learning relevant and current, and determine how best to meet workforce development as well as broader organizational goals. These answers likely won’t be found by simply grabbing the shiniest, most innovative new tool on the market. In fact, CLOs should resist that temptation, said Demetra Anagnostopoulos, chief strategy officer for the cloud-based, intelligent learning, performance and hiring products company SurePeople. “Be diligent instead of being seduced by sexy silver bullets.” With any technology, there are good e-learning products, and there are e-learning products that are very good but not used as their effectiveness lies in application and use. Effectiveness is also tied to having a clear strategy, Anagnostopoulos said. Without it, an e-learning program could be rolled out with great anticipation but not generate the desired behavior change. It could be the program was boring, badly designed or it wasn’t embedded in the overall learning strategy the right way. Whatever the reason, this scenario doesn’t bode well for the learning department. People don’t want the go-slow-to-go-fast learning

“Be diligent instead of being seduced by sexy silver bullets.”

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strategy to make a demonstrable impact on people and the business, Anagnostopoulos said. Instead, it’s about first drilling down to areas of concern business leaders have identified, assessing related learning needs, identifying stakeholders and setting objectives that align with broader business outcomes. All of that must be done before learning leaders can choose the right e-learning solution and deliver results with it. Otherwise, “you’re just spending money on stuff that’s cool but not sustainable.” Once that foundation has been laid, learning leaders can allow themselves to drool a bit over what looks cool.

Don’t Forget the Human Touch Bells and whistles aside, today’s learner expects engaging, deeply immersive learning experiences, said Apratim Purakayastha, chief technology officer for global e-learning company Skillsoft. Learners want metadata in content that is easy to find, along with contextual knowledge, the ability to pick a topic and learn as much as they can about it as quickly as possible. This is particularly true for millennials. In 2015, Fast Company reported in “Millennials Surpass Gen Xers as the Largest Generation in U.S. Labor Force” that this cohort would comprise 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. They’re adept at adopting new technology and are inclined to seek out information as-needed. They’re also used to customer-centric experiences in their lives outside of work and expect them from their employer, as well. With this in mind, Skillsoft introduced a new learning content platform this year, as well as new content to deepen its corporate learner engagement. Called Percipio, the cloud-based platform allows learners to track their goals, engage with recommended content, and includes customized, curated channels that can be adapted to learner’s specific needs, among other features. Platform administrators can manage and create groups of learners, assign goals and track them accordingly. Purakayastha said Skillsoft’s new content was designed to reach the modern learner in a way past content may not have. For instance, new business and leadership skills courses are shorter in length and focus on scenario-based learning complete with actors. Companies that make the foray into e-learning or advance their journey into the field do so for two reasons, said Nikhil Sinha, chief business officer for MOOC provider Coursera: to help the business and to promote a learning culture, which is imperative to drive organizational success. In recent years, leaders at Coursera have consulted with learning executives and other corporate learning E-LEARNING continued on page 60

From the Vendor: Degreed on the Evolution of E-learning By Kellye Whitney E-learning has come a long way, according to Todd Tauber, vice president of product marketing for Degreed, an education technology company. It’s not just a cheaper, more scalable substitute for classroom training. It’s the connective tissue that makes learning an everyday part of how we live and work.

Chief Learning Officer: What is e-learning today? What should it be? Todd Tauber: For a lot of L&D teams, e-learning still means online courses, LMSs, virtual classes and maybe videos. Those things command the biggest share of CLOs’ budgets and … attentions. But the reality is digital learning is much more diverse and fragmented than that. Most people only take courses a few times a year. The behavioral data from our systems is showing that people read articles and blogs much more than they watch videos. We also search the internet, read books, listen to podcasts, we interact with our peers, our managers, our mentors, all through technology. That’s what e-learning should be. CLO: What problem do CLOs come to vendors like Degreed to solve? Tauber: The single biggest problem CLOs and their teams come to us for is to help them integrate and simplify their employees’ learning experiences. Nobody becomes an expert only through courses, videos or from just one source. People stitch together all sorts of learning experiences over time: courses and books here and there, articles, blogs, videos in between, reflection, feedback, coaching along the way, and then plenty of practice, trial and error on the job.

should CLOs be doing to prep for those changes? Tauber: Online learning programs, formal education through online methods is evolving. I don’t think online courses are dead, but they’re not the only tool in the toolkit anymore. They’re changing; MOOCs are a really good manifestation of how they’ve evolved, and they’re continuing to evolve beyond that. Those things are going to increasingly be augmented, blended and supplemented by new technology like video and apps, augmented in virtual reality, artificial intelligence, chatbots, data, analytics, even things like online portfolios and microcredentials. All of those things will

To deliver all of that, over the last 15 to 20 years CLOs have invested in: LMSs, LCMSs, course and media libraries, custom portals, enterprise social networks, video platforms. The problem is those things … rarely work together. They don’t connect users to other people learning the same things in different places, and they … can’t give CLOs the whole picture. It’s a very fragmented learning experience. We integrate all of the things our clients and their people need for learning and development — internal systems, vendor content, free and open learning — Todd Tauber, vice president for resources and people product marketing, Degreed — so … CLOs can get more complete insights on their people and their come together to change the face of learning activity. e-learning. We have a pretty substantial client It’s necessary for all of those different services team; they get involved not just learning resources … to work together. in technical implementation; they help Our clients are already connecting their clients with the change management internal and external talent development that goes along with changing the way resources. So, you’re seeing some of they operate. That’s educating them on those boundaries between learning and how to curate responsibly and talent acquisition and talent effectively, it’s helping them understand management begin to blur and break how to drive and sustain adoption and down. Ultimately, we see a more fluid feed learning culture more productively, market for people’s expertise. That will especially this self-directed learning be powered by innovative new ways to activity. Clients are looking for help learn as well as to communicate what feeling their way through the near future. people know and what they can do in Everything is changing right now, and real time. CLO people are confused.

“Sharing external content … accounts for as much as 20 to 30 percent of the voluntary learning activity that’s happening.”

