Chief Learning Officer - July/August 2018

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July/August 2018 |

Northwell Health’s

Kathy Gallo

Special Report: Executive Education - Debunking the Myth of Employee Engagement Agile Teams Create Agile Learning Organizations - Aggreko’s Mobile Learning Makeover

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The Buck Stops With Education


t one point in our not-too-distant past, we could look to our leaders as models of judgment and responsibility. They weren’t flawless. They made imperfect decisions with incomplete information. They recognized there was a good chance a majority of people would disagree. But whatever the outcome, they shared credit if it turned out well and took the blame if it didn’t. As former president Harry Truman was fond of saying, “The buck stops here.” He even had a sign with the saying on his desk in the Oval Office. But based on some recent examples, it seems like Truman’s advice isn’t being heeded. Public figures have taken passing the buck to new levels in the past few months. And it points to a troubling gap in the education and development of organizational leaders. In May, scandal-plagued Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens resigned from office. Rather than pointing to his own marital infidelity and subsequent behavior, he blamed others for driving him from office. Mirroring President Trump’s favored phrase, he took to calling the accusations against him as part of a “witch hunt” by his political opponents. Topping Greitens in the blame game, Roseanne Barr passed the buck to sleep aid Ambien for her racist Twitter comment about former White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. That late-night tweet led ABC to cancel her No. 1-ranked TV show and Sanofi, the drug’s maker, wryly responding that racism is not one of the known side effects of the medication. You could argue that the case is different when it comes to business. In the worlds of Hollywood and politics, there’s no real qualification for leadership other than popularity. If you can entertain people or get elected, then you’re in. There’s no formal leadership development plan, 360 review or detailed personality assessment. Look no further than your local Starbucks to see that the problem plagues business, too. One manager’s judgment lapse in calling the police to remove two African-American men from a Philadelphia shop led to a massive corporate fiasco that cost the company millions of dollars and untold hours of labor. Or look at United Airlines, whose employees exercised poor judgment when they called police to forcibly unseat a passenger whose only offense was that he refused to give up the seat for which he had paid in full. From a technical standpoint, employees followed the rules in both cases. If you’re going to sit in a Star4 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

bucks you should be a customer and if you’re a United passenger you have to be willing to give up your seat even if you’ve paid for it. But that doesn’t make it the right thing to do. That’s where judgment comes in. You could further argue these instances of poor judgment aren’t executive development problems. Executives need to be focused on the big picture, working out the growth strategy and ensuring the business operates efficiently. Leave the details to managers. The fallout to both situations illustrates how that can work out. In United’s case, their tepid corporate response and CEO’s ham-handed effort to simultaneously defend the policy while also admitting fault floated like a lead balloon. The company remained the butt of jokes for months. Starbucks had a better response. They immediately recognized the damage the situation caused and responded with a forceful statement from the CEO taking responsibility. Closing all company-owned stores for an afternoon of unconscious bias training may not be effective in driving real change but it is an effective public relations move. Even skeptical customers gave the company credit for the effort. Employees’ personal judgment across the organization is a business problem and it is the responsibility of executives, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. That makes it the responsibility of chief learning officers, too. It’s about more than dollars and sense, business acumen and acuity. Don’t get me wrong: Developing sophisticated business skills and acumen is necessary. But that should come along with ample opportunities to develop the kind of judgment that prepares them to lead in a dynamic and increasingly fraught business environment. With that focus in mind, we dive deep into the state of executive education in this issue. Done right, it helps leaders find their way to a healthy bottom line. But it also recognizes there’s a right way to do it. For learning executives, there’s no passing that buck. The responsibility is on your shoulders. CLO

Mike Prokopeak Editor in Chief

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Ave Rio











Rebecca G. Chandler


Ken Blanchard Walter Davis Soren Eilertsen Sarah Fister Gale Elliott Masie Lee Maxey Jack J. Phillips



Patti P. Phillips Tim Rahschulte


CHIEF LEARNING OFFICER EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Cedric Coco, EVP, Chief People Of ficer, Brookdale Senior Living Inc. Lisa Doyle, Head of Retail Training, Ace Hardware Dave DeFilippo, Chief People and Learning Of ficer, Suf folk Tamar Elkeles, Chief Talent Executive, Atlantic Bridge Capital Thomas Evans, ( Ret.) Chief Learning Of ficer, PricewaterhouseCoopers Gerry Hudson-Martin, Director, Corporate Learning Strategies, Business Architects Kimo Kippen, President, Aloha Learning Advisors 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 Lee Maxey, CEO, MindMax 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 David Vance, Executive Director, Center for Talent Repor ting Kevin D. Wilde, Executive Leadership Fellow, Carlson School of Management, Universit y of Minnesota James P. Woolsey, President, Defense Aquisition Universit y Chief Learning Officer (ISSN 1935-8148) is published monthly, except bi-monthly in January/February and July/August 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 10 issues. All countries outside the US and Canada must be prepaid in US funds with an additional $33 postage surcharge. Single price copy is $29.99. Chief Learning Officer and are the trademarks of MediaTec Publishing Inc. Copyright © 2018, MediaTec Publishing Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of material published in Chief Learning Officer is forbidden without permission. Printed by: Quad/Graphics, Sussex, WI

Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •



July/August 2018

22 Profile Agent of Change Sarah Fister Gale At Northwell Health, CLO Kathy Gallo built a world-renowned learning center to help tackle the biggest learning challenges in health care.

60 Case Study A Mobile-Powered Learning Makeover Walter Davis Temporary power generation supplier Aggreko is using mobile apps to revitalize its learning experience.

62 Business Intelligence Change on the Horizon for Executive Education Mike Prokopeak Spending remains consistent but changing student demographics and talent management needs point to the need for fresh thinking. ON THE COVER: PHOTO BY DAVID LUBARSKY

8 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •


July/August 2018


54 46 Features



Debunking the Major Myth of Engagement


Soren Eilertsen To understand engagement, we must first understand human development.


Teams Create Agile Learning 54 Agile Organizations

Rebecca G. Chandler Shifting the learning strategy focus from efficiency to agility will allow organizations to adjust swiftly in an uncertain future.

Jack J. Phillips & Patti P. Phillips Keep It Simple


Ken Blanchard So You Want to Be a Servant Leader …

Special Report: Executive Education




Elliott Masie Try a Learnathon: Crowdsourced UX

The State of Executive Education

Ave Rio

Lee Maxey Consider the Unconsidered Worker

Tim Rahschulte The Need for Continuous Learning


Beyond the MBA


A Moving Landscape

4 Editor’s Letter

Ashley St. John


Sarah Fister Gale

The Buck Stops With Education

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Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •



Try a Learnathon: Crowdsourced UX Disrupting traditional models of learning design • BY ELLIOTT MASIE


Elliott Masie is CEO of The Masie Center, an international think tank focused on learning and workplace productivity, and chairman and CLO of The Masie Center’s Learning Consortium. He can be reached at

hile there is widespread interest, dialogue and experimentation in new forms of learning technologies (chatbots, smart speakers, wearables, immersive reality) and new formats of learning content (curated segments, agile module lengths, shoulder-to-shoulder on the job), where are the innovations in new models of learning design? We can’t create a radically new learning ecosystem if we are simply going to rely on a dusted-off version of ADDIE (analysis, design, development, implementation, evaluation), a more video-rich webinar construction or a more compressed use of a subject matter expert distilled by an instructional designer. I advocate that our colleagues experiment with a learnathon, a crowdsourced way to create a different approach to teaching, training and supporting skills, competencies or compliance in a workforce setting. The learnathon combines two impactful forces in the world of invention, innovation and product development: user experience (UX) and the hackathon. UX radically aligns a new design to how a learner actually experiences an activity — and how rapidly or deeply they get to a state of readiness. UX is not about testing whether a module “works”; rather, it forces us as designers to intensively map each action to a behavior that a learner will want to do/can do successfully and leads to a measurable, positive learning moment. The hackathon is a safe place where ideas can soar, stretch, break or be transformed. Imagine a room filled with workers who have mastered a desired skill and are fully experienced with the context of the targeted learning goal. Lock them up together for a day, or even a few days, and have them build — from scratch, with no barriers, assumptions or rituals — several totally different ways in which a worker could learn this skill. The hackathon model helped create innovations like Yelp, Uber and Airbnb. It has been used by medical corporations to imagine and create totally new approaches to solving health challenges. The White House even hosted a Game Jam hackathon several years ago to develop new learning games for high school students. Learnathons play off the successful hackathon model. Our learnathon requires some courage, pizza for a crew of five to 20 colleagues, and a willingness to take a totally fresh look at learning design and format rituals that are not easy to break. You might start with a large challenge (e.g., a new-

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-hire orientation) or a more focused task (e.g., the procurement process for purchasing materials). A facilitator who truly is open to the idea of “hacking” or even failing their way to success would ask the learnathon participants to explore using encouragement like this: • Our goal is to come up with two, four or even 10 new ways in which one of our employees could go about learning the target skill, competency or information set. • You are going to blow up our traditional model as you explore new approaches. You can change the style, intensity, media structure, branding or testing elements. • Think about yourself or a new learner: What do you/they want, need or desire? It might not be the 24-slide PowerPoint deck. Create an alternative! • Build multiple and different possible solutions without evaluating their probable success. Later, we will have fun with a UX lab process to see whether elements of each solution will work with actual learners.

The learnathon model will fail if you let your instructional design protectiveness sabotage the process. The learnathon model will fail if you let your instructional design protectiveness sabotage the process. Remember, each and every design model starts with assessing and aligning the needs of the organization and learner. But we often jump into highly traditional models as we flow into the design and rarely test against a diverse set of learner expectations. Before you reject this model, talk with a few of your work colleagues and ask, “How did you learn to do this task?” Be prepared that few, if any, will refer to the great classroom offering, the well-developed e-learning module or the pretty job aid hanging on the wall. Design is art and science. The learnathon will creatively optimize your workers’ pathways to learning in the age of now. CLO

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Keep It Simple

It’s the best approach to business evaluation • BY JACK J. PHILLIPS AND PATTI P. PHILLIPS


Jack J. Phillips is chairman and Patti P. Phillips is president and CEO of the ROI Institute. They can be reached at

s we assist talent development teams in showing the business value of what they do, we often encounter roadblocks, verbalized as, “This is too complicated” or “This will take too much time.” These typically are symptoms of resistance based on myths rather than facts. The process is simple, and we want to keep it that way. Let’s dispel these myths right now. Myth 1: There is no framework available to show the ROI for every type of learning program. Fact: More than 5,000 organizations evaluate programs along the five levels of outcomes of our Phillips ROI Methodology. These build on a four-level model created by industrial-organizational psychologist Raymond Katzell in the 1950s and further popularized by Donald Kirkpatrick. So, this is not a new concept. We have modified Katzell’s work to include these levels: reaction, learning, application, impact and ROI. This is a logical chain of value that must exist for any program to have a business connection and a financial contribution. Myth 2: You cannot sort out the effects of learning. Fact: While many influences work together in collaboration to produce business impact, senior executives and the sponsor need to know how much goes to a learning program. There are 10 ways to tackle this issue, which can be accomplished with the simplicity of fourth-grade math. To date, more than 5,000 professionals have successfully addressed this task to become Certified ROI Professionals, or CRPs. Without this step, you lose respect among the senior team.

When there is a need to connect learning to business results, keep it simple. Myth 3: It’s impossible to convert data to money. Fact: It’s the impact data that is converted to money, not learning or application. The good news is the impact measures that matter to the organization are already converted to money. It’s a matter of locating the value in the organization. Myth 4: The financial ROI calculation is not possible (or appropriate). Fact: While the ROI calculation should be reserved for programs that are very expensive, strategic, high-profile and attract the attention of the manage12 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

ment team, it is important to be able to show ROI when it is needed. The ROI calculation is a simple ratio derived from finance and accounting literature and is a calculation the CLO will recognize and support. Myth 5: Each study needs a different process. Fact: It’s already been developed for you, much like a drop-down menu for each step in the process. The ROI Methodology has enjoyed three decades of use. Myth 6: It’s impossible to have an evaluation process that meets the scrutiny of CFOs and university professors while being user-friendly. Fact: The approach described here will withstand scrutiny of researchers, professional evaluators and professors. More than 75 universities use an ROI Institute book for courses. If the research and academic community rejects a process, it’s unlikely it will be used. The ROI Methodology is built on guiding principles that are both rigorous enough for the academic community and conservative enough for the CFO. It has become the most used evaluation system, attesting to its user-friendly approach. Myth 7: We must have big data and an enormous amount of computer power to conduct this analysis. Fact: While big data has its place, evaluations at the impact and ROI levels for a particular program require small data analyses. For example, if 50 executives attend an expensive leadership program, a top executive may ask, “How did that program contribute to the overall organization?” You can show business impact and ROI easily if you start with the why (clear business measures at the beginning of the process) and keep the focus on business measures throughout the process. By using simple processes, step-by-step analysis and even SurveyMonkey for data collection, you can have an ROI study. It’s that simple. When there is a need to connect learning to business results, keep it simple. Impact and ROI evaluations are possible with step-by-step proven techniques, simple mathematics and minimal effort. In these uncertain economic times, major programs should drive business value, and various stakeholders need to see that learning makes a difference. You can only do this with serious evaluation that pushes to the impact and ROI level. If you would like a case study showing step-by-step how this is accomplished, please let us know. CLO


