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October 2017 |

National Basketball Association’s

Mike Kennedy

Make the Most of Global Assignments - Not All Roads Lead to an MBA - Reframing Learning for Growth Avoid and Correct Employee Evaluation Pitfalls - Is Your Learning Organization Agility Fit?

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Education’s Killer App


e’ve fallen into an education rut. Teach, test, accredit. Repeat. For many students, this cycle of education is done to them rather than with them. It’s a requirement rather than a pleasure, something they are compelled to do — by parents, teachers and the law in some cases. This state of affairs shouldn’t be a surprise. With notable exceptions, we’ve focused on teaching to the test for decades in schools — boiling down complex ideas and skills to component parts and then testing, assessing and certifying the mastery of them. Starting as young as the age of 5, students learn to follow what they are told is important — and what will be tested — rather than what makes them curious. They learn there is information that is interesting, fascinating and perplexing. And then there’s information that will be on the test. The incentives focus on the latter. Pass the test, get the degree. Get the degree, get the job. Get the job, get the life.

In education theory, it’s about exploitation vs. exploration. Faced with a problem, adults who have been schooled in data and immersed in information exploit that experience and knowledge for answers. That works when there’s a solution that already exists. It’s efficient. It’s effective and nothing is better for a quick fix. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, as the saying goes. Creativity, on the other hand, depends on exploration. It’s inefficient. But it adds long-term value in a way exploitation doesn’t. For evidence, look no further than your smartphone’s colorful touch screen versus the old touch keypad. Which was the more creative but more complex solution to interacting with your device? Technology is a powerful enabler of education but it can also get in the way. Between virtual reality and powerful analytics platforms and artificial intelligence, there’s a host of engaging, user-friendly and, most importantly for many CLOs, relatively inexpensive tools to implement. Early results from microlearning technology and video-based learning are encouraging, showing higher engagement among learners. But is technology helping us learn via exploration? That’s the question. According to data collected from Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board The result is an education system that resembles a surveys, more than half of CLOs plan to up their almassive, smokestack-topped factory churning out ready significant investment in technology next year. the newest model for the showroom floor. Technology is no longer just an aid to many jobs. It This isn’t an anti-testing screed. Educators need to has become the indispensable way work is done. It’s ensure they are teaching the right things and the way also increasingly the way people learn. That subjects us they are doing it is valid and based on evidence. to what software programmers call “lock in,” when we Questioning the ultimate outcome of education is are forced to work and learn in the way software crefair game, too. For schools, that means looking be- ators decided it should be done when they wrote the yond the test and examining social and economic ef- code way back when. We’re acquiring knowledge effifects such as higher employment rates and GDP ciently but we’re not exploring. growth. In companies, it should lead to a better botWhen technology becomes just a new form of tom line, a boost in sales, engaged workers and fewer, teaching to the test, it doesn’t lead to increased creativiless costly mistakes. ty. Helping employees make meaning from the tools But in the search for bottom line results it’s easy to they use and pairing them with others to explore new lose sight of the bigger picture. Teaching to the test will frontiers of knowledge leads to higher creativity and cause us to fail. breaks us out of the rut we’re in. Technology is part of For decades, the education system cranked out the answer. People are the rest of it. CLO workers that built one of history’s greatest and most productive industrial engines. As the age of innovation takes hold, it’s not enough. More and more people in the future will need to deploy complex cognitive skills like analysis, decision-making and creativity. The future economy is driven by people who use Mike Prokopeak the information and resources available to make smart Editor in Chief and unexpected decisions. Creativity is the killer app.

Creativity is the key to the future economy.

4 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

Call for Entries See how your learning and development program ranks against other top organizations worldwide.

The 2018 LearningElite benchmarking program. Applications accepted now through November 3, 2017. Apply today at











CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Josh Bersin Dave DeFilippo Mike Echols Sarah Fister Gale Nicholas F. Horney James D. Kirkpatrick Wendy K. Kirkpatrick Angie Morgan Matt Paese Jack J. Phillips Patti P. Phillips Michael F. Tucker


CHIEF LEARNING OFFICER EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Cushing Anderson, Program Director, Learning Ser vices, IDC Cedric Coco, EVP, Chief People Of ficer, Brookdale Senior Living Inc. Lisa Doyle, Head of Retail Training, Ace Hardware Tamar Elkeles, Chief Talent Executive, Atlantic Bridge Capital Thomas Evans, ( Ret.) Chief Learning Of ficer, PricewaterhouseCoopers Ted Henson, Senior Strategist, Oracle Gerry Hudson-Martin, Director, Corporate Learning Strategies, Business Architects Kimo Kippen, Vice President, Global Workforce Initiatives, Hilton Worldwide Rob Lauber, Vice President, Chief Learning Of ficer, McDonald’s Corp. Maj. Gen. Erwin F. Lessel, ( Ret.) U.S. Air Force, Director, Deloit te Consulting Justin Lombardo, ( Ret.) Chief Learning Of ficer, Baptist Health Adri Maisonet-Morales, Vice President, Enterprise Learning and Development, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Alan Malinchak, CEO, Éclat Transitions LLC and STRATactical LLC Lee Maxey, CEO, MindMax 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 Chief Learning Officer (ISSN 1935-8148) is published monthly, except bi-monthly in January/February and November/December by MediaTec Publishing Inc., 111 E. Wacker Dr., Suite 1200, Chicago IL 60601.  Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Chief Learning Officer, P.O. Box 8712 Lowell, MA 01853. Subscriptions are free to qualified professionals within the US and Canada. Digital free subscriptions are available worldwide. Nonqualified paid subscriptions are available at the subscription price of $199 for 12 issues.  All countries outside the US and Canada must be prepaid in US funds with an additional $33 postage surcharge.  Single price copy is $29.95 Chief Learning Officer and are the trademarks of MediaTec Publishing Inc. Copyright © 2016, MediaTec Publishing Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of material published in Chief Learning Officer is forbidden without permission. Printed by: Quad/Graphics, Sussex, WI






22 Profile The NBA’s New MVP Sarah Fister Gale Mike Kennedy is helping transform the National Basketball Association into a world-class learning organization.

58 Case Study Growing Leaders Organically Sarah Fister Gale Amy’s Kitchen baked their company’s culture and values into a homegrown Leadership Academy.

62 Business Intelligence Good Vibrations Ave Rio As they enter budget season, CLOs are cautiously optimistic about spending plans for 2018.


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October 2017


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Make the Most of Global Assignments


Michael F. Tucker Too few international assignments result in better leadership. Here’s a model for how to better develop global leadership skills and maximize your investment.

Not All Roads Lead to an MBA

Michael E. Echols The Law of Supply and Demand


Sarah Fister Gale Are MBAs still a valuable development tool? With so many leadership development programs to choose from, there are many paths to business success.

Josh Bersin The Future Is Now


Avoid and Correct Employee Evaluation Pitfalls

Jack J. Phillips & Patti P. Phillips Rank Development Programs by Results


James D. Kirkpatrick and Wendy K. Kirkpatrick Too often, our approach to learning evaluation breaks down due to predictable mistakes. But with a few tips, we can get back on the road to high performance learning.

Dave DeFilippo Going the Distance


Reframing Learning for Growth

Matt Paese It’s not about learning. It’s about growth. Here are eight principles of leadership education that will help lead your company’s continued growth.

Angie Morgan The 4 Keys to Credibility


Is Your Learning Organization Agility Fit?

4 Editor’s Letter

Nicholas F. Horney The rise of the gig economy means CLOs should assess their personal and organizational fitness for an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment.

Education’s Killer App

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Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •



The Law of Supply and Demand

Connecting the dots in labor data makes the case for learning investment • BY MICHAEL E. ECHOLS

T Michael E. Echols is principal and founder of Human Capital LLC and author of “Your Future Is Calling.” To comment, email editor@

here are many obvious points of labor market data that are important to learning executives. But it’s the less obvious data that have significant implications for corporate learning if we connect the dots. Here are a few data points. As of June 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor reported 4.3 percent unemployment, a low figure that shows the country approaching full employment. There were 6 million unfilled jobs, a record high reflecting a fundamental skills mismatch. Over 95 percent of the new jobs created since the 2008 financial crisis were filled by candidates with some level of post-secondary education. The average lifetime return on a $30,000 investment for an individual with some college credit to complete that degree is 2,300 percent. You read that right: The return is over 2,000 percent. This should answer the question of whether a college degree is worth it. These are all important facts about the present. But if you want your head to really spin, take a glimpse at what is coming in the world of robots and artificial intelligence. Read “The Second Machine Age” by MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. But I digress. We are more than amply challenged by the data of the here and now. In a recent column, I argued learning is no longer merely a cost center but rather a strategic asset. That

Nothing is more critical to the organization’s mission than the role of learning. same perspective is borne out in this data. So what does that data say? The facts scream one core message: scarcity. There is a shortage in the supply of key talent. Many companies have built their hiring process on a just-in-time supply chain model. While that approach is tempting, it is in fact dangerous. A just-intime strategy requires a predictable supply chain and an ample supply quantity to be able to respond to peak demands as they occur. Neither of these conditions exists in U.S. labor markets today. 10 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

So what does this have to do with corporate learning? Nothing is more critical to the mission of the organization than the role of learning. The learning function develops the expertise and capabilities of the organization’s talent pool. Learning creates supply. So let’s connect the dots in the economic data. Take the first dot: the 4.3 percent unemployment rate. What is the likelihood that any significant number of those 90 million people not in the labor force have the experience and the skills required to fill critical positions in your organization? If they were qualified there would not be 6 million unfilled positions left vacant for want of qualified candidates. So, if there’s not enough supply in the talent supply chain, what can we do about it? Here’s a radical idea. Increase learning and development opportunities to make sure the supply in the supply chain has the skills and experience needed by the enterprise today and tomorrow. The corporate learning function builds the inventory in the talent supply chain. The second dot involves the number of new positions created since the financial crisis of 2008. According to that data, 95 percent of those jobs require a post-secondary education, considerably greater than the previous forecast of 65 percent. What are the implications for learning and development? Grow your own talent. Finally, let’s go to the third dot: the potential return on investment that goes to individuals who invest in college degrees. The critical piece for companies is what it implies about adding value. The market is determining that the value created by going from partial college credit to a full degree represents a 2,300 percent lifetime return on a $30,000 investment. The way to think about it from the firm’s perspective is to view a $30,000 investment in an employee’s college degree, perhaps in the form of tuition reimbursement, as a company down payment on the value the market tells us is created from this incremental development. Besides, what better way for learning and development to be a proactive contributor to the expansion of the human capital of the firm’s talent supply chain? Now that the dots are connected, the picture is clear. To me, it looks like a unique opportunity for the learning function to make a big contribution to the value of the enterprise. CLO

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The Future Is Now

Corporate training is the killer app for virtual reality • BY JOSH BERSIN

L Josh Bersin is founder of Bersin by Deloitte and a principal with Deloitte Consulting. He can be reached at editor@

ike many of you, I love to play with new technology. But after 30 years of futzing with new stuff, I’ve learned to be skeptical of fancy new tools and often now wait until they’re “proven” until I recommend them to others. This is the way I felt about virtual reality. While I’ve used it many times, in most cases it was slow, the graphics were kind of cartoonish, the headset was uncomfortable and I often felt sick to my stomach halfway through the process. In 2014, Facebook announced an investment to purchase Oculus, a maker of VR headsets and gear. Even Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, said he believed the market to be years away. So it all seemed like a brilliant idea but one that could take a long time to mature. I’m here to say it has arrived much faster than we thought. And the killer app? Corporate training. I recently spent time with a company called Strivr Labs that develops VR software to help sports teams and athletes improve football performance. The company, which is only a few years old, builds software that simulates real-world play on the field and teaches players to respond to different plays and competitor activities. It creates a realistic environment that allows them to watch, make plays and slow down, stop and replay their movements. According to Strivr, the software can improve player learning by 30 percent over traditional training applications. And if you look at the videos on the company’s website, you’ll see it can be used for initial training, refresher training and just about every other scenario a player needs. And, of course, there’s no need for a real-world scrimmage to put a training activity in place. I visited Strivr, put on the headset and experienced the software first hand. It blew me away. The experience is as real as it gets with 3-D visuals, sound and high definition imagery in 360 degrees. It was amazingly fun and the system captures your eye movements and activity during the session. Then they showed me corporate training applications. Walmart, for example, has been using Strivr for almost a year and has applications to demonstrate how to manage customers effectively, what employees should do on Black Friday, and sessions that teach safety conditions, merchandising, theft reduction and just about every possible event that can happen in a store.

