Page 1

November 2017 |

State Farm’s

Carra Simmons Servant Leadership in Action - Taking Competencies Out for a Spin - Portals to a Digital Learning Future Artificial Intelligence Comes to Learning - Organizational Culture and the Training Commitment Equation


Online. Blended. Custom to Your Needs. We make it easy for you to develop leaders in your organization, foster a culture of diversity, and build teams with the skills that drive results. Explore 40+ high-impact professional certificate programs created by faculty experts at Cornell University. The best companies connect with the best minds at Cornell.


INVEST IN THE FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS KNOWLEDGE AND BECOME A LEADER IN THE HR FIELD. Your team can work alongside the Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group to develop custom research content, tailored to your brand or co-branded with either Talent Tracker or one of our partner magazines. Be a part of thought leadership backed by qualitative and quantitative data analysis.

Questions? Visit


The Limits of Control


e live in an era of unprecedented personal control. Never before have we had such power over what we see, hear and read. Netflix and Hulu cut through a cacophony of entertainment content to provide us an unceasing stream of movies and TV tailored to our preferences. Amazon and Google track where we click and what we buy to serve up eerily accurate shopping recommendations. Spotify and Pandora learn what we like when it comes to music and serve it up to us at the touch of a finger. Facebook and LinkedIn give us control over just who we’d like to hear from in our social and professional circles and who we’d simply rather not. When it comes to education — at least of the self-directed sort — learners have control over an incredible amount of content and resources. They can browse an array of free, high-quality content and courses via MOOCs like Coursera, Udemy and LinkedIn Learning.

According to data collected from the Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board, a group of 1,500 professionals in the learning and development industry surveyed annually by the Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group, the research arm of the magazine, senior leaders and business unit heads are in the driver seat on that decision. CLOs and instructional designers are generally in the passenger seat. What about employees — the ultimate consumers of that learning? Well, they’re in what we used to call the “way back” of my family’s station wagon. Why is it the case that we say learners are in control but the underlying data tells us the exact opposite? It’s probably cost. It’s expensive to provide the kind of content, technology and environment that personalizes learning to each individual employee’s wants, desires and needs. There’s hope in artificial intelligence and machine learning to fill the gap but it will take a while for the practice to catch up to the promise. And then there’s the learning department in transition. New theories, models and ideas are emerging. Business conditions and needs emerge and evolve often before we have time to respond. So while bosses retain control of the purse strings and ultimately the choice of what gets delivered to With YouTube, they have access to the world’s most whom in what way, there are some leaders who are powerful DIY platform for just about anything. I’ve making way for more control. Companies like Relativcleared drains, hooked up water lines and replaced ity, a Chicago-based company that provides technolofaulty pumps with the help of expert YouTube guidance. gy that powers e-discovery for litigation and legal inIn corporate learning, we’ve taken all this in and vestigations, give some workers up to $3,000 to spend embraced the gospel of personal choice. We talk about on learning and development of their choice. building an ecosystem of learning increasingly driven If money is an object, maybe there’s a learning verby learner preferences. We invest in learning platforms sion of Google’s famous 20 percent time, adapting the that promise to deliver learning just in time, day or practice to allow employees to use a chunk of their night, mobile and social. time on the job to engage in learning of their choice We preach that learners — and leaders — control that can benefit the organization as a whole. their learning destiny. It’s a sham. Employees understand that learning is a two-way Personalized learning is kind of like the “close door” street and that what they learn on the job has to benebutton in the elevator. Hurried commuters poke at the fit the organization directly. They just want a bit more button when they’re running late (or looking to avoid say in what that looks like. the boss they see coming down the hall) but their efforts A little more control isn’t too much to ask. CLO are for naught. According to one estimate, 80 percent of the buttons are completely nonfunctional. It’s nothing more than an illusion designed to give us the impression that we’re in control when in reality we’re not. We say that learners are in control of their learning. Yet only 25 percent of companies actually involve Mike Prokopeak them in the decision about how they will receive learn- Editor in Chief ing. That’s shockingly hypocritical.

We preach that learners control their learning destiny. It’s a sham.

4 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •







Kathryn Fleet

Daniella Weinberg

Bob Mosher


Daniel Wentland

Ken Blanchard Ram Charan Sarah Fister Gale Elliott Masie Lee Maxey Zach Posner


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 When Opportunity Knocks Ave Rio Carra Simmons transformed learning at State Farm once. Now she’s leading the insurance company’s learning into a techenabled future.

58 Case Study Sidley Austin Gets Serious About Onboarding Sarah Fister Gale The law firm’s yearlong onboarding program positions new partners for long-term success.

62 Business Intelligence Deliver Us From the Classroom Ave Rio The slow march away from instructor-led training continues but with some surprising results.


8 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

November 2017



P O RTA L S to









46 52



Servant Leadership in Action


Ken Blanchard Leadership pioneer Ken Blanchard shares four portraits of leaders who put the success of others before themselves and delivered results in the process.

Taking Competencies Out for a Spin

Elliott Masie Learning Leaders Midcareer


Marygrace Schumann The fast pace of business today is causing some to question their approach to competencies. Is the traditional model still relevant in the an era of shrinking career tenure and ever-evolving skills?

Bob Mosher A Brave New World of Learning


Artificial Intelligence Comes to Learning

Ken Blanchard The Power of Self Leadership


Zach Posner Personalized entertainment recommendations are a reality for millions. The time has come to take on learning and make a learner-centered vision of education a reality.

Lee Maxey Diversity is Learning’s Business


Portals to a Digital Learning Future

Kathryn Fleet The rise of digital technology has opened the door for another look at learning portals. To make the most of them, focus on the learner experience.

Ram Charan Turbocharge HiPo Leader Growth Now


Organizational Culture and the Training Equation

4 Editor’s Letter

Daniel Wentland Assessing your organizational culture can diagnose potential breakdowns in people, purpose and structure and provide you with the right equation to deliver positive financial results.

The Limits of Control

57 Advertisers’ Index


Like us:

Watch us:

Join the group:

Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •



Learning Leaders Midcareer

There’s no better time than now to plan your next move • BY ELLIOTT MASIE

C Elliott Masie is chair of The Masie Center’s Learning Consortium, CEO of The Masie Center and host of Learning 2017. He can be reached at editor@

ongratulations! You hold a senior learning leader position in the middle of your career. Now, you are managing a major function in the learning department, driving learning strategy or maybe have been promoted to a chief learning officer role (with or without the official title). Well done. So what does the next half of your career look like? And what are the natural development steps for learning leaders in the middle of their careers? Normally we are the ones giving coaching and career advice to colleagues in the workplace. Let me turn the tables and give you a summary of the advice and career options I share with your equivalent mid-career learning leaders. Go wider and larger. This is the natural route for the second half of a learning career. Become the CLO or chief talent officer of your company. The average duration at the top in learning is less than four years, so there will always be opportunities to go wider or switch to a different team. Take a stretch assignment. As a C-level officer in your company, take an assignment lasting several months to a year outside of learning or HR. A rising learning leader from a large automobile company asked for and received a one-year role as assistant plant manager in Brazil. She blossomed and expanded her skill set, moving on to other senior manufacturing roles at headquarters. Add an academic credential. Being a CLO or VP of learning is an amazing accomplishment on your résumé. Now consider adding an academic credential. More than 100 senior learning leaders have pursued doctoral degrees at Penn, Columbia and other institutions. Others have added nonlearning degrees like an executive MBA. Others have participated in an executive development program in strategy or user experience. Join a board of directors. Get involved with a corporate or nonprofit organization’s board. They will value your talent and learning experience and it will give you a unique role in shaping an organization without being a manager. The networking opportunity is immense and future resources for your next career move are plentiful. Map and validate your skills. Build a visual map of your skills, defining the mixture of learning, management, industry and interpersonal competencies. Share this with colleagues and friends inside and outside your organization. Ask them for feedback on your

10 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

map including gaps or elements you did not include. Take a look at global opportunities. If your lifestyle and family situation allows, consider a global opportunity. The future of business lies in the global marketplace. Reach for a learning role that either locates you internationally or has you deeply engaged in other regions. Add or improve a second or third language.

You must decide if you want the balance of your career to be in the learning field or if you are ready for a career change. Develop technology and innovation fluency. How deeply do you explore evolving technologies, methodologies and innovations? The world of business and learning has already changed radically in the first part of your career. Strap on your seat belt for more change in the next few decades. Immerse yourself as a learner and experimenter. Learn to code, find tech mentors, coach a high school robotics team, study cognitive and brain science changes or visit a tech startup venture. Face it: You will always have learning in your DNA. Every role you hold in the future will draw upon your experiences and competencies as a learning leader. Now you must decide if you want the balance of your career to be in the learning field or if you are ready for a career change that will be quite different but that uses your people development skills every day. We are still waiting for the first Fortune 500 CLO to be promoted to CEO. There are several people in our industry I am betting on to make this career change. It is just one of many career choices. Again, congrats on your success. But as my friend Marshall Goldsmith says, “What got you here, won’t get you there.” It is time to design and live the next chapters of your career as a learning leader. CLO

LEARNING. LEADERSHIP. IMPACT. PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program The PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program is celebrating ten years at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education which has been ranked #3 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 rankings for graduate schools of education. This Executive Doctoral Program is designed to advance the profession of learning leaders. It prepares the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) and other senior-level human capital executives for success in their role as learning and talent development leaders. The program provides a rigorous academic environment where members build the skills necessary to ensure successful learning initiatives that will align with their organization’s strategy. To earn the Doctorate of Education conferred by the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, students complete six course blocks comprising: Strategic Leadership, Workplace Learning, Business Acumen, Evidence-Based Decision Making, Technology for Work-Based Learning and the final dissertation block.

Visit to learn more about how to apply!


MAY 2018 INTAKE ➤ MARCH 1, 2018

SEPTEMBER 2018 INTAKE ➤ JULY 1, 2018 +1.215.573.0591


A Brave New World of Learning

We have seen the future of learning and the enemy is us • BY BOB MOSHER


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

ne of the things I love most about our industry and probably the main reason I’ve stayed in this business for more than 35 years is learning professionals are some of the most compassionate and caring people I know. I like hanging with people like that and try my best to live up to your example. The time you put into worrying about the learners you’ve been entrusted with is admirable. The responsibility you take for owning all that comes with developing and maintaining effective learning and development deliverables is herculean. By nature, L&D folks care and would do anything to help learners succeed. That is a wonderful quality I hope fundamentally never changes. With that all said, we have come to an interesting crossroads in our industry — a place where that level of commitment and ownership has actually hurt us. Over time, an interesting concept has slowly begun creeping into the dialogue. It started in the late 1990s when we started throwing around words like “customized learning.” That became “tailored learning” then “just-in time learning” then “blended learning” and finally “personalized learning.” Each evolution of the term was one step closer to the goal of creating a deliverable designed to the specific needs of the individual learner. At first, we attempted to do it in the classroom and later with e-learning. With the just-in-time promise, we made the bold attempt to do it in the workflow. That’s when things fell apart. Tailoring the classroom was one thing because it was still our domain and we controlled it. But once we wandered into the workflow it exposed an interesting challenge. Once the learner was allowed to decide if our deliverables were personalized, many struggled to see the relevance and find the time to participate. It begs the question about who is actually in control of personalized learning. The answer runs counter to our DNA as learning professionals and what gets many of us up in the morning. Two striking things emerged: • Personalized learning rarely happens in a classroom. • Once we define a tailored course, it’s no longer personalized; it’s predetermined. Personalized learning by definition is controlled and tailored by the learner. This is such a difficult thing for us to understand and build because the learning experience has always begun with our good work and design. It’s hard to make the shift to a more open architecture and one where we relinquish control to the learner.

12 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

Personalized learning forces us to shift from the distributor of learning to the aggregator of learning options, something we’ve been debating for the past few years. Concepts like user-generated content and content aggregation have been thrown around quite a bit with varying degrees of success. One of the fundamental reasons we’ve struggled is that we haven’t truly understood who owns what at what point in the process and an inability to let go soon enough, if we do at all. We all know methodology trumps technology and drives the success of most new learning trends and approaches. Could it be that we’ve struggled with personalized learning because creating it involves a new approach to designing and building it?

