Next month, Chief Learning Officer magazine will mark its fifth anniversary. From the very beginning, we’ve spotlighted the best of the best in enterprise education — on the cover of our publication and in the CLO Profile feature inside.
At a Symposium a couple of years ago, Jim Brolley, Harley-Davidson director of organizational learning and development, said that when he got on the cover of CLO, he felt like a rock star who had appeared on the front of Rolling Stone.
I can’t imagine any higher praise than that, and we’re very proud of the fact that we were able to achieve such a reputation in the industry in just five short years.
One thing we always ask the subjects of these articles is, “What is the guiding philosophy behind your approach to enterprise education at your organization?” They always give thoughtful and articulate answers to that question. In rapidly changing environments in business and learning, though, those views are liable to change and expand in a matter of months, not years.
So, to help us celebrate Chief Learning Officer’s fifth anniversary, a few of the CLOs we’ve profiled have offered updates on how they view learning’s mission at their enterprise. With any luck, the past and present wisdom these individuals have shared with us will help future CLO Profile candidates in their quest for organizational success.
Leslie Joyce, Vice President and CLO, The Home Depot: Profiled in the January 2007 Issue
Then: “I think the chosen learning methodology should complement the learning content and be tailored to the intended audience. Although that is not often the easiest or most efficient choice to make, I think that is the best choice. That doesn’t necessarily lead us to blended learning solutions always being the best ones. I think it’s more a matter of an appropriate audience analysis, a thorough understanding of the content and the learning methodology that’s most facilitative of the transfer of that knowledge from one place to the other.”
Now: “As I reflect on my time in the learning profession, I believe our responsibility to be educated creators and consumers of learning solutions is one our most important duties. Our organizations look to us to be the stewards of associates’ time, and they count on us to use that time wisely, in a way that moves the company forward. Unfortunately, I still have lots of conversations in which the primary focus is how to make learning ‘accessible,’ with very limited focus on making learning ‘impactful.’ This is naturally driven by our desire to reflect the pace of the business, to be responsive to our clients and to see that associates have what they need at their fingertips — no matter whether it makes sense. Impactful learning takes time to develop and to participate in, and we should not be apologetic about that. I hope all of us will commit to using all the methods and technology that are available to us but for the purposes on maximizing impact, not access.”
James Mitnick, Senior Vice President, Turner Construction: Profiled in the January 2006 Issue
Then: “TKN (Turner Knowledge Network) is not about training. Training is for babies and puppies. TKN is about performance, where learning, knowledge and collaboration intersect.”
Now: “Learning continues to evolve as technology allows us to push useful information and knowledge to our colleagues. Although instructor-led courses continue to be an important part of practicing and testing for understanding, it is impossible to provide just-in-time learning to all staff members at the right time of their careers with consistent quality. Retention of knowledge is very difficult, unless it can be practiced in the real world almost immediately. As we have all learned, the cost of instructor-led training is very expensive — our world has evolved to become a virtual place in space and time, where information and knowledge can be accessed anytime, from any computer or hand-held device, to support collaboration and professional development. In the future, it might not be possible to distinguish between formal and informal learning, between the classroom and Web-based courses, between relevant and irrelevant. It becomes the responsibility of those of us who have been entrusted to lead our organizations to make sure it is relevant and appropriate. When learning happens, people enjoy their work, are more productive, increase value to customers and are happier overall. If ‘training’ is for babies and puppies, then ‘learning’ is for those of us who understand the importance of codifying and sharing knowledge within our organization. Understanding the difference between training and learning is the first step to becoming a world-class learning organization.”
Alan Malinchak, CLO, ManTech International: Profiled in the June 2007 Issue
Then: “I believe lifelong learning is an essential responsibility of every employee, not only to develop themselves but to better the organization. I tenaciously embrace education and training at all levels, and I urge employees to attend college courses, utilize e-learning opportunities and attend seminars and conferences to broaden their perspective, intellect, knowledge, skills and abilities. I lead by example in this pursuit, as I am actively engaged as a Ph.D. candidate in business administration.”
Now: “Although my philosophy has not changed, I am continuing to learn how to adapt to the growing responsibilities of the chief learning officer (CLO) position at ManTech International, which is a fast-growing, billion-dollar public company that provides advanced technology solutions and services to support our federal government’s national security efforts. We operate in a very challenging and competitive environment, where our company’s growth depends on our employees’ skills and knowledge. To meet our business needs, as well as our employees’ personal and professional growth and development, the CLO position has to constantly respond to the changing landscape in the education and training field. We must regularly reassess how we provide value to our business needs through education and training. As such, the CLO must embrace change, champion initiative and positively recognize those who embody passion in their commitment to education and training within the work environment. As the CLO, I focus the ManTech University team on continuously ‘learning what to learn’ to provide our employees and our organization the opportunity to grow and develop through strategic training initiatives and available tools and instructional designs — both now and in the future. As the focus of ManTech International’s business responds to ‘moving targets’ of opportunity, especially in a highly competitive industry, the CLO and the ManTech University team must adapt or fall behind.”
Tamar Elkeles, Vice President of Learning and Development, QUALCOMM: Profiled in the September 2003 Issue
Then: “Learning is an integral part of QUALCOMM’s success. We are committed to expanding employees’ knowledge by providing learning opportunities linking overall business goals and professional development needs. We strive to deliver the right knowledge to the right people in the right jobs at the right times. This facilitates QUALCOMM’s competitive pace, ability to act decisively and change readily.”
Now: “CLOs are in a unique position to grow the talent in an organization. The CLO’s role is continuing to expand, and it will have a more significant impact on the entire organization. CLOs are continually scanning the business for learning opportunities. Organizational, leadership and marketplace changes all present good opportunities for learning interventions. It is the great CLOs who capitalize on those opportunities to leverage learning during those critical times. In my role as vice president of learning and development for QUALCOMM, I continually reinvent my learning organization to align with business changes. Our learning strategy follows the business strategy. We are committed to expanding employees’ knowledge by providing learning opportunities linked to overall business goals and professional development needs.”
Kevin Wilde, Vice President and CLO, General Mills: Profiled in the March 2004 Issue
Then: “In the long run, the best companies win with highly talented, highly committed employees. At General Mills, we recruit people with great potential … and provide the tools and experiences to bring that potential to life. And we know our employees’ commitment to perform is based on working for terrific leadership, meaningful development and empowering jobs where you can make a difference. Our CEO is counting on us to deliver this learning as an enabler for our business strategy.”
Now: “My observation is that the past few years have reinforced my learning philosophy. Winning organizations continue to be built on talent and commitment. Learning and development is central to attracting and retaining people, as well as increasing their performance value. The only evolution I see is the maturing of the learning champion role. We are better focused on delivering what counts for people and organizations.”
Please be sure to check out the October issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine, which will feature a special fifth anniversary section that covers how far the learning industry has come and where it’s headed.