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So You Want to Be a Servant Leader … Don’t let your ego trip you up • 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.” He can be reached at

s someone who believes servant leadership is the best way to lead, I often get asked what the biggest obstacle is for someone who wants to become a servant leader. Simple: The biggest obstacle in the path to servant leadership is the human ego. For some people, the letters in ego can stand for “edging good out” or “everything good outside,” where self-serving leaders put themselves first and want to be served by their people. Ego can also stand for “exalting good only,” where leaders with humility put their people first and want to serve and support them. This second option is what servant leadership is all about. It’s not just another management technique — it’s a way of life for a leader with a servant’s heart. Groups of leaders who share this philosophy create organizations with a culture of service. In a service culture, people who are treated well pass that caring behavior to their customers, which results in not only levels of satisfaction for the people involved but also success for the organization. It’s the only way I know to achieve both great relationships and great results. But servant leaders are human beings who are far from perfect. When we get off track, it usually involves our ego, which can trip us up in two ways. The first is when leaders develop a false sense of pride. They take credit for work done by others. They push and shove for the benefit of their own interests. They act as though all the brains are in their office, and they aren’t interested in anyone else’s ideas.

thing, even in defense of their own people, when they see others operating in self-interest. Under pressure, they will often defer to whoever has the most power. These people do what I call “quit and stay.” People whose egos veer off course don’t feel good about themselves. And when you don’t feel good about yourself, you have two choices: You can either overcompensate and try to control your environment or you can hide and hope nobody notices you. Neither is acceptable for a true servant leader. Servant leaders have no problem giving credit to, listening to or building up others. They have their people’s backs and give support when it is needed. They don’t see praising others as a threat to themselves. Effective servant leaders operate in a way that may be best described by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists — when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’ ” So how do we as servant leaders resist the human ego that’s waiting every day to trap us? Take a look inside yourself and answer these questions: Why am I leading? What am I doing to bring out the magnificence in those around me? Am I here to serve or be served? The antidote for false pride is humility. One of my favorite phrases is: People with humility don’t think less of themselves; they just think of themselves less. Servant leadership requires a certain humility — a vulnerability that elicits the best from people. Colleen Barrett, former president of Southwest Airlines and a lifelong servant leader, put it best when she said, “People admire your strengths, but they love your vulnerability.” The antidote for fear and self-doubt is unconditional love and self-acceptance. When you really think about it, you know you’ll never have enough power, sell enough, make enough money or achieve a high enough position to gain any more love. What if you How do people acting out of false pride get away accepted that unconditional love for yourself? with it? This is where the second type of ego problem When I was young, my mother used to say, “There’s comes in: when leaders operate out of fear or self- a pearl of goodness in every person — but sometimes doubt. On the surface, this may not seem to be the you have to dig until you find it.” So when your ego work of a misdirected ego. But if you look closer, you gets off track (and it will), always remember there is a will see a self-serving leader who is trying to protect pearl of goodness in everyone — even you. You can be their own interests — their reputation and their job a servant leader who puts others first. It’s simply a bet— so they don’t speak out. They are afraid to say some- ter way to lead. CLO

Servant leadership requires humility — a vulnerability that elicits the best from people.

14 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •




Consider the Unconsidered Worker In the struggle for talent, education is key • BY LEE MAXEY


Lee Maxey is CEO of MindMax, a marketing and enrollment management services company. He can be reached at

oday’s 20- and 30-somethings, the oft-talked about millennials, attract a lot of attention on the job. But what about the baby boomers and Generation X? A lack of education may be all that stands in the way of some of these “unconsidered” workers making a big difference in a company. While some boomers are semiretired, many could easily fill complex roles in the workforce if employers entertained that possibility. According to the Pew Research Center, in the U.S. today there are approximately 73.5 million baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964) and 66 million Gen Xers (born 1965 to 1980) compared with 72 million millennials (born 1981 to 1996). The fact is schools and employers need to be more flexible about what constitutes talent. In the summer of 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor reported there were 6.2 million job openings, a record number. During the Great Recession, there were seven unemployed people for every job opening. Today it’s roughly one-to-one. However, according to a February 2018 report by the National Federation of Independent Business, “Finding qualified workers remained as the number one problem for small-business owners, surpassing taxes and regulations which have held the top two spots for years.” In this struggle for talent, employers need to be creative about how they define the ideal candidate as well as how they build their applicant pipelines and feeder systems. For boomers, rejoining the quickly changing job market will take more purposeful education. For some, returning to work will answer the question of how to preserve savings initially meant for a much shorter life expectancy and retirement. Even Gen X has to consider the fact that they, too, will live long past the current retirement age; they face the prospect of how to create a second act for their work life before starting retirement. There’s also an immigrant population of teens and 20-somethings working to get access to education. They face uncertainty, whether they are working as recent recipients of green cards or new citizens who will be the first in their family to attend college. The workplace is especially complicated for a first-generation college-goer. And while we hear the success stories, for many others success is out of reach. It can be a complicated maze, and as we potentially reduce Pell Grants for the children of families making less than $40,000 per year, businesses could step in to support these learners with subsidies to complete their degree programs.

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There are companies starting to think about how to connect with the unconsidered worker. These employers have considered how to make it easier for people to transition from retirement, a first career or college into a new profession. The key is giving these groups access to education that isn’t traditionally offered to them.

Schools and employers need to be more flexible about what constitutes talent. For the unconsidered immigrant population, employers could look at higher education as a vetting system in which they identify, through competency-based testing, potential employees early in their college career and offer them assignments or internships along the way. By revisiting the old-fashioned concept of a finishing school (which taught etiquette and the rituals of upper society), colleges and employers could retool the model to get students off the sidelines and ready to work upon graduation. Apprenticeships combined with education, like the award-winning programs offered at Sacramento State’s College of Continuing Education, can ease them into a blend of school and work. Mom Corps, which works to help companies fill their staffing needs from a “wide pool of untapped resources among people raising families,” is another example of leveraging the potential of unconsidered workers. Organizations like Mom Corps attract Gen X candidates who’ve worked in corporate America in senior-level positions. Employers also could entice boomers back to work with a combination of education and a modified schedule. For instance, a 70-something might return to her former industry, take continuing education and contribute five or 10 hours of consulting (or hands-on work) per week. America’s employers have jobs available, and the country has a plethora of workers. Employers need to reach out and offer (or ask for) help. Let’s start a conversation. Let’s give the unconsidered a new role. CLO

Debunking the MAJOR MYTH of Engagement To understand engagement, we must first understand human development. BY SOREN EILERTSEN


rom a business perspective, employee engagement is about productivity and outcomes. From an employee perspective, engagement is ultimately about living a full life that actualizes potential and enables individuals to display their true identity, thoughts and feelings. Can these two perspectives be reconciled? The answer is complicated. Typically, when optimizing for one factor, the other will be suboptimized. Under capitalism, business has traditionally optimized for business results. Some emerging business leaders are challenging this by prioritizing individual development and then setting tough business goals that can act as a pull for individual development toward self-actualization.

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Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •







Ego focus

and on-site massages. Kahn, when origiLevel Needs hierarchy Mindset & capacity Leadership approach Where found nally defining engage(Maslow) ment, had something else in mind. He deActualization Purpose 5 Servant Emerging organizations based (and transcend ego) Authentic vision that Passionately in service on new principles (Frederic fined personal engageCreativity, authenticity inspires and of purpose and the Laloux’s Teal organizations, ment as the “simultaand spontaneity. empowers others. removal of obstacles. Kegan’s DDO). neous employment and expression of a 4 Esteem Perspective Situational New culture-driven person’s ‘preferred Mastery, confidence, Suspend belief — Adjust style to empower businesses (Ben & Jerry’s, self ’ (displaying real independence and curiosity to learn and others — looks to team Netflix, Google, Southwest, freedom. connect. for direction. Zappos, Starbucks). identity, thoughts and feelings) in task 3 Belonging Results Authoritative Predominant current behaviors.” Seeking acceptance, Pursuit of efficiency Use management by approach in U.S. companies Essentially, Kahn love, social needs, and results to win objectives to control and and Wall Street banks; also suggests that engaged friendship and family. over competition. reward. seen in charter schools. people bring their 2 Safety Rules Dogmatic Military, traditional church, whole selves to work. Personal and financial Mastery of rules and Focus on stable and government organizations, All jobs require people security — health development of secure roles to create school systems. to take on certain roles. and well-being. know-how expertise. scalable hierarchy. For many, this requires Physiological 1 Power Impulse Organized crime, street putting on a mask to Survival — air, food, Drive to control and Impulsive and reactive gangs, tribal militias. hide part of their true shelter, water, sleep, create action to command authority to self. The more a person sex. survive situation. keep people in line. can display real identiSource: Kollner Group Inc. and Soren Eilertsen. ty, thoughts and feelings in behaviors inUnderstanding Engagement volved with their role, The term “employee engagement” first appeared in the more personally engaged they will be in performing an article by Boston University organizational behavior their job. Moreover, people who are personally engaged professor William A. Kahn 30 years ago. Since then, it are more likely to stay in a role, creating a positive cycle. has become the pursuit of many performance-oriented organizations because leaders were sold on the strong The Quest for Self-Actualization correlation between engagement and performance. To understand engagement from the individual’s The global management consulting firm Hay Group perspective, it’s essential to understand human defound in 2001 that engaged employees were 43 per- velopment. Most developmental scholars agree that cent more productive than employees who considered individuals evolve through stages that build upon work “just a job.” Gallup’s 2017 “State of the Global one another as nested holons — something that is Workplace” shows that more than 85 percent of em- simultaneously a whole and a part. Individual worldployees are not engaged or are actively disengaged at views and other advanced capacities develop in rework; it’s no wonder engagement is a big topic of dis- sponse to awakened needs, similar to Maslow’s hiercussion among business leaders. archy of needs, which describes a progression from Gallup defines engaged employees as “those who are survival to self-actualization and transcendence. As involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their these human needs unfold, innate capacities emerge work and workplace.” Gallup and others have attempt- to confront challenges. As a new stage is awakened, ed to create surveys to measure employee engagement the individual’s worldview and meaning-making calevels as linked to business outcomes. The latter is im- pacity evolves, shaping which employee engagement portant since surveys are optimized from the business initiatives are relevant. perspective, not the individual worker’s. Inside compaTo explain the impact on employee engagement, nies, engagement initiatives typically fall into one of Figure 1 offers a simple model of individual developthese categories: competitive compensation, val- ment stages and how they impact the leadership apues-based culture, team collaboration, work-life bal- proach within an organization. ance, or learning and development. In a quest to proVery few individuals have reached the this level of vide enviable benefits, companies often throw perks at development; however, many are on the cusp. Here their employees such as table tennis, catered lunches they connect to an internal, often selfless sense of pur-

20 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

pose and passion. At this stage, people understand what their work is in the world. Michael Ray, author of “Creativity in Business,” uses a capital W to describe work because it refers to one’s reason for existence, their highest purpose. Millennials appear to connect with this notion in greater numbers than previous generations; they seek meaning in their work in a much higher degree, challenging today’s businesses and organizations to evolve their approach to engagement. The existential psychologist Rollo May said, “The acorn becomes an oak by the means of automatic growth; no commitment is necessary.” This is dependent on the conditions and environment. Similarly, humans have the innate capacity to grow toward self-actualization, but individual growth and development hinges on circumstance and opportunity. As the individual’s needs progress from survival to self-actualization, there is a parallel progression of ego taming or suspension. At lower stages, human development begins with a “me”-focused perspective and, through normal growth, develops to an “us”- and “we”-focused perspective, ultimately transcending the ego.

Mindset and Capacity Development Corresponding to Maslow’s hierarchy, human mindset and capacity development related to the workplace can be categorized in five stages, shown in Figure 1. Each stage contains an intrinsic motivation that can be leveraged to increase engagement in work situations. Level 1 of development is the capacity for “power” to survive; most employees have advanced beyond this stage. Level 2 focuses on “rules” to create personal and financial safety. This mindset makes it possible to follow procedure and develop deep expertise in an area. At level 3, “results,” individuals pursue status and rewards. The level 3 mindset is “I’m great, you are not,” as described by Dave Logan, author of “Tribal Leadership.” At the “perspective” level, or level 4, the capacity to suspend belief develops, allowing for the discovery of new views and a greater interest in collaboration with others. The mindset here is “we are great, they are not.” Finally, level 5 capacity, or “purpose,” corresponds to Maslow’s self-actualization need. Here the mindset is “life is great” and there is a sense of living in passionate pursuit of purpose while also in service to others. While the first four stages are primarily fear driven, the individual crosses the fear barrier with a sense of inspiring purpose at level 5. Level 5 affords greater perspective, allowing the employee to apply all the other stage capacities at will. The integral philosopher Ken Wilber labeled this “second-tier thinking.” Here an employee is more likely

to meet others where they are and recognize differing viewpoints. Per Wilber, at this stage the individual can fully hold multiple perspectives and see the partial truths in any situation rather than as binary (either/or).

How Actualized Is the Leadership? An organization’s approach to employee engagement largely depends on the development of top leaders’ mindsets and capacities. The level of leadership development sets both the approach and the limits for employee engagement. Leaders coming from each of the human capacity levels prefer a corresponding leadership approach to collaboration within the organization. This approach determines the levers to drive employee engagement.