Who is in control of personalized learning? This one may get me an inbox full of hate mail. Maybe traditional approaches such as ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate) need to be replaced or overhauled in a significant way. In my own work I learned that if I’m going to build personalized learning, it has to begin from a workflow- and performance-first approach. Many of the learning technologies I’d used to design deliverables such as e-learning just didn’t map to a personalized learning deliverable. This challenges us to consider a retooling of sorts on three levels. The first and probably most important is how we position ourselves with those whom we serve. This shift in control is a big deal and one that every stakeholder involved has to understand. Second, we need to consider design methodologies that build from the workflow and performance back, thereby producing a solution that doesn’t lead with the classroom but rather workflow-embedded options. And finally, we need to adopt a new set of tools like adaptive learning, social platforms and electronic performance support tools that support a personalized learning framework better than many of the tools we use. It’s a brave new world that will challenge us on every level as we relinquish control enough to let the learner truly personalize their learning. CLO

You know what great training looks like.

Unfortunately, most corporate training isn’t that great.

We can help. Visit


The Power of Self Leadership

Help everyone develop the ability to solve problems • BY KEN BLANCHARD

I Ken Blanchard is a best-selling author, speaker and chief spiritual officer of The Ken Blanchard Cos. He can be reached at editor@

magine the people in an organization represent two sides of the same coin. Managers make up one side of that coin. Individual contributors make up the other. Which group spends its days working with customers and making the business run? It’s the individual contributors. They are the majority and without their motivation and commitment, nothing happens. In fact, the single most essential ingredient in organizational success is the proactive behavior of individual contributors. Consider for example the quick-thinking Red Cross employee who turned a potentially disastrous mistake into a success story. It all started when social media specialist Gloria Huang accidentally sent out a tweet on the Red Cross Twitter feed that was intended for her personal account. It read: “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer … when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.” Huang’s colleague Wendy Harmon quickly removed the errant tweet and responded on behalf of the organization with good humor and grace: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”

The single most essential ingredient to success is the proactive behavior of individual contributors. Thanks to Harmon’s humorous, proactive communication, the Red Cross enjoyed goodwill and lots of retweets. Even the company mentioned in the original tweet, Dogfish Head Brewery, asked people to contribute to the Red Cross. Wendy Harmon is an example of a “self leader”— a person with the mindset and skillset to proactively solve problems. Too often training focuses on only managers rather than on teaching people like Wendy who are closest to the action how to lead themselves. Can you teach people to develop the mindset and skillset required for self leadership? Susan Fowler, my co-author on the book “Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager,” tells the story of Pete, a graphic artist who used to work in our production department. An introvert, Pete hardly fit the stereotype of a self 14 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

leader. He had several limiting beliefs. He assumed he was constrained by his relatively low-level position within the company. He believed the only power he had was task power — the ability to produce graphic art. Susan encouraged Pete to challenge his assumed constraints. The classic example of an assumed constraint is illustrated by the training of circus elephants. The trainer takes the baby elephant and ties him to a stake with a big, heavy chain. Although the baby elephant pulls and tugs, he can’t break the chain. Eventually he stops trying. He is now a six-ton elephant with the Barnum & Bailey circus. He could easily pull the entire stake out of the ground along with the stage but he doesn’t even try. His inability to move beyond the length of the chain isn’t real. It’s an assumed constraint. With Susan’s guidance, Pete was able to challenge his belief that having a low level position within the company was a problem. According to Susan, a good way to challenge an assumed constraint is to ask, “Is that true?” In Pete’s case the answer was no. His position within the company didn’t pose a problem. Rather, it created an opportunity. Next she helped him identify his points of power. For example, his ability to use graphics software on the computer at a time when few knew how to do that gave him knowledge power that could be leveraged. Finally, she encouraged him to seek out people and resources who could help him reach his goals. Armed with his new mindset and self leadership skills, Pete began teaching computer classes at lunchtime for interested employees. That led to Pete developing personal power as he became popular and well known among the staff. He even coached me on a new laptop I was struggling with at the time which developed his relationship power. The confidence Pete gained teaching computer classes and coaching me led him to see that although he was introverted, he was good with people. He made many measurable contributions to our company and eventually became a division manager. Whether it’s responding to a rogue tweet, teaching computer skills to co-workers or developing an organization’s next big innovation, independent problem-solving skills are essential in the 21st century workplace. And while training managers is a must, until you train the other side of the coin — the individual contributors — you’ll only be getting half your money’s worth. CLO


Accountants Mechanics Engineers Pilots Nurses Technicians Maintenance Lawyers Rescue Engineers Customer Support You Name It can't fake it 'til they make it.

The adaptive training platform for when the damage from faking it is costly, painful and/or absolutely terrifying.


Diversity is Learning’s Business

Learning about one another can be uncomfortable but it’s worth the effort • BY LEE MAXEY


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

orking and socializing with people who have different points of view, come from different cultures and profess different beliefs is a good thing. One surefire way to eliminate prejudice and xenophobia is to make friends with people who don’t look like you. That’s why it’s a colossal mistake to pursue any course of action where we construct a less diverse experience in colleges, companies or our country. There are two initiatives being pursued right now that threaten that diversity and will affect higher education and corporate America. Efforts to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will cut back amnesty to some undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. The other is chipping away at Title IX, the civil rights law preventing sex and gender discrimination in education. I’m not making a political statement on how to handle illegal immigration. And I’m not arguing the benefits of Title IX for, say, women and girls in sports. The case I make is that diversity is a catalyst for solving problems. It’s an abundant pool from which we can fish for ideas. The inclusion of people from varied walks of life, other countries, different religions and creeds creates a healthier college, workplace and democracy. I’ll add diversity of opinion to that list too; even opinions that most of us don’t agree with. Whether at school or work, a solution is better when we create a classroom or workplace where a range of opinions can study the problem. I’m not arguing a crowd will have a better answer than an individual, as posited by author James Surowiecki in his book, “The Wisdom of Crowds.” Rather, I’m suggesting individuals are generally smarter and more creative than crowds and it’s beneficial to have individuals from many different backgrounds and experiences to solicit answers. Diversity can also be a powerful enemy to relativism or the belief that truths depend on the people and groups holding them. As Plato argued and I believe, there are absolute truths. And one of those truths is that it’s wrong to exclude — or silence — people simply because of where they hail from, the language they speak and beliefs they hold, even intolerant ones. Consider this: Most companies sell their products or services to a diverse customer base. By having a diverse workforce, an employer has a greater capability to connect with customers the world over. Employers, especially the CLOs charged with find-

16 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

ing talent, must invest time with colleges and universities that invest in a global education. CLOs should seek out those schools that reject cultural relativism and instead seek to inculcate truths that cut across our human differences and instill a sense of ethics and right and wrong in the workers of tomorrow.

Seek out schools that instill a sense of ethics and right and wrong in the workers of tomorrow. That type of education prepares students to relate to and serve their future co-worker, employer, supplier and customer. Universities that teach students to embrace diversity and seek absolute truth will find companies eager to hire their graduates as an antidote to the financial and ethical scandals that plague corporate America. For higher education, diversity is about inclusion and ensuring academic institutions are places of learning for a wide variety of people, especially those who have been underrepresented or have religious and ethical beliefs at odds with society. Learning about one another and learning how to disagree can be an uncomfortable stretch. But it’s not without its rewards. We don’t know where the next big idea will come from. People from around the world are attracted to the United States. Why would we want to restrict the flow of diversity to our nation? But we do. On a plane, I recently sat next to a man originally from New Zealand who holds a doctorate in microbiology. He’s lived in the United States for 20 years and his application for U.S. citizenship is in limbo. As part of his work here, he was on his way to make a presentation to an agency of the federal government about the importance of using science to make decisions. For CLOs the question is: How can you create a diverse environment that leverages the strength of your workforce to make decisions? CLO

Fast-track your HR career with a world-class certiďŹ cation from the only independent organization in the ďŹ eld.

SERVANT LEADERSHIP IN ACTION Leadership pioneer Ken Blanchard shares four portraits of leaders who put the success of others before themselves and delivered results in the process.



’ve been singing the praises of servant leadership for many years. Simply put, if you serve your people well — give them direction and support as needed, praise them when they succeed and redirect them when they get off track — they will take care of your customers. Your happy customers will tell their friends about you, which will increase your bottom line and please your stakeholders. Servant leadership is the best way to create both great results and great human satisfaction. For research for an upcoming book, I asked 41 people I consider servant leaders — authors, experts, and practitioners from many different backgrounds and industries — to share their stories, philosophies and advice. Here are the views of those four exemplary leaders.

18 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •


Colleen Barrett, president emeritus, Southwest Airlines For more than 40 years, all of the leaders at Southwest Airlines have tried to model servant leadership. Herb Kelleher, our founder, led the way clearly — although I don’t think he knew what the expression servant leadership meant until we told him. For over four decades Herb and I have said that our purpose in life as senior leaders with Southwest Airlines was to support our people. Our entire philosophy of leadership is quite simple: treat your people right, and good things will happen. Not only do we serve and care about our people, we also empower them to use common sense and good judgment. Yes, we have written rules and procedures, but our people know the rules are guidelines. We can’t write a rule for every scenario they’ll run into when they are dealing with the public. Our folks are marvelous about handling all kinds of situations with our customers. For example, we have had pilots pay for hotel rooms when customers were stuck for the night in a different city than they had intended. They don’t call and ask if they’ll get reimbursed. They do it because that’s who they are. When our people realize they can be trusted and won’t get in trouble for bending or breaking a rule, they want to do their best. We try in every way to let our employees know they are important and empowered to make a positive difference on a daily basis. Servant leadership isn’t soft management — it’s simply the right thing to do.

Jeff Foley, brigadier general, U.S. Army (Retired) Servant leadership contributes to a winning culture for the U.S. Army. During my 32-year career as a soldier, I learned five key ways servant leaders shape Army culture. They commit to lead. The oaths, values and creeds of the U.S. Army are not just words. They drive home the commitment to serve fellow soldiers and our nation — causes greater than ourselves. They are the foundation for the Army’s culture. They listen. One of the most profound leadership skills in any organization is the ability to listen. You can’t help anyone if you don’t listen with the intent of understanding. They develop leaders. The Army develops soldiers into leaders in three ways: formal training and education of professional soldiers, leader development programs inside every Army unit, and on20 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

the-job coaching and mentoring by all officers and noncommissioned officers. They communicate purpose and intent. Soldiers at all levels need to understand the purpose and intent of their boss. From sergeants leading small teams to commanders leading large operations, Army leaders are visionaries who communicate their expectations with precision — and then serve their people to ensure their success in meeting those expectations.

The world is in desperate need of a different leadership role model. They build trusted relationships. Building trust trumps all else when it comes to leadership. Servant leadership comes alive when mutual trust exists between leaders and followers. When soldiers know their leaders have their backs, they will do anything for them. Let me share a profound day in our recent military history that drives home this concept. The date was July 4, 2008. The location was Camp Victory, the U.S. military headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. On that day, 1,215 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines raised their right hand and pledged to continue defending our country in the largest re-enlistment ceremony since 1973. Why? I believe the servant leadership environment created by soldiers of all ranks was a principal contributor.

James Blanchard, former president and CEO, Synovus Financial (Ed. Note: No relation to the author.)

The seeds of the servant leadership culture at Synovus go all the way back to 1888 when the founders of Columbus Bank and Trust Company were in the cotton mill business. One day when a woman was working on a loom in the mill, her skirt got caught on the machine. The hem ripped and her life savings came spilling out onto the floor. The hem of her skirt was the safest place she knew to keep her money. That day, the founders decided they could do better for their employees — so they started a bank that would serve as a trusted place for their workers’ life savings. The Synovus culture of service began the moment that woman’s savings spilled onto the floor. Over the years our name changed and we grew, but our servant leadership culture endured and became even stronger. A few criticized us, saying the approach was too soft and permissive. So we had to

prove it was the exact opposite — that people who were loved, respected and prepared would perform better. Servant leadership led to higher performance and there was nothing permissive about it. We loved our people and we expected high performance. I believe when you truly care about someone, you not only love them but also expect the best from them and hold them to it. In 1999, Synovus was named Fortune’s No. 1 Best Place to Work in America. Fortune magazine even created a Hall of Fame and put us there. It was a great validation of our aspirations and our actions. You would think we would have been tempted to sit back on our laurels — but even when you win awards, you’re never done. When it comes to treating people the way you want to be treated, it is not for a contest. It is forever. So Synovus just keeps going. I have been retired from Synovus for years but the pursuit of a servant leadership culture at Synovus was my greatest and most favorite satisfaction.