CLO: Where is e-learning going in the next three to five years, and what

Kellye Whitney is associate editorial director for Chief Learning Officer. To comment, email Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •


38 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

Can You Teach Diversity and Inclusion? The short answer is yes. But a better question might be, is the organization ready to do the pre- and post-training work needed to ensure diversity and inclusion content sticks? BY KELLYE WHITNEY


raining alone is rarely enough. Not when the subject matter is complex, controversial or comes packaged with a load of historically negative baggage, which diversity and inclusion does. For diversity and inclusion training to stick, it needs support, reinforcement and a firm foundation in a broader talent management strategy that includes culture, leadership and learning and development. Without the right kind of culture in place — where employees embrace difference, senior leaders model inclusive behaviors and value the innovation and market accessibility that diversity can provide, and promote diverse thinking and risk-taking so people don’t have to hide their mistakes — diversity and inclusion training will not work. Now, let’s back up a step. What exactly is diversity and inclusion training? It’s often focused on unconscious and conscious bias, advancing communication skills, building cross-cultural intelligence, relationships, emotional intelligence or self-awareness and establishing commonalities and the value of individuals holding multiple identities. That’s not multiple identities in the bad movie, personality disorder way, but in the “I am male, Latino, Catholic, born in a rural setting, but can still contribute at a high level outside that environment” type of way. However, before learning leaders embark on this type of training initiative there’s some strategic pre-work that needs to be done.

Ask these questions: Does our culture embrace diversity and inclusion? Do our leaders understand their value to the business and the workforce? Do the organization’s talent management strategies and systems support and enable diversity and inclusion? If not, training would be precipitous because the right support for this type of development is not there. René Kizilcec, co-founder of the Lytics Lab at Stanford University, offered an analogy around how to teach students to be more effective learners to illustrate the point. Offering readings on how to take notes or make a study schedule, essentially telling someone how to do something, is not enough in this context. “There needs to be active support throughout to actually have any behavioral change. Diversity is a similar animal,” he said. “There is telling and then there is practicing, and the practicing is about providing the structures, whether its rituals or it’s embedded in software … that support more inclusiveness.” For diversity-themed learning to stick, it must be delivered in an environment that is welcoming to a diverse group of people. Kizilcec said learning leaders should “target the individual, and target the environment.” Or, as Giovanna Ramazzina, head of LPD — leadership and professional development — for international education-company Kaplan said, teaching diversity and inclusion requires a growth mindset rather than a quick mindset approach. “It is a complex issue, and it requires proper focus. In a way, it becomes a business Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •


Beware the Subjective Achievement Factors in MOOCs When MOOCs first emerged about five years ago learning leaders thought they would disrupt higher education, democratize education and bridge educational divides globally. But completion rates for massive, open, online courses have traditionally been low. Students often aren’t motivated to complete courses they elect to take. A study by Stanford University found there were other factors prompting learners in underdeveloped countries to abandon courses, factors that did not focus on their level of skill. René Kizilcec, co-founder of Stanford University’s Lytics Lab, an interdisciplinary research community around educational data science, led “Closing Global Achievement Gaps in MOOCs.” The study began with two courses from Stanford and Harvard University, the first in 2014 and the second in 2015. People in more developed countries are twice as likely to complete a MOOC with a certificate than people in underdeveloped countries due to language barriers and lower levels of prior education, but there’s also a socio-psychological barrier. Those from less developed countries who enter a Western academic environment may be afraid that they will be judged negatively, or that they’re at a disadvantage because the learning is unfamiliar or packaged in a U.S.-centric way. Kizilcec said this fear — social identity threat — can cause reductions in learning, performance and working memory. Kizilcec and his team came up with brief reading and writing interventions that can be inserted at no cost at the beginning of specific MOOCs to alleviate these concerns. One activity encouraged learners to write about core values, which helped make certain threats less important for their sense of self-integrity. A second activity assured learners that their doubts about belonging in the course were normal and not unique to members of their group. People in less-developed countries benefited from these activities, and the gap in completion rates closed. A scaledout version is ongoing, and interventions have been applied to some 50 courses at Harvard, Stanford and MIT. “We need to be aware of the subjective experience of people,” Kizilcec said. “We tend to focus on tangible structural factors that are very important, but we tend to forget the subjective experience which … is terribly important for people in a historically underrepresented group.”

— Kellye Whitney 40 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

culture transformation project rather than a simple, here’s a few days courses. Then you can hope that people understand diversity and inclusion and apply it in their workplace.” Once the culture and leadership support are in place, there are many ways to go about the actual training. But successful strategies usually involve some level of assessment to establish the current state of affairs; a focus on small group, in-person sessions or workshops and teaming exercises; and goal setting to determine what are the desired behavioral changes and how to create, sustain and measure them. These learning interventions don’t have to have a diversity label, as their content is as much about collaboration and inclusion as anything. Ramazzina said decision-making might be a worthwhile development focus. Leaders could examine decision making processes at every level, and set a goal to change the primary decision-making stratagem from directive to collaborative. “It’s looking at how does this business work, operate and make decisions, and can we change that to a more inclusive and collaborative approach?” Kaplan teaches inclusive and collaborative decision-making techniques using a variety of strategies. Its “red teaming” exercise comes from the military and helps participants to continuously challenge assumptions and not shy away from provoking conversations around business issues. Workshops on the Delphi method examine how people vote to stop things from happening in business and ways to collaborate across functions and departments. “You get people in a room, divide them into groups, and they spend time thinking about the past and the future; they project future scenarios. As the conversation goes through with very structured tools and approaches, you come to conclusions that you call into action straight away,” she said. Note, any development intervention should include a diverse group of people. That group may not always reflect ethnic or religious diversity; it might reflect diverse viewpoints, departments and levels of experience. Ramazzina said it’s a mistake to create a bubble around a diverse group of people in the hopes of making them inclusive without engaging the rest of the business. Learning leaders should help the senior team identify the practices, processes and business policies that currently help or hinder talent development — whatever they look like. Senior teams may need their own workshop to learn how to identify issues quickly and accurately. “Give them a framework that can help them look into the culture, authority and processes of the business,” Ramazzina said. “See the pros and cons that can help or hinder that particular population you’re looking to support and encourage. Then talk them through a few interactive exercises, small group discussions to explore biases, how we naturally create barriers, how language influences behavior that in turn shapes corporate culture.” Live case studies can offer first-hand narratives to help senior leaders understand current organizational issues. For example, women in the business might share experiences from onboarding to their C-suite promotions to create rich discussion items around culture issues, mentorship and where the glass ceiling happened for them. “What you’re doing in training is building a foundation for people to work together, to see each other as full human beings, and to find commonalities,” said Simma Lieberman, president and CEO of Simma Lieberman Associates, a diversity and inclusion consultancy. That training may address cohorts not just by different dimensions of