All jobs require people to take on certain roles. For many, this requires putting on a mask to hide part of their true self. As the complexity of society has evolved, the nature of work in business has evolved from more manual, physical labor to complex, intellectual work that requires creativity and collaboration. It changes how businesses organize around human collaboration. This organizational evolution can be viewed in Figure 1, from early tribes with an impulsive chief exercising power (level 1) to a few emerging organizations where people self-manage in service of a greater purpose (level 5). While these organizational forms have evolved over time, there are still examples of each in today’s society. In the U.S., most leaders use a level 3 approach. Some more recent culture-driven companies are operating at level 4, and some emerging companies are attempting to operate at level 5. The authoritative meritocracy approach (level 3) relies primarily on incentives and rewards to increase efficiency and believes that high performance creates engagement. However, the result of this approach is a burned out and disengaged workforce, as evidenced by the poor results on broad engagement surveys. People in or seeking production-oriented jobs, including sales, tend to require incentive compensation to find engagement. This becomes less important for engagement in businesses that depend on a creative and knowledge-based workforce (assuming the companies can articulate a fair pay philosophy). ENGAGEMENT continued on page 64 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •



Agent of Change At Northwell Health, CLO Kathy Gallo built a world-renowned learning center where simulation rooms and debrief sessions help staff tackle the biggest learning challenges in health care. BY SARAH FISTER GALE


hen Michael Dowling was promoted to CEO of Northwell Health in 2002, one of his first moves was to lay out plans for a new learning center to support the fast-growing health care network in New York state. He envisioned a corporate campus where the health care system’s now 63,000 employees could take part in continuous learning opportunities and develop the knowledge, skills and experience they needed to help the health care network thrive. “I have always believed in the importance of creating a culture of continuous learning,” Dowling said. “If you don’t, you will get left behind.” With that vision in place, Dowling set out to find someone to make it happen. “I didn’t want a traditionalist who would replicate what others had already done,” he said. “I wanted someone with a fresh view who could be a change agent.” He chose Kathy Gallo, a seasoned trauma nurse, who at the time was overseeing emergency medical services for the health care network and helping to build strategies for all of its trauma centers. Gallo, who had been with the organization since the mid-1990s, had no formal experience in learning and development. However, she did have a big reputation as someone who could get things done. “That’s why I wanted her,” Dowling said. “Kathy has a presence about her and she’s not afraid of bureaucracy.” Dowling promoted her to senior vice president and chief learning officer reporting directly to him. Then he gave her a white paper laying out his visions for a Center for Learning and Innovation, or CLI, and publicly announced that Northwell would partner with GE and the Harvard School of Public Health to make it happen. “Once you announce something to the world you have to do it,” he said. 22 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

Deadly Errors Gallo set to work developing plans for what would become a world-class learning center — though its first iteration was fairly humble. In late 2002, she began by offering management courses and Six Sigma training in a small rented classroom near the network’s headquarters in Great Neck, New York. For the first few years Gallo focused on management training, offering classroom and online courses focused on workforce development and organizational leadership. “We still offer

“Kathy is a great example of what can be done when you give someone with potential the right tools and the opportunity to build something new.” — Jason Naidich, senior vice president and executive director of the central region, Northwell Health many of the courses today,” she said. But over time, the center expanded, in large part because Gallo’s team was constantly looking beyond traditional classroom lectures to find more innovative ways for employees to learn in a collaborative and cross-functional environment. She knew clinical training would be fundamental to the success of the program, and she tied her training strategy to a 1999 paper from the Institute of Medicine. The report, “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System,” found that as many as 98,000 hospital deaths per year were due to preventable medical errors. “We were all taken aback by those numbers,” Gallo said. She also knew that as head of CLI she had an opportunity to reverse that trend.


Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •


Profile As a clinician herself, Gallo knew that many high-risk medical scenarios only happen on rare occasions, forcing staff to react instantly under extreme pressure and to perform interventions they may have little or no experience with. Further, she was frustrated by the fact Kathy Gallo, SVP and CLO at Northwell Health, believes that practicing for emergencies bolsters preparedness. that clinicians are rarely taught in cross-functional teams, even though The use of AI dummies and virtual scenarios is exthat is how care is delivered and health care decisions citing, though learning in a team environment was are made. “Many errors are caused by a lack of team- also something new for Northwell staff, said Joe work,” she said. Moscola, head of HR. Each lesson involves a team of She believed that if clinical staff could jointly expe- staff who work collaboratively to address the medical rience and practice these high-risk medical emergen- scenario. Everyone is held accountable for the patient cies in a safe environment, they would be better pre- outcome and for participating in care decisions, pared when the real thing happened. “Any event that Moscola said. “It builds a culture of teamwork where can cause harm should be practiced over and over, so everyone finds their role.” that the moment it happens you know what to do.” It also helps flatten the traditional hierarchy that dominates most health care environments where docLessons Learned from JetBlue tors are viewed as the final voice of reason and support Gallo’s idea for simulation-based training was un- staff are wary of pointing out mistakes. “When everyheard of in health care at the time, but it was becom- one learns to speak up it keeps mortality rates low,” ing a popular tool in the aviation industry. So Gallo Moscola said. reached out to the CLO of JetBlue, which was using simulation-based training to teach pilots and staff how to respond in emergencies. The JetBlue learning organization helped Gallo’s team design a simulation training center mimicking their own aviation training environment but with a focus on clinical staff. In 2010, with full support from Dowling, Gallo opened the Patient Safety Institute, a co-led academic center hosted by Northwell Health and the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine — a medical university that Northwell and Hofstra Uni- — Michael Dowling, CEO, Northwell Health versity launched in 2008. Then she partnered with Northwell’s HR team and several clinical thought Gallo noted that these simulation-based courses leaders from across the organization to develop a se- don’t solely address medical interventions. The Paries of team-focused simulation-based courses. tient Safety Institute also offers a series of simulated The Patient Safety Institute features five simulation training sessions focusing on communication stratelabs where students practice medical scenarios in a sim- gies, including how to give patients bad news, how ulated environment complete with digital screens, med- to talk to families about end-of-life care, and how to ical equipment and artificially intelligent dummies. The talk about sexual assault, shootings and other traudummies can talk about their symptoms and simulate matic events. These simulations often include huanything from a heart attack to heart murmurs, labored man actors playing the role of the family or patient. breathing, fever and other symptoms. The course lead- “Sitting with family members in these situations can ers design each medical scenario, then watch through a be very dramatic, and mastering those conversations one-way mirror as staff respond to the event. takes practice,” Gallo said.

“I didn’t want a traditionalist who would replicate what others had already done. I wanted someone with a fresh view who could be a change agent.”

24 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

Profile Once a simulation is completed, all of the class participants meet with the course leader to debrief what happened. “In hospitals, you rarely get the chance to reflect on what occurred,” Gallo said. But in the simulation center the debrief is the most important part and it takes up 80 percent of the learning time. During debriefs, the students and staff watch a video of the simulation and talk about what happened, how they felt, what they missed and what they would do differently. “The conversations we have are remarkable,” Gallo said. “That’s where the learning happens.”

“The biggest challenge we have now is how to accommodate everyone,” Gallo said. The team is constantly rolling out new programs, often in response to initiatives in the health care network to address a problem. For example, in 2012, Dowling challenged the network to reduce the incidence of sepsis — a life-threatening complication of an infection — by 50 percent in five years. In response, CLI developed the Taming Sepsis Education Program, a case-study-based online learning course to identify signs of sepsis followed by a simulation course. The program, along with other changes in the way Northwell looks for signs of sepsis, helped the network meet the 50 percent goal by 2017. Gallo went on to write a textbook on her experiences creating CLI, “Building a Culture of Patient Safety Through Simulation.” She is also now the founding dean of the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies, which opened in 2015. Going forward, she plans to expand the graduate nursing and physician assistant school and open CLI to more members of the education and business communities.

A Hidden Gem

Taking the time to debrief after simulated emergencies is “where the learning happens,” Gallo says.

Sepsis and Organ Donation Gallo admitted that early on, not everyone was eager to attend classes at the simulation center. “A lot of people were still glued to the old PowerPoint lecture model,” she said. But she and her team sought out champions in each department to try the courses and to promote them to their teams. “Once they started to talk about the value of simulation for learning, word spread,” she said. Today, CLI has no problem attracting employees to courses, even though none of them are required. Last year, CLI and the Patient Safety Institute served more than 60,000 participants who spent a collective 250,000 hours in training. These include Northwell staff, as well as employees from General Electric, the FBI, the Air National Guard, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, among others.

Dowling and the rest of the leadership team at Northwell feel lucky to have found Gallo and rely on her to help solve whatever health care challenge or leadership issue arises. Whether it’s reducing rates of infection, improving health care outcomes or addressing turnover among certain groups of employees, Gallo is always there to help, Moscola said. “Whenever someone comes to her with a problem she figures out a way to solve it.” She also has a knack for eliminating conflict, said Jason Naidich, senior vice president and executive director of Northwell’s central region. “She creates an inclusive environment that brings people together,” he said. He attributes her success and the success of other leaders at Northwell in large part to the culture of continuous learning that Dowling and Gallo have built. “Northwell always looks internally to find talent, and CLI helps nurture that talent so people can succeed in those roles,” Naidich said. He noted that many organizations fail to find hidden gems like Gallo because they are too set on finding people who have exactly the right résumé or set of experiences. “Kathy is a great example of what can be done when you give someone with potential the right tools and the opportunity to build something new.” CLO Sarah Fister Gale is a writer based in Chicago. She can be reached at Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •


industryinsights Creating Consistency How to Centralize L&D in a Decentralized Organization By Adina Sapp

How can decentralized organizations effectively implement a centralized learning model? In a spotlight webinar hosted by Cornerstone on Demand on March 14, 2018, Kacie Walters, vice president of strategic programs (human relations) at Northern Trust, tells how her company successfully made the transition. While Cornerstone recognizes that each organization has unique needs and that this path may work for some and not others, Walters has valuable insight on the challenges and benefits of global coordination of goals and values.

Making the Move to a Centralized Model When Northern Trust moved L&D from individual business units to a centralized or global model, the pendulum had to swing a few times before it landed on the model that worked best. The company started with separate programs for each region. With this model, regional leadership could quickly respond to regional needs, but there was a lack of coordination among teams. So Northern Trust swung the pendulum to the global team, and what it found was that while L&D was highly consistent, it lost a bit of connection to the business. There are nuances in the three-legged stool of regional, global and business unit that simply can’t be met by such a strictly central model. Ultimately, Northern Trust found balance through a hybrid model. It has global programs with consistent messaging and tools, but has added a regional layer for delivery. Sometimes the needs of the various matrix offices don’t align, so the regional delivery layer enables them to effectively meet the complex needs of the organization while maintaining consistency. This isn’t always easy, however.

Keep It Simple “Global is hard, period,” Walters says. In complex

organizations that work across time zones, languages and cultures, it is essential to simplify wherever possible, such as with your word choice. “Slang and idioms are things I’m much more aware of now,” Walters says. “When you begin a meeting with ‘Good morning,’ is it really morning where the attendees are?” With limited resources, we want to efficiently manage and maintain content the best we can. If the organization is utilizing multiple systems, consolidating content into one delivery platform helps to avoid duplications and allows you to make changes in one place rather than multiple places. It is also essential to determine what the centralized team does and doesn’t support. The key is knowing when to apply global, when consistency matters and when it doesn’t.

Focus on the Right Priorities There are four key areas that the global L&D team should focus on: • Balancing global, regional and business unit solutions • Governing learning solutions across a decentralized structure • Changing L&D operating models to address common challenges • Setting priorities to stay aligned to the business Northern Trust applies a quadrant solution when determining which areas the global team should support, balancing consistency with efficiency. The question of consistency is key here. Areas that need consistency should be supported by the global team. “If flexibility is needed or it’s highly technical, we sacrifice the consistency as needed,” Walters says.

Cornerstone OnDemand (NASDAQ: CSOD) is pioneering solutions to help organizations realize the potential of the modern workforce. As the global leader in cloud-based learning and human capital management software, Cornerstone is designed to enable a lifetime of learning and development that is fundamental to the growth of employees and organizations.

For example, subject-matter experts do training on highly complex subjects. To achieve scale, some things that need to be highly personalized are created by smaller teams but supported by the global team.

What Does This Really Look Like? Northern Trust has applied a global vs. regional model as pictured that places programs in their quadrant model. Leadership, technology and enterprise compliance must be consistent across the organization, but the global team does not get involved in the business unit training at all. The new hire experience requires consistency, so the global team helps manage it, but the other teams own the content. In areas that require scalability but also have a lot of variance, the global team has achieved scale through templates and playbooks, but the ownership of implementing the training and processes lies with the people on the ground.

one naming convention, one metadata list, one way to report metrics and one method of survey assessment. The content provided through the LMS is area-specific as needed, but the platform is consistent. That’s the same for every program, regardless of which learning team owns it.


Central Learning Platform

Keep in mind that although there are compelling reasons to move to a centralized L&D model, organizations should consider the best fit for them. When considering a move to global, the key question is determining when consistency matters to the organization and when it doesn’t. Senior leadership must strike the right balance between global, regional and business unit needs by bringing the right voices to the table. “If I’ve learned one thing across my career, it’s that one sponsor does not represent the entire organization,” Walters says. “Different sponsors help with approach, they provide debriefing and help determine how things are decided.”

Implementing a centralized learning platform is essential to achieving consistency across the organization. Even though Northern Trust is a decentralized organization, it is committed to having one LMS, one browsing structure,

Watch the webinar at balancing-global-local-and-business-unit-needsimplementing-a-global-learning-development-strategy.

industryinsights The Business Case for Adaptive Learning: Applications Across Industries McGraw-Hill Education explores how adaptive learning uses neuroscience theories to deliver an efficient, effective, engaging experience to every learner

By Christina Yu and Geoff Broderick, McGraw-Hill Learning Science Platforms

These days, we can listen to personalized music on the radio, order transit on demand and watch online streams customized to our preferences. Our entertainment and e-commerce experiences are now hyper-optimized. The question then becomes: how can we optimize learning? McGraw-Hill Education Learning Science Platforms apply artificial intelligence to learning to unlock human potential. The platforms transform static content into dynamically personalized experiences, adapting content to behavior and performance in real time. The result is more efficient, effective and engaging learning. Several neuroscience theories are embedded in the algorithms that power the personalized learning paths taken on the platforms. Here are some examples.