• We coach and develop our people. We focused on coaching and developing people toward competencies and principles needed for success. Our talent grew by leaps and bounds and our franchisees noticed the difference. • We are personally accountable. We accepted our roles and responsibilities to make things right. Productivity soared because accountability was high. • We value humility. When we put our owners’ interests above our own, the relationships and business outcomes flourished. During the period from 2007 to 2016, Popeyes became a prosperous enterprise. Franchise owners were served well: 95 percent rated their satisfaction with the Popeyes system at good or very good and 90 percent said they would recommend Popeyes to another franchisee. The decision to serve the franchisees also benefited our shareholders. When we started, we didn’t know servant leadership would drive our success. We didn’t have a plaque in the office that stated our purpose and principles. What we did have was a team of leaders who were willing to put the success of the people and the enterprise before their own interests.

One of the most profound leadership skills in any organization is the ability to listen. You can’t help anyone if you don’t listen with the intent of understanding.

Cheryl Bachelder, former CEO, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen When I accepted the role of Popeyes CEO in November 2007, I knew it was a difficult time. Even so, a comment from a veteran franchisee caught me by surprise: “Don’t expect us to trust you anytime soon.” In short, the franchise owners had not been served well and that would have to change. My Popeyes leadership team decided to address this as our strategy for turning around business performance. Simply put, we decided to serve the franchisees well. We began calling them our number one customer. More important, as servant leaders, we began treating them that way. We landed on these servant leadership principles that would guide our actions: • We are passionate about what we do. Our first principle would be to respect and admire our owners’ passion for their work. Passion would be the fuel of our business plan. • We listen carefully and learn continuously. Listening to our franchise owners and learning from them became an essential factor in our success. • We are fact-based and “planful.” Facts and plans — not emotions or conflict — made our success sustainable.

The Power of Love, Not the Love of Power This glimpse into the minds of leadership role models Colleen Barrett, Jeff Foley, James Blanchard and Cheryl Bachelder provides a picture of what servant leadership looks like in practice. A few years ago, I received a letter from a man in New Zealand with a line that sums up my leadership philosophy. He said I was “in the business of teaching people the power of love rather than the love of power.” I believe the world is in desperate need of a different leadership role model. We need servant leadership advocates and I nominate you. Go forth and spread the word to everyone who will listen. And remember: your job is to teach people the power of love rather than the love of power. After all, servant leadership is love in action. CLO Ken Blanchard is an author, speaker and chief spiritual officer of The Ken Blanchard Cos. His latest book “Servant Leadership in Action: How You Can Achieve Great Relationships and Results” will be released in March 2018. He can be reached at Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •



When Opportunity Knocks Carra Simmons already transformed learning at State Farm once. Now she’s taking on the task of leading the insurance company’s learning into a technology-enabled future. BY AVE RIO


ne day when she was living in Yuma, Arizona, Carra Simmons heard a knock at her door. It was her neighbors with a business proposition for her. Little did she know it would change her life. A full-time teacher with a real estate business on the side and a master’s degree in the works, Simmons wasn’t looking for a change. But the more she learned about that proposition — an offer to become a State Farm agent — she was intrigued. Thanks to her neighbors’ persistence, Simmons was sold on the opportunity and today remains happy she did. After running her own agency for four years, Simmons moved into a management role, eventually landing as vice president of learning and development at State Farm’s headquarters in Bloomington, Illinois. The Iowa native took on the role nine years ago after spending most of her career on the agency side of the business. “I succeeded a fantastic talent who was retiring from her long-held position and she left big shoes to fill,” Simmons said. “I came to the role with a completely different background and experience set than she had which provided a new lens and potentially a new approach for learning at State Farm.” At State Farm, a Fortune 500 company that insures more cars and homes than any insurer in the United States, Simmons oversees the education of 70,000 employees and nearly 19,000 agents with about 60,000 of their own employees.

Roots in Education After leaving the classroom to become an insurance agent, Simmons once again found herself an educator, but this time explaining the complexities of insurance. As she stepped into man22 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

agement roles, she was able to see learning more broadly. “You glean all these great ideas and systems and then have the ability to help people collaborate and improve,” she said. In her role now, Simmons does little teaching herself but manages her team of 320 who develop learning strategies for their business partners. Simmons said her family is influential in the choices she’s made in her career. Her mother started college to become a teacher but dropped out to get married and raise Simmons and her four sib-

“We’ve got to ask the right questions first because we’re in a day and age where we need to prioritize.“ — Carra Simmons, vice president of learning and development, State Farm lings. Simmons said her mother knew what she missed and didn’t want her kids to miss out on educational opportunities. Simmons and her siblings heeded her parents’ advice when they said: “No one can take your education from you.” One sister is an attorney, another a nurse and another a teacher. Her brother is a veterinarian. But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. When Simmons was 39, with a 2-year-old son and a daughter on the way, she lost her husband to a heart attack. He was also a teacher and in her eyes a phenomenal one. “He is one of those that I truly would call a master teacher,” she said, adding that he had the ability to take the complicated and simplify it. Simmons said that’s what she tries to do in her role now. When business gets complicated, she asks how she can simplify, organize and get it done.


Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •


Profile “To overcome adversity, you see a different side of yourself, you see other people like you,” she said. “Some things are within your control and some things are not within your control — what you must do is figure out the best you can do with your given circumstances.”

Like a Good Neighbor, Learning Is There

Centralizing Learning Centralizing learning and development was one of Simmons’ first big tasks when she took on the job. Every department used to run their own leadership training and while well-intentioned, Simmons said she was confident the new change would allow for more personalized and intentional learning. “It took some convincing in the early days to say, ‘I’m not sure your program is as good as this one is going to be, so please send your people here,’ ” Simmons said. “It’s what they knew and loved, so the pressure was on for us to deliver.” Ken Heidrich, agency vice president, said he has seen the benefits of centralized learning but it didn’t happen without some big questions. “Anytime you centralize something, someone is going

Simmons said that philosophy bleeds over into how she works, trying to bring the best value and benefit to learning at State Farm. “We’ve got to ask the right questions first because we’re in a day and age where we need to prioritize and sometimes it’s not even a training issue once we peel back the onion a little bit,” she said. “To respect everyone’s time, budget dollars and resources, it’s important for us to get to the objectives and strategic learning priorities.” Annette Martinez, vice president of human resources at State Farm, who has worked with Simmons for nearly 20 years, said Simmons’ experience as an educator plays out in what she does every day and how she builds a culture of learning in the organization. “Learning is something that you can just tell she lives and breathes and believes in,” Martinez said. “And it actually is represented in the products that her department offers to the organization Carra Simmons, vice president of learning and development at State Farm, views learning more broadly and in how she influences since transitioning from a classroom environment to a management role. the organization around education and continuously learning.” to look at it as decentralizing something else that State Farm has a federated model for learning they used to have control over,” he said. with Simmons and her team at the center and The shift wasn’t easy but it was necessary, Simeach business area with their own learning team. mons said, allowing her learning team to refine The claims department, for example, runs their processes and scale learning more efficiently. “We own technical training but they adhere to all the have much more data today than we did when we company’s standards for learning developed by started this journey [and] centralizing allowed us Simmons’ department. Her department designs to deploy training solutions to meet the trementhe programs based on what they want every em- dous size of some audiences,” she said. ployee and every leader to understand. Through the process, Heidrich said Simmons “Just because we think we’ve got it figured out was disciplined in her approach. “She was unwavtoday, we’ve got to listen to those who are using it ering in the ability to continue to push the meth— there’s always something new and better,” Sim- odology of why we were centralizing, not only for mons said. “From a best practices standpoint, it’s the cost benefit side but to create the inventory of never stagnant — and that’s the exciting piece of it.” all the learning pieces,” he said. Simmons is con24 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

Profile tinuing to make sure she delivers so people see it is a more sustainable structure, he added. One of Simmons’ favorite programs was developed out of the new centralized learning structure. The Leaders Leading Leaders program is for early career high-potential leaders. Just before the program was created, State Farm was growing fast and bringing in a high volume of new leaders with a resulting gap in learning. The program is an in-person session lasting two to three days with a cross-section of departments, fields and market areas represented. Simmons said one of the great benefits of the program is that you can learn just from being around those in the room. “In their day-to-day, they may not cross paths with most of these individuals, so there is tremendous learning just to network and understand people,” Simmons said. “It’s really a targeted development learning experience and it’s also this broadened message and connection from executives.” There are general sessions where executives speak in front of the group which employees love, Simmons said, and there are also a couple different tracks tailored to individuals’ specific needs so people with similar needs can learn together. Executives teach portions of those sessions, too. “That has been overwhelmingly positive,” Simmons said. “As a leader, you may want to come back to a future session as well to take something else that was offered.” Though they are not trying not to do all learning in person, Simmons said when people do come together she wants it to be meaningful, intentional and purposeful. “I think this has really hit the mark for us in — Carra Simmons that regard,” Simmons said, noting that the program has achieved a Net Promoter Score of 88 out of possible 100. “The fun part for me is hearing about it at my level,” she said. “These leaders come back and rave about it and then word gets back to me. The beauty of it is that those departments or market areas are very anxious to send other leaders through it as well since the leaders who did attend got so much out of it.”

“Just because we think we’ve got it figured out today, we’ve got to listen to those who are using it — there’s always something new and better. From a best practices standpoint, it’s never stagnant — and that’s the exciting piece of it.”

26 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

Simmons wants in-person learning to be meaningful and intentional.

The Future at State Farm Now Simmons and her team find themselves at a point where technology is pushing them to take another look at learning and ask how they modernize their approach again. The insurance industry is changing based on federal and state oversight and the actions of regulators and legislators, Heidrich said. Each state has specific continuing education and licensing requirements on a statewide and federal basis that must be constantly managed in the L&D field. He and Simmons are working on how to take topics that would typically be fact-based and dry and turn them into interactive gamification-type learning. Overall, Simmons’ team is pushing for more hands-on practice and simulation environments. She said if they can have these resources built into the workflow to provide key information when it’s needed, then training isn’t about the content but instead how to access it and what to do with it. “She’s doing a nice job of getting her arms around it,” said Heidrich, who has worked with Simmons for nearly 20 years. With technology, learning is easily embedded in the workflow so much that employees might not even realize they’re learning, Simmons said. But it remains a continuous challenge to bring the biggest impact and value. “It’s challenging but you do see the benefit of it and it circles back into the classroom teaching piece where I started my career,” she said. “You really do see the lightbulbs come on — see the students learning — and that’s really no different today.” CLO Ave Rio is a Chief Learning Officer associate editor. She can be reached at

Great talent starts with great learning DEVELOP, CONNECT AND ENGAGE YOUR PEOPLE FROM DAY ONE. Visit to learn more about how we can help you meet the expectations of your learners and the needs of your business.

Š 2017 Saba Software, Inc. All rights reserved. Saba, the Saba logo, and the marks relating to Saba products and services referenced herein are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Saba Software, Inc. or its affiliates.

industryinsights The Speed of Tech How to encourage the workforce to embrace technology By Tim Harnett Upgrading technology (especially learning technology) is a key priority for HR; 64 percent of HR professionals believe learning technology will be a priority for their organizations over the next 18 months.¹ Also, 39 percent of HR professionals need to use technology to improve productivity at their organizations in the coming year.² However, purchasing new programs and training employees on their use doesn’t benefit anyone if adoption doesn’t happen. For HR to maximize the ROI of its technology investments, it will need to involve stakeholders in the selection process, ensure programs are easy to use and make sure employees understand the benefits of any new program. How can organizations increase their technology adoption? New technology acquisition can take time, from researching new programs to soliciting bids or demos from vendors and securing funding. However, the process doesn’t end once the new program has been purchased. Introducing new tools to the team requires training and employee willingness to adopt the new technology. Many managers agree: digital adoption is critical to organizational success. But while they see the need for adoption, they also acknowledge the reality: 63 percent don’t believe technological change happens fast enough at their organization.³ While the majority seem frustrated by the pace of their organization’s adoption, there are plenty of ways to motivate employees to embrace technology. Involve key stakeholders in the acquisition process Early technology adopters are good groups to start testing new programs. One of the greatest challenges HR professionals face with technology is attracting and retaining employees with critical technology skills and competencies.⁴ Technology acquisition should start with these stakeholders. Ask early adopters about their current and future needs and listen to their challenges.