diversity like gender or ethnicity, but at different points in their career. Diversity education programs at PwC, for example, target everyone from interns to senior-leaders. This holistic approach allows the professional services network to create a work environment where everyone feels like they can confront stereotypes and acknowledge the impact the world has on our daily lives, said Mike Dillon, the company’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. PwC’s minority internship program, named Start, recruits college students early and introduces them to the firm’s services and culture. Senior Select, for leaders with three to six years’ experience, assembles talent from across the country for networking and professional development at a crucial time in their careers — right before they take on deeper leadership roles in the firm. “Programs like that are important for recruitment, development and advancement,” said Dillon. “We know diversity brings us growth, innovation, and gives us opportunity for our people.” The company’s blind-spot training, or 4REAL, is a four-episode video series available to everyone, but it’s required for potential partners. Each video focuses on one common blind spot and is illustrated through fictitious characters and scenarios to show how blind spots can potentially impact thinking and lead to undesirable outcomes. “Everyone has unconscious bias. Everyone can learn from it, so we highly encourage everyone to take this course,” Dillon said. “But research tells us that any kind of forced diversity training can have unintended consequences. But [starting] this year, your skill set to be promoted to the next level would require taking unconscious bias training.” Whether diversity training is required or optional, for partners or interns, Ramazzina said creating development efforts that help build an inclusive and diverse culture is a substantial project. “It’s transformational,” she explained. “It involves change management, looking at HR processes, making time for each other. People need to be aware that these things fail because they’re not taken seriously enough.” So, yes. Learning leaders can teach diversity and inclusion, but it’s not easy. It requires an integrated talent management mindset with firm leadership commitment to ensure behavioral change and to reap organizational value. That value comes not when a diversity or inclusion-themed course is completed, but when its participants connect what they’ve learned to talent management strategy and process on an enterprise level. CLO Kellye Whitney is associate editorial director for Chief Learning Officer. To comment, email 42 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

3 Reasons Unconscious Bias Training Doesn’t Work If a training program doesn’t work, most learning leaders will scrap it or at least redesign it so that it provides organizational value. But that’s not the case with unconscious bias training. It’s often done — poorly — just to cover compliance or legal bases or to ensure the right image. Or, it’s done without the necessary follow up to insure the content sticks, behaviors change, and related talent management processes adapt to create a more inclusive workforce. Critics say unconscious bias training has a bad reputation because it doesn’t work. Simma Lieberman, president and CEO of Simma Lieberman Associates, a diversity and inclusion consultancy, said there are three reasons why that may be: 1. The relationship between training and work is missing. Employees don’t see how unconscious bias training affects their jobs or the organization. Therefore, its value is questionable. “They just see it as training,” Lieberman explained. “And some trainers see it as just another thing that they do, like teaching speedreading or something.” The training is disconnected from broader strategy. 2. Participants believe if they acknowledge a need for this training, they will have to change. Change is scary. Viewing unconscious bias from a process perspective would logically require substantive change to established strategies or systems, or the effort is wasted. Lieberman said leaders may not know what that new state looks like, and the amount of work needed to get there can be daunting. 3. Leaders don’t see the business case. If leaders don’t have a diversity mindset, or see the value of inclusion in the workforce, Lieberman said “unconscious bias training becomes a kind of status — we do this, we’re cool. But it doesn’t go any further; they think that’s all they need to do; they don’t need to change anything.” Like most things in business, unconscious bias training needs committed support from the top to be successful. If leaders aren’t willing invest in a long-term diversity and inclusion strategy that includes strategic cultural and talent-related changes, unconscious bias training likely will not stick. The training becomes static, insular and disconnected from the larger talent management picture. Essentially, don’t bother.

— Kellye Whitney

Mentoring: More Than Just a Match Too often, mentoring leaders think their main work is finished once the match is made between mentee and mentor. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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eading a mentoring program means more than just matching people and calling it a day. That single task barely scratches the surface of what it takes to effectively run a mentoring program. Mentoring administrators are part coach, part facilitator, part support network and part matchmaker. Learning leaders must consider these various aspects and take part in the mentoring program in multiple ways to make the programs work. For example, they should help participants build self-awareness so they can gain deeper growth opportunities through mentoring. They also should give people a framework to have effective and productive developmental conversations so that learning goals can be

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achieved during the mentoring relationships. But mentoring administrators often miss the opportunity to create a robust, cohesive experience for participants, said Jenn Labin, author of “Mentoring Programs That Work” and principal partner at consulting group TERP Associates. The relationship match is just part of the overall journey. “Administrators and program leaders need to also provide mentees and mentors with tools to learn about each other’s history and communication preferences, such as mentoring agreements and assessments,” she explained. “They should also provide materials to support continued growth throughout the relationship, such as conversation guides and opportunities to measure progress.” Jodi Davidson, director of diversity and inclusion initiatives at Sodexo, has experienced the complexity in establishing a mentoring relationship firsthand through her work on Sodexo’s Spirit of Mentoring program. “To build a best-in-class mentoring initiative and culture, the mentoring administrator must go far beyond the role of coordinator to that of a strategic partner.” In addition to matching people up in relationships, the mentoring administrator needs to communicate effectively about the offer, evangelize through testimonials at various levels of the organization, track participation, measure success based on objectives and provide resources and tools that help participants maximize their partnerships, explains Davidson. “A program administrator needs to be someone who connects people, builds relationships at all levels, engages key stakeholders and becomes known as a confidante who is willing to evolve to meet the changing needs of the organization.” Labin said administrators act as the gardener for the mentoring garden in an organization. They need to be responsive to questions, handle emergencies and provide communications throughout the program life cycle. Essentially, they need to remind, inspire and empower participants to keep up their momentum. “Administrators are the main touchpoint between participants and the organization.”