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In one of the simulations, you stand behind a deli counter and observe precisely how to serve customers (or not serve them) and see where glitches occur. Applications for this technology are vast: safety training for jobs in hazardous conditions where you can go to an oil well or a construction site virtually, simulations

There are hundreds of complex, real-world training situations that can now be addressed by VR. of job interviews to identify bias and discrimination, and applications in retail, hospitality and other customer-facing situations where employees need to see and feel the real world to really know what to do. Walmart and Strivr also use cohort sessions to let other employees see what the participant sees and give real-time feedback. There are hundreds of training situations where the real-world environment is complex, threatening, dangerous or just very hard to simulate. Many of these can now be addressed by VR and there is no content development required. This particular company provides a high resolution 3-D camera that records the real-world environment so companies like Walmart can create new programs in a few hours and constantly give employees up-to-date training on new situations, new store layouts, or changes in product, process or pricing strategy. New VR training companies like VirtaMed and SilVR Thread are also entering this market. Given that this market is brand new we can expect it to take off rapidly in the next few years. Today, it costs less than $20,000 to equip a single training center at Walmart and that price will likely go down. Augmented reality is on the market at a generally affordable rate, as well. The world of training technology is always exciting and fascinating to watch. VR training is just starting to explode. I suggest you start checking it out as soon as you can. CLO


Rank Development Programs by Results

Targeted approach guides investment, accountability • BY JACK J. PHILLIPS AND PATTI P. PHILLIPS


Jack J. Phillips is the chairman, and Patti P. Phillips is president and CEO of the ROI Institute. To comment, email

Lack of relevant ranking: Although there have been several attempts to rank leadership development programs, these rankings have not been based on the business results they deliver or are designed to deliver. Instead they have been based on volume, faculty, history and sometimes program innovations. For example, the 2017 Financial Times ranking of leadership development programs is based on course design, teaching methods and materials, faculty, food and accommodations, aims achieved, and facilities. The ranking system: In today’s climate, a ranking is needed based on business results delivered or at least on how the programs are designed to deliver results. If this existed, it would help internal leadership development teams see clearly which programs have this focus and which do not. It could help guide them into a decision of which program to pursue, explore and implement on a pilot basis. The criteria for delivering results should be based on the key success factors for leadership development. These factors are based on hundreds of studies where leadership development was evaluated at the business impact or ROI levels. If these factors are in place, results are delivered. It is much more important for an organization to have steps in place to design for the needed results instead of just measuring results only to be frustrated with the lack of results. The ranking should be based on eight condensed success factors: 1. Start with Why: Align programs with the business. 2. Make It Feasible: Select the right solution. 3. Expect Success: Design for results with impact objectives. 4. Make It Matter: Design for input, reaction and learning. 5. Make It Stick: Design for application and impact. 6. Make It Credible: Measure business results and calculate ROI, if desired. 7. Tell the Story: Communicate results to stakeholders. They do question investment in leadership develop- 8. Optimize Results: Use black box thinking to inment or other soft skills where the connection to busi- crease funding. ness need is not so obvious. The challenge for CLOs is The ranking of leadership programs should be to align the program to the business in the beginning, based on an objective process with rating systems, dockeep the focus on business impact during the program ument reviews and actual case studies. The outcome is and validate business improvement in a follow up to a ranking system based on the extent to which promake sure it delivered the promised business value. grams are designed to deliver results. CLO

rom time to time, we are asked which leadership development programs deliver greater results. Unfortunately, there is a small sample compared to the number of programs available. Three major forces have created a need to rank leadership development programs based on the results they deliver. Investment in leadership development: Recessions exist in some countries, a few industries, such as oil and gas, are still depressed, and there is much global uncertainty about the future. Still, sparked by the need for results-oriented leaders with high integrity, agility and diversity, there is a very heavy investment in leadership development, somewhere between $20 billion and $50 billion according to one 2017 analysis by Bersin by Deloitte. With the high level of investment comes greater need for accountability to show business value for leadership development. The more you spend the more you need to show results, pushing evaluation beyond the classic approach of showing the new behavior in place to showing how it has made a difference in the organization in business terms and in some cases financial ROI. Business connection is key: Various studies indicate what executives most want to see from learning and development is the connection to the business. This is particularly true for soft skills. Unfortunately, few leadership development programs are measured at this level because executives can easily see the need for hard skills programs and rarely question the value of entry-level training for new employees, compliance training or technical training.

Design for needed results instead of just measuring results only to be frustrated with the lack of results.

14 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

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Technologies, markets and industries evolve quickly and often unexpectedly. Today’s corporations face pressing challenges brought by rapid change and the resulting skills gap. An organization can thrive with an engaged workforce prepared to meet its current and future needs, as well as developed leaders who can deliver on strategic priorities. The right talent initiatives can help you energize a business growth strategy—that’s why a DeVryWORKS partnership is strategic too. Our partnership lets you tap the leadership, tools and resources you need to build a brilliant workforce and drive success across your organization.




In New York, DeVry University operates as DeVry College of New York. DeVry University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), www.hlcommission. org. DeVry is certified to operate by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Arlington Campus: 2450 Crystal Dr., Arlington, VA 22202. DeVry University is authorized for operation as a postsecondary educational institution by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Nashville Campus: 3343 Perimeter Hill Dr., Nashville, TN 37211. Unresolved complaints may be reported to the Illinois Board of Higher Education through the online compliant system http:// or by mail to 1 N. Old State Capitol Plaza, Ste. 333, Springfield, IL 62701-1377. ©2017 DeVry Educational Development Corp. All rights reserved.


Going the Distance

Set goals, train with intention and provide continuous feedback along the way • BY DAVE DeFILIPPO


Dave DeFilippo is chief learning officer for Suffolk. He can be reached at editor@

y first job after college was as a high school Spanish teacher. I also coached track and field — a passion of mine since I was a runner in secondary school and college. As a faculty member, I spent most of my day preparing for and teaching my four classes as well as handing out and correcting the required tests and homework. If the rubric of being a faculty member meant spending 80 percent of my time teaching and 20 percent coaching, I would have gladly flipped those percentages. I greatly looked forward to the physical and mental development that came from my time at the track. At the beginning of each season when the 60 or so student-athletes assembled around the track for the first time or as returning team members, I would conduct an exercise that set the stage for the upcoming season. I would give each of them an index card and ask them to come back the next day with an answer to this question: “What are your individual goals for this season?” They would write down what time they wanted to run for a specific distance or how far they wanted to jump in a field event. I would then ask our coaching staff, “How do those goals contribute to the team?” As coaches, we had to determine how this collection of runners, jumpers and throwers created a well-rounded and competitive team. This exercise was the 3x5 index card-based equivalent of performance management with SMART goals that we do in talent management today. With goal-setting as the basis for the individual expectations and measurement, coaches could then work with individuals to refine the goals so they were realistic and held some extra performance stretch for individuals. This bottom-up exercise identified where our team had strengths to be exploited with the competition and gaps to be filled. It’s akin to assessing our work as learning and talent practitioners to gauge organizational capabilities and the associated competencies. In this case, while the competencies to be developed were distinct for track athletes the process was the same as in our modern-day organizations. Define the team (business) objectives and the underlying competencies to be competitive and then establish the training plan with event (role) specific practice and cross-training to optimize the performance and potential of the team. In track and field terms, this meant running repetitive drills on the track to build speed and endurance

16 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

while also stretching to maintain flexibility. The comparable type of deliberate practice in an organizational context might involve practicing public speaking to prepare for a presentation to an executive team. Or similar

Whether using a talent management platform or index cards, planning is fundamental to performance. to trying a new event for the first time, it could be participating in a new project or job rotation that develops new skills and opens the door to fresh interests. As is the case with a performance management system, setting goals combined with a training plan that works toward those targets is a good starting point. However, feedback along the way is critical to evaluating progress and correcting course. This feedback process took place in two ways on the track: first through situational evaluation directly after a race or event with discussion on the areas that went well and those that could be improved; and then by reverting to the index cards and a midseason check-in to review the progress being made toward established goals. This progress check encompassed the gamut of increasing practice intensity, adding more recovery or even visualization of goals-attainment to increase confidence, all with the goal of hitting peak performance at the end of the season in time for the championships. As I draw these comparisons between my track and field coaching experience and contemporary performance management processes, the relevance for practitioners is to focus on individual and team alignment by setting goals, training with intention toward those goals and providing continuous feedback along the way. Whether using a talent management platform or my old-fashioned 3x5 index cards this planning process is fundamental to team and organizational performance. CLO

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Global Assignments International assignments don't always result in better leadership development. Here’s a model for how to use global leadership skills to maximize your investment.

18 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •



ross-border development assignments for leaders and high-potential talent are complicated and expensive. Learning can be powerful and long lasting but too few result in higher levels of global competency. Assignments can be a waste of investment if the assignee does not receive the preparation, assessment, development training and coaching needed for success. Over the past few years, the learning and development function has become an important priority for global organizations. Of heightened priority for chief learning officers and their high-potential talent is the development of intercultural competency. The successful implementation of global business strategy by interculturally competent people is required to effectively compete across borders, cultures and time zones. A 2011 study of 1,500 CEOs by IBM and another study that same year of more than 14,000 HR professionals conducted by leadership development consultancy Development Dimensions International Inc. showed that a majority of companies do not have the leaders needed to keep up with the speed of business, are not satisfied with the quality of their leaders (particularly in Asia) and do not have bench strength to meet future needs. That same year, a study by Right Management and the Chally Group found that 80 percent of HR professionals rated cultural assimilation as the greatest challenge facing successful leaders outside of their home country. In short, cultural issues will dominate the new competencies required for global leaders over the next 10 years. Chief learning officers know that global developmental assignments are an important part of efforts to develop intercultural competency and to move leaders and high-potential employees to expand responsibilities and add greater value in their global businesses. These cross-border assignments require significant investments on the part of the company and the employee. But how can they be assured that these assignments are doing all that they are supposed to do? Will the assignment itself result in higher levels of understanding and skills needed to lead global business? The answer consistently is no.

A New Model for Global Development Global businesses need a new model for more effective global leadership development that integrates

assessment, training and coaching into the assignment to maximize the process and outcomes. (Figure 1.) “We have applied this model over the past 18 years in our U.S. Mobility Program to help prepare our employees for international assignments,” said Lynne Vasconcellos, executive director, global mobility, Americas, for the global professional services firm KPMG. “We’ve found it to be a good predictor of assignment success or failure.” It starts with the end in mind. On the right side of the investment model is the global learning expected as a result of the international assignment process. According to social learning theory, developed by psychologist Albert Bandura, people develop through learning from their surroundings, either by interacting with people or observing others’ behavior. This suggests that on a global development assignment in a country other than one’s own if a leader is well prepared they will pay attention to appropriate intercultural leadership behaviors and these behaviors will be retained and reproduced when appropriate. Predisposition for learning is also important. The more interaction a person has with people from a given cultural group, the more positive his or her attitudes will be toward the people from that group. But the reverse can be true, as well. It depends on predispositions or intercultural competencies. For example, if a non-Muslim Westerner is not open-minded to other cultures and not respectful of other spiritual beliefs, he or she will not do well in the Middle East. Longer term contact for that person with those in the Middle East will not lead to positive attitudes and more likely will lead to negative attitudes.

The Model in Action So how can CLOs prepare for this higher level of global learning? The investment model suggests this can be done through enhanced intercultural adjustment during the assignment (step 3), which can be assured through high quality, individually customized intercultural training and coaching (step 2). However, all of this should start with individual assessment to ensure predisposition to even engage in meaningful cross-cultural interactions (step 1). Step 1: Intercultural Competencies The first part of the investment model contains a set of intercultural competencies that predict adjustment on international assignment over time. Each of these individual competencies interact with developmental Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •


interventions differently. This means that each individual set of competencies will lead the employee through a different path to global learning and this path can be laid out through competency assessment, feedback and development, followed by training and coaching. These competencies are not personality traits, which are consistent over time and not particularly amenable to change. Rather, they are behavioral styles or tendencies that are amenable to change through feedback and development. Michael Bowling, head of the northern Latin American region for AT&T/ Direct TV, experienced this model personally when he was assigned from the United States to Mexico and applies it with his MBA students at Vanderbilt University. “Being aware of our need to apply these competencies helped me and my wife to successfully adjust to Mexico, especially in the area of patience,” he said. Time is viewed very differently in the U.S. than in Mexico and requires a high level of patience from Americans to adapt to Mexican culture. Time is money in the U.S. and people arrange their lives by the clock, valuing being on time and getting things done as quickly as possible. In Mexico, maintaining relationships and one’s place in the relationship network is how their lives are arranged. A more relaxed attention to time and timeliness is the norm. Step 2: Intercultural Training and Coaching Once an understanding of intercultural competency strengths and areas in need of development are clarified, it remains important to learn how these apply to different countries and cultures. For example, the application of social adaptability in Japan is quite different than the U.S. An assignment

to Japan requires an understanding and pronunciation of Japanese names and appropriate participation in long after-hours socializing, usually without one’s spouse. Japanese leaders assigned to the U.S. will face what appears to be the superficial friendliness of Americans. The common phrase “let’s get together soon” may not mean a genuine social invitation and the use of first names when talking to others may seem strange. An effective way to learn how to apply competencies to other cultures is through high-quality intercultural training and coaching. This is best achieved when a learning professional works like a consultant, gaining deep understanding of the client’s global business strategy and how the development assignment fits the strategy. Training and coaching then are highly customized to each employee and these interventions incorporate individual differences on intercultural competencies. Step 3: Enhanced Intercultural Adjustment As the investment model shows, intercultural competency assessment and development followed by high quality training and coaching leads to enhanced intercultural adjustment on international assignments. Leaders who exhibit higher levels of competency development are able to achieve six measurable factors that define intercultural adjustment and are more successful on their international assignments. The six factors are: • Acceptance: Those who accept the culture of the country of assignment show respect for local customs and behavior patterns. They do not criticize or make light of the culture but accept it as different from their own but entirely natural for local people. • Knowledge: Successful international assignees are genuinely interested in their country of assignStep Three: Adjustment ment. They learn historical and and performance contemporary information about the country and are able to engage Acceptance in conversation with local people Knowledge about subjects of interest to them. Affect • Affect: Successful intercultural Lifestyle adjustment leads to positive feelInteraction Communication ings of well-being. These feelings in Job performance turn are associated with a positive self-concept and positive attitudes about the country and its people. • Lifestyle: International

Effective global leadership development integrates assessment, training and coaching into the assignment to maximize the process and outcomes.