Having firsthand stories can better prepare HR when requesting demos or bids from vendors. If employees have the chance to test out demos, there’s a greater likelihood of full adoption down the road. Choose approachable products and talk up their benefits Adoption happens quicker when technology feels intuitive. Employees often don’t have time to internalize a long instruction manual. Consumer products have taught people to feel at ease with products that are easy to use right out of the box, and that expectation carries forward to the business world as well. Ensuring technology adoption starts with a healthy amount of communication. Employees should know all about the benefits the new technology will bring. When employees realize the benefits themselves, they’ll be quicker to embrace the new technology. Communication doesn’t end at the introduction of technology, either. Championing employee successes with any new program will have a positive effect on adoption as well. When employees see the benefits to themselves and others being shared, they’ll be more willing to use the new processes. Having a gamified aspect to the new program makes championing success simple and adds a fun and competitive component to work processes. Change doesn’t always come easy. Many employees prefer predictability to the difficulties of learning a new process. However, the rapid pace of work makes technology adoption inevitable. Employees must embrace technology adoption to ensure their organization remains competitive. By involving stakeholders, communicating about benefits and celebrating successes, HR can ensure that new products will be used and not forgotten. Learn how Speexx can build you a cross-border platform for maximum efficiency at

CLO 2017 Learning State of the Industry Survey. Ibid. 3 Fitzgerald, M. et al (2013). “Embracing Digital Technology.” MITSloan Management Review. 4 CLO 2017 Learning State of the Industry Survey. 1 2

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.

industryinsights Are Your Objectives in Sync? Aligning learning and development efforts with corporate goals for organizational success By Tim Harnett

When learning goals and organizational goals are one and the same, it’s easier to secure leadership buy-in for the learning agenda.¹ Businesses succeed when everyone works together toward common goals. Yet evidence suggests this doesn’t always happen — especially when it comes to learning and development. Recent research finds that only 8% of L&D professionals believe their mission is aligned to the company strategy. Also, only 8% of HR professionals believe their operations planning takes L&D goals into account, and a third believe their goals come from the organizational strategy.2 Celebrating organizational success is tricky without having the right metrics in place to point to. Only 27% of HR professionals believe there is a connection between existing KPIs and business goals. Clearly there is much to do to bridge the gap between L&D and organizational strategy. Despite the current lack of alignment, HR professionals are optimistic about the future. Over the next 12 to 18 months, 83% of HR professionals predict their training initiatives will be more aligned with business objectives, and 51 percent need to align their L&D tech strategy to business goals in the next year³. With full alignment comes a wealth of positive outcomes, from increased employee retention to higher customer satisfaction, but where to start?

Prioritizing the employee experience Employee engagement and retention are top priorities for many organizations, which HR can assist with by improving the employee experience. This goes beyond simply adding more office perks; it means giving employees a space where they feel happy, safe, productive and a part of something bigger than themselves. Nearly 9 in 10 employees feel very strongly about wanting to build the organization of the future, according to recent Deloitte research.⁴ Employees who feel passionate about

the mission will naturally have higher engagement levels. As organizations examine their mission and values statements, they can begin to improve the employee experience by including more people in that conversation.

Setting metrics that demonstrate proficiency Identifying and tracking KPIs related to L&D initiatives is the best way to align L&D to organizational goals and make the business case for development programs. Metrics such as employee training satisfaction or accrued learning hours are good initial indicators. However, for L&D to truly make the business case for program effectiveness, it will need to build higher-level KPIs into its learning initiatives, measuring adoption, proficiency, use customer satisfaction rates in the long run and, very importantly, employee satisfaction rate. For larger organizations, making KPIs specific and consistent across all territories or lines of business allows for a better understanding of how L&D initiatives drive the organizational mission. Organizational strategy can and should align to L&D strategy, as developed employees can best fulfill the company mission and contribute to organizational success. To begin aligning their initiatives to organizational goals, L&D should address engagement and improve the employee experience to retain top performers. Identifying higher-level KPIs for L&D programs will also help make the business case for development programs. KPIs should also be revisited frequently and updated as needed to ensure continued alignment to organizational objectives. By aligning L&D initiatives to organizational strategy, organizations ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals. Learn more about how you can align your learning and communication strategy with your business at https://www.

Ben-Hur, S. et al. (2015). “Aligning Corporate Learning with Strategy.” MITSloan Management Review. 2017 Speexx Exchange survey findings. 3 CLO 2017 Learning State of the Industry Survey. 4 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends. 1 2

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.

industryinsights Organizational Collaboration’s Dirty Little Secret Much of your company’s collaborative success can be chalked up to only 4 percent of your employees. And those employees aren’t too happy about it.

By Carole Bernstein, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Across companies and sectors, people are being told that collaboration and teamwork are critical to their company’s future. The time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by at least 50 percent in the past two decades. But in fact, a small number of employees are shouldering the collaborative burden, according to the recent Harvard Business Review article “Collaborative Overload” by Rob Cross of the McIntire School of Commerce and Reb Rebele and Adam Grant of the Wharton School. In a study of over 300 organizations, the authors found that 20 to 35 percent of value-added collaborations are being generated by only 3 to 5 percent of employees.

Collaboration as a Learned Skill Stress, burnout, and turnover are higher among these helpers or “extra milers.” In a study of 20 organizations, the authors found that leaders regarded as the most in-demand collaborators actually had the lowest engagement and career satisfaction scores. “Being a high performer is like winning a pie-eating contest and finding out the prize is more pie,” quips Harold Strawbridge, vice president of Innovation and Continuous Improvement at Inglis, agreeing with the authors’ observation that top collaborators are often not recognized adequately. He believes collaboration should be formally taught in schools. “When I see somebody’s resume cross my desk and I see MBA, I would love to… know that part of that master’s has been how to effectively collaborate,” Strawbridge says. Among the fundamental skills Strawbridge identifies is the ability to plan and run an effective meeting. Cross, Rebele, and Grant also discuss the use of meetings for effective collaboration, pointing out that sometimes less is more. They cite a Stanford study in which managers at Dropbox eliminated all recurring meetings for two weeks. The exercise forced employees to reassess which

meetings were actually necessary, and resulted in shorter yet more productive gatherings.

How Technology Can Help The authors state that digital tools can make for better collaboration. They cite programs such as Slack and’s Chatter, which enable open discussion threads on various work topics and make information accessible to more employees. Other programs such as Syndio and VoloMetrix can help managers assess networks and make informed decisions about collaborative activities. Catherine Shinners, principal and founder of Merced Group, helps implement technology that supports collaboration and reduces over-reliance on meetings. She says that such technologies can also wean people from the inefficient use of emails, which causes versioning problems and broken conversational threads. Shinners further recommends having employees maintain a profile on a company-wide network similar to LinkedIn. She says this lightens the load on frequent collaborators by making others within the company more visible as potential helpers. Shinner notes that companies with teamwork problems actually may have deeper issues for which overcollaboration is only a symptom, like poor interaction and knowledge management practices. Some firms don’t recognize that these persistent issues are eating away at their corporate culture until the business finds itself at a competitive disadvantage. Savvier firms realize that professional development is essential to strengthen their executives’ competencies around collaboration. A good executive education partner program can be invaluable for helping leaders root out and address what’s actually causing the perceived “collaborative overload.”

Virtue Isn’t Its Own Reward Improving collaboration should be addressed at the

Partner with Wharton Executive Education for measurable impact. We can design programs that reflect your organizational strategy and corporate culture, and deliver on your business goals. Visit or call Wharton Client Relations at 215-746-8093 to learn more.

individual level too, say the authors. Managers can empower overburdened collaborators to filter requests, say no sometimes, or help in ways that energize them. The authors found that at one Fortune 500 technology company, 60 percent of collaborators wanted to reduce one-off requests, but 40 percent were open to increased coaching of others. And rewarding good collaboration with positive reviews and pay raises is critical. The authors found that roughly 20 percent of organizational “stars”—the individuals who get the praise and the promotions—hit their numbers but contribute nothing to their colleagues’ success. This phenomenon takes an even greater toll on women’s careers, the authors add, since often women are expected to behave helpfully and communally for less recognition. Leaders can find out more about how to navigate the complexities of collaborative work at Wharton Executive Education. There, luminaries including Peter Cappelli, the director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources, partner with firms to deliver in-depth knowledge for immediate impact. The programs at Wharton Executive Education teach high-performance teamwork that cuts down on wasted time and energy, distributes collaborative work effectively, and boosts companies’ overall performance. Of Wharton Executive Education, Cappelli observes, “The learning you get here makes sense. It’s not theoretical— it’s based on what we see going on in the world.”

Peter Cappelli, DPhil George W. Taylor Professor of Management; Director, Center for Human Resources, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

industryinsights A Better Way to Demonstrate L&D’s ROI Companies spend more than $140 billion¹ each year on learning and development solutions, but cannot accurately measure the returns on their investments. In no other part of a modern business are investments this large not measured for their precise returns. The result is that only 37% of companies believe their learning and development programs are effective at making a strategic impact.² For L&D leaders, this means that making the case for additional investment is difficult, despite the fact that consistent learning and development is critical for maintaining a thriving and sustainable organization. Currently, the most commonly used method of demonstrating ROI on learning and development investments is the Kirkpatrick-Phillips evaluation model. The model consists of five levels, with ROI as the highest level. Most companies, however, cannot measure all five levels. Instead, they measure lower-level “returns” that quantify softer, more qualitative variables like participant satisfaction. Measuring these softer returns does not give executives the data needed to make additional investments. To ensure all five levels of Kirkpatrick-Phillips can be evaluated, ExecOnline recommends that L&D programs take a project-based approach. With this approach, organizations design L&D programs with the goal of generating business outcomes. Participants develop projects that address a critical business challenge for their organization within the framework of the program’s key learnings. L&D leadership can then track the success of the program by measuring the financial impact created by each project within a program against the initial investment.

ExecOnline uses this approach in its online leadership development programs and found that, on average, their corporate partners see a 102x return on investment. The Kirkpatrick-Phillips Evaluation Model To understand the project-based approach, it’s necessary to be familiar with Kirkpatrick-Phillips and how it’s used today. Kirkpatrick-Phillips is the industry standard for evaluating L&D. However, 92% of organizations measure level 1, while only 18% measure level 5.³ The five levels are: Level 1: Reaction, Satisfaction, and Planned Action Level 1 measures participants’ satisfaction with a program, as well as their plans to use what they have learned. Level 2: Learning Level 2 evaluates how much participants learned in a program. Level 3: Behaviour, Application, and Implementation Level 3 evaluates whether participants applied what they learned on the job. Level 4: Business Impact Level 4 measures if and by how much business goals improved after training. Typically, this is done through outputs such as quality, cost, and time. Level 5: Return on Investment (ROI) Level 5 compares the benefits of training to the cost of training. Level 5 allows senior business leaders to compare the value of training to other investment opportunities. A Project-Based Approach to Kirkpatrick-Phillips With a project-based approach, organizations can reach level 5 of Kirkpatrick-Phillips. But what does this look like? ExecOnline recommends using the following steps to quantify the results of L&D programs that utilize a projectbased approach:

ExecOnline partners exclusively with elite business schools, including Berkeley, Columbia, IMD, MIT, Yale, and Wharton, to deliver university-certified, online leadership development programs to leading enterprises around the world. ExecOnline has worked with 130+ organizations, including Pepsi, Samsung NEXT, and Synopsys, to deliver lasting and measurable organizational impact. To learn more, visit

Step 1: Project Selection Program participants select a project to complete that is within their span of control. Step 2: Project Implementation Throughout the program, participants apply tools and concepts they learn to their project. The program culminates with an executable plan to implement the project. Step 3: Forecast Impact At the end of the program, participants forecast the impact of their project if it were successfully implemented. This includes changes in outputs and financial outcomes. Step 4: Project ROI HR leaders forecast the projected ROI for the entire program. As organizations utilize the project-based approach, they can build their own forecast model. Step 5: ROI Confirmation HR leaders should survey program participants and their managers 3, 6, and 12 months post-program. The goal of the surveys is to track whether projects were implemented and if their fiscal impact was greater or lower than the

forecast. After the 12-month survey, organizations can confidently report realized financial impact. An example of the benefits of a project-based approach comes from United Industrials.⁴ In 2016, United Industrials’ Board of Directors announced plans to merge with another company and then split the resulting business into several smaller entities. The company sent more than 50 senior leaders through ExecOnline’s leadership development programs, and saw a 319x return on investment. The organization invested $400,000 in ExecOnline programs, which lead to $117 million in realized impact. Participants developed projects across a spectrum of topics, including generating efficiencies and increasing market penetration. Conclusion As organizations become more data driven, L&D leaders must recognize the importance of proving their program’s ROI. Doing so will not only strengthen L&D’s role in an organization, but the entire company. The best way to do this is by utilizing a project-based approach to L&D programs. Read the full white paper at leadership-development-program-roi-wp/ 3 4 Pseudonym 1 2

34 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

Taking Competencies Out for a Spin The fast pace of business today is causing some to question their approach to competencies. Is the traditional model still relevant in an era of shrinking career tenure and ever-evolving skills? BY MARYGR ACE SCHUMANN


alent development has been much like learning to ride a bike and the chief learning officers’ job has been much like the parent teaching it. New employees get clear directions and support but at a certain point they’re expected to develop the necessary skills without someone pushing behind them. Competency models are like the hand on the back for many employees. Based on the experience of current employees and managers, employers identify required skills and behaviors and use that to create a detailed map that shows employees what’s required and how to pedal forward. In theory, this makes perfect sense but according to some it’s not the right approach for today’s workforce. More often than not competency mapping is too vague, some argue. Companies often borrow models that have worked for other companies and apply it regardless of fit. Add to that the fact that skills needed for many jobs are changing at a rapid pace, making a traditional competency model obsolete faster than many companies can update it. And many learn-

Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •


ing and development programs focus on competency models to the exclusion of the bigger picture. Workers want to develop the skills to be better at their job but ultimately they’re looking for relevance to their own personal career goals. Combine all these factors and it’s a fair to ask: Is the traditional competency model still relevant in an era of shrinking career tenure and ever-evolving skills?