Transformative Mentoring When mentoring works, it can be transformative. It can impact an individual’s skill, ability, or career direction, which in turn can change a person’s life. Administrators and leaders can have a hand in these transformative powers by helping to build a sense of belonging and community through mentoring. One critical area that can make a significant difference is to design and support effective communication cycles that mentees and mentors can use in their relationships. “Great mentoring relationships are built on open 46 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

communication and trust, both of which begin with transparency and credibility. Therefore, equipping participants with tools such as mentoring agreements or communication-style assessments allows participants to begin that open dialogue and start the relationship off warmly,” Labin said. To build a communication cycle for a mentoring program, consider the following factors: Focus and frame: Mentoring conversations need to have a focal point so they don’t meander. It is too easy — and common — for conversations between mentees and mentors to get off-track; it’s just human nature. While this free-form style can be generative at times, it does not serve the greater purpose of the mentoring relationship to engage in this behavior during every meeting. Participants can use their time more wisely by agreeing on mentoring goals and then framing their conversations around those goals.

Mentoring administrators need to communicate effectively about the offer. Mentoring administrators and leaders can help participants frame up their conversations by giving them a structure to follow. Encourage mentors and mentees to focus on goals, not objectives. That is, have both parties focus their attention on what they want to accomplish over the next six weeks, month or quarter. From there, participants can follow a conversational guide that encourages them to reflect on what they want to accomplish, envision what success could look like, explore options to bring their goals to reality, and then agree on any actions needed in pursuit of expressed goals. Rhythm: Mentoring conversations should have a rhythm and flow to them. Each time the mentee and mentor meet, they should talk about what actions were taken since their last meeting, what worked, what didn’t work, what they could try next, etc. This becomes a cyclical conversation model they can follow throughout their relationship. By focusing on the smaller action items, they will make progress toward larger goals. Administrators can model this type of conversational construct by facilitating a group mentoring relationship where they teach participants how to have effective conversations. “A well-run mentoring initiative requires dedicated resources in order to ensure participants, both mentees and mentors, have positive expe-

riences that encourage their growth and development,” Davidson said. Frequency: The idea that mentoring will require too much of a person’s time is often used as an excuse for not participating in mentoring. Because of this objection, many leaders suggest that mentees and mentors meet once a month for one hour. This may not be the best advice. Much of that hour can be sucked up by people reconnecting and catching up on what has occurred over the past month. That is a lot to cover in one hour. Rather than meeting only once a month, administrators should encourage people to meet every week for 30 minutes — via video, in person, over the phone, whatever works for the participants. These shorter touchpoints allow mentees and mentors to focus on smaller, incremental steps that, when taken each week, can lead mentees to their goals and keep the relationship moving along. Each 30-minute meeting can be spent reviewing what actions were taken since the previous week, assessing if progress was made, and generating ideas on how to take the next step toward reaching their goals. Each meeting should end with a concrete action that participants will take.

leadership responsibilities such as front-line, midlevel or executive. • Role development: People with this focus want to take on a set of connected behaviors, responsibilities and norms associated with a specialized position or function such as head nurse or senior business analyst. “Many practitioners and administrators are concerned about mismatches or matching individuals who can’t get along. Truly, that doesn’t happen as often as people think,” Labin said. And giving mentees and mentors a way to focus their development and interactions through assessments and conversational guides gives them a solid foundation for growth. Achieving success as a mentoring program administrator or leader means focusing on all of the aspects that make the program tick. “Remember that you can provide just the right resource, communication or tool that participants need to see real and lasting developmental progress,” Labin said. Administrators should set aside uninterrupted time each week to respond to participant questions and create a robust experience for mentees and mentors. Program leaders also should ask for feedback from program participants and sponsors. “But most of all, find a mentor,” Labin said. Organizations can play a vital role in supporting their mentoring program administrators and leaders, giving them the space and opportunity to lead programs effectively. “Our future leaders expect they will have access to learning opportunities that extend far beyond the traditional classroom, to include on-thejob coaching, feedback and mentoring,” Davidson said. “Therefore, mentoring is a key lever for achieving business goals and needs to be recognized as such. “I am grateful Sodexo continues to invest in mentoring initiatives that have benefited so many as we fulfill our mission of quality of life. Perhaps the best advice I can give is for all of us to remain lifelong learners and become beneficiaries of our own mentoring programs. Walking the talk, as our executives at Sodexo have done for over a decade, makes all the difference between a mediocre and an award-winning program,” she said. CLO

Beyond matching people, program administrators also should help people build self-awareness.

Building Self-awareness At its core, mentoring is a personal development process. Beyond matching people and helping them develop effective ways to meet and communicate, program administrators also should help people build self-awareness. “Self-awareness is key because both mentees and mentors need to bring their authentic selves to the relationship, and be open to the idea of growth and feedback,” Labin said. “Low self-awareness creates a problematic start to the relationship if either party isn’t ready or able to hear the gift of feedback.” Administrators should provide appraisals and assessments that people can use in their mentoring relationships. Labin said assessments like DiSC, Myers-Briggs and StrengthsFinder are a few options. Leaders also can use categories of development to assist participants in gaining better self-awareness and ascertaining what the focus of their relationship is. • Career development: People with this focus want to gain insight and understanding into advancement opportunities within their organization or vocation. • Leadership development: People with this focus want to prepare themselves for management or

Randy Emelo is chief strategist at River, a mentoring software company, and author of “Modern Mentoring.” To comment, email Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •


Thinking eyond B a Seat at the Table The CLO role is evolving by creating value, tackling many challenges and expanding responsibilities.

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any chief learning officers have earned a seat at the table where decisions are made, strategies are developed and key challenges are discussed. It’s time to take the CLO role to a higher level, not just on the organization chart, but in terms of influence and organizational accomplishment. In most organizations, earning the C-suite title automatically earns a seat at the table. But the “chief” title isn’t given out loosely. It’s reserved for individuals in key functional roles that add business value. CLOs have earned a seat because more learning leaders are adding and measuring business value. Chief Learning Officer’s “2015 CLO Measurement and Metrics Survey” indicated that 36 percent of CLOs are using business impact to show the value of learning to the broader

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enterprise. Twenty-two percent are using ROI for the same goal. In all, 72 percent are either using or plan to use ROI in the future as a tool to show impact. Also, the CLO is responsible for talent development. Talent is important, and its importance is increasing in the global business environment. Having the right talent can add to market value and be a key source of competitive advantage. Logically, the person

without ensuring the right talent selections have been made from the start. Acquisition should be part of the CLO role. 2. Talent management: The CLO should manage the complete talent life cycle, with a focus on talent retention. Nothing is more disappointing than developing key talent, only to have them leave because of issues beyond the CLOs’ respon-

What part of the organization is better suited to change the mindsets, attitudes, perceptions, thoughts and feelings than the learning function? responsible for talent development must have strategic input. There are five potential areas where the CLO can move beyond earning a seat at the table.