Social/interpersonal Expectations style Living conditions Partner relationship Span of trust Social adaptability World view Open-mindedness Situational approach Flexibility Lifetime learning Patience Disposition Ambiguity tolerance Humility Source: Tucker International

20 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

Step Two: Training and coaching Guides and directs competencies to culture-specific application


Step One: Intercultural competencies

assignees who adjust well lead an active and rewarding lifestyle. They are able to do some of the things that they enjoyed back home as well as engage in activities that are unique to their country of assignment. • Interaction: Successful adjusters engage themselves in the country of assignment. They choose to be with local nationals not only on the job but during their discretionary time as well. They make local friendships that replace those left back home and help support their new lifestyle. • Communication: Intercultural adjustment means learning the language as well as time, business and other constraints allow. It also means learning the nonverbal communication systems of the local culture and using that system to demonstrate respect and understanding. A number of studies have investigated the relationship between intercultural adjustment and job performance on international assignments. One study of 100 employees assigned to 29 countries working for 17 companies found that those who were doing well on their jobs were also the ones who had adapted the best and achieved the six factors described above. International assignments for development purposes are an important part of talent management and an important goal of the assignment is the development

Have global assignments led to higher levels of understanding and skills needed to lead a global business? The answer consistently is no. of intercultural competency. These assignments are expensive and time-consuming so it is imperative they deliver top value return for their investments. The investment model described here can guide this process by beginning with an assessment of predispositions for intercultural learning and delivering high-quality intercultural training and coaching. Developmental activities will then ensure enhanced intercultural adjustment and job performance on international assignments which in turn leads to the highest levels of global learning and application. CLO Michael F. Tucker is an industrial/organizational psychologist and president and founder of Tucker International. He can be reached at

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The NBA’s New MVP Mike Kennedy is helping the commissioner transform the National Basketball Association into a world-class learning organization. BY SARAH FISTER GALE


hen Mike Kennedy joined the National Basketball Association in 2012 as director of learning and leadership development, the organization was stuck in an old-school learning environment under long-time commissioner David Stern. The curriculum was limited, managers decided whether their people attended courses, and there was no clear vision of what effective leadership looked like. “Leadership development was seen as a perk rather than a strategy,” Kennedy said. Over time that affected employee engagement and retention among the association’s 1,500 employees, Kennedy said. There were many long-time employees who were loyal to Stern’s way of doing things, and new hires, who still came in enamored with the idea of working for the NBA, often left after a few years. “We were bleeding talent and it had become tough to get midlevel work done,” he said. Kennedy himself had begun to wonder if he could build a long-term career in that kind of environment. Then everything changed. In 2014, Adam Silver, then NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, took over as commissioner and brought a fresh approach to management and talent development. From the start, Silver was acknowledged as a more inclusive leader who sought out opinions and strove to make the NBA a place where people were “overjoyed to come to work,” said Eric Hutcherson, NBA senior vice president, people and culture. “He doesn’t just want it to be the world’s greatest sports league, he wants it to be the best organization in the world,” he said.

An MBA for the NBA Silver recognized that the NBA was already great at executing tasks core to the business like broadcasting 22 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

games and managing teams. But he wanted to focus on expanding the skill set of the workforce and to be more intentional in the way people are recruited and managed across the organization, Kennedy said. “He saw a big opportunity to do things differently in human capital management,” he said. Kennedy, who is now associate vice president of tal-

“People take so much pride in their development now. They feel like they have a real path for growth.” — Mike James, senior director, NBA ent and learning, would play a key role in that transformation. In Silver’s first year, he hired Hutcherson, eliminated some HR roles and split the learning and development department into two groups, putting Kennedy in charge of leadership and employee development. Silver also increased the training budget and encouraged Kennedy to build a new program that would address the needs of leaders at every level. “Mike had the philosophy, ability and desire to build a great leadership program,” Hutcherson said. “He just needed permission to do it.” Kennedy’s plan was to start with a strategic development forum for high-potential leaders that would give them the skills and support to be successful NBA leaders. The program would support managers whose performance and potential suggested a high likelihood of rapid career growth with a particular focus on rising stars who executives were most concerned about losing. He would later expand the program to leaders across the organization. “I had to pitch it but there was hunger in many corners of the organization for a program like this one,” Kennedy said. That hunger grew as Silver made new hires, bring-


Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •


Profile ing in thought leaders from companies like McKinsey Early in his career, James opted not to get an & Co., The Walt Disney Co. and Accenture to round MBA and had been feeling frustrated about his out the staff. “They stoked the appetite for learning growth opportunities since but Kennedy helped him and that helped influence support,” he said. chart a new course. Silver and Hutcherson backed Kennedy’s plan and “Five years ago, I didn’t know what good leadership over the following year Kennedy devoted much of his development looked like but Mike laid it out for us,” time to building the leadership curriculum, which he he said. “Having the ability to take a curriculum that likens to a mini-MBA program. aligns with NBA goals was definitely what I needed.” The curriculum focuses on four leadership levels — incoming managers, direc- Leaders in the Classroom tors, vice presidents and One of the unique aspects of Kennedy’s leadership advanced leaders — and style is his hands-on approach. Throughout his career, includes 70 hours of inten- which includes stints at professional services firm sive strategic development KPMG and luxury retailer Tiffany & Co., Kennedy over five to seven months. has always prioritized spending time in the classroom. “Throughout the pro- To him, it’s an important way to gauge employee regram, participants work in sponse to training programs and let participants know communities of practice to he is committed to their growth. propose solutions to strateThat continues today. Along with developing curgic issues and build net- riculum and working with vendors, Kennedy regularly works that support long- teaches courses, leads train-the-trainer workshops and term success,” Kennedy works one-on-one with individual leaders and their said. The Rising Talent managers to make sure they are getting what they need — Eric Hutcherson, SVP, Track is designed for mid- to excel. Hutcherson said his constant presence set the people and culture, NBA career leaders while the tone for the new development program. Veteran Track brings to“Participants see the level of commitment to gether participants at the vice president level. learning and that makes them want to up their Development includes experiential learning activities game,” he said. and real-life case studies grounded in the NBA experiIt also gives Kennedy insight into the strengths and ence. Participants are encouraged to bring specific chal- weaknesses in the leadership pool, which helps him lenges from their own team to discuss and most mod- shape content and advise the executive team about ules are taught by NBA leaders along with a few business succession planning. school professors. This approach ensures the content and discussions are specific to the NBA and helps participants expand their network. That added real value for Mike James, senior director, team marketing and business operations strategy and analytics, who was among the first cohort to complete the program in 2015. “If you are going to be a future leader, you need to build a network with people outside of your own team,” he said. “That aspect of the program was particularly Mike Kennedy has revamped the NBA’s learning culture. illuminating.”

“Our people see that we’re making a commitment to developing them. That makes them feel valued, but it also makes them feel like they need to keep getting better.”

24 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

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Profile “He has firsthand knowledge of which high performers have the potential to be great leaders,” Hutcherson said. “It gives us a much better sense of who will be the most capable in a new role.” That has helped the organization make better promotion decisions and avoid having to shift people out of roles they aren’t suited for. Program participants like it as well. “It really helped to have Mike in the classroom because he knows how to get people engaged,” James said. “Even when he’s just observing, it conveys the message that he cares about our development.” Kennedy wasn’t the only one conveying the NBA’s commitment to learning. Silver also stepped up, spending time in the classroom and urging leaders who were more resistant to change to participate in the program. “Adam’s influence was very effective,” Kennedy said. More leaders are applying for the program and sponsoring their people to participate, which in turn is starting to affect the leadership culture in the organization. Since completing the program, James said he is more conscious of his leadership style and the way he supports his team. He now actively looks for opportunities to

The ball has bounced in a new direction for learning under Mike Kennedy.

better himself — and Kennedy is there with options. After Kennedy built out the leadership forum, his department began rolling out new live and online classes to support ongoing employee development and accommodate growing demand for training at all levels. Kennedy also led an expansion of content offerings, working with more than 40 vendors to roll out a range of new content from short online courses to daylong workshops. The curriculum includes ongoing development courses for alumni of the strategic development forum to further their growth as leaders. James has completed four of them this year alone. “I’ve done more to develop myself in the past 18 26 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

months then I had in my career,” James said. “It is helping me learn what it means to be a good leader.” James is not alone. In the two years since launching the program, there has been a 300 percent increase in professional development and 100 leaders have completed the forum. That includes many senior leaders who were initially gun-shy about setting aside whole days to participate in training. When they saw peers getting recognized by Silver and other executives in meetings and company communications, they wanted to get involved. “Peer pressure is an amazing tool in that regard,” Hutcherson said.

He Shoots, He Scores Kennedy estimated the leadership program now reaches approximately one-third of all NBA people managers and 50 high-potential employees every year. And while he doesn’t put a lot of stock in linking learning programs directly to bottom-line results, he has seen higher retention among leaders who’ve gone through the program and steadily rising rates of engagement and employee satisfaction in annual surveys, a key metric for Silver. Engagement scores have climbed from the low 70s to the mid-80s in three years, Hutcherson reported. He hopes to exceed 90 percent next year — a benchmark for being ranked as a Great Place to Work. “We are still evolving, and every year we get better,” he said. While Kennedy attributes much of the success to the support he received from Silver, Hutcherson and other leaders, he also believes he was uniquely suited to make this transformation a success. “I have a knack for finding solutions outside of the mainstream,” he said. Having worked in prior jobs with small teams and limited budgets helped him figure out how to be creative and deliver results quickly. Hutcherson agreed, saying Kennedy plays a crucial role in achieving Silver’s vision of transforming the NBA into a world class organization where employees feel valued and invested in. “Our people see that we are making a commitment to developing them,” Hutcherson said. “That makes them feel valued, but it also makes them feel like they need to keep getting better.” At the end of the day, Hutcherson said you need great people to make a great organization and the way to do that is to build a culture of continuous improvement. “Mike did more than just create a training program,” he said. CLO Sarah Fister Gale is a writer based in Chicago. She can be reached at

industryinsights Empowering the global worker Increasing customer satisfaction and employee engagement through language learning programs

By Tim Harnett

Over the past decade, the pace of globalization has accelerated. Cross-border business has become increasingly complex, and organizations must adapt to succeed. Many executive teams are tasked with devising policies and strategies to cope with ongoing globalization and prepare their workforce for the realities of working cross-culturally with people from disparate backgrounds. How can organizations thrive in the global economy? English language knowledge is imperative for organizations looking to break into the North American market and beyond, as English remains the lingua franca of the business world. Yet as other regions rise to prominence on the world stage, organizations wanting a more global presence need region-specific language learning as well, either to entice new customers or recruit potential employees. Thus, globalization speaks to the need for second language acquisition. “Language acquisition applies to everyone in business, from front-line employees to the CEO,” says Armin Hopp, founder and president of Speexx. “Any customer-facing role that deals with international customers can benefit from online language training, as a better understanding of the customers they serve can lead to higher levels of service and increased customer satisfaction rates. Language training programs can also reduce mistakes and miscommunications while minimizing expenses.” Hopp says that when developing a training program (either online or through a blended solution), it’s crucial to set goals and expectations and be prepared to meet the program’s unique challenges.