Making Competencies Work For Your Company When creating competency models, companies’ often look elsewhere to determine the right topics and find out what’s working for others. This leads some to develop competency models ill suited to their needs. Competencies are often not specific enough to a particular company’s needs, said Steve Hrop, vice president of organizational development services at Caliper Corp., a provider of employee assessments and talent management services. “When it’s really tied to the needs of the organization and where it is in growing and implementing its strategy, then business leaders do see the value in these models and recognize how important they can be around talent management,” he said. Hrop said the best way to implement a competency model is to identify the organization’s objectives, create core competencies from those objectives and leadership competencies from the core competencies. For example, if an organization’s objective is to provide best-in-class customer service, Hrop said the organization should create core competencies that align with that objective and leadership competencies such as negotiation, conflict resolution and active listening. When companies don’t follow these steps, Hrop says there can be serious consequences. Business leaders and others throughout the 36 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

organization fail to see the value. “They dismiss it because they don’t see the direct connection,” Hrop said. “They think it’s HR speak and sometimes it comes across that way.” Lynn Williams, head of global leadership and management development at pharmaceutical company Sanofi, said creating her company’s core competencies and understanding their values were part of the same initiative. Competencies are how those values are translated into actions and behaviors.

“Nobody becomes an expert just through courses. We build skills by stitching together learning experiences over time.” — Todd Tauber, vice president of marketing, Degreed Sanofi conducted assessments with the leadership development steering committee to determine what was needed to drive the business, what the company should look like in the future and the key initiatives to get there. “There was nothing to say, ‘Here are the values and here’s your training program on the values,’ ” Williams said. “It was really much more focused on how do you have a dialogue on our purpose, our ambition and values.” Rather than focus on training specific skills, Sanofi instead developed DEEP Conversations, a program aimed at driving the company’s core values of courage, respect, integrity and teamwork through behaviors that are DEEP, which stands for direct, empathetic, earnest and productive. “If you’re having a DEEP conversation and you’re direct you’re going to be candid, you’ll be decisive, you take a courageous position, you use straight talk and that aligns with our value of courage,” Williams said. “Under empathetic, you will be emotionally intelligent, you’ll be persuasive, you’ll be able to engage others, you’ll be expressive, you’ll bring your ideas into that, and that focuses on our value of respect,” she added. “E for earnest really focuses on creating trust, on being very deliberate and thoughtful with our conversations in empowering others, and that ties


Developing Leadership Capabilities at All Levels

EL E VAT E P ER FOR M A NC E DR I V E E N GAGE M E NT EX EC UT E ST RAT EGY World-class faculty and experts Premier content Innovative program design Flexible delivery options Global reach and impact |

into our value of integrity. And then last of all is productive, which is being optimistic, being sensitive, listening, providing feedback, being open to feedback, being team oriented and that ties into our value of teamwork.” Sanofi is in the midst of rolling out an interactive learning experience to 120,000 employees across the globe, creating toolkits and using recordings of leaders around the world telling stories about communication, behavior and its connection to values. In 2018, the company will launch a portal with an interactive game that centers around a tree, Williams said. Employees are given “seed money” that represents Sanofi’s core values. When an employee or leader sees someone exhibiting some of these core values and behaviors, they can give them a virtual seed to help their tree grow. Tying values to specific behaviors that are a part of the company’s strategy ensures Sanofi’s competencies are meaningful and relevant to employees and leaders.

Keeping Competency Models Up to Date

Traditional training or competency models aren’t obsolete but they must be paired with tools and techniques to empower people to take ownership of their own learning.

The fast-paced work environment of today makes it so even creating a competency model that is tightly aligned with company core values isn’t enough. The skills needed for a job are constantly changing with new technology, making it difficult to pin down competencies. At Vanguard, a Philadelphia-area investment management firm, competencies have remained consistent for the last five years. The firm’s leadership development team reviews them yearly but has recently begun a process to more closely evaluate the competencies. The goal is to determine if the competencies need to be tweaked to be more specific or if they are in need of a deeper overhaul, said Tamara Ganc, Vanguard chief learning officer and HR principal. “My leadership development peers are looking at them pretty seriously right now because everything’s changing,” Ganc said. “The world is fast paced. How do we make sure we’re keeping our crew sharp and they know clearly what’s expected of them — that the competencies can outline and provide clarity on what we expect of them?” 38 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

Hrop said constant evaluation is not necessary as long as the company’s competencies are staying true to their core values and the business is relatively stable. “If the business makes a significant shift or if a new leader comes in … and has a significantly different approach in what he or she wants to do in terms of the culture of the organization, clearly you’ve got to align with that,” he said. “Those are the triggers for changing or at least tweaking parts of the model.” Even with a well designed and regularly evaluated competency map, some argue it’s not enough to keep up with the fluidity of today’s workforce. It’s critical for companies to create a culture of learning, said Todd Tauber, vice president of marketing at Degreed, an educational technology company. He said there are three things learning and development teams can do to create a learning culture. “First, engage all those stakeholders: the workers, the managers and the executives. Figure out how to get them all bought into a purpose and priorities. Complying or competing? L&D-led or self-directed?” said Tauber. “Second, empower everyone with the right tools and resources for the culture you want,” he continued. “An LMS is not enough anymore. You also need other technology plus content, people and insights to make smart decisions.” “And third, embed the culture into the way your organization works. Link it to people’s performance metrics and incentives. Recognize and reward everyone’s efforts to build their skills — however they choose to learn.” Traditional training or competency models aren’t obsolete,Tauber said, but they must be paired with tools and techniques to empower people to take ownership of their own learning. “Nobody becomes an expert just through courses,” he said. “We build our skills by stitching together a range of learning experiences over time: courses and books here and there, articles and videos in between, searching and practice on the job, and reflection, feedback and coaching along the way.” COMPETENCY continued on page 64

40 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

Amazon, Pandora and Netflix pioneered our technology-driven future, making personalized recommendations a reality for millions. The time has come to take on learning and make a learner-centered vision of education a reality. BY Z ACH POSNER


rtificial intelligence, an area of computer science concerned with the ability of machines to simulate human intelligence, is swiftly remaking the world of work. From health care to industrial manufacturing, the ‌ramifications are endless. In marketing, chatbots have already transformed customer experience. On-demand personalized service is the new norm.

Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •


Within human resources functions, the applications are numerous. From recruiting to personalized coaching and development, it will soon be unthinkable to manage human assets without machine intelligence capable of responding to the unique needs of every individual. For this reason, there is one area within HR for which artificial intelligence is uniquely suited: learning and development.

AI and the Knowledge Explosion Artificial intelligence is well suited for learning because the needs of learners have grown increasingly complex and difficult to satisfy with a onesize-fits-all approach. There has never been so much knowledge in the world. Due to the increasing pace of change in business, there has never been so much debate about what to learn and how to learn it. Increasingly, learners need artificial intelligence to help them navigate knowledge in a way best-suited for them. The very concept of knowledge is now fraught with all the political and economic tensions of the day. With the growth of user-generated content, websites and blogs, content is proliferating at an astronomical rate. There has never been so much to read and learn. The concept of the long tail most saliently reflected at Amazon means that any content, however niche, can find its ideal audience as long as the engine cataloging it and powering its discovery is up to the task. Optimists say this matching of content with every need and taste is a strength of the internet. The more cynical observers point to the more destructive aspects. Fake news is now here to stay. For better or worse, anyone can now exist in a world that mirrors whatever content they choose. With that comes the question of what is necessary to learn. With so much to read and digest, what does it mean to be educated or proficient in an area? What knowledge is unquestionably part of a domain? Few industries have a broad certification exam, as with the CPA designation for accountants or the CFA series for finance. The concept of canon as in English literature is also debated. Who deserves to tell everyone else what must be read and learned in order to be considered educated? And now that all knowledge is theoretically archivable and searchable, what does it mean to be knowledgeable about an area, reading aside? Some argue memory is no longer necessary — that basic recall no longer counts as knowledge since a computer can handle it. Perhaps standards have been raised such that application, evaluation and creation of knowledge are the bedrock skills. 42 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

Then there are authors such as Nicholas Carr who argue our reliance on AI to perform simple automated tasks like factual recall is decreasing our cognitive capacity and that it’s cognitive work — the simple act of struggling to remember something — that produces intelligence in the first place. In other words, can you apply, evaluate and create knowledge if you can’t recall knowledge in the first place and have grown accustomed to outsourcing that function to computers?

AI and Adaptive Learning at Work These developments mean that employees arrive at the workplace with dramatically different strengths, weaknesses, backgrounds and beliefs about what constitutes knowledge and skill. Jobs and careers no longer follow predictable paths. Entirely new roles have been invented. Legions of new graduates now aspire to roles like “people scientist” and “master data storyteller.”

Due to the increasing pace of change in business, learners need artificial intelligence to help them navigate knowledge in a way best-suited for them. The future of business is chaos, wrote Robert Safian in a 2012 Fast Company article. This is leading to a new generation of workers who embrace instability, continually reinvent careers and business models and are poised to thrive in the new economy. He called these new workers Generation Flux. A growing distrust for formal education has resulted in the widespread belief that technical skills mastery of various tools and software is paramount. Some clarify this and say it’s not mastery of specific tools and software, but rather a generalized computational thinking, or knowing how to make computers work for you that matters. Others maintain an education that teaches how to think and not what to think is what works in today’s fast-paced and disruptive world. It’s not just computational thinking but systemic thinking and general analytical ability that matter. Regardless, those who thrive in this environment are agile and adept at redefining themselves continu-


GREAT THINKERS AND LEADERS Our experiential learning programs produce results that learners can feel and clients can measure.

Learn how Regis can drive immediate and sustainable results in your program at:

Š The Regis Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

ally. It’s tiring for some and energizing for others because of the massive opportunity available. Badging and microlearning have been touted as the solutions to the chaos and complexity of the new knowledge economy. If it’s not clear what to learn and how to learn it, bite-sized content makes it a lot easier to consume a range of content quickly. Let’s take this a step further and suggest that the next generation of content has now arrived: It’s no longer enough for content to be bitesized, modularized, and conducive to recombination. It now must be backed and synchronized by data, and made personalized through artificial intelligence as if governed by a robot who perfectly understands you, your needs, your background and your style. The technological term for this is adaptive learning. What’s adaptive learning? It’s when learning data is used to personalize a learner’s experience so that it adapts in real-time to behavior and performance. Every moment is optimized so the perfect piece of content is presented at the perfect time for each learner. The adaptive learning field which uses computers to actively tailor content to each individual’s needs draws upon knowledge domains as diverse as machine learning, cognitive science, predictive analytics and educational theory to make this learner-centered vision of education a reality. This isn’t anything new. It is already the standard in our consumer lives. Amazon, Pandora and Netflix make personalized and continually tailored recommendations based on your past decisions and behavior. This trend is shifting from consumer entertainment to corporate learning. How does it work and how do we ensure that learning accounts for holistic mastery? That it emphasizes efficiency and engagement as well as shortterm and long-term goals?