Focus on Value Creation When it comes to delivering value and addressing accountability, much of the focus has been on capturing value, or evaluation, and reporting it so executives will respect, appreciate and use the learning function. While this is important, it is time to move from value capture to value creation with a focus on continuous program improvement. One of the greatest challenges facing the CLO is the need to protect and enhance the budget. Evaluation program data exposes weaknesses and strengths. Using these data to improve processes enhances future program ROI and can lead to more funds. Instead of perceiving learning as a cost that can be controlled or reduced, this approach positions learning as an investment that will reap a positive return with credible, unmistakable results (see Figure 1).

Expand Responsibilities The scope and focus of the CLO role continues to evolve and expand. In recent years, many learning leaders have acquired five additional responsibilities: 1. Talent acquisition: It’s difficult to develop talent FIGURE 1: HOW TO BOOST LEARNING ROI



Make it better Source: ROI Institute, Inc., 2017

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Improve results

Allocation Increase funding

sibility. In consequence, many CLOs have assumed the chief talent officer role and all functional responsibilities within the talent management area. 3. Performance management: There is much debate about what a performance management system should be or even if there should be one. Performance management is important to organizational success and involves the formal performance review system — if there is one — and ways the organization can motivate and reward individuals to achieve performance. The CLO is in the best position to manage the performance system. 4. Innovation: Innovation separates mediocre from best-in-class organizations, and constant innovation promotes organizational growth and longterm sustainability. While innovation involves almost everyone and is driven from the top, learning is the best functional area from which to coordinate efforts because the learning leader is in tune with how to motivate employees, change habits and spark creativity. 5. Engagement: Engaged employees are more productive, produce better quality work, work more safely, are more efficient, deliver better customer service, and are more likely to stay with the organization. Engagement involves several different issues, including work design, workplace systems, goal setting, accountability and learning. Employees must learn to become productive team members, be accountable for their work, assume responsibility for goals and routinely communicate with colleagues. Engagement efforts are significant, and most organizations are constantly revamping their `engagement efforts, including the annual engagement survey. The CLO should be responsible for ensuring the process is working properly.

Drive Culture Change Top executives know a strong culture can drive success, and when an organization has a strong culture it must be maintained to prevent it from eroding. Organizations that don’t have a clearly defined culture often want to change it. The intersection of performance, innovation and culture, depicted in Figure 2, represents a strong culture that drives innovation and performance, which is necessary for long-term sustainability. Changing, maintaining or recapturing a culture that has gone astray requires tremendous effort; it needs relentless focus from the top and throughout the organization. Learning is a key part of making that happen. What part of the organization is better suited to change the mindsets, attitudes, perceptions, thoughts and feelings than the learning and talent development function? “Culture Change That Sticks,” a 2012 article in the Harvard Business Review, defined five core principles that must be followed to change a culture and make it stick that are still relevant today: • Match the strategy with culture. • Focus on a few critical shifts in behavior. • Honor existing cultural strengths. • Integrate formal and informal interventions. • Measure and monitor cultural evolution.

The scope and focus of the CLO role continues to evolve and expand. The CLO is equipped with the resources and the skill sets to make this work. Using a variety of programs from formal learning sessions, e-learning, mobile learning, coaching, mentoring and a host of informal learning processes, the CLO can literally change mindsets, attitudes, beliefs, opinions and feelings in the workforce. Few other individuals have this key responsibility area in the organization.

Tackle Big Challenges To keep their seat at the table, CLOs need to tackle three major challenges facing organizations. They are: 1. Developing global leaders: Trust in institutions and leaders in all types of organizations is eroding. Employees want outstanding leadership, and top leaders are struggling. According to PwC’s 2015 “CEO Success Study” of the 2,500 largest organizations, CEO turnover in 2015 was 16.6 percent, a record high. Company 52 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

boards are now making a deliberate choice to bring in outsiders. From 2012-2015, boards chose outsiders in 22 percent of planned turnovers, up from 14 percent in 2004-2007. Further, the Global CEO is a myth. Just 28 percent FIGURE 2: LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY



Culture Source: ROI Institute, Inc., 2017

of incoming CEOs had international work experience, down from 45 percent in 2012. That lack of success can be laid at the talent development team’s doorstep. Now is the time to focus on this challenge. Leadership development requires more than just a learning program. It requires a clear understanding of what the business needs globally, and CLOs have to be prepared to implement a variety of initiatives, programs and actions to develop future global leaders. Further, leadership development success must be clearly measured so that executives see the connection to the business. 2. Working globally: Most organizations are either selling to the global market, buying from the global market, or both. Many have a large presence in other countries with plants, distribution centers, sales outlets and research centers. Too many international ventures have gone astray or have become inefficient because they don’t fit in with the global culture. These missteps can be avoided with proper planning and by executing with a global mindset and workforce. Development options must be global as well. 3. The future of work: Work is radically changing. Organizational success is not only about how the work is done, but where and when the work is performed. Communication is rapidly evolving, organizational structures are evolving, and technology-enabled processes are promoting radical change. The mindsets and skills needed today are TABLE continued on page 61

Who is


in Learning?

The Chief Learning Officer Learning In Practice awards recognize learning leaders who demonstrate excellence in the design and delivery of employee development programs through a combination of qualities such as leadership, vision, business acumen and strategic alignment.



Case Study

Growing up Patagonia BY SARAH FISTER GALE

n 1973, Yvon Chouinard, an avid rock climber, launched Patagonia, a sustainable outdoor clothing company designed for outdoor enthusiasts with a penchant for color, performance and an appreciation of the environment. He staffed the company with like-minded 20-something peers who spent their weekends camping in the mountains and rappelling off cliffs. The laid-back culture encouraged work-life balance, so when employees started building families, they brought their kids to work. At first it was charming, but eventually it got chaotic, said Sheryl Shushan, director of global family services for Patagonia. “Babies were sleeping in file cabinets, and kids were building forts in the warehouse.” The company was growing, and it needed a safer and more sustainable solution for the kids. Rather than sending them all to daycare, the company’s founders decided to incorporate them into the company plan. In 1983, Patagonia established the Great Pacific Child Development Center, an in-house child care operation at its Ventura, California headquarters where the learning philosophy is based on the idea that children are the next stewards for the environment, thus they should be raised within it. It quickly became a cornerstone of the company culture, Shushan said, and it has flourished ever since.