The benefits of language training programs are numerous Second language acquisition offers several benefits to both employers and employees. One strategic benefit is increasing employee engagement. “Language training programs appeal to a wide range of workers as a tool for increasing employee engagement, especially if the organization is international,” Hopp says. “They’re particularly important for executives managing

international teams — being able to confidently and effectively communicate with your colleagues is crucial in creating trust and mutual respect. Also, understanding new cultures and languages gives executives a comparative advantage when moving into global markets.” At the tactical level, successful second language acquisition helps build trust with external partners, increases customer satisfaction, reinforces team camaraderie and reduces miscommunication. The more people understand each other and are fine-tuned to picking up more, larger differences, the higher the tolerance threshold and the easier it is to work together, avoid mistakes and learn faster from them when they do occur. Internal and external communications need to be sent and understood at the highest level. Language training can go far toward building trust, especially between the sales team and potential customers. “The employee benefits are just as far-reaching,” Hopp says. “Language acquisition transcends organizations and follows employees throughout their careers. By investing in language training, organizations prove their commitment to employees’ professional development and their human capital, increasing employee satisfaction and encouraging retention.” Intercultural communication is a necessary component to language learning. Organizations need people who understand the culture of the target market. “One side of language training is the technical side,” Hopp says. “The other side is being able to understand the business context of how and why words are spoken and delivered. Even the speed and etiquette of writing and answering emails can have cultural differences. Knowing when your team or your customers prefer emails to face-to-face meetings will help to increase positive communication outcomes.” Employee motivation is a key factor in language learning success¹, which can be increased by connecting employees’ outside interests to language learning through intercultural training.

Speexx helps global organizations drive productivity by empowering employee communication skills across borders. Speexx offers cloud-based, online language learning solutions for Business English, Spanish, German, Italian and French. More than 8 million users in 1,500 organizations – including Saint Gobain, Adecco, Vodafone, Generali, Daimler and Credit Suisse – use Speexx to learn communication skills in a smarter way. Speexx was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Munich with offices in London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Sao Paulo, New York and Shanghai.

Lay the groundwork to mitigate challenges Having pre-emptive conversations with all stakeholders about language learning program impact should mitigate any potential stakeholder issues. “Management buy-in is critical for successful program implementation,” Hopp says. “Managers will want to know what the outcomes of language learning will be, as there’s a conviction in management that increasing soft skills directly benefits the bottom line. At the same time when you’re talking to your managers, make sure you’re addressing any concerns your IT team might have, to reduce implementation challenges on the technical side.” These days, organizations have more options for their language learning than strictly in-person training. “There are many advantages to online or blended language learning programs,” Hopp says. “They’re faster, cheaper and more flexible than traditional methods. At the same


time, online blended learning programs allow for faceto-face learning through the human cloud, providing personalized learning opportunities and one-on-one attention. Blended solutions offer the best of both worlds, with the ease of digital and the attention of inperson training.” Encouraging employees to learn a new language has many benefits, from increased customer satisfaction and reduced risk, to greater sales opportunities for sales in new markets. By motivating employees to learn a second or third language, organizations prove their commitment to development, boosting employee engagement and giving organizations an edge over the global competition. Learn how language training can benefit your workforce at

Karaoglu, S. (2008). “Motivating Language Learners to Succeed.” Compleat Links, TESOL International Association.

industryinsights Gaming Behavior Change How to make organizational readiness fun and measurable By Caitlin Robie, Dustin Shell and Rich Marmura

Behavior change is hard, whether people are learning new skills or getting up to speed on new processes. What makes change even harder is moving an entire company at the same time. Nine in 10 companies experience major organizational changes, yet only one-third of them adapt quickly enough to meet their goals.¹ It’s vitally important for organizations to know how to provide the right information, at the right time, to the right people, in the right way, to get people to want to do what they have to do. And we think games are the answer. By infusing learning with game-based principles, organizations can invite their people to participate in behavior change. Pairing social game mechanics with learning and development can lead to a fun, measurable approach that drives change adoption and organizational readiness. We’ve found five features of gamification can empower organizations to inspire behavior change: relevance, experiences, rewards, community and measurement.



A lot of noise, content and messages go around through email and the proverbial office watercooler. Cutting through all that noise is tricky but necessary for igniting people’s desire to participate. The trick is to make the desired behavior change relevant to your people’s interests, goals and responsibilities. Infusing learning with game design tactics pulls people toward your message. Inviting people to participate — in other words, providing them with choices — gives them a sense of ownership over their journey and of belonging in the overall narrative. When people want to participate in something because they see its importance and feel its relevance to their day-to-day lives, engagement soars.

2 Experiences

Unlike kids with countless free hours to spend playing games, many employees juggle jobs, families and other

responsibilities. At work and beyond, they spend their time on tasks and activities that fit into their lives and ignore ones that don’t. By following game design principles, teams driving change and learning can craft accessible experiences that make it easier for people to engage in behavior change. For example, most people can spend five or 10 minutes learning something new. Break down large tasks into digestible experiences that are short, easy to absorb and crafted to fit someone’s learning style and work environment. (Bonus points for also providing people with opportunities to practice the desired behaviors.)

3 Rewards

Behavior change can bring about negative emotions. People may feel out of control, uneasy and overwhelmed with the new skills and tasks to manage. They may even feel as if the change is happening to them or being forced upon them.

“By following game design principles, teams driving change and learning can craft accessible experiences that make it easier for people to engage in behavior change.” A gameful way to alleviate these feelings is creating a voluntary experience that people want to be part of, then rewarding people for participating in different

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ways. Tailoring rewards to people’s preferences engages different types of people in the organization. For example, leaderboards and friendly competitions motivate ambitious people better than checklists. (And checklists and daily challenges to complete are perfect motivators for people who love crossing things off their to-do list.)

4 Community

Change can be an isolating experience. Each person is focused on how his or her individual skills and behaviors fit (or don’t fit) in the desired state. Yet successful change requires an entire community to work together toward a common end goal.


Incorporating competitive and collaborative game mechanics helps create a social community that VS. alleviates fears and provides a support system for people to learn from. It can also facilitate conversations with management around the behavior change. Incorporate team-based competition and leaderboards so that teams depend on each other to win and succeed.

5 Measurement

The worst feeling is investing considerable money and effort into behavior change, only to lose sleep wondering whether everyone is really adopting that change. To combat those late-night worries, incorporate real-time


data to gain immediate visibility into your organizational adoption rate. Comparing the progress of one department or business unit to another lets teams adjust their efforts as needed. It can also spotlight individuals who are truly championing the effort. Plus, when leaders can pinpoint readiness and engagement levels across the organization, they can plan for and mitigate potential gaps or performance issues. Quantifying organizational readiness builds confidence that everyone will be ready for the big day. Make everyone’s progress toward readiness visible and personal to motivate people to work toward the end goal.

Game on When learning includes the game design principles of relevance, experiences, rewards, community and measurement, behavior change is transformed. These principles can move people from resisting behavior change that they have to do, to participating in games that they want to complete. By gamifying change adoption and readiness, you can ensure the long-term success of your next initiative — and have some fun along the way.

Engage Customers, Channel Partners, And Associations In Extended Enterprise Learning. Forrester. (2015).

industryinsights Why investing in onboarding today leads to increased performance tomorrow By Leslie Tedgui

Business leaders agree on the importance of onboarding with 79% of them indicating it as both an urgent and important priority for their organization (Deloitte HumanCapital Trends 2014). However, only 32% of companies currently have a formal onboarding process in place (Abeerden research report, 2014). Onboarding programs are a scarce resource –and, even when they exist, they often fall short of expectations. Many studies show that managers and employees alike challenge the quality and effectiveness of integration plans within their organizations. What accounts for this reluctance to create widespread and effective onboarding programs? According to Archana Singh, CHRO at Wiley, “people sometimes prefer doing things themselves, rather than teaching, coaching, and enabling others”. This short-term approach can prove very dangerous – if employees aren’t dealt the cards they need to set themselves up for success, there’s a greater chance they will either underperform or leave the organization. This is why L&D professionals must be fully involved in designing and rolling out onboarding programs that add true value for organizations and individuals. It’s clear that onboarding relates to employee engagement and retention, as a large portion of new hires will decide to stay or leave an organization within their first six months of employment. Since so much is at stake during this time, onboarding programs crucially impact a new hires’ decision to remain in the organization and to fully contribute to its success. Considering the high cost of losing an employee in their first year (ranging from one to three times their salary), organizations have a lot to gain by investing in dedicated onboarding programs.

The crucial role of L&D in onboarding What is the relationship between onboarding and training? What role do learning leaders play? Of course, IT, security, and compliance are important aspects to any onboarding program, and shouldn’t be neglected. However, it’s time to see onboarding as more than a mandatory and tedious process. It should be leveraged to inspire newcomers, to

build their motivation and drive, and to transform them into brand advocates and ambassadors. While integrating new recruits, organizations have to showcase their identity and to convey their values, their vision and their mission, all the while spiking the interest of a myriad of profiles. If onboarding programs don’t offer specific tracks to every employee based on his or her personal mission, they miss the opportunity to engage their new talent pool. In the era of self-directed learning, the one-size-fits-all approach won’t meet expectations. To guarantee a holistic integration experience for the newcomer, it’s essential to incorporate operational training within onboarding programs, in accordance with managers’ expectations and individual goals.

“Onboarding should be leveraged to inspire newcomers and to transform them into brand advocates and ambassadors” Onboarding is also a time during which employees create meaningful relationships amongst themselves that will guide them throughout their journey in the organization. L&D departments have a role to play in facilitating those connections, but this can get tricky in global corporations with an international workforce. Digital platforms can prove very effective in creating communities where newcomers get to know each other, share their impressions, and help each other when the information load gets overwhelming. As they continue to evolve, they will be able to leverage these early connections to achieve professional goals.

CrossKnowledge delivers engaging, customizable, and easily implemented digital learning solutions that are proven to transform individuals and drive business results. Our solutions can be delivered to any environment or device, adapting to your needs and the way your workforce learns best. We design solutions that can accommodate future expansions to your digital learning program. We are a trusted partner because of our commitment to transparency and unparalleled accountability. Today we provide learning experiences to over 12 million users in 130 countries.

Extending the limits of onboarding Traditionally, the scope of onboarding programs was constrained to relatively short periods of time, and addressed a limited number of topics – let’s extend it! The relationship between an employer and a new employee starts with recruitment; therefore, onboarding should begin at the end of the recruitment process. There may be several days or weeks (and sometimes even months) before this new recruit actually begins working. By starting the onboarding process early on, companies create a connective tissue between recruitment and employment, allowing for a more seamless experience. It’s also important to re-onboard employees that are assigned a different role in the organization – whether it be through a promotion or by working with a new team or at a new location. As they embark on a new journey within the company, the way they experience it will change, and they will undergo a transition phase. Therefore, failing to provide them with proper support is a missed opportunity. By re-subscribing these employees to an onboarding

"Building capacity in others will bring long term gratification to the company" A. Singh, CHRO, Wiley

program, organizations will reduce time to competency, increase productivity, and maximize engagement. Finally, it’s important to anticipate what comes after the onboarding program comes to a close. What happens once new hires are integrated in their teams, aware of their missions, and in possession of the resources they need to reach their goals? It’s essential that they never stop learning; otherwise, the benefits of the onboarding program will slowly fade away. To guarantee increased engagement, better performance, and ultimately a positive business impact, onboarding programs must evolve into individual development plans for every employee. In collaboration with managers, L&D departments can help create a continuum between the initial training that every employee receives and what they will be learning as they grow. In the words of Archana, “building capacity in others is what will ultimately bring long term gratification to the company”.

34 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •



Lead to an MBA Are MBAs still a valuable development tool? With so many leadership development programs to choose from, there are many paths to business success. BY SAR AH FISTER GALE


he MBA degree has long been held up as the cornerstone of executive development, providing rising stars with the business savvy they need to enter the hallowed halls of top-level leadership. But in a rapidly evolving business world where companies may not have the time or resources to send their best people to school full time for two years, is an MBA still worth the investment?

Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •


It depends on who you ask. For individual executives, the MBA degree, or Master of Business Administration, is still seen as a valuable career development tool, according to Rich Wellins, senior research associate with Development Dimensions International in Pittsburgh. “When you have an MBA, you earn more money and you are more likely to be hired and promoted,” he said. But Wellins is not convinced that an MBA actually makes someone a better leader, especially in the current business climate. His research suggests that executives with MBAs have better business and analytics skills but they are often weaker in interpersonal and emotional intelligence. “Today’s business world requires people who are good at the softer side of leadership,” he said. “They aren’t getting that in business school.” That’s not to say the MBA isn’t valuable. For global finance and consulting firms where executives are relied upon to guide clients through complex business decisions, pursuing an MBA is still an attractive path, said Bill Pelster, principal with Deloitte Consulting in Seattle.

