Merrill Lynch. Lehman Brothers. AIG. Washington Mutual. All were considered successful companies as recently as a few months ago. All ran into crises in the past few weeks that fundamentally changed those organizations, and not for the better. And the economic troubles that dealt crippling blows to these enterprises could claim other businesses in the near term.
With once-admired major firms collapsing on an almost daily basis, you might be wondering how your organization can navigate the rapids of market instability. According to Tim Clark and Conrad Gottfredson, the key to steering through economic challenges is organizational learning agility.
Gottfredson, senior partner and chief learning officer at TRCLARK LLC, co-authored (with Clark) a just-released report titled “In Search of Learning Agility,” in which they promote this concept to learning leaders.
“We wrote the report for [chief learning officers] with the hope that they could take these concepts to the board room — to the top leadership of the organization — to help them see how learning has a strategic role to play in their success and their survival,” Gottfredson said. “We haven’t been very good at doing that. Because of the nature of learning, we tend to be tactical, and it’s tough to get to the point where we’re strategic.”
With this in mind, he added that CLOs needed to consider how the organization learns, as opposed to the individuals who comprise it.
“Bringing people to a level of competency isn’t enough because of the changing nature of the business landscape,” he explained. “We are global, and changes come out of nowhere. Survival of organizations is tied to the capacity of that organization to adapt. And no organization is going to adapt rapidly unless its people are agile in their learning.”
To move in this direction, learning leaders should adopt a set of recommendations from this report, Gottfredson said. A few of these include treating evaluation as an individual and an organizational competency; integrating learning and performance support to address formal and informal learning at all points of need; and pushing ownership of learning to learners themselves.
So how do learning executives know when they’ve reached this organizational learning nirvana? When they’re recognized as strategic contributors to the business, Gottfredson said.
“The real test [of success] will be when we have a seat at the table with the top leadership of the organization and they see learning as fundamental to success.”
To read the report, go to https://www.clomedia.com/files/whitepapers/TRCLARK-InSearchofLearningAgility-2008.pdf.