It’s traditional at this time of year for most of us to resolve to change our behavior or meet personal goals. We’ll lose weight, stop smoking or finish that lingering home improvement project. We’ll be kinder and gentler, avoid caffeine or exercise every day. As ardent and admirable as these promises are, they rarely pan out or even survive past Jan. 31. We shake our heads, look chagrined and have a good chuckle at our own expense. Then we get back to being who we are and business as usual. Breaking our resolutions — more so than making them — has become the real tradition.
But, in today’s rapidly evolving business world, this kind of tradition doesn’t cut it. Successful organizations must commit to — and consistently deliver on — their promises. There’s no such thing as business as usual. Enterprises need to reinvent themselves constantly — not just once a year — and apply sharply honed solutions every day to solving the issues that affect their enterprise.
I don’t need to tell you that learning is a critical component of this process of continuous, focused transformation. You already know that. You also know the professional ramifications. Learning leaders can’t afford to be mere mortals, simply planning to add a few more e-learning opportunities or resolving to deploy a new LMS this year. You have to be acutely aware of the bedrock challenges your business faces and dedicated to finding strategic workforce development solutions.
As we prepared this issue for publication, the editors of Chief Learning Officer magazine reached out to several industry leaders and asked them to share their thoughts on the critical challenges they see ahead in 2008. Their responses illustrate both the high stakes and the high impact of enterprise education and development.
Tina Busch, director of employee development and performance at Pitney Bowes, weighed in on aligning learning and development initiatives to the business. Her solution? “Speak the language of the business and ensure that the L&D team functions as human performance consultants — proven strategic as well as tactical partners who can provide quantitative as well as qualitative measurement of impact.”
In addition to a performance focus, multigenerational diversity and its impact on learning delivery are major issues in 2008. Mike Yakiemchuk, vice president of Computer Associates, sees the biggest challenge in the learning leadership role right now as “the rapid adoption of informal learning channels.” With the arrival of the “millennials” on the horizon, Yakiemchuk sees huge paradigm shifts in how organizations position and deliver learning and knowledge. His solution? “Be ready to embrace and support these new knowledge frontiers and prepare the infrastructure and delivery methodologies needed to support them.”
That’s exactly what Maureen Dowd, director of training design and quality assurance, is charged with at DirecTV. “We need to create a unified strategy that integrates nontraditional learning and performance support — whether it is e-learning, EPSS, water-cooler collaborative learning, etc. — into our fast-paced contact center environment and results in significant, measurable improvement in performance.” The company’s solution is an “environment in which employees are empowered and have the tools they need to learn what they need to learn, when they need to learn it.”
But, as Dowd so eloquently summed it up, “The move to this world is complex.”
Whether you face the same issues at your organization as our “panel,” or a different set of challenges unique to your industry or enterprise, most of you probably agree with that assessment. Being a learning leader in 2008 is not a simple job. And, chances are, it will continue to become more challenging and complex as the 21st century plays out.
Fortunately, we have a outstanding community of learning leaders, which includes remarkable individuals such as Tina, Mike and Maureen, who are eager to share their challenges and solutions. If the rest of you have thoughts to share, post your comments to the online discussion forums on the CLO Network at www.clomedia.com/discussion or send them to me. I promise to read them all — though I’m hedging my bets on my other New Year’s resolutions!