Where should learning invest?
by Site Staff
May 31, 2009
It seems to me we’ve moved beyond the point of doing more with less — it seems we’re at the point of doing less with less. Do you share that view, and if so, if there is a core area that would demand investment, what would it be?
– Rick K.
We are definitely at a point of doing less with less, which is forcing many learning leaders to rethink strategies and reprioritize programs and initiatives. Every company has to define what is core to business and what investments will have the biggest returns. From my experience and from what I am seeing across organizations today, technical development and leadership development are the two key areas that warrant significant investment of time and resources.
Leaders are especially critical during times of crisis. Their behaviors, communication and actions are being watched closely by employees. Investing in leaders to make sure they are performing at their best is essential. Additionally, innovation is a key driver of business growth and success.
Investing in technical talent so they can create new products, new ideas and new technologies has a big impact on how companies will recover. Learning professionals are in key positions to influence leaders and innovation across organizations. These are difficult times, but they also provide significant opportunities to demonstrate the value of learning.
I recently joined a new organization and have been asked to develop a leadership development and management development program. There is no interest in developing a people development, leadership development or talent development strategy. I am concerned that the program will not link to any organizational initiative and will be difficult to measure. Without a talent management system or a systemic way to create a strategy, how would you go about the development of program initiatives?
I commend your focus on questioning the effectiveness of a program without an overall learning strategy or linkage to the business. As learning leaders, we often are asked to design or implement programs or initiatives that we do not believe will achieve desired results. It is our responsibility to push back on leaders and educate them about the importance of linking learning to the business.
Despite our best efforts, we sometimes cannot influence their thinking (but that should never stop us from trying). Try to engage the program requester in a discussion about the results of this program and gain clarity about the desired outcomes. If you still cannot gain support for an overall strategy or business linkage, implement the program based on the identified needs and have leadership jointly design the measures for program effectiveness.
After the program, the lack of results and business impact should demonstrate the need for strategy and integration going forward. Maintain your integrity and remember that learning is a process. Not everyone gets it at the same time.
What qualities and strengths would a CLO candidate have to possess to qualify for such a position?
– Ammons S.
There are many qualities required to be an effective CLO, and as the profession continues to evolve there are more skills required for success. CLOs are businesspeople first and learning people second, so business skills are always at the top of my list. Strategic thinking, strategic planning, as well as financial and business acumen, are essential.
It’s also beneficial to have skills in sales and marketing, as most learning professionals have to effectively market and sell their products and services. In addition, it is important for CLOs to be exceptional communicators and leaders of people and projects. The best CLOs can innovate and execute, and they have a broad perspective and focus on connecting the work they do with strategies of the organization.
What differentiates great CLOs from the rest are drive and passion for learning, systems knowledge, influence/negotiation skills and political savvy. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also important to have functional knowledge in various learning disciplines: learning assessment and measurement, managing talent, organization design and development, and leadership and executive development. My suggestion is to acquire both business and functional skills from academic programs and business experience. The more you learn, the more effective you will be.