Metacognitive Theory People learn best when they know their strengths and weaknesses. As learners move through content, the platform captures data concerning accuracy, confidence, time and more. The platform then assesses this data and delivers content that helps each learner increase accuracy and improve awareness. Learners then walk away knowing what they know. Leaders are those who have confidence, quickly seem to know what to do and how to do it, and can step up, frame a situation and set context for others. But what about unlocking everyone’s potential? It starts by demystifying the relationship between confidence and mastery, showing us what we know when we know it, pointing out our weaknesses and highlighting the path to erasing our knowledge gaps. Take, for example, a director in hospitality reviewing state and local laws relating to their business. Any policy misunderstanding may result in a lack of compliance and possible sanctions or fines from regulatory agencies,

which will affect the organization economically. Or consider a health care organization, where training can mean the difference between life and death. Guessing test answers isn’t an option for these professionals. If a course is administered to 3,000 nurses and most answer a significant question correctly, but 80 percent guessed without confidence, do they really understand the concept? What are the ramifications if thousands can’t confidently apply what they’ve learned to their patients? Here’s another angle of the confidence problem: take a junior professional at a media tech company who spends time at work feeling uncertain and selfconscious. If that individual scores well on mastery — but low on awareness — becoming more strengthsaware may increase her confidence and willingness to take initiative on the job, perhaps even mentoring others who are weak in those same areas. There are 360-degree benefits in this case for both employees and managers. Bottom line: awareness is an important component of knowledge. The more self-aware the learner is, the better it is for everyone.

Theory of Deliberate Practice Understanding where we are weakest helps us focus our practice. To address this, the platform continuously adjusts content to focus on individual weaknesses, ensuring that time is used efficiently and effectively. Possible applications of this theory are numerous. Take, for example, an industrial manufacturing company whose employees perform specialized tasks in often dangerous environments. Such employees must use their training time optimally with focus and intensity. Both employee and organization benefit when training focuses on aggressively remediating weaknesses, rather than mindlessly reviewing strengths.

McGraw-Hill Education Learning Science Platforms apply artificial intelligence to learning through adaptive technology. The platforms transform otherwise static content into personalized experiences that adapt in real-time to each learner’s behavior and performance. Every moment is optimized, so that the right content is presented at the right time for each learner. Greater learning efficiency, effectiveness, and engagement are the immediate results, improved training ROI and organizational performance the ultimate results. Learners focus on challenging areas, fight memory decay, and move knowledge from short to long-term memory, all while remaining engaged. The technology is based on educational theory and cognitive science that explores memory, metacognition, and the personalized delivery of concepts.

Theory of Fun for Game Design Learners are most engaged when challenged, but not too challenged. The platform puts this concept into action by keeping each learner in an optimal zone of challenge. If too many questions are answered wrong in a row, for instance, the platform will serve up a question that provides a quick win and builds the learner’s confidence. This is a meaningful concept for all learners — who doesn’t get frustrated when challenges are overwhelming? However, it means something different depending on the employee’s level. Line-level retail workers may stay more engaged when gamification is applied to learning — allowing them to challenge themselves without feeling overwhelmed.

Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve (Spaced Repetition) To truly learn something, learners need to commit it to long-term memory. The best time to do so is just before learners are about to forget. Incorporating this concept, the platform uses data to predict when someone is

most likely to lose a concept from short-term memory and recharges it, so that the learner commits it to longterm memory. Senior executives, for example, may feel they already possess mastery over their fields, possibly underestimating the level of continuous learning and reinforcement required to stay at peak performance. The stress of managing alongside formidable peers only compounds the challenge, especially when profit and loss responsibilities are at stake. Repetition of concepts at key intervals combats memory decay. Ultimately, the concept of formative assessment — assessment that occurs during learning, rather than afterward — lies at the heart of adaptive learning, expresses no judgment and encourages flow and present orientation. Employees at all levels are then free to learn and fail in a safe environment conductive to real growth. Want to see adaptive learning in action? Write to me at

industryinsights The Personal, Virtual Touch How Stanford GSB disrupts the online executive education space By Tim Harnett

As organizations focus on keeping high-performing leaders in-house, they’ll need to develop them, not only with the skills they need for their role, but also the soft skills needed to manage their teams. The leaderemployee relationship is critical to organizational success, especially as people leave managers, not companies. To this end, many organizations target leaders for development in emotional intelligence, situational leadership, communication and collaboration.1 With nearly every industry facing disruption, leaders will also need innovation skills to push their organizations forward. Chief Learning Officer research suggests that threequarters of organizations use instructor-led training as part of leadership development. The difficulty in relying on this modality is one of time. Managers, directors and other executives are busy and often don’t have time for in-class training. When time is at a premium, online learning becomes a more attractive option. But is it possible to replicate the high-touch nature of a classroom virtually? Audrey Witters, managing director for online and entrepreneurship programs at Stanford Graduate Business School, says absolutely. “Skepticism about the efficacy of teaching negotiation or leadership skills online was often due to the lack of effective social learning experiences. To truly learn skills such as corporate innovation, you need to experience it, try it out, and come back and reflect with other people. You can’t accomplish that with a typical online program.” Today’s leadership demands more than a quick online course. Enter Stanford LEAD, and its year-long online executive education programs. In three areas — skills taught, time required and networking opportunities — LEAD differentiates itself from other online programs.

Chief Learning Officer (2018). CLO 2018 State of the Industry survey. Gallup (2017). State of the American Workplace.

1 2

Develop soft skills Executive education programs should give students the tools and skills they need to do their jobs better and more efficiently, rather than learning for learning’s sake. Many organizational challenges can be addressed by giving leaders the soft skills they need to connect with their employees. These days, more Americans than ever are working offsite. In 2017, nearly half of employed Americans reported spending some time working remotely, according to Gallup research.2 Leading virtual teams will become critical as this number increases, meaning leaders will need practice working with virtual teams.

Put in the time To succeed in an online executive education program like LEAD, students need to rethink what they know about online learning. While shorter online courses might quickly introduce skills, true knowledge transfer requires a more iterative learning process. “With our format, participants can go deeper into the material,” Witters says. “They first learn the concepts, then try the concept out at their jobs. Finally, they come back and discuss how that went with their peers and faculty and afterward go try again. Time spent on the course is time students will eventually get back in increased productivity.” “Our courses are designed around learning by doing,” adds Marineh Lalikian, director of Stanford LEAD. “Our tenured faculty teach research-based frameworks and have worked with our learning experience designers to design an online-first interactive approach — more than just a recording of a lecture. Our courses don’t simply transfer classroom learning to the computer, but instead think creatively about how classroom learning can be adapted virtually in a way that’s easily digestible and concise.

Executive Education programs at the Stanford Graduate School of Business propel careers and deliver lasting value to our participants and their organizations. With our diverse portfolio of open enrollment offerings and the customized learning experiences that we deliver in partnership with leading corporate clients, we transform today’s participants intotomorrow’s innovative global business leaders.

“Because the experience is virtual,” Lalikian adds, “learners are in their own work environment. They have a unique opportunity to incorporate assignments and activities that aren’t simply simulations but practical organizational applications.”

Make connections Why choose a high-touch executive education program over a shorter option, like a MOOC or other e-learning course? Witters says the strengths lie in the connections students make. “MOOCs are excellent for accessibility, but what they lack is community curation,” Witters says. “Your leaders need a program that can deliver values from others with similar interests and challenges. Community in a program like LEAD also creates accountability in a way we haven’t seen in other online education courses.” This accountability contributes to course participation and


completion — key performance indicators of success. The average completion rate for a MOOC hovers around 5 percent,3 compared to a 97 percent completion rate for Stanford LEAD. The value executive education brings to the organization is well established. Today’s leaders need a high degree of emotional intelligence as well as business acumen to connect with their employees and contribute to organizational strategic goals. Enrolling in an online education program like Stanford LEAD ensures they’ll learn in a high-touch environment that will offer real-world examples and solutions, giving them the knowledge to succeed. Learn more about the Stanford LEAD experience at

MIT (2017). Study of MOOCs offers insights into online learner engagement and behavior. MIT News.

industryinsights Hierarchy Is Good, Except When It’s Not The accountability and information-sharing created by hierarchy is beneficial, but not if status ranks executives as more important and underlings as less valuable

By the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University

Hierarchy isn’t bad, per se. It’s all in what you do with it. Decisions made at the top are fine, even desirable. But only if people at all levels are respected for their contributions, allowing ideas to rise and fall based on merit. “Hierarchy has a bad name among organizational leaders right now. You hear a lot about flattening hierarchies and getting rid of hierarchies and layers of management. Some of that is based on the idea that hierarchies are bad for the culture and squash creativity,” said Nicholas Hays, an assistant professor in the Department of Management at Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business.

“The ideal environment would be a hierarchy to help coordinate efforts but without a boss that assumes ‘you’re my subordinate so therefore, you’re less important.’” Hierarchy can be functional because it provides accountability. “If you lose the hierarchy, you lose the accountability. You lose the coordination. The challenge is to keep the hierarchy without the natural tendency – when you have rank differences – for people at the top to take a very egocentric view of themselves,” Hays said. A lot of the work Hays does at the Broad College of Business looks at differences in power versus differences in status. “A lot of people use those terms interchangeably, but power is about having authority to make decisions about things like resources and budgets and to evaluate others, whereas status is about being respected and admired by

others; do they look up to you, do they come to you for advice?” he said. “I have a lot of work showing the toxic effect of status differences. When some people are looked up to more than others, it breeds a lot of competitive behavior, including withholding information that I have rather than sharing it with the team or keeping tangible resources for myself.” “What we’re finding is that power differences on their own – having a boss who is in charge and gets to make decisions – can be good for team performance, specifically because they lead to more information-sharing among team members. This is why organizations often use teams in the first place: Different people have different perspectives and backgrounds, but leaders are assuming team members are going to share and combine those differing perspectives,” he said. “However, when power differences are combined with differences in the respect – people at higher ranks receive more respect than people at lower ranks – this discourages people from sharing information and makes them more self-oriented in general. They sit on the information they have, and ultimately, the team performance suffers,” Hays said.

“Leaders should constantly reinforce the message that everyone is important and contributing value by being present, listening to people, and showing genuine appreciation for their contributions.”

So obvious to realize, so difficult to implement Hays acknowledges that such sentiments can appear to be obvious. “But if it’s so obvious, then why doesn’t it happen all the time? The idea makes so much sense, but the execution is difficult,” he said. “Unfortunately, when people rise up through the ranks, there is a natural tendency for people to hold more egocentric views, meaning they overestimate their own value and underestimate the value and contributions of others. This often leads to these status differences and a lot of resentment from people lower in the organization,” Hays remarked. People may also underestimate the tangible value of mutual respect. “People think the idea of mutual respect sounds very touchy-feely and that maybe it improves job satisfaction. But at the end of the day, they have shareholders who care more about dollars and cents. What one particular group experiment found is that it wasn’t just job satisfaction: it actually led to tangible performance. The groups where there were authority differences but everyone was viewed as respected equally shared more information and, as a result, actually performed better. They made better decisions because everyone was sharing the information and perspectives they had. In organizations, you could easily imagine that a department that makes better decisions is producing more shareholder value. It’s not just warm and fuzzy; it’s also dollars and cents.”

“You want to keep the actual structure, the organization chart, where one person is the boss and gets to make decisions, but try to reinforce the culture of mutual respect, so even though one may have greater authority than the other, everyone acknowledges that they all play equally important roles in making a business work. The ideal environment would be a hierarchy to help coordinate efforts but without a boss that assumes ‘you’re my subordinate, so therefore, you’re less important.’”

“If you say one thing, then do another, the action means more than the words.” For such initiatives to work, leaders must lead by example. “If you say one thing, then do another, the action means more than the words. If you train people to view everyone as equally important, but then you go to your office on the 50th floor and don’t interact with your subordinates, that doesn’t exactly comport with what was conveyed in the training,” Hays said. “Leaders should constantly reinforce the message that everyone is important and contributing value by being present, listening to people, and showing genuine appreciation for their contributions.”

The Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University develops leaders who solve the world’s business problems. We offer a comprehensive portfolio of talent development options, including Executive Development programs, Executive MBA, Full-Time MBA, and master’s of science degrees in accounting; business analytics; finance; healthcare management; management, strategy, and leadership; management studies; marketing research; and supply chain management. Learn more about how we can help develop your leaders at

The State of

Executive Education BY AVE RIO

In times of continuous change, can an array of executive education offerings develop the skills and leadership capabilities of tomorrow?

34 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •


ave Weinstein, associate dean of executive education at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, has an MBA from Stanford, which he believes to be a solid foundation for a business education, especially for someone like him. He came from a liberal arts undergraduate program and his first job was in the public sector. He said the concepts of successful business that he learned as part of his MBA program were foundational to the rest of his career. But Weinstein’s experience was several years ago, and since then the value of an MBA has come into question. “We’re in an interesting world now where opportunity costs to leave the workforce for a year or two are high,� he said.

Executive education options are ever-increasing. To develop leaders today, executives can choose to set up custom courses with an academic institution, give employees freedom for a more self-directed approach, implement a program for certificates, badges and microcredentials or, of course, send employees off to complete the more traditional part-time or full-time MBA program. Robin Frkal, director of the MBA program at Assumption College in Massachusetts, said an MBA continues to be a valuable degree for anyone who wants to advance in the career of business. She said an MBA gives a breadth of knowledge, which allows people to adapt more quickly to rapidly changing conditions in the marketplace.

Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •


The Stanford Graduate School of Business offers traditional executive education programs for individuals and organizations and online certification programs. Stanford’s MBA program is a two-year full-time residential course of study. The Department of Business Studies at Assumption College offers both a part-time MBA program and a full-time accelerated MBA program. The courses for both programs are available on campus, online or through a blended format. Assumption also offers a specialized MBA in Healthcare Management and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Business.

