What better way to kick off the new year than by taking a big bite out of a big initiative? I checked with a number of CLOs and executives to learn where they will focus in the new year.
1. At General Mills, Kevin Wilde has been vice president of organization effectiveness and chief learning officer for years. He says he is most excited to build on the company’s foundation of talent development in the U.S. and extend it globally. “Also, it’s interesting to watch our social collaboration site evolve,” he said. “It is a real connection point for people and ideas. We are finding learning occurs more naturally in the flow of work and during social interaction.”
2. Texas Health Resources is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the U.S. with 24 hospitals. Its CLO, Jim Dunn, is driving initiatives based on the business’s 10-year strategic focus. This includes development of leaders who demonstrate behaviors required to propel the organization to the next level. “We know every customer interaction is an opportunity to advance our efforts to humanize health care,” he said. “The same is true of the behavior of our leaders. Their actions can either advance or impede strategic outcomes.”
The organization identified six critical leadership behaviors. They are included in a leadership continuity growth program that cascades from officers to front-line managers. What makes a difference for the learning team, Dunn said, is they have the backing of the executive team and board trustees.
3. John A. Christman, senior vice president and chief learning officer for Genworth Financial, said his company’s corporate business strategy “is to have our people understand our products, our distribution partners and our customers better than anyone else in the industry. To meet that challenge, my primary focus is to establish powerful analytical capabilities in our people.”
The necessary skills include advanced financial modeling and mastery of Genworth’s enterprise risk management tools. “These new analytical skills and toolsets will be used by our professionals to track and improve our policy portfolios, our distribution/sales partners’ performance, and the financial performance of each product line,” he said.
4. Socratic Arts CEO Roger Schank is a learning theorist, an expert on advanced uses for learning technology and creator of leading-edge simulations. He has two initiatives this year. First is building more online master’s programs, such as at La Salle Business Engineering School in Barcelona, Spain, where he designed and built an experiential, virtual MBA program. He said the curriculum is story-centered and emphasizes learning-by-doing.
The second initiative is a just-in-time decision support tool designed around the idea of telling a useful story to a user at the point of need. He said when people talk to others about their problems, the listeners suggest solutions, often as a story. His team records and stores videos of experts’ two- or three-minute stories that help solve specific problems. Users describe their problems and a response is drawn from the collection of experts.
5. At McGraw-Hill Higher Education, President Brian Kibby said, “I have three areas of focus looking ahead: high-quality content, the latest digital tools and the most comprehensive support services.” His company, like so many others, is in an industry undergoing transformation. The company is using technology to create personalized learning environments. “We use adaptive tools for participants and for rapid reporting for professors and managers,” Kibby said.
The company’s latest mobile apps provide learning plans based on an individual’s knowledge gaps combined with the amount of time available. “Our mobile capabilities are allowing us to deliver courses and tools anytime, anywhere and now on any device,” Kibby said.
These are some fascinating initiatives taken on by charged-up learning leaders. Now, it’s time for you and me to get busy on our own initiatives. Let’s fix the problems and open up new opportunities.