Chief Learning Officer - August 2006 - (Page 24)

CO0806.qxd 7/20/06 10:13 AM Page 24 learning solutions i n practice: projects in a larger context and over a longer term? While U . S . G A O : C r a f t i n g the Perfect implementing these general management projects, were these future learning executives able to anticipate issues, Job Description determine the right data and associated metrics, predict outcomes, and recognize key trends and patterns? Finally, If someone were thinking about becoming a CLO and went looking for the were they able to articulate what the strategy was and perfect senior-level learning leader job description, what would it say? What competencies would the position demand? Would they relate to specific why it was important? In other words, were these future industr y experience? Would the description highlight a tried-and-true educa- learning executives able to think strategically about the tional path featuring learning and organizational development courses or per- competency side of the equation? haps hands-on work as a trainer? What role would strategy and innovation play? How would what the CLO knows blend with the businesses needs and G e n e r a l Management future plans for growth? Another area that was considered important for the According to Carol Willett, c h i e f learning officer, U. S. G o v e r n m e n t future CLO was knowledge of and experience with day- Accountability Office GAO , the most complete CLO job description would to-day general management activities such as business- advertise for an emotionally stable visionary who is gifted at translating con- case development, operational planning, financial plan- cepts and principles into practical steps. The CLO should be able to find ning, budget management, personnel management and opportunities in the midst of chaos to tap into sources of knowledge that may ROI calculation. not be obvious in the organization, and have the ability to convey to people ways to do their work better and more effectively, Willett explained. A CLO Along with their experience with these activities, has got to be able to learn the employees' language, understand what it is future learning executives also must have acumen in they're trying to achieve from a bottom line and then help them figure out sales and marketing. This includes both external com- how learning can contribute to the core mission. pany products and services and internal projects, Willett said that much like a learning organization needs a blended learning campaigns, programs sales and marketing activities. approach and platform, a CLO needs a varied combination of skills. Among They need to be utility players, as comfortable and able them is a bone-deep understanding of systems, a good sense of humor and in supporting the sales side of the organization as they the ability to lead people in the art of pursuing the possible. Most of what goes on for a CLO is not particularly easy. Any problem that's worthy of being are in presenting the features and benefits of an inter- solved is complicated, and so I think the ability to understand how systems nal training initiative to their peers. Thus, they need to operate, it's not just personality, it's not just budget, it's larger than that, is have experience launching major internal or external ver y useful. Secondly, if you don't have a sense of humor, you take every- sales campaigns and understand the critical relation- thing personally, and you'll either jump out a window or help somebody else ship between a campaign's success and an effective to do that way too quickly. Third, I think progress is made in a small series marketing program. of discrete teachable moments. It doesn't come all in one great big boom. The ability to motivate yourself and the people you work with both on the line Although the competencies necessary to implement and in the learning organization to focus on small teachable moments is kind these general management activities were considered of critical to success. important, the key competency was again the ability of Developing collaborative partnerships with line managers who have a job the future learning executive to see these activities in a that needs to get done, but perhaps little patience with or understanding of strategic context a recurring theme in the research how people learn, is another competency that Willett said is important to the findings. Although many general management activities CLO role, as is the ability to facilitate organizational consensus or help are tactical in nature short-term and limited scope , the organizations and management analyze their requirements, prioritize them ability to see these tactics as part of a larger business and then figure out how to measure success. Willett said that she was able strategy was an indication of executive readiness. to develop these necessary competencies because throughout her career she has split her time fairly evenly between line operations and learning K n o w l e d g e Management operations. About half of my working life has been spent as a program manager with responsibilities to achieve specific outcomes within a specific This competency set is driven in part by the exit of baby budget, and the other half has been spent trying to teach people how to do boomer employees and the desire to capture their knowl- those things. That has given me a balance in how I approach systems, in edge, and in part by the strategic need to forge better how I approach budget, how I approach developing stakeholders, how I links between individual competencies and corporate price materials and efforts, and how I craft my business examples in ways business needs. that other people can understand. August 2006 It's how organizations operate, Willett explained. Organizations are systems For our future CLOs, this means familiarity with tools for made up of tops, middles and bottoms. People in each of those positions evaluating, capturing, organizing and disseminating crit- operate in typical and fairly predictable ways. Also, organizations go through ical organizational knowledge in order to manage indi- life cycles. A system goes through a life cycle of birth, rapid growth either I I Chief Learning Officer vidual and corporate intellectual assets more effectively. leveling off or declining to death. Being able to figure out where an organi- They must be familiar with gap-analysis systems, career zation is in that lifecycle gives you key hints about what the art of the possi- and succession planning systems, skills management sys- ble is and how you can help an organization achieve its goals. Organizations tems, skill banks, learner management systems, and the are also cultural systems. GAO is a unique and wonderful place and quite importance of integrating data from these oftentimes unlike any place I've ever worked before. Getting to know this culture has disparate systems. been critical to my being successful in helping them do what they wanted to do, what they hired me to do. Had I tried to impose cultural norms that I Against this integrated data, the future learning execu- lear ned in other places in my career, I would not have been successful. tive must continually ask the critical strategic question:

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Chief Learning Officer - August 2006

Editor's Letter
Table of Contents
Taking the Lead
Best Practices
Learning Solutions
In Practice - U.S. GAO
In Practice - Army National Guard
CLO Profile
In Practice - PerkinElmer
Case Study
Human Capital
In Practice - Countrywide Financial Corp
In Practice - Siebel
Business Intelligence
Advertiser's Index
Editorial Resources
In Conclusion

Chief Learning Officer - August 2006