Corporate Learning Week -- Day 2 Review

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Corporate Learning Week -- Day 2 Review

The Corporate Learning Network team spared no expense in trying to include every key area we could as part of Corporate Learning Week 2021.

One key area not typically discussed at L&D conferences, however, is the need for senior-level management to re-evaluate and/or re-invent organizational structures. That’s because it isn’t often on the radar for many L&D and/or C-level executives.

Missed Day One? Read CLN Editorial Manager Mason Stevenson’s review.

With today's countless discussions on agility rarely is there a discussion focused on what kinds of organizational structures are needed to achieve extraordinary responsiveness to a rapidly changing business environment.

Corporate Learning Week 2021

Embracing the Future CLO

So, where did we look for the appropriate expertise that can begin a much-needed dialogue with respect to the design principles needed to craft new organizational strategies?

The answer:  1993. Well, more like a book from 1993.

Day Two

Developing the New “Theory of the Organization”

That year, Jim Champy & Michael Hammer's Reengineering the Corporation took the world by storm. Translated into 22 languages, it sold 3 million copies & became one of the most influential business books of all time.

As Chairman Emeritus of Consulting Dell Services, former Chairman at Perot Systems, & Chairman & CEO of C-S-C Index, Mr. Champy forged solutions on how to successfully integrate groundbreaking technologies.

Champy kicked off Day 2 of our virtual conference and spent much of his presentation speaking about the concepts above while also discussing the idea that "strategy proceeds structure."

There was one thing he pointed out, however, that I felt was most relevant to learning leaders in today’s environment. He said:

This cannot be said enough. In fact, one can almost make it a requirement of those individuals serving in those roles; they must develop a new “theory of the organization.”

Generally speaking, I think it has become human nature to find a one-size-fits-all approach to what we as an organization are trying to accomplish. “Well… if Company X is doing it, it should work for our company as well.” This, in all fairness, is a cheap trick.


The data overwhelming shows us employees want a personalized approach to learning. Pick up any reputable survey on the topic and that’s what you’re going to see. So, why is it so hard to personalize the approach the organization takes in its journey to function as a successful entity?

The end-all-be-all here is leaders within a company have to abandon the old way of thinking and embrace a more personalized approach to the organization. Champy nor I am saying to abandon everything in its entirety, but it is worth taking a long hard look at the current “theory of the organization”, retaining what is good and discarding what is useless. All of this makes room for the new and useful.

Adapting Your Learning Culture to a #Consistently Remote World

It’s no secret the COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed the working world forever. In fact, most of you are probably reading this at home right now. While that might have been a bad thing just a year ago, it’s certainly more realistic now given that we are working remotely, and flexibility has been built into our day-to-day work activities… especially learning.

Dessalen Wood

Dessalen Wood is the Chief People Officer at Thoughtexchange and focused her presentation on this topic. Throughout her session, Mrs. Wood discussed the need to question your employee about their needs, to hear those needs and to find a way to address those needs. It’s a much more realistic approach to learning; letting the employee decide what they need and you not making the decision for them.

That gets me to the most important part of her presentation. Once you go through that process, you must make sure all of these points are present in the available learning.

  • Virtual learning should be focused on a clear purpose
  • Engage the audience
  • Emotional memories stick
  • Focus on knowledge that drive feelings VS huge content downloads

360 Learning for the “New Normal” Career Cycle

Thinking about the “new normal” when it comes to the organization’s structure and the way in which we teach our employees, we also have to give credence to the idea of the new career path. That’s where Ken Hubbell, Wells Fargo Senior Vice President of Instructional Design, Strategy and Innovation, comes in.

For some time now, Mr. Hubbell has been developing what he calls the 360-degree Learning Strategy for the “New Normal” Career Path. Rather than me try to explain the concept, I’ve included an image that clearly explains how it looks on paper.

As I’ve stated before, we are not functioning in the world in which we used to operate. Everything has to change. That includes the path employees follow as part of the learning strategy.

One other note from Hubbell which I think is important to point out: machines are here, and we must embrace that reality. Normally, this would be a standard statement if it weren’t for the next statement he made. By embracing machines, we become more human.