The Changing MBA Along with everything else, the model of the MBA is changing. Frkal said it’s increasingly being offered in online formats and focusing on teaching students how to learn. “Much of what you learn in an MBA program can be outdated a few years after graduation, so it’s important to instill the capabilities and a passion for ongoing lifelong learning,� she said. “That’s going to make MBA graduates valuable to businesses.� She said Assumption College equips students to maintain their skills as the world of business continues to change. “It would take students a long time to experience all that they are exposed to in our MBA program,� she said. Weinstein said the value of an MBA in producing quality leaders has a lot to do with the focus of the program, what skills it’s trying to work on and how aggressively it works on those skills. “In a lot of MBA programs, it’s more about knowledge and areas of business fundamentals,� he said. “In those kinds of programs, you’re not going to become a better leader as a result of doing it.�

There are a plethora of options available to develop leaders today: custom courses, badges, traditional MBAs and more. At the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Weinstein said leadership is an important aspect of the curriculum. “There’s all sorts of activities that tie back to improving them as a leader — making them better, more genuine, more purposeful,â€? he said. Weinstein said if someone is simply trying fill some holes in business fundamentals, there are a lot 36 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

more cost-effective and time-effective ways to do so than getting an MBA. “The true value of an MBA is left on the table unless the program is focused on turning you into a truly capable leader,� he said, adding that outside of Stanford and Harvard, few schools are focusing on leadership as one of their primary deliverables to students. In addition to focusing on leadership in the MBA program through experiential curriculums, Weinstein said in recent years at Stanford there has also been an important focus on understanding that business is a global phenomenon and leaders must understand how to operate in a global context. As for the online trend, Weinstein said Stanford has not stepped into the e-MBA space. “We are really focused on the traditional MBA experience because of the value of the cohort and the social aspects of learning,� he said. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a role for technology. The school is aggressively moving toward the flipped classroom model. “We’re not alone in that,� he said. “There’s a broad realization that that’s a much better learning model than the traditional model.�

Pillars of Effective Executive Education Weinstein said Stanford’s success in executive education is due to continued dedication to the three legs of effective education. First is content; it has to be relevant, engaging and useful. Second is social; Weinstein said learning is best done in a community, as one learns more from fellow students than one will ever learn by themselves. And third is experiential; learning doesn’t happen in a way that can be validated, and a learner needs to be able to apply what they’ve been taught. Weinstein said in the context of traditional executive education, which is typically a high-touch, face-to-face model, it’s relatively easy to achieve all three aspects. To achieve the experiential learning goal, the programs have increasingly been forcing students out of the classroom. Several programs at Stanford have what Weinstein calls “clean mornings and dirty afternoons,� where students are in the classroom in the morning and out doing things to apply what they learned later on in the day. Though the core concepts may be easy to achieve with the traditional model, Weinstein said the challenge is how to extend out of that traditional environment and still achieve those goals. Stanford’s online LEAD program — Learn, Engage, Accelerate, Disrupt — was their first attempt to do that. In LEAD, it’s not self-paced courses but, rather, cohort-based engagement. Students sign up for a yearlong experience that encompasses eight courses, where they work intensively with other students.

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Stanford also has a virtual campus — a digital rendition of the university where groups can meet and have social engagements and lectures. Weinstein said they looked at what drove their successful outcomes in the traditional environment and tried to figure out how to use technology to create those in a virtual environment. He said it’s a lot of experimentation that improves over time; the university is on its third virtual campus in three years with the program.

What’s Trending Now Executive education programs are moving online. A lot of organizations are producing online self-paced content to extend their brand and reach, but Weinstein said the brand value ends up being more important than the educational value because participants often don’t get much out of it or they don’t finish. Many companies are also trying to partner with schools to help create online education experiences and portfolios. Weinstein said bringing multiple schools together can allow organizations to pick the best of multiple brands within a content area. “For a lot of schools those are invaluable because if an average to below average strength brand combines with other brands it’s going to raise the strength and the visibility of it and therefore the opportunities.â€? For a recognized brand such as Stanford, that’s less important. There’s also a trend slightly away from open enrollment programs toward custom programs. In an open enrollment program, a school assembles a cohort of individuals who are interested in a particular subject matter and the program is entirely designed by the institution to best represent that subject area. In a custom program, the university works with an organization and customizes the program for the needs and challenges of that organization. “Much of schools’ revenue has been disproportionately moving toward custom [programs] because a lot of organizations are placing a higher premium today on relevance and they believe that relevance is better achieved in the context of a custom program,â€? Weinstein said. He said part of the trend is recognition that executive education schools are increasingly competing against consulting firms. “Traditional exec ed institutions have tried to skirt this line between being in the education business and the consulting business, and the more customized the program is, the closer to that line it is, 38 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

the more it delivers on this promise of relevance.� Frkal questions the focus of these partnerships. “If they are focusing on broad skills or softer skills, then that might be a good thing,� she said. “But if they are very narrow and are focusing on what specific job that this particular employer needs, that may give a lot of value to the firm but not as much to the students.� Frkal said the model of employment is different these days, and employees don’t stay with one firm for their entire career. “They need skills that are going to be transferable,� she said. Weinstein said Stanford has not moved in that direction as much as their competitors. About one-third of their business is custom and two-thirds is open enrollment. He said part of the reason they’re able to do that is the strength of their faculty brand, as a school’s brand must have the strength to be able to assemble a powerful cohort.

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Weinstein also pointed out the trend of driving curriculum activities to be experiential, especially in terms of making someone a better leader. Frkal agreed she’s seen increased attention in experiential learning, specifically in full-time MBA programs. “A lot of programs are trying to get their graduates outside of the classroom, wrapping the experience with classroom knowledge and then also coaching and professional development,� she said. At Assumption College, a large component of the full-time MBA program is a professional-level internship. Frkal said the key is incorporating the “learning to learn� cycle into the program. “Bring them back into the classroom and wrap educational experiences around the outside experiences so they can process that and actually learn from it,� she said. “The reflective piece is what is really needed for the external experiential activities to add value.� Frkal said students are increasingly interested in part-time programs rather than full-time programs. “People don’t want to take the extra two years to get a full-time MBA degree,� she said, noting the economy as a main reason. She also noted a trend toward certificates, badges and microcredentials. “What we learn in a business program can be outdated within a few years,� she said. “Those badges or certificate models are helpful for business leaders to return to developing a skill set or update their technical knowledge.� But Frkal said that doesn’t mean it can replace a traditional MBA that provides essential business knowledge that she can’t envision a microcredential program providing. “Not to mention that technical knowledge is only part of what an MBA is about,� she said. “There needs to be development for interpersonal skills [too].�

The Future of Executive Education Grayson Lafrenz doesn’t have an MBA and has started six companies since graduating college. At his latest company, Power Digital Marketing, he’s not taking the traditional approach to executive education. His company is offering its employees a 14-week free course with a “comprehensive MBA curriculumâ€? led by company executives and guest speakers. The program has core modules ranging from business law to accounting, operations, leadership, sales and marketing. “We hit all the core tiers we saw that were featured in legitimate college MBA programs,â€? he said. They then surveyed employees about what they wanted to learn in each area and identified speakers for each. A Power Digital expert leads a 101 class and an outside expert leads the 102 class. “It gives them context for how we look at it, but 40 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

also they get the expert who has really deep experience, credibility and thought leadership to share with the team,� Lafrenz said. He said a lot of students get their MBA when they don’t know what to do next, but that’s a bad investment. “I don’t think they have the context as to how they are going to apply this $100,000 degree to be that much more successful or that much better at their job or make that much more money.� He said there are certain industries where an MBA is beneficial, such as investment banking, but for most general business people or entrepreneurs, his company’s type of program is valuable. “It’s all tied back to what they do already, so they can apply the stuff as soon as they leave the classroom.� He added that he’s seen little to no difference in his employees who have MBAs versus those who don’t. Lafrenz said the future is an entrepreneurial approach to developing leaders and training people. “The days of these huge corporations having these incredible formal training programs are on their way out,� he said. “When the market got tougher, I saw a lot of companies cut those programs.� He said the responsibility now falls on executives and entrepreneurs to come up with ways to facilitate programs within their companies with less money and resources. But Weinstein said the world needs places like Stanford to reach further and create programs that can deliver experiential learning at scale, with elements of social learning. He said the key is taking the school’s value propositions for small groups and extending those values to reach 50,000 students at a time. Weinstein said the challenge that excites him most about the next five years in executive education is spreading the value of the faculty and their ideas much more broadly than it is today. “It won’t be sitting behind my computer watching videos and trying to learn something from them or listening to real-time webinars,� he said. “It’ll be taking in information, being forced to get out of my seat and apply that information, giving feedback about what happened when I applied that information, and then engaging in a debrief based on a broader sense of experiences about what likely occurred and what you could learn from it.� He said it will require different engagement models and different platforms than we have today to be as impactful as the past few decades of traditional executive education. “It will be an entirely different animal than anything anyone is doing online today.� CLO Ave Rio is a Chief Learning Officer associate editor. She can be reached at

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BEYOND THE MBA How microcredentials, nanodegrees and digital badges help busy executives stay abreast of business trends and on the path of lifelong learning.


n 2016, a team of professors at Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University spent months converting a series of classroom-based executive education classes into a digital badge program. The courses would be available online, allowing students to complete them in a matter of weeks, for a fraction of the cost of attending classes on campus, and receive a badge certifying they completed the program. It was an unusual move for a business school that caters to MBA students, admitted Dan Stotz, executive director of executive education programs at the Georgia-based university. He noted that some of his colleagues worried the badges would poach executive candidates, but he believes the content will actually bring in more students. “We aren’t competing with the MBA program, we are competing with nonconsumption of learning.� Microcredential programs are viewed by many as the next evolution of executive education, providing learning options for busy executives who want to learn but don’t have the time, resources or ambition for a full MBA. “There will always be value in a full MBA, but

42 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

BY SAR AH FISTER GALE the microcredential allows busy executives to get a functional background in a specific area like finance or IT,â€? said Tim Gates, senior regional vice president at Adecco Staffing in Pittsburgh. And with every new credential, they have something new to add to their rĂŠsumĂŠ or LinkedIn profile. Shaun Walker is one of those busy executives. As co-founder and creative director of HeroFarm, a marketing company in New Orleans, he knew an MBA program would help him expand his company and his personal network, but he couldn’t see himself taking the time away from his business to do a full MBA. Instead, he signed up for Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses, a microdegree program that provides small-business owners with a crash-course style MBA. The free four-month program met two to three times a week, giving participants a similar — if abbreviated — experience to an executive MBA. Walker learned the basics of business and finance within a cohort of local peers, who continue to network and support each other as their companies grow. “I got a ton of valuable knowledge and contacts, and I didn’t have to go into debt to get it,â€? he said.

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After the MBA

Even the most ardent champions of MBAs see the benefits of this trend. “There is no question that a microcredential has value, depending on what you are looking for,� said Michael Desiderio, executive director of the Executive MBA Council, which calls itself the “Global voice of the executive MBA industry.� In its 2018 study, “Understanding the Implications of the Digital Generation on Business Education,� 60 percent of respondents said they saw value in pursuing an MBA in the next 10 years, while 90 percent said they saw value in certifications and badges in reaching professional development goals. He noted that many EMBAC members already offer nondegree executive education programs to help professionals fill knowledge gaps. “We don’t talk about them as ‘microcredentials’ but they’ve been around for years.�

Microcredentials offer midcareer professionals with an MBA the chance to brush up on business and technology trends. For midcareer professionals who may already have an MBA, microcredentials offer a way to bone up on the latest business and technology trends, while early career professionals can use them to develop specific skills or knowledge that will help them stand out, said Ryan Craig, co-founder and managing director of New York-based University Ventures, an investment firm focused on the global higher-education sector, and author of “A New U: Faster and Cheaper Alternatives to College.â€? “Many young Americans, and those requiring reskilling, are looking for a cheaper path to an education,â€? Craig said. “Microcredentials let them make a less risky investment in their future so they can get their foot on the first rung of the career ladder.â€? Companies are also taking advantage of this trend to meet the learning needs of workers — particularly millennials who expect career development opportunities as a condition of sticking around. “In the olden days, employees had to pay their dues before getting onto a high-performer learning track,â€? Stotz said. But millennials don’t want to wait to be trained. Gallup’s report, “How Millennials Want to Work and Live,â€? found 87 percent of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunitiesâ€? as important to them in a job, and 44 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

59 percent say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important when applying for a job. “Companies can use microcredentials to provide meaningful professional development right away.� Fortunately, they have many options to choose from. In the past few years public universities, executive content developers and even in-house corporate learning departments have rolled out a variety of microcredentials, nanodegrees and badge programs on every relevant business topic from cybersecurity and artificial intelligence to leadership, finance and business management.

Added Value or Waste of Time There is still some question as to whether employers will value these programs when hiring candidates or training employees. In theory, a microcredential should help hiring managers determine which candidate or contract worker has demonstrated skills or knowledge, but that depends on what stock they put in those programs. While credentials from well-known universities or a Fortune 500 corporate training program may carry instant credibility, a badge from a little-known for-profit training company or free online platform may be met with skepticism, Desiderio said. He believes that while some microcredentials may stand out when hiring candidates for hard-to-fill tech roles, it will likely be years before soft skills programs in leadership or management carry significant weight for hiring and promotion decisions. “We don’t have enough data yet to determine how much value they bring.� To determine value in the interim, Stotz encourages companies to consider who developed the course, what research was used to support content development, how interactive it is and the percentage of students who complete the program. “You want to see a balance of theory and practice in the content,� Stotz advised. “Theory without practice is irrelevant, and practice without theory is unsustainable.� In the meantime, Gates urges companies to pay attention to these credentials when assessing a candidate’s fit for a job. “The labor market is so tight, these programs can expand your potential candidate pool,� he said. A candidate with a stack of credentials proves they have recent training — and it demonstrates that they are invested in their own development, he said. “Companies that are open-minded to these credentials have a great opportunity to find candidates who are a good match for the job.� CLO Sarah Fister Gale is a writer based in Chicago. She can be reached at


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A Moving Landscape BY ASHLEY ST. JOHN

46 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

A higher education veteran talks about what’s changed, what hasn’t and what’s next in the executive education space.