Born Leaders

Tessa Byars, communications manager at Patagonia, and her daughter Lila at the Great Pacific Child Development Center located at the outdoor retailer’s California headquarters.

54 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

GPCDC is more than just an empty office equipped with cribs and highchairs, said Dana Waslosky, a class manager for Patagonia’s pre-K classroom, who’s been with the company for 16 years. “We created an environment for the kids that they can explore and control.” The center is located

SNAPSHOT The outdoor gear company’s nature-focused child care center has become a powerful tool for recruiting and retention, and reflects the risk-taking culture of the company’s learning philosophy.

on the first floor of the headquarters building, so people see it as soon as they come in, and employees often hear the children playing in the background when they have outdoor meetings. Every activity and piece of equipment in the center is designed to help the children learn to problem solve and to challenge themselves. “Risk taking is a big part of the learning philosophy,” Waslosky said. The teachers facilitate the learning and make sure the kids are safe, but they don’t hold them back. “We let them challenge themselves because we believe they know their limits.” This approach reflects the broader culture and learning philosophy for the whole company, said Chris Mason, senior director of talent. “Everything we do here is employee-driven, because we believe the employee is the best driver of their growth.” Employees have access to dozens of curated courses and “super quick hit” content tied to the company’s competencies, though no piece of training is ever required. “Managers might nudge an employee in the right direction, but they never force them,” he said. As soon as employees are hired, they are encouraged to set their own career goals and to seek out learning opportunities that will help them get there. “Managers won’t say ‘Here are your five goals for the year,’ ” Shushan said. Instead, employees are expected to push their own limits. In return, managers are expected to support and nurture employees’ learning needs, offering feedback on areas where they can improve, and helping them identify career moves that will bolster their knowledge and experience. “We focus a lot on ‘getting to the next,’ ” Mason said. It’s up to the employee and their manager to figure out what that next thing is. Even quarterly performance conversations are intentionally optional, both to empower employees and to let Mason’s team track who actively seeks out feedback on their performance. It’s an ingesting metric, he

Photos Coutsey of Kyle Sparks/Patagonia.


said, noting that last year employees who participated in reviews got slightly higher bonuses, which are tied to performance, than those who did not. “It showed us that people who are interested in whether they are meeting performance goals tend to do better.”

What Turnover? This self-directed approach to learning is also a key tenet to Patagonia’s early education philosophy, and it informs all of the planning and curriculum development. “Over the last 30 years, we’ve married Patagonia’s values and history with our understanding of child development to create a set of principles that guides our practice,” said Malinda Chouinard, co-founder of Patagonia. Chouinard recently published a book about the company’s legacy of child care, called “Family Business: Innovative On-Site Child Care Since 1983.” For the kids, however, risk-taking and self-directed

“Everything we do here is employee-driven, because we believe the employee is the best driver of their growth.” —Chris Mason, senior director of talent, Patagonia learning is more organic. Children spend most of the day outside in the balmy Southern California weather, learning about composting, recycling water and respecting nature. They also climb hills, build forts, and work in the secret garden. “Their approach is if you can do it give it a try,” said Tessa Byars, a communications manager whose year-old daughter Lila goes to the center. Byars knew about the child care center when she joined the company in 2015, but said she had no idea the depth and breadth of the program until she returned to work after 16 weeks paid maternity leave. Byars is able to breast-feed her daughter throughout the day, and the company provides a travel assistance program so she can take her and a caregiver on business trips. “There was no question as to whether I would return to work after she was born, because I can have her here with me,” she said. Byars is not alone. Over the past five years, 100 percent of new moms returned to work after their maternity leave, and turnover among parents who have children in the program is 25 percent less than for the general employee population of roughly 2,000. It has also lead to full gender diversity in the company where half of the employee population and half of the leader56 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

ship team are now women. “Because mothers feel confidant coming back to work, and don’t feel like they need to compromise time with their children, they can continue their career development without missing a beat,” Byars said. “My daughter will grow up knowing what my work life looked like. I definitely think that makes Patagonia a better company.”

Dollars and Sense For all of these benefits, the program costs the company relatively little, according Hilary Dessouky, general counsel and vice president of the on-site child care program. GPCDC employs 28 staff serving up to 80 children ranging from infants to 8-year-olds who attend after-school programs, at a total operating cost of about $1 million per year. Parent-paid tuition, which is comparable to local child care center rates, covers about half of the operations costs, and Dessouky said the company offers scholarships for employees who can’t afford the rate. To offset the other $500,000, the company receives a yearly child care program tax deduction of $150,000, and a 35 percent tax deduction for program costs for a total savings of $350,000. The leadership team also factors in additional savings related to retention of working moms, gender diversity and employee engagement. Dessouky said that together these benefits cover 91 percent of the cost to run the center. “That doesn’t take into account the fact that the center is a powerful recruiting tool.” Dessouky’s team only recently calculated the ROI of the child care center because they needed baseline figures to help plan for the new center at Patagonia’s Reno, Nevada, site, which will follow a similar curriculum and philosophy but will be adapted to the local climate, tuition rates and parents’ needs. “We knew the child care program added value long before we crunched the numbers,” she explained. “It’s a huge culture driver, and everyone here knows it leads to better retention and engagement.” Companies interested in following Patagonia’s lead on child care should explore the tax incentives and employee benefits that such programs can deliver, but also consider the cultural value of demonstrating such a commitment to learning and to work-life balance. “It’s true, there are financial costs to offering on-site child care, but the benefits — financial and otherwise — pay for themselves every year,” said Rose Marcario, Patagonia’s president and CEO. “As a CEO, it’s not even a question in my mind. Business leaders and their chief financial officers should take note.” CLO Sarah Fister Gale is a writer based in Chicago. To comment, email

Business Intelligence

Align Workforce Development to Career Management Given the pressures associated with modern business, more companies are paying attention to career management — and the development employees need as they progress through an organization. BY DANI JOHNSON


oday’s business market puts a great deal of pressure on companies to compete more effectively in less-than-ideal conditions. Externally, organizations face volatile markets, stiffer global competition and rapidly changing industries. Internally, they face unstable and constantly changing workforces, the consistent need to upskill workers and evolving worker expectations. Given these challenges, organizations are paying more attention to the career management process — how companies prepare workers to advance within the organization. “The Career Management Framework,” a Bersin by Deloitte study published in October 2016, identified four distinct approaches organizations take to career management: structured, flexible, open and transitory. This study also found that organizations able to clearly articulate their career management approach — and then choose learning and development strategies to support that approach — were more likely to be successful. The study includes data on more than 50 organizations’ career management approaches as well as the learning and development they used to support workers. What follows are the four approaches and a few aligned development strategies for each that came from the research.