Cost and time away from work are driving some companies to pursue faster, cheaper and more targeted paths to prepare their people for long-term leadership. Deloitte sees benefit in having its leaders pursue these degrees because it gives them business skills that will stay relevant throughout their careers, as opposed to specific industry knowledge that can quickly become obsolete, he said. They also develop a valuable network they can leverage throughout their career for expertise and future clients. “MBAs do incredibly well at Deloitte,” he said.

More Than the Money Deloitte encourages rising leaders to pursue an MBA. Approved candidates take two years off to complete the program with the promise of a job when they return and tuition reimbursement over the ensuing two years. 36 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

The support goes beyond financial. Executives also provide young leaders with coaching, sponsorship and leadership opportunities that position them for success before and after returning to school. Every employee is assigned a senior mentor to help them develop a career plan and talk through their goals including whether they want to pursue an MBA or a more focused or shorter program. The company also keeps close track of these candidates to make sure they get on an accelerated career path when they return so the company and individuals get the most benefit from the training. Brooke McNaul, senior consultant with Deloitte in San Francisco, recently completed a two-year MBA at Stanford University and said the training helped her knit together the siloed expertise she developed as a consultant at the company. “In a professional services organization you have to be up to date on business trends, and sometimes that means stepping away from the day-to-day work,” she said. When she decided to pursue her MBA, she had to make a pitch to the company’s graduate school council. Once approved, she was given time to study for the GMAT, a common test for graduate business school admission, along with opportunities to lead projects and work abroad in the months before she started school. “They wanted to make sure I had experiences to talk about in business school,” she said of her mentors who put her into those roles. Once in school she found that education and working with a peer group gave her the business language and broad view she needed to move into higher roles. “My classmates challenge me in how I think about business problems and it helps me arrive at better solutions,” she said. McNaul acknowledges pursing an MBA was a large time and financial commitment for her and for Deloitte, but she believes that it made her a better leader.

Beyond the MBA While it’s hard to argue against the value of intensive business training, MBA programs can cost $150,000 or more and deprive an organization of top performers for two years or more. That is driving many companies to pursue faster, cheaper or more targeted paths to prepare their people for long-term leadership. They have options. “Several years ago, there was only the MBA,” Pelster said. “But now universities are offering a lot more focused programs that align more directly with the needs of the individual and the business.” These include shorter, more intense executive MBA programs that can be completed in months rather than years or targeted master’s degrees that

focus on a specific role or business challenge. There supplementary courses in marketing or industry are also intensive weeks-long courses that focus on knowledge. “The decision has to be mutually advantaa specific industry or teach a specific skill set. “You geous for the employee and the company so we all can now identify the exact needs of the organiza- benefit,” Madden said. tion and individual, then find a program to match it,” Wellins said. Learning Starts at Home Jeff Merrell is associate director of an 18-month Along with pursuing alternative academic paths, long master’s program for learning and organizational many companies are eschewing master’s programs change at Northwestern University, where business altogether, relying instead on homegrown leadership leaders study organizational development, human development programs in which executives network capital management and managing disruptive change. with internal peers and learn from case studies and Merrell said students benefit from the opportunity lessons designed entirely with that company in to immerse themselves mind. But not every away from the workplace company has the rewhile focusing on the sources to offer this level unique challenges of their of development. profession. “It is an op“It comes down to the portunity to go deeper level of maturity, coachinto a specific set of skills ing and executive develversus studying all the pilopment options in an lars of business with an organization,” Pelster MBA,” he said. said. If a company has The proliferation of the processes in place to custom master’s proidentify a leader’s skills grams has led companies gaps and address them — Rich Wellins like Burns & McDonthrough training, stretch nell to look beyond the MBA as they hone the assignments, training and coaching, they may not skills of their next generation of leaders. The global need a master’s program. engineering, architecture and construction firm has Indeed, some companies argue their own approach had a tuition reimbursement program for 15 years might rival a traditional MBA. Nike, for example, that covers tuition and fees for up to six hours per prides itself on growing leaders from scratch. term in a state or online school. “We like to build capabilities where we need them “We see it as a valuable way to develop and keep when we need them,” said Andre Martin, the compagreat people,” said Sue Madden, education and train- ny’s chief learning officer. ing manager. While the company regularly hires employees with The program can be used to complete an MBA MBAs, Martin said Nike is the best business school for program though employees aren’t given carte blanche its people. “We learn from each other and we develop to take whatever program they want. “It has to be con- through experience,” he said. sistent with the goals of the organization and the indiNike’s entrepreneurial culture encourages execuvidual,” Madden said. tives to support high performers by putting them into Among those pursuing master’s degrees, only one in roles that might be slightly out of their reach, then surfour chooses an MBA. The rest pursue programs unique rounding them with coaching and experts who are to their field, she said. “Our people are more thoughtful committed to helping them succeed. “It creates the about MBAs today than they were 10 years ago because perfect storm for talent development,” he said. they have so many more options to choose from.” Martin points to a young executive rising through Employees must have the support of a manager to the ranks at Nike who was recently put in charge of apply to the program, then they meet with an educa- rolling out a new product line despite her limited extion coordinator to talk through their goals and identi- perience. She was given a dedicated HR person to fy the right academic path. “We generally support make sure she had any necessary training to fill skill courses over degrees but it depends on the needs of the gaps and leaders with the experience and intuition to employee,” she said. coach her through the process. “This is how we develFor example, an employee who is leading projects op raw talent to create an innovative leadership pipein the power generation division may pursue an engi- line,” he said. neering management master’s degree whereas a marketing person working in that division may only take MBA continued on page 64

“Today’s business world requires people who are good at the softer side of leadership. They aren’t getting that in business school.”

38 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

Avoid and Correct EMPLOYEE EVALUATION PITFALLS Too often, our approach to learning evaluation breaks down due to predictable mistakes. But with a few tips, we can get back on the road to high-performance learning.

40 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •



hen an organization entrusts a learning and development department with a budget, the expectation is the investment will yield increased organizational performance and documented results. So why does the approach often look like the following example? Alan, the learning leader for a large corporation, was asked to revamp the sales onboarding program. Sales executives said the current program wasn’t holding the attention of new sales reps. Alan worked with a contract instructional designer and incorporated some gaming and new features into the program. After the first training cohort, Alan was asked for a progress report as to the success of the new program. He shared positive comments from participants. However, company executives were hoping to see faster time to proficiency in the field, higher sales from firstyear reps and lower turnover. Unfortunately, Alan didn’t have data to link the revamped training program to those key sales metrics. Alan experienced the first and perhaps greatest training evaluation pitfall: failing to identify and address evaluation requirements while the program is being designed.

Address Evaluation While Designing Many learning professionals make the same mistake as Alan. They design, develop and deliver a program and only then start to think about how they will evaluate its effectiveness. The traditional ADDIE (analyze, design, develop, implement, evaluate) model of instructional design reinforces this damaging

belief. Using this approach nearly guarantees that there will be little or no value to report. To avoid this pitfall, programs should begin with a focus on the Level 4 results you need to accomplish (see Figure 1). This automatically focuses efforts on what is most important. Conversely, if you follow the common, oldschool approach to planning and implementing training, thinking about how you will evaluate reaction (Level 1), then learning (Level 2), then behavior (Level 3), it’s easy to see why few people get to Level 4 results. “Developing metrics that tie directly to desired business outcomes has been critical to not only our training but to our performance support success as well,” said Joanne S. Schoonover, vice president of Joanne S. Schoonover Defense Acquisition University, the acquisition training arm of the U.S. Department of Defense. “Follow-up metrics three to six months after the training event reveal the truth about its value. Creating the metrics as you create the training helps ensure you satisfy the targeted program outcomes.” Use the four levels upside down during program planning. Start every project by first considering the key company metrics you plan to influence and articulate how this will contribute to the highest-level results. Then, think about what really needs to occur on the job to produce good results (Level 3). Consider next what training or other support is required for workers to perform well on the job (Level 2). Finally, consider what type of training will be conducive to imparting the required skills successfully (Level 1). If Alan had started his program revamp Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •


in this way, he would have asked questions about what results sales executives were trying to accomplish and he would have known what metrics to build into his program plan. Ann Montgomery, a senior U.S. military officer for a military training development organization, explained how they avoid this pitfall. “In our arena of developing computer-based training to be used around the world for aircraft maintenance, we face significant challenges to collect continuous feedback on the effectiveness of our training,” she said. “By ingraining continuous evaluation throughout our processes, both during development and post-product delivery, we can bridge that gap and ensure our customers’ expectations are met. Identifying the leading indicators to be monitored and evaluated early on enables us to ensure our training is satisfying the customer’s need by delivering effective and efficient training with quantifiable results.”

Don’t Rely on One Source for All Data Some believe in the existence of a miracle survey that will provide all necessary training evaluation data. Don’t buy into it. For mission-critical programs, it is important to employ multiple evaluation methods and tools to create a credible chain of evidence showing that training FIGURE 1: THE KIRKPATRICK MODEL

Level 4: RESULTS

The degree to which targeted program outcomes occur and contribute to the organization’s highest-level result.


The degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job.


The degree to which participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence and commitment based on their participation in the training.


The degree to which participants find the training favorable, engaging and relevant to their jobs.

Source: Kirkpatrick Partners LLC

improved job performance and contributed measurably to organizational results. For less important programs, you will want to be equally careful about selecting the few evaluation items you require. Surveys, particularly those administered and tabulated electronically, are an efficient means of gathering data. However, response rates tend to be low and there is a limit to the types of information that can be gath42 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

Many learning professionals make the same mistake. They design, develop and deliver a program and only then start to think about how to evaluate effectiveness. ered. It is so easy to disseminate these surveys that they are often launched after every program, no matter how large or small. Questions are not customized to the program or the need for data and people quickly pick up on the garbage-in, garbage-out cycle. This creates survey fatigue and makes it less likely that you will gather meaningful data for any program. For mission-critical programs in particular, gather both quantitative (numeric) and qualitative (descriptive) data. Open-ended survey questions can gather quantitative data to some degree but adding another evaluation method provides better data. For example, a post-program survey could be administered and results analyzed. If a particular trend is identified, then a sampling of program participants could be interviewed and asked open-ended questions on a key topic. Donna Wilson, curriculum manager for NASA’s Academy of Program/Project and Engineering Leadership, or APPEL, explained how they implement this approach. “We use a multidimensional blended approach and focus on the quality of our evaluation data versus quantity,” she said. “Using diverse methods like surveys and focus groups to collect data from multiple sources, we are able to capture more truth and provide a comprehensive picture of training impact across all four Kirkpatrick levels. Equally important, the recommendations we develop from those multiple sources are more credible than they would be if we relied on surveys alone. Using a blended approach means that when I’m reporting to our customers and stakeholders, I am confident I am providing them validated and actionable insights.” A source of evaluation data that is often overlooked is formative data — data collected during training. Build touch points into your training programs for facilitators to solicit feedback and ask facilitators for their feedback via a survey or interview after the program.

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Ask the Right Questions

Not Using Collected Data

The overuse of standardized surveys can be one contributor to another common evaluation pitfall: evaluation questions that do not generate useful data. If you are not getting an acceptable response rate to

A common organizational problem is the proliferation of data. Particularly with the use of long, standardized evaluation forms, it is easy for data to become overwhelming and not get reviewed, analyzed and appropriately utilized. When you survey a group of individuals, you are making an implicit agreement with them that you will act upon their aggregated feedback. Continuing to disseminate surveys when the participants can clearly see you are doing nothing with the data collected will quickly create the expectation that nothing ever will happen with their feedback and they will stop giving it. Demonstrate that you can and do review evaluation data by publicizing program outcomes as well as any enhancements to the training itself that were inspired by participant comments. This can be done during future training sessions as well as through regular company communication channels and in departmental reports. Some learning and performance professionals struggle to find the time to build a sound training evaluation strategy. But one can hardly afford not to find the time. Nick DeNardo, senior director of talent development for CenturyLink, a telecom and internet company, sums up the benefit. “I have always been an advocate of leveraging a variety of measurement solu- Nick DeNardo tions,” he said. “To obtain Level 4 metrics, we align to the business and its needs. We use standardized Level 1 and Level 3 surveys to enable benchmarking courses against each other. We employ dynamic follow-up as needed through focus groups, phone calls or surveying to investigate Level 1 or 3 scores that come back below benchmarks. Using all the tools at our disposal allows programs to get to peak performance as fast as possible.” Follow DeNardo’s lead and focus on supporting key organizational results through targeted, performance-enhancing programs and make sure you can document the progress and outcomes along the way. You can start with one mission-critical program and use it as the beginning of an organizational evaluation strategy. CLO

It can be a struggle to find time to build a sound evaluation strategy. But one can hardly afford not to do it. surveys, you sense that people are simply completing them as quickly as possible. Or if you get few if any comments, the culprit might be the questions you ask and how you go about asking them. The first cause of this is including questions that are not terribly important for a given program, as is common with overly standardized surveys. If you do not have a ready use for the data, the question should not be asked. It’s a waste of resources all around. If you don’t have use for the information, then it is likely the person completing the survey is going to have a similar level of disinterest in completing the question. The second reason why evaluation questions may not be generating useful data is because they are not relevant to or understood by the training participant. Review your questions and determine if they are being asked from the perspective of the training department or the learner (Figure 2). Remove any training jargon such as learning objectives and competencies. Learner-centered questions generate more and better data. FIGURE 2



The course materials were well organized.