Chief Learning Officer: How is executive education being changed by technology? I would say that there has been some impact but not sweeping impact yet. The kind of grooming and the kind of investment that employers want to make in people who are in leadership roles already are usually focused a lot on soft skills and ones that both employers and managers gravitate toward more traditional settings to acquire. If you go back in time, not that far — 10 or 15 years ago — the technology-facilitated training, where technology really started to make a large impact, was with relatively routine technical skills-based training. You look at organizations like Skillsoft, for example, that have a catalog even bigger today but that once upon a time had hundreds of courses that were relatively skills-based, selfpaced things. So if you were a supervisor and you had a manager who needed Title IX training or sexual harassment training or training in Microsoft Excel — oh, Skillsoft has a course for that, it can be done online, somebody can do it on their own time because it’s self-paced. That was the foothold where technology-facilitated education from an employer and an employee point of view started. Not with soft skills or nuanced skills that required more discussion and interaction and would benefit from a group setting.


s technology evolves and increasingly digital-savvy generations move up in the workplace, questions dominate the executive education space. How should executive education be changing to meet the needs of digital generations? What’s the value of a microcredential versus an MBA? Is the more traditional, faceto-face model being threatened by alternate offerings? According to Daniel Szpiro, dean of the School of Professional Programs at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, while executive education is a moving landscape, the value of more traditional offerings hasn’t been compromised. “Even if there’s opportunity for some hybridization, people still, when it comes to leadership skills, tend to gravitate toward a more traditional setting,� Szpiro said. Szpiro’s career in executive education and continuing education spans more than two decades. Before joining Marist College in 2016, he was dean of the Jack Welch Management Institute, part of Strayer University. He also served as the associate dean of executive education at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Before coming to the United States, he was the director of the executive MBA programs at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Here, he shares some of his insights.

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As technology has evolved, the scope of where it can be applied for various kinds of skills has certainly grown, and the instructional design, the pedagogy, has evolved to have more elaborate as well as synchronous and group-based learning and technology-facilitated settings. But it’s eroded a little bit of the executive education that was focused on technical areas still. I’ll give you a concrete example. If you go back 10 years or more, one of the most popular courses offered by business schools in their open enrollment executive education portfolios was something that went under the title of Finance for Nonfinancial Managers. By definition, most managers are not financial managers. And yet, if you reach a certain level of seniority in the organization, a certain level of responsibility, you’re going to have to have some financial skills because you’ll have financial responsibilities. So, if you’re coming from marketing or HR or operations, people would often get sent on these courses that could be a weeklong residential course off at a business school somewhere. Well, ultimately those were “technical skills,� and because there’s a much bigger and more effective portfolio for those technical skills, through MOOCs or low-cost [alternatives], a lot of business schools have seen their enrollments in what was once upon a time a very popular program severely eroded. On the other hand, probably the crown jewel of most business schools’ open enrollment — and in-company programs, for that matter — is still focused on leadership. That is something where individual managers as well as employers tend to think of a more traditional classroom setting as being more effective. So, in the executive education space, the continuing evolution of technology-facilitated education has had an impact, but it’s been focused in certain areas. CLO: In what subject areas or professional functions are you seeing the highest demand for learning and training? The range of topics for which employers and employees are seeking training hasn’t significantly changed. Certainly there’s been some new arrivals. Not surprisingly, the topic of data analytics and business analytics is something that is still in many ways enjoying a spike in demand. The organization on the supply side for courses and even whole degree programs in that topic are relatively novel compared to the other topics traditionally offered in executive education. Because they’re new entrants in that space, there’s a spike in demand for that. Some equilibrium will be reached when it becomes a normal part of the executive education portfolio. I think analytics is something that’s going to be considered — if we move forward a generation from now — it’s going to be considered a foundational skill. You’re going to have to bring that analytical skill to everything.

48 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

At the same time, there’s other topics that peak in people’s interest and then they reach an equilibrium and people don’t talk about them the same way. For example, if you go back 15 years there was a lot of discussion about corporate social responsibility. We don’t hear that, even that term doesn’t come up that often in conversations anymore. So that idea of CSR and courses on all of this were popular, and then their popularity declined and maybe reached an equilibrium again. Before corporate responsibility, maybe feeding into that was the whole discussion of ethics when Enron and WorldCom were in the news. Then all kinds of courses and interest in training in ethics were very popular from employers and on the supply side, as well. These days, innovation is a topic that’s very popular. And intrapreneurship. Once again, these are important skills, but I think there’s a certain focus on them, like ethics and corporate social responsibility that came before, that will be a flame that glows brightly for a while and then it’ll reach some sort of equilibrium. So, there are these two trends. There’s some fundamental shifts in what the portfolio skills should be, and data analytics is probably one of those more fundamental shifts, and then there are these more timely things Daniel Szpiro that pop up on the radar of people, generate some interest, and then something else replaces them five years later. It’s a moving landscape. But there’s a timeless component to it as well as a sort of contemporary interest component. CLO: Are microcredentials and nanodegrees undercutting more traditional executive education? There is some discipline-specific variation. But at the moment, when I go to various conferences about executive education or continuing education, 80-plus percent of the discussion is about the supply side, about all the nanodegrees and microcredentials that are being offered. There’s very little concrete discussion these days on the demand side about whether employers care. So, it’s easy to bring these to market, but at the end of the day this is ultimately a more interesting question to put to employers. If you could ask an HR manager of a large organization, what weight do you put on a certification of completion for a course in Coursera? Does that give somebody an edge? Is that ever a credential that you would have in a job description, that to be a candidate, to be hired for a job, you have to have a certificate of completion from an online course


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provider? I don’t think we’re there yet. In fact, one example of microcredentials, one version of it, is digital badging. In the last two years, I’ve probably been to half a dozen presentations and conferences about digital badging, and interestingly, one of the issues that people involved in this space are struggling with is how to improve claim rates. Many people take courses for which they could get digital badges and don’t bother claiming them because they think to themselves, well, who cares? So, until some employer starts saying, “To be a candidate for a job or to help with your career advancement, a microcredential helps or is required,� all we’re talking about is the supply side of it. Which is really not that interesting in the end. So, to come back to the question, certainly a lot of universities and nonaccredited training suppliers are

Most discussions and orchestrated discussion questions in online learning are not as organic in where they might take you. trying to enhance their portfolios by offering these nontraditional credentials. But there is no evidence that I’m aware of yet that they have any significant impact on career development. I’m not suggesting that they aren’t useful ways to acquire skills, but as far as a credential goes, I think the jury’s out. CLO: Do you see microlearning courses to be a disruptor of executive education models? I don’t see in the near- or even medium-term those things being disruptors. This isn’t really a defined category anyway — a microcredential is whatever you want to call a microcredential. Every executive education supplier is already issuing microcredentials. If you go to a one-week program at Harvard Business School on leadership, they’ll give you a certificate to hang on the wall. You’ve just got a microcredential. So, there’s nothing disruptive going on. All executive education always gave you something worth framing and hanging on the wall. It’s really not a credential issue. It’s a format and accessibility and opportunity cost issue, if we’re talking about technology-facilitated training. I think what has changed over the years is a sense of opportunity cost when you’re thinking about the format of accessing training. One trend, for example, for a lot of business schools in executive education is if you go back not 50 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

that far in the past, it was quite normal to have oneweek programs at a business school, or two- or threeweek programs. What has changed a lot are short programs — two days, three days. Because the opportunity cost of being away from the office, there’s a sense that it’s become greater. People don’t want to be away for that long. So that has changed the format of the delivery of what business schools are doing. And yes, as we said at the beginning of the conversation, the technology-facilitated education that is really independent, self-paced learning has eroded some of the more technical executive education courses like the finance courses, but I wouldn’t frame it in that microcredentials specifically are changing executive education. In fact, I would turn that around 180 degrees and say executive education was in the microcredential business before people even used that phrase. CLO: What does a classroom experience offer that a virtual experience cannot? What are the limitations of an online learning environment? In reality, the majority of online learning environments are still asynchronous. Even though there’s all kinds of technological advents for synchronous sessions, they tend to be supplementary. The appeal of a technology-facilitated learning experience is really in its accessibility and its flexibility — that you can be anywhere and even at any time, if you move to something self-paced. When you’re talking about an asynchronous environment, there’s a certain structure to the discussions where you post something and somebody else reads it and somebody else posts it that can be very effective and can certainly create the learning outcomes that people want, but the tradeoff for all that accessibility is you remove a certain organic element to the learning. When you’re sitting in a classroom and conversation is unfolding, that can go in various directions. Most discussions and orchestrated discussion questions in online learning are not as organic in where they might take you. I think that the value proposition today as it’s implemented for technology-facilitated education, to really optimize that accessibility and lower the opportunity costs of access to learning, the tradeoff has been that the learning has been much more structured. That’s why you really haven’t seen technology-facilitated education eroding business schools’ leadership programs, because people want a more organic experience as they’re talking about some skill that’s harder to define. People just feel more comfortable talking about it in a face-to-face setting. CLO Ashley St. John is managing editor of Chief Learning Officer. She can be reached at

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ll work and no play makes for dull workers. It also can lead to an organization ripe for failure. Daniel Cable, London Business School professor and author of “Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do” has the antidote to the organizational blues. Drawing on work with a wide range of organizations including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Standard Chartered Bank and Google, he shows that small changes can have a powerful effect on our approach to work. In his keynote address at the Fall 2018 Chief Learning Officer Symposium, Cable will lay out how leaders can make a meaningful impact on their organizational culture and help their employees reach their full potential. WHAT INSPIRED THE CONCEPT BEHIND YOUR BOOK “ALIVE AT WORK” AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO WRITE IT? First, I watched my own enthusiasm and zest toward my own job as a professor slip into dull routine. Without realizing it, I nurtured an achievement mindset rather than a learning mindset. It’s not pretty but it can happen to any of us, even if you have a good job with lots of autonomy.

Second, and more broadly, I think it’s sad how many people are disengaged at work. So many people only bring their bodies to work and feel they need to shut themselves off to get through the days, the weeks, the months of work. Almost 20 percent of workers globally are actively repulsed by what they do all day long. Since we work most of our waking hours, this means they are trying to shut off through life. I wanted to understand the source of this phenomenon better and learn more about how leaders could activate and engage employees. To engage employees, leaders need to activate employees’ seeking systems, which releases dopamine and makes people feel enthused, excited and creative doing what they we’re doing. When dopamine is not released, we feel bored and creatively bankrupt. This is our body’s way of reminding us that we are made for better things — of urging us to learn something new and contribute more. IN TODAY’S WORK ENVIRONMENT, “MOTIVATE,” “ENCOURAGE” AND “ENGAGE” ARE COMMON WORDS USED BY MANAGERS. HOW IS IT THEN THAT 70 PERCENT OF EMPLOYEES ARE DISENGAGED AND “DEAD AT WORK”? Remember that management practices were invented during the industrial revolution. This is when old-school bureaucratic leadership relied on positional power, control and certainty. This is a control-based approach to managing people. A control-based approach is detrimental because it ramps up people’s fear — fear of not hitting targets, fear of losing bonuses, fear of humiliation. Leaders today are starting to see this old approach does not work because leaders today need enthusiasm, engagement and innovation. Old-school bureaucratic leadership especially does not work for the newest employees coming into the workforce. The best leaders are starting to see that in order to prompt employees’ curiosity, self-expression and learning through experimentation, they need to start with the humble purpose of serving others and being open to learning from employees. But many powerful leaders do not want to give up control. Part of this is because many leaders want to seem certain and confident and they worry about coming off as vulnerable and uncertain. And, 40 years of research on the psychology of power has revealed that high power individuals are more likely to treat others as objects and prefer maintaining social distance from others, especially subordinates. So, there are some psychological issues that keep many leaders. IN YOUR INTERVIEWS AND PROFILES, YOU’VE NO DOUBT HEARD MANY SUCCESS STORIES. HAVE YOU HEARD ANY INSPIRING “FAILURE STORIES”? Almost every episode contains examples of failure. Joe Gebbia from AirBnb thought his business was a major failure in 2009 when only one person signed up to stay at an AirBnb in Austin at South by Southwest. He went back to San Francisco feeling pretty miserable until he received feedback from that one customer. The user complained that he had to pay the apartment owner directly and it felt awkward. But from that one complaint, Gebbia and his team pivoted and decided to make AirBnb transactions frictionless.