58 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

Structured A structured career management approach focuses on preparing workers for, and moving them through, well-defined career paths. Companies using this approach are often fairly focused on ensuring a well-stocked talent pool and a secure succession plan. Learning strategies aligned to a structured approach prepare workers for the next step in their career path. Approaches include: • Standardized and streamlined curricula aligned to competency models and development expectations. • Leadership that meets regularly to discuss what development individuals in the succession plan may need to advance along the career path. • Apprenticeships and internships that pair novices with experienced workers to pass on crucial knowledge and skills.

Flexible A flexible career management approach focuses on building breadth in workers through lateral movement, special assignments and guided learning while maintaining a fairly rigid organizational structure. Learning strategies aligned to a flexible approach should ensure employees gain necessary

Figure Source: Bersin by Deloitte, 2016

knowledge and skills, but still allow workers freedom to explore and develop in ways that benefit their individual career aspirations. Some ways organizations can do this include: • Interdepartmental rotations that offer workers experience and exposure to different functions while developing new attributes and skills. • Special projects outside of an existing role. Projects build specific skills or knowledge and allow workers to try out roles for fit. • Learning tools that encourage self-study and exploration by creating learning paths, following subject matter experts and sharing information with peers.

STRUCTURED Focus on preparing workers for the next step in a well-defined career track through deep competency development.

FLEXIBLE Focus on depth through providing diverse experiences in addition to building competencies.

• Externships or job swaps that link workers to roles in other organizations to develop certain knowledge, skills or attributes. • Opportunities to build networks, both internal — executive mentoring, expertise directories, social learning — and external — professional organizations, executive training, workshops and webinars.


The final approach is transitory. A transitory approach focuses on facilitating work by finding, using, managing and nurturing the best talent from a variety of sources, Focus on enabling workers largely outside of traditional employees. Organito build networks and zations using this apincrease expertise through proach generally contract self study and work with workers for a defined assignments. period and then end the formal relationship. Open Development for a An open career mantransitory approach is agement approach enables largely worker driven. It is Focus on getting workers up workers to organize the worker’s responsibility to speed with efficient and around projects or pieces to determine the knowleffective company-specific of work based on their caedge, skills and attributes pabilities and developthat will make them attraining. mental desires. While this tractive to their organizaapproach is not for everytions, and to develop one, it is becoming more them. Organizations have common, particularly in professional services, to provide workers with any compliance training or product development, even health care. company-specific learning. Worker development for an open approach is The connection between career management the most undefined, most flexible of the four ap- and worker development will continue to be improaches identified from the study. It provides portant as industries and organizations continue to workers active and aggressive internal mobility evolve. Understanding which approach best aligns with opportunities to create personalized career with the workforce, and aligning worker developpaths and develop in ways that are personally ful- ment efforts to that approach, can eliminate disfilling. To create this approach, organizations in- connects and provide a more cohesive experience clude: for learners and leaders alike. CLO • Clear communication about workers’ responsibility for driving their own development Dani Johnson is vice president of learning and career while still providing tools to help them locate research for Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. the best resources and opportunities. To comment, email



Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •


INNOVATION continued from page 21

E-LEARNING continued from page 36

Leadership development clearly has to include developing and maintaining a culture. Old style management is being replaced by leadership at every level, and a core role must be the facilitation of innovation. That includes what Dan Pink identified as the necessary new approaches to empowering individuals in his 2009 book “Drive,” giving people purpose, freeing them to pursue the necessary goals and supporting the development of mastery. In this area, learning and development needs to be united between traditional skill development and leadership development. Again, the silos can be a critical barrier to success. And a level-headed look should be taken at leadership development anyway, as Jeff Pfeffer has indicated in “Leadership BS.” Getting there is no longer the purview of a large-scale organizational change. Most such initiatives have a high failure rate. Instead, as Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao indicate in their 2014 book “Scaling Up Excellence,” the approach should be experimental at first. Then, as results come in to indicate a viable direction in the organization, the model can then be scaled. Practices like working out loud (also known as “Show Your Work,” as Jane Bozarth’s latest tome suggests), developing community, experimenting and tolerating failure are the path to learning. Collaboration at the project level is a benefit, and at the broader level awareness and sharing are key to facilitating productive engagement. Silos can be barriers and coordination is necessary. When other functions that aren’t working in alignment with the intended initiatives, barriers can arise. Royal Military College’s Jennings in one instance brought a member of information technology onboard a learning system installation. “He ended up handling all the IT qualification processes” for them, Jennings recalled. Such strategic liaisons are critical to successful initiatives. Innovation requires, somewhat circularly, innovation. You must start developing innovation practices and refining them over time, experimenting with approaches. One of the best ways for a CLO to foster innovation is to start internally. Document the results, and scale. The promise is from moving learning as a cost-center or “nice to have” to a central role in organizational success. Innovation is learning and therefore the natural responsibility for a CLO if the broad view is taken. And you should. CLO

