Chief Learning Officer - May 2006 - (Page 48)

CO0506.qxd 4/19/06 12:40 PM Page 48 human capital Learning During Times of Growth John G. Higgins & Chris Draper M a n y CLOs and other learning executives are walking with a bit more spring in their steps these days, a n d perhaps smiling a bit more often. T h e y are coming out of budget meetings feeling less like executioners r e a d y to cut payroll and more like executors, r e a d y t o execute learning and knowledge management strategies in support of growth. A l t h o u g h financial scrutiny remains, a n executive mindset focused on both operational rigor in learning and ROI is part of the new normal, a n d many learning executives are reinvigorated about their jobs and the contribution their learning organizations can make to their companies' efforts to increase market share and shareholder value. Growth can mean many different things, of course, depending Barger's interesting, and even somewhat controversial, stance on industry segment and an organization's current market posi- about the company's customer service crewmembers involves tion. Growth companies are not just throwing money at various viewing these employees not as service agents, but as knowledge opportunities, but must pay close attention to margins and max- workers. It makes sense. For an industry competing in large imizing the return on every bit of their investments in learning. measure based on the quality of the customer experience, the Here are a few examples of how learning executives at major best ways to handle some specific customer needs are invented companies have responded to one or more facets of an overall each day at ticket counters, gates and baggage areas. growth strategy for their organizations. Consequently, Barger is focusing his learning team not only on traditional kinds of new-hire training, though that is important. In addition, he is looking at knowledge sharing and continuous Ramping Up for Organic Growth learning strategies to provide real-time educational opportuni- The best organic growth strategies can falter if the people are ties to ensure front-line effectiveness. not in place within the company to execute them, so getting people into the organization and performing productively is Consider the possibility of doing real-time knowledge sharing essential. The role of learning in supporting rapid organic through PDAs or podcasting that would take a successful customer growth can be seen in several initiatives being taken by Mike solution in, say, Boston and disseminate it to crewmembers in Barger, CLO of JetBlue Airways. every airport. These kinds of solutions are definitely on the table for JetBlue, as are incentive and recognition programs that would Growing at approximately 30 percent to 40 percent annually, May 2006 help ensure that crewmembers actually participate in those kinds the company faces the enviable challenge each month of bring- of collaborative learning and knowledge-sharing experiences. ing on board hundreds of new employees, or what JetBlue calls crewmembers. Given the company's distinctive and engaging I I Chief Learning Officer Growth Through Mergers and Acquisitions brand of customer service, that intense resource need means In some industries or segments, the growth that is so important finding the right people and giving them the kind of training to high performance often comes through mergers and acquisi- that ramps them up to productive levels as rapidly as possible. tions because there might be fewer opportunities to increase Our sustainable competitive edge in the coming years will shareholder value organically or through increased operational result from the customer experiences delivered by our front-line efficiencies. Post-merger integration has been the rallying cry crewmembers, Barger said. To meet our current growth plans, for many years to realize the full value of mergers, but a post- we need to hire 10 new people every day for the next 11 years. merger focus has been joined in recent years by a number of pre- How we equip, prepare and support these people is a key factor merger activities, including learning programs. By ensuring that in our ability to offer a service experience that is so superior to workforces are trained early on in the new processes and systems the competition that it generates a greater yield. 48

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

Editor's Note
Table of Contents
Letters to the Editor
Take Five
Selling Up, Selling Down
Guest Editorial
Learning Solutions
Robbins-Gioia University
Deloitte & Touche USA
CLO Profile
Washington Gas
Case Study
Human Capital
Health Care Service Corp.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida
Business Intelligence
In Conclusion
Advertiser's Index
Editorial Resources

Chief Learning Officer - May 2006