WHAT ARE COMMON MISTAKES LEADERS MAKE WHEN TRYING TO BREATHE LIFE INTO THEIR EMPLOYEES? Many leaders see their job as the emperor — someone who rules above employees. This can give the illusion of control. These leaders try to demand adaptive work behaviors but the neuroscience shows it doesn’t work that way because anxiety shuts off creativity, innovation and engagement. The biggest challenge facing leaders is moving the cultural norms and human resource practices away from fear/anxiety and toward excitement/curiosity. These are the new emotions of competitive advantage because they produce the engagement, innovation and enthusiasm that leaders need in order to stay relevant. This is why I say it is a golden age in human emotions. Now that change demands frequent innovation, firms need employees to be creative and enthused rather than acting like robots and following details scripts. Now that there are robots and AI to take on prescripted tasks that are mundane and boring, we can spend more of our time on the creative and innovative aspects of work. I see a chance for more people’s seeking systems to be lit up more than ever before. It’s a little like when we invented the printing press and people didn’t need to write everything out longhand. HOW CAN LEADERS CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT FILLED WITH PERSONALIZED EXPERIENCES? We got rid of purpose and meaning in most jobs during the industrial revolution when we broke work up into little segments, most of which do not touch the end user. So we disconnected people from purpose, other than money to pay the bills. But for humans there is a real power in “why.” We want to understand the purpose and the impact of our actions and when we get this opportunity we experience enthusiasm and motivation. Alignment around purpose is the most important leadership duty, but as I describe in the book, purpose is personal. Leaders can help employees personalize purpose but it can’t be handed out like playing cards. Once leaders understand why purpose is important to people, the most important investment is to help employees personally experience the impact of their work. These personal experiences with the end product and the end users help people change their stories about work behaviors from “how I do my work” to “why I do my work.” So don’t assume that employees will buy into whatever purpose you talk about as a leader. Create experiences where employees see how their work affects other people and the environment. Help employees experience purpose rather than trying to issue purpose. Personalized purpose is when employees feel a sense of meaning in their work because they connect with customers and they talk directly with customers about what customers appreciate and need. It’s really pretty simple as a concept. You just need to invest time and set up the space for the conversations. The book is full of examples of how to do this without much financial investment and the returns are outstanding. Register today at

54 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

s m a e T e l i Ag e t a e Cr g n i n r a e L e l i g A s n o i t a z i n a g r O

us from c o f y g e t ra arning st izations n le a e g h r t o g w in llo Shift ility will a g a in future. o t a t r y c e c n n ie u c fi an ef swiftly in t s ju d a to



he future of work is one of the most widely discussed topics by senior executives across all industries. A mere internet search on the subject will pull up 238,000,000 results, more than 70 business books, countless conferences, and too many podcasts and blog posts to count. I have a few out there myself. I believe this is the topic du jour because organizations are desperately trying to find the crystal ball that will enable them not only to stay ahead of their competition, but also enter into new markets and beat new competitors. I was recently asked what a leading-edge learning strategy might look like in the next five years. Many learning strategies today are focused on transforming the company into a “learning organization.” A learning organization, as introduced by

Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •


author and MIT lecturer Peter Senge, is one that continuously facilitates learning for its people and transforms as needed. Key characteristics of a learning organization are systems thinking, challenging the status quo, continued growth for teams and individuals, and common understanding of a shared vision. All these things are still relevant and needed, but it isn’t enough for an organization to just become a learning organization; it also needs to rethink how it is organized. Agility is the emerging trend for companies in thinking about how they structure teams to accomplish work. Agile methodology began with software development, but, with its focus on adapting to change rather than following a process, it has become relevant in other areas as well. While each of these methodologies has value independently, together they are extremely powerful. Radical changes will be necessary for companies to become agile learning organizations that will be able to continuously learn and adjust to disruptions more swiftly. Is your team agile enough today to respond to all the disruptions occurring in the business environment? Maybe a better initial question to ask is: Is your learning strategy focused on efficiency or agility?

Pop Quiz! True or false. Your learning strategy: A. Is designed and deployed by multidisciplinary project teams and shared resources rather than a center of expertise. B. Has design principles rather than set milestones. C. Is focused on embedding learning into work rather than providing a course calendar. D. Includes tools and resources that make it easy for anyone to become a teacher rather than certification for trainers. E. Makes learning visible with systems that increase transparency rather than learning confined to a classroom. F. Includes methods for experimenting, failing and learning rather than pass-fail evaluation. G. Leverages new technologies to expand human capability in the flow of work rather than creates a one-stop shop for content. H. Will synthesize data from unexpected sources into insights and allow learners to take actions in real time rather than targeted data only used in business reports. If you answered true to most of these questions, congratulations — your learning strategy is more focused on agility than efficiency. However, if your company is like most companies, there is still room to become more agile. 56 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

Disassembling Existing Structures Disruptions are adopted by consumers more quickly than ever before. Consider this: It took more than 50 years for the telephone to reach 50 percent of U.S. households but it took the cell phone less than five years to accomplish the same level of adoption. With even more disruptive technologies becoming mainstream today, organizations that are not agile enough to respond quickly will lose market share. The challenge we need to address today is the current organization structure, where functions work in silos with few shared goals between them. These centralized structures act much like a machine that is slow to adjust to the changing environment. They were designed to create efficiency by centralizing the design of processes and deploying them across the organization. However, this method of efficiency has slowed organizational changes significantly.

Embed learning into work as much as possible. Design work that allows learning to happen while achieving business goals. Even cross-functional teams lack the ability to adjust quickly because of the hierarchy in decision making. In other words, they are not agile. A new and more agile model needs to emerge where empowered multidisciplinary teams work together to design learning into the flow of work.

The Radical Changes Agile teams create agile learning organizations. A leading-edge learning strategy in five years will be designed by empowered multidisciplinary teams that assemble and disassemble as needed. Each team will be guided by a set of design principles, allowing for rapid changes when needed. There are various ways that you can begin aligning your design principles to allow for agility and change. First and foremost, embed learning into work as much as possible. Design work that allows learning to happen while achieving business goals. The following three types of support — performance support, social support and systems support — can filter out the waste of formal learning and allow employees to access the knowledge they need when they need it and learn by doing. Performance support is no longer a laminated job aid next to a piece of equipment. Modern perfor-

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mance support could be a video, a mobile app or even a voice-activated digital assistant. While the delivery mechanism has changed, the objective is the same: to allow employees to access information at the moment of need. Social support has also evolved as our social circle has been enhanced to allow making and sustaining connections simple and dynamic. Previously you may have been assigned a mentor with whom you would meet on a monthly basis. In today’s digital world you can access many experts around the world through powerful search engines and social networks. Organizations can now harness their collective knowledge by building the infrastructure to enable greater sharing.

There is no crystal ball that will show us our future, only signals that let us forecast the environment we might encounter. Systems support is all about how your organization functions as a system. Do your strategy, structure, processes and culture support agile learning for your people? In the past, slow and methodical processes were the norm. To keep pace with competition today, organizations that create an environment where employees can fail early, learn and improve will have the edge. Another way to begin to allow for agility and change is to make sharing easy. People want to share their knowledge. The trouble is, they don’t always know how. Your learning strategy should include tools and resources that make teaching as intuitive as learning. As a learning professional who has worked with too many subject matter experts to count, I can testify that some of the smartest people have no idea how to teach others. Here are a few helpful tools. • A rapid development toolkit is a resource that allows an SME to plug in their information and, voilà, out pops an instructionally sound learning object. These toolkits can be either analog or digital. • Expert video guides can be as simple as a checklist or template or as complex as a workshop that teaches SMEs how to use their phone to create engaging instructional videos. The latter is also a great way to add more content to your video platform. • Hackathons are a great way to bring people together to share and collaborate for the purpose of problem solving. 58 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

It’s also important to embrace radical transparency. Leverage learning as a platform to share strategy and progress of initiatives that were previously confidential. Design systems that allow the flow of information to go both ways. This helps build knowledge and trust across the organization as well as a sense of ownership and accountability among all employees. Learning leaders hold a powerful lever that can connect a seemingly ambiguous organizational strategy to the everyday work of employees. Here are a few ideas: • Organize a companywide strategy discussion that allows employees to connect directly with those who set the strategy. • Use the classroom to allow learners to solve challenging company goals by providing access to people and resources. • Design learning into existing business updates by crowdsourcing “burning” questions using digital audience interaction tools like Slido and Poll Everywhere. Again, allow room for failure. Acculturate methods to try things out early in the process, learn and try again. Experimenting might mean failing sometimes. And that’s OK: Sometimes the lessons learned from a failure can be more valuable than a success. Think about how often a successful initiative is scrutinized: pretty infrequently. The typical after-event action for a success is a celebration, while failure is typically scrutinized and people held accountable. The problem with both of these situations is what happens to the human psyche. When success is celebrated and failure is punished, a result can be prolonged admittance to failure or hiding of failures altogether, which can lead to greater failures at higher costs. Design thinking is a great example of a process that can help employees understand how to fail early, learn and iterate. Design thinking methods and mindsets can be developed by building learning that requires learners to solve workplace challenges by turning them into design challenges. As ideas are tested, the errors in assumptions can be corrected earlier and more often. Integrate technology and people. People add value that technology can’t replicate just yet. Work that requires compassion, empathy, creativity and artistic design are still best done by people. Build a system that allows people to be more human and select technologies that will expand their human potential. Finally, turn insights into action: There will be more data coming in from everywhere. Your learning strategy should help synthesize data from unexpected places and generate insights that allow learners to take actions in real time. Learning leaders should find out AGILE LEARNING continued on page 65

Case Study

A Mobile-Powered Learning Makeover BY WALTER DAVIS


here was a time when Aggreko didn’t allow employees to take out their mobile phones during technical training sessions. However, in an effort to transition from being a training-focused organization to a learning-focused organization, we have embraced mobile apps as a fundamental part of Aggreko’s “Be Your Future” learning program. With the understanding that collecting certificates and building compliance won’t be enough for the challenges ahead, we are focusing on delivering a dynamic learning approach to support high-performing teams. “Be Your Future” embodies continuous learning to enable our employees to efficiently overcome obstacles they’re facing in the moment and be innovative and adaptable to the requirements and pace that our customers demand. By the end of 2018, we’re on track to offer more than 300 courses to more than 2,000 Aggreko employees across the globe through Guidebook, a mobile app creation platform.

Digitizing the Classroom Experience While a classroom-based course is a valuable way to help master the skills necessary to deliver superior service to customers, at Aggreko, we saw opportunity to modernize. In response to industry trends, we sought new ways to use technology and create digital efficiency for improved decision making. First, we wanted to cut down our dependency on paper. We were printing huge stacks of handouts for every training session, all of which ended up getting tossed in the recycling bin. Aggreko leadership also recognized how useful smartphones are for schedules and course materials, so we included them as an asset in our trainings. Our thinking was that millennial and Generation Z employees, as well as many boomers, certainly have their phones with them in the field, so why take them away during training? We wanted to bring the same mobile-based operational and social behavior that we’re encouraging in the field into the classroom. To create a classroom digital learning experience that is collaborative and engaging, we turned to Guidebook. 60 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

SNAPSHOT Temporary power generation supplier Aggreko is using mobile apps to revitalize its learning experience.

My Guide, Aggreko’s branded, enterprise mobile app built on the Guidebook platform, offers our employees a new way to build connections, socialize and collaborate — whether through sharing pictures or asking questions. Compared with email and texts, the app gives people one place to “Be Together” — one of Aggreko’s core values — during the learning journey. “We are creating a new learning culture at pace, from the ground up,” said Kate Sberna, Aggreko’s vice president, global learning and talent. “And My Guide is a key enabler in bringing learning and information to our employees and meeting them where they are.” The app also produces training environments that have the same feeling of excitement and sharing that surrounds an in-person event. To build anticipation leading up to a course, Aggreko instructors pre-populate My Guide with content, create automated posts around schedule and logistical details, and post pre-course discussion questions and other information to help employees plan and start to engage. “I really like how My Guide allows the technicians to connect with each other and the instructor prior to the class,” said Matt Barry, Aggreko’s technical curriculum manager. “This helps build some excitement and momentum going into the class.” Our employees also have expressed satisfaction with the new app. One shared that “You really felt connected to your fellow participants prior to, during and even after the event.”

Extending Into the Field Aggreko’s learning journey continues beyond the classroom. All handouts and handbooks that were printed are now digital, and learning is accomplished through the My Guide app that goes with you on the job. Our employees have digital knowledge, resources

and even pictures and memories from the in-app social feed, Interact, in the palm of their hand. During the first pilot, one employee raved about not having to haul around a massive binder of training manuals while on site with customers. Instead of trying to track down information on schematics located on a piece of paper floating around their truck, workers could reference valuable resources digitally, just a few clicks away on their phones. By empowering everyone on their own learning journey and making it easier to find an expert and be an expert, the app is sparking a change in how our employees connect, communicate and learn. One employee said, “I think [the app] engages us in what is now more natural interaction for everyone. It helped to remove communication barriers and therefore we were more invested when it came time for workshop participation.”

Mobilizing for Hurricane Relief When Hurricane Harvey brought widespread flooding and devastation to Houston in August 2017, our team was even able to use Guidebook to create a disaster relief tool. At the time, Aggreko’s services were in high demand, and our employees were busy with disaster recovery efforts, not only for the greater Houston area but also for our colleagues in need. Volunteer offers from both the operational and office-based workforce were abundant, but it was becoming overwhelming to track, manage and communicate what was needed and who was available. Already in the process of rolling out Guidebook for our global learning program, we got creative. We considered: Could we use the existing mobile app platform to quickly mobilize employees’ relief efforts? The answer was yes. In less than three days, our team created the Be Together Houston app to mobilize, train and communicate with employee volunteers who wanted to help colleagues impacted by the storm. Like My Guide, the new app was a reflection of the “Be Together” value — asking for the best of each other and harnessing the company’s scale and diverse skills to grow stronger together. Be Together Houston offered an easy way to efficiently organize volunteers, housing all logistics in a single location. At a glance, people could see times and locations for volunteer opportunities, like meeting at a colleague’s home to remove drywall. There was a web view in the app from the existing web page form to enable donations, and Guidebook’s Interact feed was full of pictures as employees shared their experiences helping each other. In all, our teams truly came together. We were heartened by the positive messages in the Interact feed.