The course materials were easy to follow.

The facilitator demonstrated a good understanding of the material.

My learning was enhanced by the knowledge of the facilitator.

The facilitator allowed for questions during the program.

I had adequate opportunities to obtain answers to my questions.

The exercises were well developed.

I had ample opportunity to practice new skills during the program.

Source: Kirkpatrick Partners LLC

44 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

James D. Kirkpatrick and Wendy K. Kirkpatrick are co-owners of Kirkpatrick Partners, a company dedicated to helping training professionals to create and demonstrate organizational results through training. They can be reached at






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46 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

Reframing Learning for Growth BY MAT T PAESE

It’s not about learning. It’s about growth. Here are eight principles of leadership education that will help lead your company’s continued growth.


he truth is, I don’t really care about learning.” That’s a quote from a frustrated CEO explaining his expectations for a planned leadership development program. “I care about the business,” he added. This is a position many business leaders take but don’t always communicate. Corporate learning programs have become so omnipresent that it has become a foregone conclusion that they are good — almost unassailably so. But good for what? This CEO couldn’t settle for learning for its own sake. He needed to turn the business around.

Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •


Sure, learning is virtuous. It builds perspective and insight. But that’s not enough. For learning to pay off for the culture and more importantly the business, it must become growth. Growth happens when learning is incorporated into new approaches and sustained on the job. Only then does the business benefit from learning. Sadly many organizations design for learning alone and fail to see the leadership growth their businesses need.

Growth, Not Just Learning Putting your leaders in a classroom, in front of a screen or across from a coach to learn key leadership concepts can check off some boxes on an individual’s development plan. It can demonstrate your organization’s interest in growing leaders. And when delivered by skilled coaches and facilitators or in an engaging digital format, it can even provide some short-term change in leader behaviors. But does that learning provide sustained change and real application on the job, where competing priorities and the crush of the workday can quickly turn today’s learning into tomorrow’s old news? Most of the time the answer is a resounding no. According to research conducted by Development Dimensions International, an HR consulting firm that is the author’s employer, and The Conference Board, leaders are only able to apply 54 percent of what they’ve learned in leadership development acFIGURE 1: LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND THE 70-20-10 MODEL







Actual time spent

Highest quality leader development



20% 10% 70-20-10 On-the-job learning

Learning from others

Formal learning

Source: Development Dimensions International

tivities back on the job. If they aren’t applying what they’ve learned there is no long-term benefit to the leader or the organization. CLOs need to reframe their approach so leaders aren’t just learning. Help them grow by applying what they’ve learned in the context of the challenges 48 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

the organization is facing. Getting leaders from “not ready” to “ready right now” requires giving them the opportunity to grow with the right tools, the right support and the right business reason for change.

No CEO, CHRO or individual leader should be asked to make an investment in leadership development if the goal is learning alone. You can make some generalizations about the needs of leaders based on leadership level or generational markers. First-time leaders often benefit from more standardized solutions. Mid and senior-level leaders require more specialized approaches. Younger leaders may be more comfortable with mobile options. Leaders in China may prefer more structure. These broad approaches quickly break down in practice because generalized development isn’t enough. Each business has specific needs for leadership and it’s unlikely that leaders will deliver on those needs if programs aren’t designed to make it happen. So how can CLOs ensure investments grow leaders across cultures, levels, generations and skill levels in a way that directly benefits the business?

Principles of Leadership Learning That Lead to Growth According to a meta-analysis of 186 research studies spanning more than 40 years, 18,000 leaders and 12,000 observers of their job performance, there are eight fundamentals of leadership learning that have been found to lead to growth. These principles are universal and proven to work across cultures, leader levels and generations. Building these into a leadership growth program leads to positive impact on speed, retention and application of learning to your most pressing business issues. 1. Don’t skimp on assessment. Giving leaders a clear picture of their strengths, weaknesses and development priorities puts them on the fast-track to growth. Measuring a complete success profile is critical but selecting assessments that drill down to the more granular, key action level gives leaders actionable insight into the specific areas that will help them focus their learning, then apply it to their most critical challenges.

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2. Design processes for practicing skills, not just learning them. Skill practicing boosts capability to apply learning back on the job. Building in opportunities to practice skills with coaches, peers or facilitators allows leaders to try on new skills in a safe, feedback-rich environment, giving them the confidence to take what they’ve learned and use it effectively in real-world situations. The goal isn’t perfection. Rather, the aim is to build enough capability to practice and hone the skill over time. 3. Create a powerful “why.” If leaders don’t see a direct link between what they are learning and their everyday reality, growth will stall. They’ll need to see the purpose of development as it relates to their success on the job and the success of business. Change can be hard and few leaders will sustain changes without a good reason. A “big why,” such as business survival for example, can generate energy and motivation for growth. 4. Create opportunities for learners to observe models. Application starts with learning by observing. The most powerful skill-acquisition processes factor in opportunities to watch someone else do it well. Whether through the classroom, videos or by partnership with an expert, positive models work in the same way a picture paints a thousand words. One positive model can demonstrate a range of positive behaviors and quickly turn acquisition into application. 5. Regard manager support as vital. The role of the manager in transforming learning into growth can’t be overstated. As a trusted coach, champion and feedback provider, the learner’s manager helps build an environment in which barriers to application of learning are removed. Ensuring that both the leader and manager understand the “whys” and the “whats” of development allows for open communication and an aligned approach to growth. 6. Trade up processes for learning accelerators. Leveraging technology to connect leaders to their peers and offering access to reinforcement tools and content accelerates growth by building a community of learning and providing opportunities to share insight. Learning accelerators like mobile apps and social networking tools extend the learning beyond the classroom, keeping the learning process vibrant and learners connected. 7. Avoid being misled by the 70-20-10 model. Many organizations, in a rush to embrace technology,

de-emphasize the critical 10 percent of formal learning in the 70-20-10 model. Yet research shows that in organizations where development has the greatest impact, often much more than 10 percent of time is spent on formal learning (see Figure 1). Don’t skimp on or skip formal learning as it provides learners with the powerful mix of skill practice, feedback and networking, which can’t be replicated consistently in informal or on-the-job settings. 8. Commit to complete learning pathways. Large scale leadership gaps can’t be quickly closed if you try to grow one leader at a time. That’s where the learning journey — a sequential, integrated development approach that enables a group of leaders to learn and grow together — comes in to play. When a cohort embarks on a journey together with the support of managers and HR, they’ll share ex-

CLOs need to reframe their approach so leaders aren’t just learning. You need to help them grow.

50 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •


Barriers to formal learning Low relevance to the job Low relevance to business challenges Weak connection to personal development plans Not enough opportunities to apply the learning Not being held accountable for using the learning Poor post-learning feedback from manager Source: Development Dimensions International

periences, insights, feedback and support to quickly grow capability and move the organization toward your goals. These shared pathways crush the forgetting curve.

Application on the Job for the Business It’s one thing to provide a conceptual connection between learning and the organization’s most crucial business needs. It’s another to actually clarify how to make that happen in practice. If business is changing GROWTH continued on page 64




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The rise of the gig economy means CLOs should assess their personal and organizational fitness for an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment.


evelopments in such diverse fields as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, 3-D printing, biotechnology, robotics, machine learning and genetics are all building on each other and creating a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment, VUCA for short. For CLOs, it has become a business imperative to develop agility and capability to meet the talent needs of organizations that are rapidly changing in such a turbulent environment. A particularly significant challenge for CLOs has been the accelerating growth of the gig economy.

52 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

A Bit of History The gig economy is typically characterized by people who engage in contingent work or alternative employment arrangements rather than full-time employment by a single organization. Although Airbnb and Uber garner most of the media’s attention, the gig economy is impacting all sectors. In 2006, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics official count of contingent workers was 42.6 million, about 30 percent of the total U.S. workforce. A 2016 survey by the Freelancers Union estimated the number of U.S. freelancers hit 55 million, about 35 percent of the U.S. workforce. A 2016 McKinsey Global Institute report estimated free-

lancers comprise 20 to 30 percent of all workers in the U.S. and European Union. In their book, “Lead the Work,” University of Southern California professor John Boudreau and colleagues argue that leaders should refocus on how work gets done in the gig economy versus traditional full-time jobs. Technology-enabled talent platforms are accelerating the disruption of the workforce status quo. Talent platforms such as Tongal, Topcoder and Mechanical Turk allow people to have more control over how and where they work. This growth of the gig economy and associated talent platforms has blurred the legal definitions of the terms “employee” and “employer” in ways that were unimaginable

when employment regulations like the Wagner Act of 1935 and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 were written. Those laws operate on the assumption that employers have most of the control and power in the relationship but that is changing with the growth of talent platforms. There is a growing public policy debate over how to regulate and measure new labor models given the growth of the gig economy. From an employee development perspective, how prepared are CLOs to demonstrate the agility to lead the change in culture, programs, processes and policies that were originally designed for full-time employees to an expanded talent portfolio increasingly represented by contingent workers? Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •


The Imperative for CLO Agility CLOs have the opportunity to take the lead in developing their personal agility and the agility of others in their organization to more effectively compete in a VUCA world. Typical barriers that CLOs will confront in building agility fitness range from HR processes to organizational culture. Existing processes for recruiting, onboarding, engagement and talent management primarily focus on full-time employees with limited consideration for contingent workers as part of the organization’s talent portfolio. As the need for key talent increases along with global access to it, the demand for a better way to plan for and manage the entire talent portfolio requires a broader view of talent that includes full-time employees, consultants and other partners, independent on-demand workers, workforce agency or temporary workers and specialized consultants. Since 2010, there have been more than 500 articles, white papers, videos, conferences, seminars and books on the topic of leadership agility or adaptability in a VUCA world. Leadership development and executive coaching programs will need to emphasize the new challenges of leading in a gig economy. It is more challenging to lead a talent portfolio composed of a coalition of employees, contractors and consultants than it is to lead a team of full-time employees working for the same organization.

Developing Agility Fitness The amount, volume, velocity and intensity of change that learning organizations encounter demands agility. Agility fitness can be thought of as a framework that encourages a balance of five key capability drivers: • Anticipate change: Interpret the potential impact of business turbulence and trends along with the implications to the enterprise. • Generate confidence: Create a culture of confidence and engagement of all associates into effective and collaborative teams. • Initiate action: Provide the fuel and systems to make things happen proactively and responsively at all levels of the organization. • Liberate thinking: Create the climate and conditions for fresh solutions by empowering, encouraging and teaching innovation. • Evaluate results: Keep focus and manage knowledge to learn and improve from actions. Agility fitness is not another change management methodology nor an agile software technique such as SCRUM. As with the concept of 54 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

First Person: Wally Boehm During my tenure as the divisional vice president of HR for National Account Services and Benefit Services at ADP, we were experiencing high labor costs and client quality service issues that were impacting our client retention metrics and our credibility in the HR marketplace. One of the solutions we implemented in several of our service centers was to hire a large contingent workforce from August to December. This solution changed the mix of our workforce to 65 percent full-time and 35 percent contingent for five months. The gig economy was alive and well within our organization. This strategic change within our workforce created a variety of workplace challenges for our product training and employee learning function as well as our managers and supervisors who were not equipped to handle a variety of employee relations and performance coaching opportunities. The HR function in several of our service center locations did not anticipate cultural issues or how to deploy policies and other HR processes. We were used to treating contingent workers as totally separate and not equal to internal employees. Although this change was extremely positive for our business model, the challenge within HR was to quickly deploy the same value proposition and treat all of our contingent and internal employees through the same core lens. We had four key strategic components: talent management, performance management, organization effectiveness and HR transformation. Each component had a variety of strategic initiatives which focused on learning, engagement, succession planning, employee advocacy, leveraging technology, performance coaching and employee development. We initiated swift action and liberated our thinking so all contingent employees were treated the same as internal employees, with the exception of our employee benefit plan. Supervisors and managers benefited from more formalized training for leading much larger blended teams of full-time and contingent workers, which helped to instill the same cultural norms. We had very low turnover and high engagement scores within our employee service centers. How does a company manage a person who is, in essence, a separate company? And how does it get freelancers and full-timers to work together as a team? As the gig economy grows, these issues will become more crucial for CLOs.