For so long, people have been concerned that machines will take their jobs. While yes, that is somewhat true, there has to be some context given. Machines typically handle repetitive, mundane tasks. That frees workers to focus more of their energy on qualitative items.

Moving Beyond Skills to Performance & Value

For me, the AHA! Moment of the day came in our fourth session. During his session, Fuse Founder and President said, “the most important knowledge is your own.”

Mind blown.

It’s a concept, if I’m being honest, I’ve not considered. Most corporate learning and training are focused on what a person or team doesn’t know. Honestly, we only really think about what a person or team knows after an assessment. Then we focus on filling in the gaps.

While I’m not saying that’s not a successful and/or useful strategy, I am saying that it bears consideration that focusing on the knowledge a person or team is already in possession of and allowing that to drive the learning strategy, you can see the potential for benefits.

Torturing Data

Data is like dust; it gets everywhere and into everything. It’s just an inescapable fact. That’s a challenge. It’s not the only challenge with data, but it is a significant one. Data is a part of everything we do now. Even I read data on a daily basis to help inform decisions I have to make from an editorial standpoint.

But my understanding of data is nothing compared to that of Peggy Parskey. She’s the Assistant Director of the Center for Talent Reporting.

Peggy Parskey

During her presentation, Mrs. Parskey quoted noted Economist Ronald Coase who said:

“If you torture the data long enough, it will confess.”

That’s critically important when you think of data as just another tool in your learning arsenal. Essentially, you can make data tell the story you want it to tell, but without proof… it’s nothing more than a fairy tale.

Data must be real and must indicate actual information. In some instance, it’s important to verify the data. This comes to mind when you are talking about self-reported data, for instance.

Mental Y.O.G.A.

Without a doubt, the most energetic session of the day was the last session led by Maryland Department of Human Service’s Chief Learning Officer Michael Dorsey.

Dorsey started off with a quote.

And it couldn’t be truer given the reality that much of the workforce is working together separately. Organizations have to make sure their employees are connected to the purpose. Doing so ensures everything in the quote above, but most importantly, success as individuals and success as a team.

That gets me to mental Y.O.G.A. Here’s what the anacronym stands for:

At the end of the day, it’s important for all organizations to focus on these areas with their people… especially when looking at issues as it relates to learning. I would highly recommend taking a look at the Mental Y.O.G.A. strategy is seeing how you and your team can integrate into your plans for the future now.

Day Three Ahead

With two days down, you might ask yourself how much more can the team at CLN have for us? A lot actually. If you have not registered, you can do so here.

Here’s a preview of some of the items we have coming up on Day Three

Crafting & Executing a Learning Measurement Strategy:  Ensuring Training Investments Deliver Maximum Value to the Organization presented by Dave Vance, Executive Director of the Centre for Talent Reporting and former CLO at Caterpillar.
Connecting Learners through Mentoring in a Remote World presented by Kacie Walters, Vice President – Global Practice Lead, Professional Development – HR Talent Management for Northern Trust Corporation.
What They Didn’t Teach You in Business School About Managing Your Career - A CHRO’s Guide on Being Effective presented by Eric Torigian, Managing Director and Chief Human Resources Officer for SitusAMC.
Building a Network of Global Knowledge Brokers Within Your Organization presented by Lisa Lang, Head of Learning and Education for Siemens Americas
Running Learning Like a Business: What Does It Mean and What Are the Benefits? – a panel discussion moderated by Dave Vance with panelists Mary Andereck, Director of Leadership Development for Parkland Health and Hospital System, Andrew Saidy, Global Head of Talent & Learning for Seagate Technology, and Eric Torigian.

But our event goes even further.

We’ve added a fourth day.

At our Drucker Master Class Day, which is March 30, we will present a four-step approach… which includes… abandonment of the unproductive and the obsolete… Strategies for achieving continuous productivity improvement of all assets… Identifying & capitalizing on successes (sometimes successes which are initially unseen) … and a structured approach for making effective change happen… otherwise knowns as is Innovation.