It gave us the opportunity to be there for our people and for our people to be there for each other. It also gave us the chance to uncover a learning opportunity. We were able to add a unique training element to the relief efforts, offering courses on how to make repairs. When a colleague hosted a course for a specific skill, like how to remove or hang drywall, details were shared about when and where the course was happening via the Be Together Houston app. Employees could view schedules and sign up directly in the app, as well as invite friends and family to join.

Aggreko has already seen an 80 to 100 percent reduction in print costs for every course that uses a mobile app. Aggreko’s Learning Center served as the emergency response headquarters during the relief efforts with the mobile app at the center of it all — a powerful tool to help everyone unite and learn while helping the community recover.

Tip of the App Iceberg We anticipate this being only the beginning of Aggreko’s journey with mobile apps. When our senior leadership team saw the enthusiastic adoption of the new mobile apps for learning, they began creating apps for leadership events and our annual conference. Aggreko has already seen an 80 to 100 percent reduction in print costs for every course that uses a mobile app. Overall, we expect a 50 to 60 percent decrease globally in course material printing costs by 2020, with further reductions in the future. It also allows us to avoid costly investment in new devices for the classroom by using the devices employees already have. Employees who complete courses with the app want more, asking for every piece of content to be digital. They see that the company takes their development seriously, which we hope will impact retention. It’s an exciting time of digital transformation. With Guidebook, we’re investing in a smarter, more strategic way. We’re investing in our employees’ futures. CLO Walter Davis is global learning and talent technologies manager at Aggreko. He can be reached at editor@ Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •


Business Intelligence

Spending levels remain consistent. However, changing student demographics and talent management needs point to the necessity for fresh thinking. BY MIKE PROKOPEAK


xecutive education remains a widespread development tool, popular with the learning departments that fund that education and well-liked by the individuals who go through the programs. According to a 2017 survey of 1,665 early to midcareer professionals, 60 percent say they are very likely or extremely likely to pursue a master’s degree in management. Further data from that study, conducted by AACSB, an association of business schools, EMBAC, a council of executive MBA programs, and UNICON, a consortium of executive education providers, show that half of them plan to pursue a specialized graduate degree (Figure 1). For their part, chief learning officers plan to continue and, in some cases, grow their investment in executive education to keep pace. According to data from the Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board, 92 percent of learning organizations either plan to increase their spending in executive education or keep it the same (Figure 2). The Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board is a group of 1,500 professionals in the learning and development industry who have agreed to be surveyed by the Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group, the research and advisory arm of Chief Learning Officer magazine. This survey was conducted from January to March 2018. Further analysis of companies’ spending plans on a per-person basis show similar support, with a slight uptick from plans in 2017 (Figure 3). This year, 10 percent of learning organizations plan to invest more than $10,000 per executive, compared to 8 percent last year. In 2017, 24 percent planned to spend between $4,000 and $10,000, compared with 26 percent this year. At the low end, 65 percent plan with spend less than $4,000 in 2018, compared with 68 percent last year.

62 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

The top three priorities for that spending are consistent year over year. Organizations want to use executive development to grow the succession pipeline, retain high-potential employees and foster innovation and creative thinking (Figure 4). When asked if their executive development plans integrate with their broader talent management goals, a minority of learning executives indicated it was a seamless process (Figure 5). The majority report integration with key processes such as performance management, retention and succession planning remain a work in progress. Furthermore, nearly one-quarter said executive development is not integrated with diversity and inclusion at all. Digging into the needs of those professionals looking to pursue an MBA or specialized master’s degree reveals more interesting trends. According to the AACSB/EMBAC/UNICON study, 80 percent of professionals who said they are likely to pursue a higher degree want education that is more self-directed and developed in partnership with their employer versus a traditional program. Nontraditional education options are also becoming more attractive to students. Ninety percent of those surveyed reported finding some value in certificates and digital badges as a substitute or complement to traditional education credentials. One-quarter said those credentials could even substitute for a degree, according to the AACSB/EMBAC/UNICON survey. Only 1 in 10 are not at all likely to pursue a certificate or badge. Change is coming even to the hallowed halls of executive education. CLO Mike Prokopeak is vice president and editor in chief at Chief Learning Officer magazine. He can be reached at

Figures’ Sources: AACSB, EMBAC, UNICON, 2017. N=1,665 (Figure 1); Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board, N=500. All percentages rounded.

Change on the Horizon for Executive Education



Somewhat likely

Not likely


MBA or master’s in management 60%




Specialized master’s degree 50%


No change





Business and management courses not part of formal program 48%



Non-degree executive education 38%








Less than $1,000

$1,000 to $3,999

$4,000 to $6,999

$7,000 to $10,000

More than $10,000








Growing our succession pipeline

Retaining high potentials

Fostering innovation

Integrating leaders into culture

Encouraging collaboration

Developing business acumen


In process

Seamless integration 59


26 20

Performance management





23 18

Diversity and inclusion







Succession planning



Talent acquisition



ENGAGEMENT continued from page 21 Level 4 requires a higher level of leadership. At this stage, an egalitarian collaboration and situational leadership approach looks to empower and motivate employees through a family-like culture intended to create cohesion. Leaders must be able to establish meaning and trust among employees, and they begin to function more as coaches than authoritative bosses. The intention is for employees to feel empowered and motivated in their jobs by the culture and career-development opportunities created by the company. Leaders aim to create psychological safety for people to step into uncertainty and transcend themselves to collaborate in teams, and, in turn, individuals consider team success as important as personal success. Some companies functioning closer to level 5 have changed the fundamental priority of business. Leadership in these companies seeks individual development first and expects business outcomes to result. Harvard professor Robert Kegan portrayed three such companies, Next Jump, Decurion and Bridgewater, in his book “An Everyone Culture.” The book distills the unique characteristics of “deliberately developmental organizations” and the practices to design and manage organizational cultures that promote employee growth. DDO companies provide conditions where people can bring their whole selves to work. These companies focus on attracting people who are inspired by the company vision and interested in managing and developing themselves. DDOs organize their culture and practices to support their employees’ development process. Decurion’s manifesto talks about people being seen as ends, not means. Where earlier-stage companies — particularly at level 3 — seem to trade making money for the well-being and growth of their people, Decurion believes that developing people is good business. Christopher Forman, CEO of Decurion, contends that “Developing people and pursuing profitability are not two separate things. We see them as the same thing. Each reinforces the other. Setting tough profitability targets creates a pull that mandates people develop themselves. And, in turn, their development creates increased profitability.” At the same time, the manifesto says if a person is no longer being pulled to develop in a role, it’s time to find a new role or leave the company.

Implications of Worldview Thinking Everyone operates with different worldviews, and those views impact collaboration in organizations. For individuals to truly acknowledge the hierarchy in human development stages requires Wilber’s “second-tier thinking.” A few considerations can help leaders prevent dysfunction and encourage development. First, be aware of similarities and differences in employee and leadership mindsets. Typically, the best con64 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

ditions for alignment exist when employees and leaders gravitate to the same worldview. A mismatch of levels will cause either a need for coping for both parties or the need to create subgroups where one type of employee is treated differently from another. Next, foster authenticity between aspiration and practice. Problems occur when the organization’s stated vision isn’t aligned with the worldview practiced by the leadership. This happens when the official vision statement speaks to a different worldview than what takes place in the boardroom. Third, accept change as necessary even if it’s difficult, precisely because a shift in worldview may be required. New leadership often comes in and defines a new vision without realizing that individual shifts in existing employees from one level to another can take years. Fourth, encourage transparency to increase higher levels of worldviews for both individuals and the organization. For the individual, vulnerability as a form of transparency becomes key to development and transcending the ego. For the organization, information sharing and openness around process and decision-making becomes key to inspiring evolved employees. For example, Bridgewater records most meetings and makes the recordings available to all employees. Finally, hold space for dialog. The evolved leader has the ability to hold space where diverse groups can come together and explore new strategic possibilities and respond to complex challenges in a radically changing world.

From Servitude to Self-Actualization As society’s economic focus has evolved from agrarian to the current information economy, businesses have tried many approaches to tie employees to the organization. This has evolved from forced contracts of indentured servitude, where laborers received some kind of benefit to meet an obligation, to a more liberated relationship, where employers seek sustainable engagement by considering both the personal and professional needs of the employee. Now more evolved leaders are seeing the role of human development in the workplace and the need to help individuals find their work purpose. This trend could shift the essential role of business in our society: to shoulder the mantle where wisdom traditions and school systems failed to create the circumstances and conditions for people to develop and to self-actualize, to live a full life, and to be able to display true identity, thoughts and feelings. CLO Soren Eilertsen is founder and president of Kollner Group Inc. and professor of business strategy as adjunct faculty at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management. He can be reached at

AGILE LEARNING continued from page 58 what data is already being collected inside their organization and collaborate to find ways to get more value from that data. Another opportunity would be to look at emerging technologies such as sensing, blockchain, artificial intelligence and augmented/virtual reality. These tools place the ability for rapid response well within reach. Imagine merging people and technology to overcome challenges to agility that exist today. Consider the following example: Laurence is part of a project team. Sensing technology and the “internet of things” recognize that she is on the project, which meetings she attends, what is discussed in the meetings, and decisions and commitments that are made. That information is stored as part of her learning record using blockchain, which is now being used as a source of truth for more than just financial transactions. All that data is fed into algorithms where AI provides feedback about performance, as well as insights and recommended actions. The organization now has more accurate information about Laurence, making it easier to deploy her talents on future projects. Laurence is armed with in-


sights that she can share with her team to create prototypes using digital and analog methods to experiment and learn. Learning is happening between people and technology as part of the work. A robust learning strategy is not about technology alone. It is about people and how they will use technology. To truly build an agile learning organization, we need to radically rethink the roles and how teams are organized to design the work.

Clifford Capone Vice President, Group Publisher 312-967-3538 Derek Graham Regional Sales Manager 312-967-3591

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Cloudy With a Chance of Disruption There is no crystal ball that will show us our future, only signals that let us forecast the environment we might encounter. Shifting the focus of our learning strategy from efficiency to agility will allow organizations to adjust swiftly — even if we are wrong about what lies ahead. CLO

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Rebecca G. Chandler is chief principal of RG Chandler & Co. LLC and former chief learning officer and global director of learning and development at Steelcase. She can be reached at

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Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •



The Need for Continuous Learning

Our knowledge has an increasingly limited shelf life • BY TIM RAHSCHULTE

S Tim Rahschulte is former CLO of Evanta, current CEO at the Professional Development Academy and professor of business at George Fox University. He is co-author of “My Best Advice: Proven Rules For Effective Leadership.” He can be reached at

everal years ago, Jeff Immelt, former chairman and CEO at General Electric, gave a lecture at Stanford University. During his lecture, he directed a point to the students, but it was just as important for the faculty and administrative leadership gathered to hear as well: “The things you’re learning while you’re here are going to be pretty irrelevant relatively soon.” Immelt’s point was not about the irrelevance of a Stanford education; rather, he was noting the need for lifelong continuous learning. Immelt is not the only one noticing the need for continual learning. His predecessor, Jack Welch, famously said, “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the greatest competitive advantage.” Samuel Arbesman, a senior scholar at the Kauffman Foundation and a research fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, wrote about it in his book, “The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date.” Thirty years prior, systems theorist and architect Buckminster Fuller detailed the Knowledge Doubling Curve in his book, “The Critical Path.” Knowledge needs to expand and grow for innovation to be realized. To illustrate this, Fuller tracked major waves of innovation relative to the knowledge needed to create new capabilities. At the turn of the 20th century, the Knowledge Doubling Curve was estimated to be 100 years — in other words, it would take 100 years for current knowledge to double. At the time, water was being used to convert energy into power and mechanization of work was being established. Harnessing steam power and realizing the value of railway commerce were a couple of the next innovations and required doubling of knowledge to achieve. It was also realized that the time needed to achieve the knowledge necessary for these technologies was less than in the earlier wave. The next wave brought about the power of electricity and the combustion engine, and yes, the knowledge needed to achieve them was doubled, in half the time. Like Gordon Moore’s prediction of the transistor shrinking by half every couple of years while doubling in processor speed, Fuller realized that knowledge needed to double to achieve the next generation of innovation, and it was doing so at an increasingly rapid pace. Today, the “internet of things” has sped the pace of knowledge so drastically that while many estimate the

66 Chief Learning Officer • July/August 2018 •

current curve of knowledge doubling to be about 12 years, according to IBM, it soon could be 12 hours. Because current knowledge is becoming outdated more quickly, the pace at which people learn must also speed up to keep up, let alone secure a competitive advantage. Our knowledge has an increasingly limited shelf life. What was once known as truth is quickly being challenged by innovation and new knowledge. As we aim to solve problems, innovate new solutions, and develop our organizational leaders and teams, we must continuously learn to expand the frontier of knowledge and capacity — at the individual and enterprise levels. I can offer four practices for doing so.

Knowledge needs to expand and grow for innovation to be realized. First, stop believing everything you think. Past success is no guarantee of future success, and there is no recipe to copy from yesterday and apply today. To succeed, we must overcome any success delusion and bias we have and focus on continual learning, situational analysis, collaborative modeling of alternatives, quick decision-making, and disciplined follow-up and follow-through, all while benchmarking progress to adjust as new data give way to previously known facts. Second, know that success is a moving target. Goals cannot be static. Markets, competition and expectations are dynamic, and we must equip our human capital to expect change and drive toward it. We must enable change through collaborative learning. The best way to enable change and prepare to adjust individually and collaboratively is with a culture of brutal honesty, constructivist feedback and desire to question current facts. That’s the third practice: Recognize that feedback accelerates learning. The fourth is to establish a learning mindset on both good days and bad. Regardless of our effort, some days will result in better outcomes. But each day provides opportunities to learn. If we ignore these opportunities, we increase the chance of yesterday’s frustrations from setbacks hijacking today’s opportunities for success. CLO

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