experts to understand how best to match their development offerings with what companies need and what will attract employees. Sinha said individual employees often seek learning opportunities outside of work, so “companies believe that in order to recruit competitively and to be able to retain their best talent, they have to provide their employees the ability to continue to progress their career. And if they don’t, employees will find other opportunities and places where those investments are taking place.” Learners are also helping to guide the future of learning and development at SurePeople, with the help of big data. Analytics inform the talent and learning organization, wrote CEO Niko Drakoulis via email. Through a comprehensive psychometric algorithm called the Prism, the company receives a portrait of an employee’s emotional, relational and team intelligence by measuring 58 traits and attributes across seven modules, including: personality (primary and under pressure), processing, motivation, conflict management, fundamental needs, decision-making and learning style. “Then, our technology automatically uses their personal data to deliver a personalized development plan and multimedia curriculum that focuses on their growth opportunities, like giving and receiving feedback, managing emotions and flexibility to name a few potential areas for growth,” he wrote. Data is also important at the University of Miami, but in a different way. Organizational development retreats strengthen employees as individuals and as a team. Data from these in-person engagements, submitted by employees about their work preferences and traits, accelerates the relationship building so critical to the program’s success. This type of e-learning provides the engagement with an extra lift to help drive it forward, but in a defined place and with a defined purpose. “In the work that we do, we never discount the human touch piece,” said Greg Brenner, executive director of talent and organizational development at the university. To sift through the growing expanse of tools and services available, learning leaders will need to be thoughtful and strategic when choosing solutions to meet identified business needs. Then, with an e-learning solution dialed directly into company objectives, learning leaders will be free to focus on the work technology can amplify but not replace. “You leave the learning professionals and the leaders the opportunity to spend time on those one-on-ones, coaching moments and discussions that are rich in mentorship,” Brenner said. CLO

Clark Quinn is the executive director of Quinnovation. To comment, email

Bravetta Hassell is a Chief Learning Officer associate editor. To comment, email

Getting Innovative

60 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

TABLE continued from page 52 different from what the current workforce presents. A serious skill gap exists. New employees need power skills for success in the workplace, such as communication, teamwork, collaboration, adaptability, conflict resolution, problem-solving and critical thinking. There is no better position in the organization than the chief learning officer to tackle this major challenge.

Be a Valued Business Partner The capstone of thinking beyond that coveted seat at the table is to operate as an effective business partner. Sometimes the CLO is handed a seat at the table. To keep it and make that seat valuable will require great partnerships with all of an organization’s key leaders. This includes ensuring that the CLO and the learning team fully understand the business and the issues facing the organization. The role of CLO is evolving to take on


new duties, create more value and tackle important business challenges. Some CLOs have already moved to new titles such as chief talent officer or chief talent management officer as they expand roles and responsibilities, while simultaneously driving business value. Business alignment is critical and should be achieved with most projects and programs. The business connection after program implementation should be clearly presented and specified. This will ensure that other business partners who have responsibility for driving business results, either in sales, IT, logistics or operations have a partner in the CLO, a partner they can trust to help them with major issues, drive major change, and deliver important results. CLO

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Patti P. Phillips is president and CEO, and Jack J. Phillips is chairman of ROI Institute, Inc. They are co-authors of “The Chief Talent Officer.” To comment, email

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Create a Can-Do Learning Culture

Hands-on managers drive can-do partners • BY FRANK SATTERTHWAITE AND JAMIE MILLARD


Frank Satterthwaite is a professor of organizational leadership at Johnson & Wales University. Jamie Millard is co-founder and executive partner for Lexington Leadership, a leadership consulting, training and executive coaching firm. They are co-authors of “Becoming a Can-Do Leader: A Guide for the Busy Manager.” To comment email editor@

erhaps you’re seeing what we’ve been hearing from many of the managers we’ve been coaching and training in recent years. In addition to fulfilling their traditional leadership responsibilities, many managers are increasingly expected to maintain a level of technical-functional proficiency that enables them to roll up their sleeves and do more of the professional work themselves. In today’s increasingly knowledge-driven, cost-competitive work world, many organizations need their managers to continue to develop and apply their advanced technical knowledge — not only to properly direct the work and manage the people who report to them, but to help their team solve complex problems. And, as key knowledge workers, managers need to be able to fill in when short-handed. Working alongside their teammates can give these hands-on managers many on-the-spot opportunities to role model the kind of learning culture that gets everyone focused on what they can do to keep getting better. But too often, when hands-on managers get involved in doing work they behave in ways that can limit their team’s learning. They jump into the fray, heads down, and plow through the work like the individual contributors they used to be. Or worse, they become micromanagers who encourage boss-dependence. What’s needed is for these hands-on managers to first learn how to think differently about their dual roles as both players and managers. Instead of being held back by orthodox management thinking that encourages managers to think in terms of “either I’m leading my team or I’m doing work,” these hands-on managers need to shift their thinking about workforce development to a mindset that says “I can do work and do it in ways that accelerate learning for my team members.” Then leading and doing become mutually reinforcing, ongoing activities. Once hands-on managers adopt this “both/and” mindset, they can begin to recognize the many opportunities they have to create a learning culture while working with their team members. But the key to taking full advantage of these opportunities is for handson leaders to learn some trainable skills. These include: 1. Knowing when to engage in “situational doing”: Have a protocol that helps hands-on managers decide whether or not it is situationally appropriate for them to take on a task they might have

62 Chief Learning Officer • May 2017 •

delegated. Teach them how to do this work with a manager’s mindset. 2. Learning how to use the “Think TP&L” mantra: Help hands-on managers learn how to use this mantra to remind them to consider the task, peo-

To take full advantage, handson leaders must learn trainable skills. ple and learning issues that might need to be addressed when they engage in situational doing. Emphasize the need to identify what needs to be learned. 3. Learning how to be a role model when giving and getting positive-negative feedback: Managers need to learn how to give real-time feedback that reframes their team members’ mistakes as opportunities to learn and to keep getting better at what they do. And, perhaps more importantly, they must learn how to interact with their team members in ways that help them feel comfortable about giving their boss constructive, on-the-spot feedback. 4. Becoming adept at conducting Blue Angel-style postmortem sessions: Managers must learn how to bring their team together after an important event or activity to share direct, candid feedback with each other. The goal here is to guard against escalating breakdowns in team performance and guide team members in the direction of continuous performance. Everyone should leave their rank at the door to focus solely on working toward the common goal of continuous learning, just as the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron does after every performance. Because funding is often limited these days for learning and development, many learning leaders are trying to find creative ways to help their organization’s workforce continually develop needed knowledge and skills. Getting your hands-on managers on board as your can-do partners in workforce development could prove to be an effective strategy to do just that. CLO


That’s why Emory Executive Education has a suite of short courses and certificate programs to help you elevate your learning to new heights. Whether you’re an individual or an organization, Emory Executive Education is your partner in taking your career to the next level. Our short courses and certificates cover: BUSINESS ANALYTICS