The Four Educational Theories Embedded in AI

liver holistic mastery or true knowledge acquisition: • Metacognitive Theory: This theory holds that learners learn best when they know what they don’t know. From a technology standpoint, as learners move through content the platform captures data concerning accuracy, confidence and time. The platform takes this data into account, serving up content that helps each learner increase accuracy but also improve awareness around accuracy and confidence level so that the learner walks away “knowing what they know.” • The Theory of Deliberate Practice: This principle holds that understanding where we are weakest helps us focus our practice. To address this, an AI platform continuously adjusts the content to focus on each individual’s weaknesses, ensuring that time is used efficiently and effectively. • The Theory of Fun for Game Design: Learners are most engaged when challenged but not too challenged. If too many questions are answered wrong in a row, for instance, an AI platform will serve up a question that proves a quick win for the learner and builds confidence. • Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve: This theory holds that to truly learn something, learners need to commit it to long-term memory and that the best time to do so is just before learners are about to forget it. Incorporating this theory, AI platforms can use data to predict when someone is most likely to lose a concept from short-term memory and recharge it so that the learner commits it to longterm memory. Learning is ripe for the artificial intelligence revolution. The needs of learners are increasingly complex. The incredible explosion of knowledge makes it near impossible to master a field in the way it once was. The pace of change in business means that by the time a learner has developed a new skill, it is already obsolete. Learners need artificial intelligence to help navigate knowledge in a way best suited for them and for the good of the organization. CLO

Adaptive learning comes in different varieties but there are four educational theories embedded in the algorithms that power the personalized learning paths taken on our platforms. Together, these algorithms de-

Zach Posner is senior vice president and managing director of learning science platforms at McGraw-Hill Education. He can be reached at

The next generation of content has arrived. It’s synchronized by data and personalized through artificial intelligence that perfectly understands your needs, background and style.

44 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •



VIRTUAL REALITY SIMULATIONS FOR PRACTICING INTERPERSONAL SKILLS • A smart, agile platform that will adapt to your learning content, objectives, and desired outcomes

• A personalized and scalable approach to soft skills training using a unique blend of artificial and human intelligence

• A window into the performance capacity of a distributed workforce with user analytics

• A highly engaging and safe way for online learners to “learn by doing”

Reinventing The Way Professionals Master Their Craft

Request a demo today at

46 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

S L A T R O P to



The rise of digital technology has opened the door for another look at learning portals. To make the most of them, focus on the learner experience.


mployees increasingly expect their workplace learning to mimic their personal digital experiences. They want to consume content quickly and easily, from a variety of sources. They expect to share and rate it, and have it dynamically pushed to them based on their needs and likes. Organizations also expect much from their learning environments. Managing formal and informal learning is a given, and today’s learning platform must demonstrate the impact learning makes on the business, whether it’s a coaching session, YouTube video or blog post.

Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •


If you recognize these challenges as your own, a custom learning portal could be a solution. But what is a learning portal? Put simply, it’s a one-stop gateway to a set of learning resources that brings together the elements of a learning strategy to increase effectiveness. For learners, it’s the go-to place to meet a certain need. Under the hood, it may comprise many different platforms but the learner’s journey through them via this gateway should feel seamless.

A well-designed portal can become your learners’ go-to place but it should also help them find go-to people, whether that’s for technical support or more sophisticated mentoring. Technically, it could be: • A dedicated area of your corporate intranet with links to resources. • A layer that sits above your LMS creating a more learner-centered experience. • An established platform that is customized and configured. • A bespoke architecture creating a learning ecosystem that integrates many platforms such as other HR systems, CRM and social and internal tools.

When to Consider a Learning Portal When and if to develop a learning portal should be driven by your own business challenges, opportunities and needs. Common uses include: • Developing the skills of a specific audience such as new hires or first-time leaders. • Spearheading a campaign or business initiative, such as launching a new customer-focused strategy. • Curating all your content on a particular subject. Portals can be effective tools for collecting product knowledge, for example. • Creating a specialized center of excellence, such as a professional development program in engineering. In essence, consider a custom portal when your current platforms or potential off-the-shelf systems cannot deliver what you need. But how do you 48 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

know what you need? Start by first understanding the needs of your organization and users and analyzing the problem the portal is trying to solve. There is no one-sizefits-all answer. Stephen Blackford, head of systems engineering at Transport for London, the operator of public transport services and transport infrastructure for the capital of the United Kingdom, described the business challenge his agency is addressing through its learning portal this way. “Upgrading systems infrastructure to meet strategic needs while at the same time maintaining services puts TfL in the role of system integrator every time a change is made,” he said. “Our challenge was how to uplift the system integration capability of the business through increasing awareness and system integration skills in a wide range of roles.” Once you’ve identified your challenge, ask: • What do learners need to do that your existing systems doesn’t provide? • How many entry points do they use to access learning resources? • Do you understand the company’s learning technology landscape? • Do you have capability to manage a portal with content authors, managers, administrators and moderators? • What tasks will they need to perform? • How will you achieve and measure learner engagement? Engaging companywide stakeholders to answer these questions will help establish if a custom portal is needed and if so, how to build a business case. Understanding the challenges helps you plan for them.

Identifying and Overcoming Challenges Simply putting all your resources into one place won’t solve your business challenge. Taking a cue from software development, learning organizations should invest in the design of learner experience, or LX. Learning organizations need to be willing to look at the entire learning journey and redesign how employees engage with content. Good interface design is part of it but LX involves more than just good visual experience. It also means understanding learner motivation and behavior as much as how to structure your site. UX, or user experience, may be the term many people are familiar with — and established UX approaches are important — but UX design needs to be augmented with an understanding of how people learn and how to design effective and engaging learning experiences.

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


The LX challenge is balancing between depth — everything the organization wants to include in the proposed portal — and “signposting,” or clear learner pathways. The emphasis should be on the X or experience. Getting the balance right is essential and shouldn’t be sidestepped or abbreviated. That principle underlined TfL’s approach to developing its portal. “We spent a lot of time up front storyboarding the site before producing anything real and that has paid great dividends” said Blackford. LX design is a discipline for specialists and investing in the skills of a good designer up front can reap long-term rewards. It’s also important to think carefully about content and context in developing a portal. Portals can fall foul by trying to be everything to everyone. If learners can’t quickly personalize their experience they’ll disengage. On the other hand, a one-stop shop needs to be comprehensive. Context is key. Everything in a portal needs a quick, high-level overview: what it is, what it will help learners do, how long it will take as well as its ranking or rating. In the age of self-directed learning, this context helps learners make decisions quickly. “Make time in your project to gather all the raw material and develop it to integrate it with the portal,” said TfL’s Blackford. “It’s not just about curating what is there — it has to fit within the context of what the portal is designed to achieve.” CLOs considering a learning portal also need to think about delivery, implementation and ongoing maintenance. Beyond LX designers, learning organizations need business analysts, software architects and developers, graphic designers and a designated product owner, among other roles. Does that capability reside in house and what can be outsourced to a trusted supplier? The role of product owner in particular is pivotal. Portal development requires input from multiple stakeholders, oftentimes with competing agendas and priorities. Like a portal itself, the product owner is the linchpin in the system, someone who can secure buy-in from all the necessary areas of the business. Then there is maintenance. “If your portal doesn’t have a shelf life then it’s a living entity that will need to be sustained indefinitely,” Blackford said. “Ask yourself: Does your requirement have a sell-by date or do you want it to grow and evolve? Who maintains and moderates it? What about the face-to-face elements? How do you upskill new tutors going forward? All of these considerations need to be factored in up front.” Project scope and cost can vary dramatically. The keys to containing both are thorough, up-front plan50 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

ning and piloting. Know where you want to go from the start but understand that if you’re building a portal from scratch getting there will take time and patience while you build, iterate and refine the portal. One alternative for the cost-conscious is the existing LMS. Assuming the LMS is modern, it may be possible to make it serve as a portal by using its APIs to hook up with other systems. Building a simple portal in front of it can help learners self-manage their learning.

Maximizing the Results As with most learning initiatives, planning is critical to make the most of an investment in a learning portal. A thorough needs analysis should tell you where learners are now and where you want to take them. There will be many different and individualized ways of getting there. Plan for this diversity by analyzing possible use cases for your portal and then design and test for them. This effort will inform LX

Start by understanding the needs of your organization and analyzing the problem the portal is trying to solve. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. design, curriculum structure and what elements to include. It will also aid in shaping the context you provide to bring learner journeys together. Beta testing is an established technique for testing and refining software. Similarly, learning organizations looking to develop a portal should pilot and test concepts early with a user group. It’s important not to think of a custom portal as a finished product but rather an evolving concept. Piloting also helps learning departments explore boundaries and try different techniques. “You’ll get a negative reaction to some things but that’s a way of working out where the boundaries are for your workforce,” said Blackford. “If we hadn’t piloted [TfL’s portal] we might have been too conservative and not taken risks. Then you’re back at square one with a traditional course catalog that turns people off.” How you ultimately measure the impact of your PORTALS continued on page 65

Case Study

Sidley Austin Gets Serious About Onboarding BY SARAH FISTER GALE


ecoming a partner in a major law firm is the dream for many lawyers toiling away tirelessly for years to get their chance. But the transition from an associate to partner can still be a shock, said Carter Phillips, chair of the executive committee for Sidley Austin LLP, one of the largest corporate law firms in the United States with 1,900 lawyers and $1.87 billion in annual revenue. “It is a fundamental change that has a profound impact on your life,” he said. As a partner, lawyers are compensated differently. They face complex quarterly tax requirements, are expected to generate their own business and be held fully accountable for the outcomes of their work. “It can be a jarring experience,” said Phillips who became a partner at the firm in 1986. Sidley Austin promotes a new class of associates to partner every year and for years that experience happened fairly rapidly with little training or support. Promotions were announced in mid-December and the firm hosted a half-day orientation in early January with 15-30 minute back-to-back presentations on everything they needed to know to be a partner. “It could be overwhelming,” said Jody Rosen Knower, chief training and professional development officer. Knower had been involved in revamping the firm’s new associate onboarding process and she felt like the move to partner would benefit from a more robust approach. In 2013, she and her team surveyed partners who had transitioned in the past five years about their orientation experience, the questions they had and the areas where they wished they had more support. “We got an unprecedented 100 percent response rate which on its own was pretty telling,” she said. They also surveyed the executive leadership team about where they felt new partners needed more training to get up to speed. The feedback consistently showed new partners didn’t feel equipped to handle the transition and they were confused about the compensation process and other aspects of being a partner. Based on their input and their own observations, Knower’s team developed a road map for a yearlong onboarding program to give new partners the confidence, support and knowledge they needed to be successful right out of the gate.

58 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

SNAPSHOT The law firm’s yearlong onboarding program positions new partners for long-term success.

Sidley’s executive team — who had their own fraught experiences in transitioning to partner — fully supported the idea and Knower’s approach. “Jody and her team did a remarkable job on this,” Phillips said. “What impressed me the most is that they interviewed a lot of partners about what they wish they had known and incorporated that into the format.”

What to Expect the First Year Knower’s team launched the new onboarding program the following year. Like the prior program, the new onboarding program begins in January. Shortly after the promotion announcement, new partners receive a series of emails explaining exactly what they should expect, when key events will take place and who they could turn to with questions in the meantime. “It was very soothing,” said Sara Garcia Duran who became a partner in 2015. “When you don’t know what’s coming, it’s nice to have someone there to tell you what to expect.” In February, all new partners participate in a twoday onsite workshop where each of the original orientation sessions is expanded and includes more opportunities for interaction and questions. One of the most important sessions covers how partner compensation and taxes work. This session alone is critical because partners no longer get paychecks every two weeks, Phillips said. Sidley has a closed-book partner system where each partner’s compensation is determined by the executive committee at the end of each year which means new partners have little idea what or when they will be paid. “If they don’t understand the financial arrangement, they could spend all of their money in the first month,” he said. Other sessions cover business-focused aspects of the job including a session on generating new work that includes case studies from partners on clients they’ve brought in and how they expanded their business.

A Personal Trainer for Professional Development • A personalized approach to sustained behavior change • Mobile-based and scalable across your organization • A curated network of expert coaches • Measurable ROI, showing progress toward defined

business outcomes

Learn how BetterUp can partner with your organization

The new partners also learn what to expect from the end-of-year partner review process, where senior partners review their work for the year as part of the compensation decision-making process. That session was especially helpful for Duran who wasn’t sure how much information to provide or in what format. “I realized that they have to do 900 of these meetings so it’s important to be concise and show them the numbers,” she said. “That insight was very useful.”