Wally Boehm is an executive coach and consultant based in Atlanta. He can be reached at

total fitness, agility fitness is more than flexibility or speed but a combination of factors. It is also more than resilience or change management since it also requires the capability of anticipatory or pre-emptive action. CLOs can complete a self-assessment to get a baseline of agility fitness. The results of the assessment serve as the pre-workout physical for a CLO’s agility fitness plan. Just as with a regular physical, no single measure such as weight, heart rate, cholesterol level or blood pressure will provide a comprehensive view of physical fitness. It takes multiple tests interpreted with the aid of a trained physician and personal trainer to help create a fitness plan. Agility fitness level is based on a combination of scores. The highest fitness level is level 5 where all of the five agility drivers are strengths. (For a sample assessment, visit

Building Fitness in the Organization From a departmental perspective, anticipate change resulting from the gig economy by conducting a modified version of an HR agility audit. As a starting point, CLOs and CHROs will need to shift their reliance on job analysis to focus on work analysis in order to disaggregate the tasks involved in accomplishing the work, regardless of whether the worker is a full-time employee or a contingent worker. Consult

with internal client functions to determine what work is best accomplished by full-time employees, such as tasks involving sensitive intellectual property, and work that can be accomplished by contingent workers. CLOs can help leaders become more agile in working with a broader talent portfolio and identify vital skills and the source of talent for those skills, whether full-time employees or contingent workers. Next, generate confidence in organizational leaders to identify and develop their talent portfolio. Equip managers with training and coaching to effectively lead in a gig economy where functional and project teams include contingent workers, consultants and full-time employees. An important element of the management training includes the updated process for conducting talent reviews for high potentials Then initiate action to disaggregate work so that it can be accomplished by the most effective and efficient means, whether that means full-time employees or using contingent workers. Process maps are useful to analyze work and identify current and future tasks in each work process. Core tasks should be completed internally by full-time employees and noncore tasks could be performed by contingent workers. This step informs learnAGILITY continued on page 65

Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •


Organizational psychologist, researcher and New York Times’ best-selling author of “Insight.”

Why are we such terrible judges of our own performance and prowess? My research shows that 95 percent of people think they understand who they are and how they’re seen, but the real figure is closer to 10 to 15 percent. There are several reasons but here are three big ones. First, humans suffer from hard-wired blind spots that prevent us from perceiving many of our thoughts, feelings and behaviors no matter how hard we try. Second, viewing ourselves with rose-colored glasses often feels better in the short term over seeking the more objective reality. Finally, there’s a powerful and growing societal pull away from self-awareness and toward self-absorption. Why is this an important issue for our organizations? Put simply, self-aware people and organizations succeed — this is why I call it the meta-skill of the 21st century. Generally, our self-awareness sets the upper limit for our performance. Employees who lack it bring down their teams’ performance: worsening decision quality, harming coordination and increasing conflict. What’s more, compared to the average worker, leaders tend to be less self-aware in general and when they are they’re 600 times more likely to derail. But perhaps most interestingly, one study found that poor-performing publicly traded companies were 79 percent more likely to have large numbers of employees who lacked self-awareness. Is self-awareness a skill that can be developed? Absolutely, it is. As part of my three-year study on the topic, I examined people who’d made remarkable improvements in their self-awareness throughout their lives. Interestingly we found no patterns by job type, industry, education, gender or even age. What did this diverse group have in common? A belief in the critical importance of self-awareness and a commitment to develop it throughout their lives. The problem is that so much of what most people think increases self-awareness can actually have the opposite effect. To vastly oversimplify this complex process, we must begin by making a commitment to become what I call “braver but wiser”— to question our assumptions about ourselves, to seek feedback from others, to see ourselves clearly but with acceptance and grace. We must follow that up by building habits to make it happen. The process of becoming self-aware isn’t easy but when we take control of doing so we can make profound improvements in all areas of our lives.

What is one specific way to develop more selfawareness? Learning how other people see us is a critical component of this journey. Most people intuitively know this but don’t seek enough feedback — they’re busy, they’re scared or they suffer from the mistaken belief that it doesn’t matter what other people think of them. Here’s a place to start: Find someone who you trust completely but whom you know will tell you the truth (I call these people “loving critics”). Ask them: “What’s one thing you appreciate about me?” then “What’s one thing I do that’s most annoying to you?” What you hear may be surprising or terrifying or gratifying — but no matter what, you’re getting a clearer picture of who you are.

What you’ll learn: The shared perspectives of the tech and startup industry, explaining the key characteristics that make new organizations nimble, flexible and their ability to achieve rapid growth. Workplace culture — the good, the bad and the in-betweens that a learning or talent professional can use to create a healthy, agile, competitive and sustainable organization.

Want more information about Tasha Eurich and Symposium+PLUS? Find out more about speakers, agenda and networking opportunities available at

Case Study

Growing Leaders Organically BY SARAH FISTER GALE n 1987, Rachel Berliner was pregnant with her daughter Amy and on bed rest so her husband Andy went looking for ready-made meals at their natural grocery store. When he couldn’t find anything organic and vegetarian to meet the young couple’s dietary needs, they decided to make them on their own. That was the beginning of Amy’s Kitchen Inc., a family-owned maker of organic vegetarian and vegan meals like rustic Italian vegetable soup and black bean and quinoa burritos. Thirty years later, the Santa Rosa, California-based company has 2,400 employees producing more than 170 types of frozen and prepackaged vegetarian meals and products and recently expanded into fast food service with a drive-through organic and vegetarian restaurant. Amy’s has grown steadily from the beginning, particularly in the manufacturing division, said Cindy Gillespie, vice president of HR. And as with many successful businesses, they faced growing pains. “As we expanded, we had a lot Amy’s Kitchen requires participants in its Leadership Academy to apply and get executive sponsorship. more managers but we had no path where they could develop the skills to become leaders,” she said. They considered sending rising leaders to external leadership training but it didn’t feel like the right fit. The leadership team wanted a development program that aligned with the idiosyncrasies of their homegrown culture. “Our people needed to learn what it means to be a leader at Amy’s,” she said. “They weren’t going to get that from an outside course.” So, just like in the story behind the launch of the company, they decided to make their own.

Watch and Learn Gillespie’s group didn’t have any experience developing a leadership curriculum so they partnered with Enact Leadership, a San Francisco-based leadership development firm, to create a custom program for Amy’s. Enact consultants started the process by observing 58 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

SNAPSHOT Amy’s Kitchen baked the company’s indiosyncratic culture, values and sustainable business model into a homegrown Leadership Academy.

Amy’s culture and leadership practices, then worked with a cross-functional team of Amy’s leaders to develop programs using specific Amy’s case studies, examples and business goals as the framework. While observing the Amy’s leadership culture, the Enact team recognized that one of the biggest challenges would be how to give learners the tools and skills they needed at the right time. “This is not the kind of corporate culture where leaders are inclined to spend days quietly focused on themselves,” said Pamela Hopkins, Enact’s managing partner. They knew the learning would have to be immediately applicable and not overly burdensome. That led them to create an immersive learning format where a cohort of leaders spends two days per month in training over the course of six months. They then take a 90-day break to apply the new skills and develop a sustainable

Students in the Leadership Academy share their own experiences and problem solve as a group.

leadership project which they present at the final capstone academy event. The capstone projects focus on sustainability initiatives like reducing waste or improving energy efficiency in a specific department. “It reinforces the sustainable culture at Amy’s while letting participants apply their leadership skills on the job,” Gillespie said.



Throughout the process of developing the programming, Enact worked closely with Amy’s cross-functional team, which was crucial to getting the programming right, said Hopkins. “They established the goals and vision for the program and they provided feedback on each course as it was developed,” she said. That helped her group validate whether they were on track and to hone the content before rolling anything out. For example, one of the first modules in the program is on self-awareness as a leader. In the initial draft of that lesson, Amy’s leaders pointed out the importance of emotional intelligence to being successful at Amy’s. “It was not an area we had explored,” Hopkins said. But based on that feedback, they built in real-life empathy sce— Cindy Gillespie, narios from the point of view VP of HR, Amy’s Kitchen of different stakeholders in the organization. “It was a huge shift that added a lot of value to the course,” she said. The leadership team also participated in the pilot offering of the leadership academy program and provided feedback from a student’s perspective before it was rolled out to the whole company. “It was incredibly helpful in making sure the content was appropriate for their needs,” Hopkins said. “Not every company does that.”

“Our people needed to learn what it means to be a leader at Amy’s. They weren’t going to get that from an outside course.”

Motivated Learners Only Once the program was ready, Gillespie’s team decided they didn’t want to force people to participate. “We wanted people who wanted to be there; who would show up ready to learn,” she said. So they required participants to apply to the program and get an executive sponsor to support them. “The first class only had 16 people but they all wanted to be there and it was an amazing experience,” she said. Once in the program, each day of training is dedicated to a different set of leadership skills or behaviors and many of the courses are led by Amy’s executives. Along with a self-assessment, lessons include business management skills, how to work with suppliers, how to be a good coach and what it means to be a sustainable leader, one of the company’s core values. Each module includes case studies from Amy’s and videos of customers and leaders. Students are also given time to share their own experiences and to problem-solve as a group. “While there are definitely core management skills taught in the program, the biggest outcome is helping leaders identify their own leadership style,” said Eli Hamlin, Amy’s director of manufacturing, who is a member of the cross-functional leadership team and a participant in the initial program. One thing Hamlin took from the training was how 60 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

to create an accountability loop, which is based on lessons from the book “The Power of Personal Accountability” by Mark Samuel and Sophie Chiche. “Each of us at some time goes into victim mode to avoid blame or rationalize outcomes,” Hamlin explained. The course taught him to be accountable and hold others accountable as a leader. Hamlin was so affected by this lesson that he invited the authors to present to his team and they now use it for all of their team meetings and communication, calling each other out when they fall into victim mode. “It has been a powerful tool for my team,” he said. Hamlin has also sponsored several of his own team to apply for the program and hopes to send all of his rising managers through it. “It’s a great opportunity for them and it means that we are all speaking the same language,” he said.

Constantly evolving Now in its fifth year, Amy’s Leadership Academy is having a noticeable impact on the company. Of the approximately 90 leaders to go through the program, 40 percent have been promoted or had their role expanded and Gillespie now regularly receives more than twice the number of applicants as spots available. She continues to hold the number of participants to about 24 per class so participants have an opportunity to build relationships over time. She also opened the program up to lower level managers including those in other locations who have to travel to participate, which the company pays for. “These are all indications the program is going in the right direction,” Gillespie said. The leadership team continues to tweak courses. Last year they replaced a finance module with a supply chain management course because they felt it was more important for leaders to learn the culture of managing suppliers, whereas finance training is fairly generic and can be achieved through other avenues. “You have to be willing to evolve, otherwise you become obsolete,” Gillespie said. Companies also have to be sure their leaders are willing to invest the time and resource to build a program that meets the needs of their culture, Hamlin said. It took nearly two years for Amy’s to develop and pilot the Leadership Academy and the leadership team still meets twice a year to review feedback from participants and select the next cohort. “It can be daunting, especially when you might not see results for a few years,” he said. “But once you get going the process feeds itself and that’s when the magic happens.” CLO Sarah Fister Gale is a writer based in Chicago. She can be reached at

Business Intelligence

Good Vibrations As they enter budget season, CLOs are cautiously optimistic about spending plans for 2018. BY AVE RIO





More optimistic Same Less optimistic

29% 59%

conducted from June to July 2017. The good vibrations fit a pattern of optimism over the past three years with the positive mood dropping only slightly and pessimism about spending plans slightly rising. In 2016, 62 percent of CLOs were 62 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •


14% 5% Increase No change Decrease Don’t know more optimistic than the previous year and 9 percent less optimistic. In 2015, 65 percent were more optimistic and only 4 percent were less optimistic. That optimism translates to an anticipated increase in cash in 2018 (Figure 2). Only 14 percent of survey respondents expect a decrease in spending and about one-third (32 percent) say their spending will stay about the same.

Spending Up, Staffing Flat Where will those increased dollars go? The highest priorities are learning strategy and content delivery, with 56 percent and 48 percent respectively saying those are either essential or high priority spending categories (Figure 3). The lowest priorities are learning administration (31 percent) and learning and development personnel (26 percent). Learning organizations appear poised to continue to hold the line on staffing and administrative costs in order to invest more in up-

Figures’ Source: Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board, N=419. All percentages rounded.

