He shared these thoughts with Chief Learning Officer magazine in an April conversation.
As we look at the evolution of the learning function in the face of disruptors that our profession is facing — the emergence of virtual communities; mobility through advancements in technologies; and leadership opportunities resulting from a post-global economic crisis environment — the question of whether we place emphasis on what the workforce requests or what the organization needs has to be looked at under the larger prism of organizational effectiveness and capability.
The premise here is that a workforce is an ecosystem from which an organization and its key stakeholders expect targeted outcomes. This system works on three basic principles:
• First, a set of business processes exists that identify the most effective and efficient ways in which an entity can achieve maximum results.
• Second, there are people strategies that conduct organizational diagnostics and deploy the appropriate organizational structures and enterprise measurements to ensure efficiency, as well as define the capabilities the workforce needs to deliver and deploy the aforementioned business processes.
• Third, there are tools and technology strategies that enhance the productivity of the two aforementioned ecosystem components.
Organizational and workforce development are tools that enable a balanced ecosystem. They ensure an entity gets the business capability from its workforce that will ensure success. So, learning leaders should ask themselves: Does my organization have the necessary human capital capabilities and measurements required by our organizational governance models and operational processes to deliver to the value promise or proposition of our organization?
Look at organizational and workforce development as a set of interconnected tools that enable organizational success. Governance and measurement models help to provide guardrails needed by process management and optimization efforts to ensure clear and concise needs, capabilities and outcomes needed by the workforce are identified. Once these are in place, the combination of workforce learning and development in conjunction with organizational development work streams and its various models ensure learning leaders can identify and close skill and competency gaps at both the individual and organizational level. It also gives them a way to triage what skills to teach, train and develop internally, versus those that job profiles, descriptions and hiring guidelines focus on.
There is a school of thought that asserts that identifying the development needs of the workforce and rolling them up into a consolidated learning strategy is the best course of action. Depending upon the stage of growth and change of an organization, this will likely yield positive results, especially around engagement. But be aware of the limitations of this approach. The workforce, by its nature, should first and foremost focus its time and development energy on efficiency and improvement of what it currently does. The potential pitfall here is that acting solely and primarily from this perspective unbalances the workforce ecosystem, which can and will lead to enterprise-wide inefficiencies and performance gaps.