“When you don’t know what’s coming, it’s nice to have someone there to tell you what to expect.” — Sara Garcia Duran, partner, Sidley Austin

What I Wish I’d Known Knower also added a lunch-and-learn panel where partners who have been in the role for several years answer questions about their experiences and what they wish they had known. “They talk a lot about the importance [of] managing their time and dealing with clients and how they learned to hold themselves differently as partners,” Knower said. These are things they learned over time through observation and trial and error but new partners now have the benefit of learning these tools right away. “A lot of the panelists say they wish they could have sat in on something like this,” she said. After the February session, Knower continues to reach out to new partners on a monthly basis and hosts events and one-on-one sessions throughout the year. In April at the annual partner meeting, she organizes a welcome reception before the first dinner and arranges a group coaching session to reinforce their networking skills before walking into a hall filled with hundreds of their new peers. “It positions them to have a more positive experience,” she said. She also creates Facebook pages for cohorts where partners are encouraged to share personal stories, pictures and hobbies as a way to cement their relationships. In between the events, each partner has monthly business development coaching sessions to help them improve their business development skills and create a plan for landing new work. Working individually with a coach ensures each partner can focus on their unique skill gaps, specialty area and presentation style. “We don’t want them running around looking for any new piece of work,” Phillips said. “The coaching helps them find what they are comfortable doing.” 60 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

While it’s hard to measure the business impact of the coaching, Phillips has seen its impact in action. He’s made several presentations this year with a first-year partner and each time they’ve worked together Phillips has noticed his skills improving. “There is a new crispness to his presentation style that he lacked in the beginning,” he said. “The coaching helped him see the virtue of getting to the point and that has upped his game.” Duran has also seen value from her coaching experiences. She often turned to her coach with questions about specific decisions, like whether she should write an article to promote herself as a thought leader or how to effectively navigate a conference to make more meaningful contacts. “Because the feedback was private and specific to me, it was more applicable than if we had done 12 group coaching sessions,” she said. Knower also creates opportunities for the new partners to come together as a cohort. “We want them to build connections so they call on each other when they need support,” she said.

Confidence Soars Even when there is nothing planned, Knower continues to send reminder emails about upcoming events, and she makes a point of meeting with each new partner face-to-face or virtually once a month to be sure they are getting the support they need. The added support appears to be having the desired effect. Knower’s team surveys new partners three times per year — when they are promoted, after orientation and at year-end — asking them to rate how well prepared they feel to handle specific aspects of being a partner. Every year the numbers jump after orientation and continue to grow through the year. Results from 2016 showed new partners’ confidence in understanding cash flow and tax payments increased 38 percent between the first and second surveys and 43 percent overall. Confidence in the annual partner self-evaluation form increased 44 percent between first and second surveys and 45 percent overall, and confidence in the partner review and compensation process increased 71 percent between first and second surveys and 81 percent overall. “The numbers show this program has been invaluable to the partners and to the firm,” she said. The program has been such a success that Knower is now looking at creating a similar support structure for midcareer associates promoted to senior associate. “Whenever people move into leadership roles it’s a new frontier,” she said. “We want to give them the confidence, skills and support they need to be successful.” CLO Sarah Fister Gale is a writer based in Chicago. She can be reached at




52 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

Assessing your organizational culture can diagnose potential breakdowns in people, purpose and structure and provide you with the right equation to deliver positive financial results.


any executives claim to put their employees first and foster an organizational culture in which employees can flourish. Unfortunately, most employees indicate their organization is simply OK, summing it up with: “There are worse places to work.” People respond to what is around them. The vital organizational task is to create a culture where employees can thrive, are prepared to effectively serve customers and function in an efficient manner to achieve organizational success. The task of gaining an insight into organizational dynamics and the realization that organizational culture can positively or negatively impact organizational performance is not new. It can be traced back to the concept of institutionalization whereby an organization takes on a life of its own well beyond the original vision of the founders. While the concept of culture is not new, there are an evolving set of tools and frameworks for assessing culture. To assess the culture of an organization and its impact upon the financial performance of that organization, there are three workplace parameters that form the boundaries for four specific organizational cultures. These four organizational cultures in turn set the stage for the development of the Financial Model of Organizational Culture, or FMOC.

This model provides a vision for predicting the financial performance of an organization based on its culture. The objective is to develop a course of action to improve the organization’s culture and, more importantly, the financial performance of the organization. Ultimately, it’s the quality of the employees within an organization that will determine an organization’s fate. Employees have always made the difference between a truly successful organization and a mediocre entity. The primary driving force that brings people into a concert hall is to hear enchanting music performed by trained musicians whose skills and talents are on display. Highly qualified employees produce quality outputs and provide quality service that satisfies consumer needs. Highly skilled employees, managers and support staff are the lifeline of an organization. Organizations with cultures that focus on their people and that invest in their future will in the long run achieve a higher level of financial success than organizational cultures that view employees as mere costs to be reduced in times of trouble.

Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •


The Path Toward the FMOC

sues while ignoring or paying limited attention to the well-being of the employees. Dissatisfied employees purposely engage in many behaviors that reduce workplace performance and limit productivity. A fertile breeding ground for advancing workplace performance and productivity can only be laid when individuals are respected for who they are and placed in positions that complement their strengths. And make no mistake about it: Increasing productivity is the catalyst behind the socioeconomic achievements of a society. From a strict organizational perspective, the right managerial attitude can breathe life into a management philosophy or culture that will boost the chances of organizational success by establishing a workplace environment in which individuals will want to consistently perform at their best. Without people, a goal or purpose and some 2. The organizational environment among emform of structure, there is no organization. Of the ployees. three elements, people constitute the most importThe environment can be assessed by the extent of ant factor because without them the other two ele- cooperation and internal politics and favoritism within ments cease to exist. the organization. A highly politicized work environment will eat away at collegiality and undermine proFigure 1: The Financial Model of Organizational Culture (FMOC) ductivity. If left unchecked, it will eventually Measurement Criteria Financial Status Recommended Course squelch innovation, cripof an Organization of Action ple productivity and deOrganizational Culture A stroy the organization. Trust Higher financial performance Continue present policies and The long-term sustainCooperation compared to other organizations practices ability of any organization Tasks have meaning within the same industry will depend on whether it Organizational Culture B controls internal politics Two of the three “A” elements of Competitive financial performance Incorporate the missing element of and favoritism. Any orgaorganizational culture are present compared to other organizations organizational culture “A” into the nization that fails to base within the same industry “B” culture performance and compensation on merit will Organizational Culture D drift into mediocrity and One of the three “A” elements of Below-average financial perforIncorporate the two missing possibly face extinction in organizational culture is present mance compared to other organiza- elements of organizational culture a competitive environtions in the same industry “A” into the “D” culture ment. Merit must be reOrganizational Culture F warded. Favoritism must Distrust Significantly below-average financial Incorporate the three missing be discouraged. Non-cooperation performance compared to other elements of organizational culture 3. The tasks being Tasks do not have meaning organizations in the same industry “A” into the “F” culture performed within an orSource: Daniel Wentland ganization. When the three elements are brought together, an This factor can be assessed by asking whether a task organization is formed and a culture develops that in- has meaning for that individual. In many organizafluences every aspect of the production process. The tions, most employees do not understand how their culture is defined by three workplace parameters: work contributes to the organization’s goals and vision. 1. The attitudes and practices of management. On the other hand, organizations that create an enviThese can be assessed by the overall degree of trust ronment where individuals feel that their work is imbetween management and nonmanagerial personnel. portant and that their organization is providing a posAn adversarial relationship between management and itive benefit to the community set the stage for nonmanagerial personnel tends to develop when man- innovation and creativity. When innovation and creagers focus too much on operational and financial is- ativity flourish so does work performance and producAn organization has three common elements: people, a goal or purpose, and a structure (meaning any phenomena created by the members of an organization) that defines and limits the behavior of members of an organization.

Employees have always made the difference between a truly successful organization and a mediocre entity.

54 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

Education For Those Who Expect More American Public University knows the value of training and education. Learn talent development and other management strategies for organizational success in a competitive business world. APU offers 190+ careerrelevant online degree and certificate programs. Partner with a nationally recognized leader in online education and strengthen your workforce investment. Learn more about the benefits of our educational partnerships at

We want you to make an informed decision about the university that’s right for you. For more about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed each program, and other important information, visit

In sum, to understand organizational performance one must understand the people factor within an organization.

individual but there is no trust or cooperation present within the culture of the organization. Culture F: • None of the three elements of organizational culture “A” are present. From these four measurable and distinct organizational cultures we can present the FMOC model (Figure 1). tivity. As managers and employees work together with According to the FMOC model, organizations that a shared vision focused upon improving organizational have a type “A” culture are predicted to financially performance so will the financial situation of the orga- out-perform other organizations with similar resourcnization begin to thrive. Optimizing organizational es. Financial measurements that can be used to test this performance is the yard stick by which to evaluate the assumption include earnings per share, sales volume, quality of an organization. return on equity, stock price, operational costs and net Using the three workplace parameters, we can profit. As for policy recommendations, the FMOC identify four distinct organizational cultures: model suggests that managerial personnel should conCulture A: tinue with their current practices. • There is a relationship of trust between manageOrganizations that have a type “B” culture are ment and nonmanagerial personnel. predicted to be financially competitive with other • Cooperation between individuals and depart- organizations with similar resources. The policy recments and units is encouraged; politicking and favorit- ommendation for these organizations is to incorpoism are discouraged. rate within their organizational culture the missing • Individuals feel their actions have a meaningful organizational culture “A” element and thus form a type “A” culture. FIGURE 2: MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT TO TRAINING EQUATION Organizations that have a type “D” culture are predicted to perform below their competitors. The Management’s Linking training with Degree to which training has been policy recomsupport for training the strategic objectives proven or measured to enhance mendation for set by management employee productivity and performance these organizations is to develop a type “B” or a + b = 1 (in percentage terms, 100 percent) Where: “A” organizational culture. a has a scale going from .5 down to 0: b has a scale going from .5 down to 0: Organizations .5 = fully linked with strategic objectives .5 = effectiveness of training is highly documented 0 = no link to strategic objectives 0 = no measurement of the effectiveness that have a type “F” culture are Organizations with: predicted to perType A cultures = .5 Type B cultures = .4 Type D cultures = .3 Type F cultures = .2 to 0 form significantly below their comSource: Daniel Wentland petitors. The policy recommendaimpact on the organization and that their organization tion for these organizations is to incorporate the stands for excellence and its policies are based upon missing elements of organizational cultures “D,” “B” ethical behavior and practices. and “A.” Culture B: FMOC links the culture of an organization to the • Two of the three elements of culture “A” are pres- financial status of that organization and provides manent. For example, there is trust and cooperation but agement with a methodology to improve the financial tasks might not have meaning for the individual. status by adopting a managerial philosophy that fosters Culture D: a type “A” or “B” culture. • One of the three elements of culture “A” is present. For example, tasks might have meaning for the CULTURE continued on page 64

M= a + b

56 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

Business Intelligence

Deliver Us From the Classroom The slow march away from instructor-led training continues but with some surprising results.


hange is in the air for CLOs when it comes to learning delivery. But then again it’s been that way for a while now. According to a survey of the Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board, nearly 8 in 10 CLOs (79 percent) expect to adopt new training techniques in the next 12 to 18 months. A majority expect to change the company’s blend of training modalities (63 percent). The Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board is a group of 1,500 professionals in the learning and development industry who have agreed to be surveyed by the Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group, the research and advisory arm of Chief Learning Officer magazine. This survey was conducted from June to July 2017. Despite the winds of change, traditional classroom-based instructor-led training remains the most used learning delivery method (Figure 2) for many skill areas. More than half of learning departments use classroom-based ILT for business skills training (59 percent), developing core competencies (52 percent), leadership development (58 percent), onboarding and new hire training (56 percent) and technical skill development (51 percent). But that’s not to say that ILT will remain at the top for long. Among the areas where CLOs expect to decrease usage, classroom-based ILT is expected to see the largest decrease (24 percent). The only other significant decrease expected is in text-based training, also at 24 percent (Figure 3). Technology spending plans paint an equally mixed picture. E-learning delivery, performance dashboards, and technology to support instructor-led training were the highest priorities among survey respondents. Only one quarter plan to make mobile learning delivery a spending priority.