LOs are feeling good about 2018. According to a survey of Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board, a majority (59 percent) of CLOs say their outlook for 2018 is more optimistic than 2017, with 29 percent saying their outlook is the same and 11 percent less optimistic (Figure 1). Spending plans back up their optimism. Nearly half (49 percent) of CLOs expect their training budget to increase over the next 12 to 18 months. 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

front services and technology FIGURE 3: INVESTMENT PRIORITIES aligned directly with business growth opportunities. Essential High priority Medium priority Low priority Those trends are consistent Figure 3: Investment Priorities with survey data from previous 387% Bar Chart (see p. 15 of attached report) 40 37% 37% years. In 2015, the highest prior33% 35 33% 33% itiesHigh were learning (71 Key: Essential, priority, Mediumstrategy priority, Low 31% 31% 30% percent) and learning technology priority 30 27% 26% 26% (57 percent), with content li25% 24% Strategy: 18, 37, 26, 10 percent 25 22% brary coming in third (41 per21% cent). 13, The31,lowest priority 20 in 19% Technology: 33, 16 percent 17% 16% 16% 2015 was performance consult15% 13% 15 Contenting delivery: 11, 37, 30, 15 percent (38 percent), but learning ad11% 10% 10 ministration Content library: 7, 21, and 33, 22learning percent and 7% 7% 6% 6% development personnel came5 Performance consulting: 7, 25, 27, 24 percent next (31 percent and 29 percent). Almost6,half of surveyed L&D personnel: 17, 33, 26 percentCLOs0 Strategy Technology Content Content Performance L&D Learning (47 percent) expect to make a sigdelivery library consulting personnel administration Learning administration: 6, 16, 38, 31 percent nificant increase in learning strategy spending and 20 percent are cutting FIGURE 4: INVESTMENT CHANGE IN NEXT YEAR funds for outsourced learning. But the biggest change Figure 4: Investment Change in Next Year 80 is learning technology, with a majority (52 percent) saying to significantly Increase No change Decrease 66% Bar Chart (seethey p. 16plan of attached report) up their investment70 61% 61% (Figure 4). 60 Key: Increase, No change, Decrease The rising importance of learning technology 52% 53% 47% 48% appears in other as well. According to the50 45% 44% Learning technology: 52, surveys, 42, 6 percent 42% 2017 Deloitte “Human Capital Trends” research, a 40 Learning strategy: 47, 48 and 5 percent large majority (83 percent) of companies rate digi29% 27% 27% learning as45, an 44, important issue and over half (5430 Contenttal development: 11 percent 23% 20% percent) rate it urgent. Those numbers were up20 Learningnearly personnel: 29, 61 and 11the percent 12% 11 percent from previous year’s report. 11% 11% 12% 6% 10 5% According to CLO Business Intelligence Board data, Outsourced learning services: 27, 53, 20 percent the top three areas of learning technology spending are 0 Performance consulting: 27, 61, percent Learning Learning Content Learning Outsourced Performance Learning e-learning, analytics and12instructor-led delivery (Figure technology strategy development personnel learning consulting administration Despite the emergence of powerful new technology Learning5). administration: 23, 66, 12 percent services and tools like MOOCs, video-based microlearning and AI-fueled learning apps, e-learning remains the induslargest technology spend. FIGURE 5: TOP AREAS FOR ANTICIPATED TECHNOLOGY SPENDING 5: Top Areas try’s for Anticipated Technology Spending Interestingly, instructor-led learning delivery reBar chartmains (see p.a 20-21 of attached report) significant focus for technology investment, 1) E-learning delivery showing that CLOs at least for the near future antic1) E-learning delivery 2) Analytics, workforce performance metrics, evaluation and dashboards ipate technology to be a supplement rather than replacement of people-centered instruction. 3) Instructor-led learning delivery That finding is backed up by data from LinkedIn’s 4) Competency management and capability development 2017 “Workplace Learning Report,” which showed that 5) Mobile learning delivery 78 percent of 500 professionals surveyed said class6) Social learning tools and platforms room-based learning is still the top method used to train 7) Learning management systems employees. E-learning came in third (58 percent create 8) Authoring tools and systems e-learning in-house and 49 percent use e-learning from an external provider). 9) Data integration For the coming year at least, our digital learn10) Facilities and classroom tools and systems ing future remains human. CLO Ave Rio is a Chief Learning Officer associate editor. She can be reached at

11) Cloud-based software 12) Learning content management systems 13) Enterprise portal with L&D information

Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •


MBA continued from page 38

GROWTH continued from page 50

Martin likens these high-pressure leadership opportunities to an MBA case study but instead of studying what someone else did they get to learn it in real life. “They see the impact of their decisions,” he said. “You can’t teach that in a classroom.” It can be risky to put young leaders in these scenarios, Martin said, but that risk can be mitigated when leaders are fully committed to supporting their protégés and making sure they have what they need to thrive. To do this, companies need to create a culture of continuous learning where leaders are expected to identify and develop rising talent and have the training to support them in these challenging roles. “You also have to be really good at assessing talent so you can match them to the right opportunity,” Martin said. Being able to identify development needs is critical to ensuring young leaders don’t get overwhelmed in these stretch assignments. “It requires a lot more fluidity in the leadership culture, but the experience is beneficial for everyone.”

and you’re training leaders to more effectively lead change, what sorts of changes are you looking for? What examples can you provide to help learners seek and generate their own opportunities for application, process efficiency, cost reduction, customer involvement, better communication with the workforce? What is it you’re trying to change to? Examples. Examples. Examples. If you are to realize true growth, leaders will need examples. Making these connections brings the potential impact of learning to life, motivates change and ensures leaders will find their own opportunities to practice new skills. In fact, learners said that low relevance to the job, low relevance to business challenges and not enough opportunities to apply the learning were the biggest barriers to formal learning (Figure 2). For learning to lead to growth, leaders need to have the chance to practice their skills and see the payoff. Strong leaders also like to compete — sometimes against other leaders, sometimes against goals or performance targets. But competition gets pretty boring if no one is keeping score. The same goes for leadership growth. Keeping score and showing leaders how they’ve grown helps support the powerful “why” and leads to a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Lag measures like business performance (sales, margin, productivity and turnover) can provide powerful evidence that learning works. Real-time metrics and direct feedback from managers, peers and direct reports add even more relevant and meaningful data to drive continued growth. Ensuring that every development effort has these real-time measures built in will help leaders immediately see how well they are applying skills and growing. No CEO, CHRO or individual leader should be asked to make an investment in leadership development if the goal is learning alone. Contrary to what many have been conditioned to believe, growth can and does happen, often very quickly. Entire business units have pivoted from internally focused efficiency machines to customer-driven growth engines. Empty leadership benches have been restocked for a new future. Unknown leaders have been found and prepared for major assignments. And these changes have happened in months, not years. The secret? Don’t learn. Grow. CLO

Beyond the Degree With so many options available, companies should think carefully about whether MBA programs still deliver the most value. These programs can be valuable in the right setting but it shouldn’t be the default for every midcareer professional, Pelster said. “If you are going to fund an MBA, make sure you know what you want to get from it,” he said. They also need to think about what comes next. Once employees complete these programs, they need to be put in roles that allow them to use their new skills. If companies fail on this critical next step, they risk losing that high performer — and all the money they invested in their development, Pelster said. According to a 2017 study from the Graduate Management Admission Council, 52 percent of MBA alumni work in a different industry or job function than they did before business school and 2 out of 5 work in an industry they hadn’t considered before business school. Whether a company pays for an MBA, a master’s degree or invests in in-house development, they need to be sure those investments pay off for the business and the individual. It’s great when companies invest in developing their leaders but sending them to a program isn’t enough, Wellins said. “Leaders need coaching, mentoring and experiences that help them form their leadership skills,” he said. A degree can play an important role but it is just one piece of the process. CLO Sarah Fister Gale is a writer based in Chicago. She can be reached at 64 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

Matt Paese is an author, researcher and leader of Development Dimensions International’s global succession and C-suite practice areas. He co-author of the book “Leaders Ready Now: Accelerating Growth in a Faster World” and “Grow Your Own Leaders.” He can be reached at

AGILITY continued from page 55 ing design for full-time employees and contingent workers. Liberate thinking by integrating scenario planning with the talent review process in order to build a talent management review process that is characterized by agility. Here are some concrete ways to do that: • Identify the talent portfolio, including both full-time and contingent workers. • Collaborate with internal organizational leaders to determine the talent portfolio demanded under a number of scenarios. • Modify current HR programs, processes or policies to adjust and adapt to the demands of the gig economy and other aspects of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environment. • Select and develop high-potential talent regardless of whether a full-time employee or contingent worker. • Build project management agility into the core competencies of leaders and workers. A comprehensive talent portfolio review


process applies scenario planning with contingent workers so that the organization’s entire talent portfolio can be identified, reviewed and developed. The best talent mix will vary depending upon the business scenario. Then you can evaluate results to determine what impact the transformation had on key performance indicators. KPIs such as productivity, internal client feedback, retention, HR-to-worker ratio and cost of services to value can be tracked and monitored to determine if the learning agility initiatives are having the desired impact on the organization. CLOs have the opportunity to take the lead in developing agility for themselves and their learning organizations to more effectively compete in the gig economy. An assessment of agility fitness is good preparation for the continuing challenges of our VUCA world. CLO

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The 4 Keys to Credibility

Credibility is the foundation of effective leadership • BY ANGIE MORGAN


Angie Morgan is co-author of “Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success” and co-founder of Lead Star, a leadership consulting firm. She can be reached at editor@

any of us plow through the day without giving much thought to the impact we have on others. As we’re balancing our schedules, managing projects and responding to emails, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and lose awareness of how we engage with the people around us whose support we need. While we think we’re getting things done, we could accidentally be behaving in ways that undermine the credibility we’re seeking to build with others. Credibility is the foundation of any effective leadership style. Without it, there is no trust in our relationships. With it, we’re able to influence others. We can purposefully build our credibility with others by demonstrating four keys to credibility: 1. Understand and Meet the Standards of Others To lead effectively we have to meet the standards of others. If we can’t do the easy things that are brightlined in our job description, found on our employee evaluation or communicated directly to us by either a manager or a peer, it’s nearly impossible for us to be credible. Beyond the obvious like showing up on time, it’s the little things that build credibility, like meeting deadlines, being responsive, demonstrating quality in work products and being approachable. But there are also the unspoken expectations others have that matter. These may not always be clear but are critically important. On our leadership journey, we need to be curious about discovering what these often unstated or understated standards are so that we know what we’re being measured against and what we can do to take our performance to a whole new level. 2. Narrow Your Say-Do Gap While we’re being measured by the standards others have on us, we’re also being evaluated on how well we uphold the standards we ourselves set. To be credible, we have to manage our “say-do gap,” the space between our words and actions. When the gap is small, we’re consistent. When it’s large, we’re at risk of frustrating others and damaging trust. Many high performing leaders find this key to credibility challenging because they often find themselves in a position where they are overextended because they’ve taken on too much. We have to be cautious what we take on so we don’t find ourselves in a position where we’re overcommitting and under delivering. 3. Communicate Your Intent and Expectations As more organizations use matrices to manage their

66 Chief Learning Officer • October 2017 •

teams, many professionals find themselves reporting to multiple bosses, serving on several teams and using the terms “straight line,” “dotted line” or “indirect report” when referring to their work ecosystem. Success is no longer singular — we have to work with and through others to achieve success, which means that our reputation is often tied up in how well our team performs. To lead a credible team, we have to bring clarity, focus and direction to them. Communicate the “what” not the “how.” This allows people to act independently and take initiative. High performance is possible and a positive reputation is earned only when success has been defined and expectations have been conveyed. 4. Maintain Accountability If we’re able to meet the above-mentioned keys to

We need to ensure we’re taking the time to assess how well we’re building trust with others. credibility, then this last key is critical. To be credible, we have to make standards matter. When others can’t live up to the expectations of the team or organization, we have to have the tough conversations where mistakes, missteps and poor performance are discussed. Accountability often takes on a negative tone when in reality it’s a positive thing. The best leaders earn their credibility by having teams where people feel comfortable talking about what went wrong and how they can apply lessons learned. Accountability also brings a sense of fairness in the workplace. When standards matter and all are held accountable to them, people feel free to focus on results not on inconsistencies that exist within an organization. They don’t ask, “Why should I do this when no one else seems to be doing it?” Credibility is earned in moments. As leaders, we need to ensure we’re taking the time to assess how well we’re building trust with others. Building credibility isn’t a mystery. It also isn’t easy. It takes intention and action but can be achieved with the right mindset and focus. CLO

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Profile for Chief Learning Officer

Chief Learning Officer - October 2017  

Mike Kennedy is helping transform the National Basketball Association into a world-class learning organization.

Chief Learning Officer - October 2017  

Mike Kennedy is helping transform the National Basketball Association into a world-class learning organization.