62 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

Those spending plans seem to support the conclusion that mobile learning is one of the least used learning delivery methods. But the promise of learning delivered whenever and wherever employees are remains a powerful lure. A solid majority (58 percent) of CLOs expect to see an increase in usage of mobile learning over the next 12 to 18 months. The data from prior years of research show the slow fulfillment of that promise. In 2014, CLOs said only 12 percent of e-learning was delivered to mobile devices. Now that’s up to almost half (46 percent). The reasons are scale and efficiency. In last year’s survey, more than half (54 percent) of CLOs said a major driver of mobile learning was its ability to reach a large audience with few resources. The second biggest driver (38 percent) was cost savings. All that aside, CLOs are just about evenly split in their plans to buy content for mobile delivery (Figure 4), indicating that learning departments are still in the early stages of determining the right mix and use of mobile in their learning delivery strategy. Most surprising is who gets to make the decisions about how learning is delivered in organizations (Figure 5). Senior leaders and business unit leaders have a strong voice (72 percent and 52 percent, respectively). Surprisingly, those ultimately responsible for delivery of learning — CLOs, instructional designers and learning governance councils — are not nearly as influential (41, 27 and 15 percent, respectively). And shockingly, in an era supposedly moving toward more personalized, employee-centric learning, only 25 percent of respondents said employees are involved in how learning gets delivered to them. The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. CLO Ave Rio is a Chief Learning Officer associate editor. She can be reached at

Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board, N=419. All percentages rounded.




No change









Business skills training



About the same

Decrease 66%

64% 58%

58% 52%



51% 44%







30% 24%



Mobile learning





Coaching or Collaborative Self-paced mentoring e-learning




10% 6%

Simulations Instructor-led Formal Classroom- Text-based e-learning on-the-job based ILT training training


Yes: 49%

58% 40% 51% 31% 19% 9%

Onboarding and new hire training 56% 44% 34% 32% 12% 9%

Core competencies 52% 46% 35% 39% 15% 9%

No: 51%


Technical skills


51% 51% 28% 43% 22% 11%

52% 41%


Compliance training

25% 15%

Senior leadership

59% 49% 42% 30% 16% 9%

Leadership development

41% 35%


Classroom-based ILT Self-paced e-learning Coaching or mentoring Formal on-the-job training Simulations Mobile learning

Business line leaders


Instructional designers


Learning governance council

36% 56% 12% 20% 8% 6%

Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •


COMPETENCY continued from page 38

CULTURE continued from page 56

Workers need more exposure to other people, experiences and content from outside as well as inside the organization, he said. Ganc agreed a competency model alone doesn’t cut it. “There are competencies we believe make a well rounded crew member at Vanguard,” she said. “But we also have to think what are some of the character qualities that our crew aren’t displaying that we might need them to. As we look at the future and we look at how the world is constantly changing we really need crew to be able to be agile and nimble.”

The People Factor

What’s in it for Workers? As the workforce and the skills needed continue to evolve, a competency model may be unable to provide workers with the necessary tools to market their own skills and develop their careers. Tauber argues its important to think about development from the point of view of employees. “Get them engaged,” he said. “Show them how their learning feeds their own success as well as the company’s. The CHRO at one of our clients made a video telling everyone how learning feeds curiosity, and curiosity is what drives innovation — which is the company’s big goal.” Then develop learning objectives aligned to their career interests as well as their job role and invest in tools that help them build the skills they want. “That same client segmented its workforce by function and is investing in a diverse ecosystem of technology, content and services to feed everyone’s individual career interests,” Tauber said. Ganc said a competency model can offer individual employees insight into how to market their skills. “If you’ve been self assessing yourself, you’ve heard what others have to say about you using the language and the competencies,” she said. “You can also use that as a framework when you’re talking about your own strengths.” Whether it’s through a competency model or not, the ultimate role of learning is to develop people and give them the means to grow. “That is the new work of L&D — creating the conditions for learning,” said Tauber. “I really think this is a huge opportunity for CLOs and their teams, not a threat. It’s a supplement to — not a replacement for L&D. Everyone still needs training to do their jobs. But we also need to grow every day, not just once-in-awhile. And that means L&D has to work differently.” CLO Marygrace Schumann is an editorial intern at Chief Learning Officer magazine. She can be reached at 64 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

At the core of the FMOC lies a common thread that binds each of the three critical workplace parameters together and ultimately determines whether an organization will possess an “A,” “B,” “D” or “F” culture. What is it? The people element is the most important factor in any organization. The quality and attitudes of the people within an organization set the stage for its accomplishments. An organization that invests in its employees will achieve a higher level of financial success. This investment in human capital must begin with the hiring process and continue throughout the employee’s tenure with the organization. Put simply, it’s the employees that make the difference between organizational success or failure and what influences the quality of the employees is the training provided to them.

Management’s Commitment to Training From a practical perspective, management’s commitment to training hinges on whether leaders believe that the training will produce or improve products and services. Training significantly adds to the output value of a product or service when it’s directly linked with the strategic objectives set by management. If training is linked to organizational strategy, it encourages managers to support the training because they know it will have a major impact on organizational competitiveness and success. Another variable that influences management’s support for training is the degree to which the training has been proven or measured to enhance employee productivity and performance. Using these variables an equation can be utilized to capture management’s commitment to training (Figure 2). In sum, to understand organizational performance one must understand the people factor within an organization. The quality of an organization’s people at all levels determines organizational success or failure because an organization is nothing more than the systems that the members of the organization created. The superiority of any creation ultimately depends on the abilities of its creators. An organization can only accomplish great feats in a work environment where greatness can thrive. At the core of organizational success is the quality of the members of the organization. CLO Daniel Wentland is the author of five books on education and employee development. He is a visiting professor in the College of Education and Human Development at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. He can be reached at

PORTALS continued from page 50 learning portal on your organization depends on your technical solution. There are two levels to effective measurement. At minimum, measure how people are using the portal and track how often they visit, how much time they spend and what they look at. This data can be used to improve LX and identify potential problem areas. For example, are learners not visiting a particular page because they can’t find it? The other level of measurement is at the overall initiative level. This involves tracing the link between learning and a change in the business results. This complex activity requires strategic planning to build a chain of evidence. Key questions to answer include: • What business outcomes are you looking to achieve? • How does learning affect these outcomes? • What training is in place to manage employee performance in this area?


• What tools, processes and people are in place to measure performance? • Can you map the chain of evidence from employee (and their training, performance and team’s performance) to the impact on the business? Portals have potential to deliver measurable results if strategically designed around business and learner needs. A well-designed portal can become your learners’ go-to place but it should also help them find go-to people, whether that’s for technical support or more sophisticated mentoring. Done well, a portal should provide more than just a one-stop shop for learning. It enables learning organizations to create a linked learning ecosystem that has the potential to measurably improve learning engagement and impact. CLO

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

AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WI, WV, District of Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan Newfoundland, Europe

Daniella Weinberg Regional Sales Manager 917-627-1125 CT, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Europe

Kathryn Fleet is a learning consultant for LEO, a provider of learning services and strategy. She can be reached at

Kevin M. Fields Director, Business Development 312-967-3565


Advertisers/URLs Page

American Public University Ariel BetterUp Biz Library CLO Breakfast Club CLO Learning Elite CLO Symposium Plus CLO Webinars eCornell ExecOnline Fulcrum Labs GP Strategies Harvard Business Publishing

HCM Advisory Group HRCI Inkling Mursion NIIT Penn CLO The Regis Company Saba Strategic Thinking Institute Speexx Talent Tracker The Training Associates Wharton University of Pennsylvania

55 57 59 3rd Cover 51 49 6 7 2nd Cover 32, 33 15 25 37

Advertising: For advertising information, write to Back Issues: For all requests, including bulk issue orders, please visit our website at or email Editorial: To submit an article for publication, go to CLOmedia. com/submission-guidelines. Letters to the editor may be sent to

17 39 45 13 11 43 27 Back Cover 28, 29 61 5 30, 31

Permissions and Article Reprints: No part of Chief Learning Officer can be reproduced without written permission. All permissions to republish or distribute content from Chief Learning Officer can be obtained through PARS International. For single article reprints in quantities of 250 and above and e-prints for Web posting, please contact PARS International at

List Rental: Contact Mike Rovello at (402) 836-5639 or

Melanie Lee Business Administration Manager 510-834-0100, ext. 231


Subscription Services: All orders, inquiries and address changes should be addressed to

Computer Fulfillment PO Box 8712 Lowell, MA 01853

or call customer service at 800-422-2681 or 978-671-0446 or email

Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •



Turbocharge HiPo Leader Growth Now You can’t afford to wait • BY RAM CHARAN

A Ram Charan is a consultant, speaker and author whose books have sold more than 4 million copies. His latest book is “The High-Potential Leader: How to Grow Fast, Take on New Responsibilities, and Make an Impact.” He can be reached at editor@

t a time of rising change and uncertainty, your company has never more urgently needed next generation leaders who can think differently. Your company might have such leaders already but chances are they are buried at lower levels. You can’t afford to wait to move them up through incremental development steps. You need them to influence the direction of your company right away. You need them now. The No. 1 imperative for chief learning officers should be finding their organization’s high-potential leaders, or HiPos, and accelerating their development. HiPos may not be ready for higher level decision making right now but with the right learning experiences they will get there sooner than you think. HiPos reach leadership potential through disciplined, routine practice of essential skills combined with periodic leaps. Work with HiPos to build fundamental skills in things like selecting people, increasing the return on their time and connecting big ideas to realities on the ground. But that’s not enough. HiPos need opportunities to take big leaps in scope and complexity. Jumping into new and difficult situations not only tests the person but it is also how HiPos build the higher order skills and judgment they’ll need to run a large organization. It accelerates growth. Every HiPo needs the chance to stretch their capability by being thrust into unfamiliar territory. There is no substitute for the real thing. Here are suggestions to accelerate HiPos growth. Think about horizontal moves where the HiPos can apply skills at a similar organizational level but in a new geography, function or business unit. If the right openings don’t regularly arise, you might have to unblock a job that is the best next move. The incumbent may have been an excellent performer but in the context of born-digital competitors, the requirements of many jobs are changing. Make the case that moving people will help the business reposition itself. Look at changes in organization structure or changes in the definition of a job as an opportunity for a HiPo. A newly created position might mean that no one has the full set of skills required to fill it. Why not put a HiPo in that role? Many HR departments are undergoing a transformation as they redefine their role and adopt new tools. A HiPo with business experience might be a better fit than a traditional HR person.

66 Chief Learning Officer • November 2017 •

Put HiPos on a team with diverse viewpoints and high-level issues. The team will benefit from their wide cognitive bandwidth, perspective and comfort with digital technology. For example, one large advertising firm takes HiPos on calls to important clients.

High potentials reach leadership potential through disciplined, routine practice of essential skills combined with periodic leaps. Create a learning experience especially for HiPos. Vindi Banga, the former CEO of Hindustan Unilever, was a management trainee when he was sent to a remote Indian village. A city person, he was a fish out of water. He built trust by talking with local people and saw the chance to improve life by creating drainage pits to eliminate the unsanitary pools of water created when villagers took care of their personal hygiene in public. Banga persuaded the village headman to experiment and enlisted help to dig the pits. His bosses saw his ability to take constructive action and promoted him. Banga later reflected on what he called the lesson of a lifetime, saying, “I gained confidence in myself, in my ability to quickly size up a new situation and to overcome the hurdles.” Not every HiPo will succeed in making a leap to leadership. And few will do so on their own. You’ll need to follow up with clear-eyed and fast-paced evaluations of their progress. Are they quickly developing new skills or traits? Developing the mental acuity to sort out new situations quickly? Building the necessary information networks? Pinpointing an appropriate action plan? How well you gather these insights will determine how well you can arm your organization for the future with the highest potential leadership talent. CLO

Are any of the following true for your teams? “We’re reactive, tactical and love fire drills.” “Our plans are laundry lists of tactics.” “We don’t have a common language for strategy.” Develop your leaders’ strategic thinking and planning capabilities:

Bestselling Books on Strategic Thinking

Learning Management Systems

Strategy Workshops

Sustainability Tools

Visit today or Email

Profile for Chief Learning Officer

Chief Learning Officer - November 2017  

Carra Simmons transformed learning at State Farm once. Now she’s leading the insurance company’s learning into a tech- enabled future.

Chief Learning Officer - November 2017  

Carra Simmons transformed learning at State Farm once. Now she’s leading the insurance company’s learning into a tech- enabled future.