Monday, June 6, 2016

Transforming Learning Cultures Through Dynamic E-Learning--Part III-Transforming Roles

In making a transformation in the learning culture in a business organization, the question that inevitably comes up is:

"What happens to the roles that already exist within the business organization that already have responsibilities for the oversight of employee learning?

That question is a reasonable question to ask on many levels. In order to answer such a question, it is important to identify the roles that already exist, the responsibilities attributed to those roles, the changing needs of the organization and the degree of fit that the changing needs have with the greater global economy and its needs.

The Chief Learning Officer (CLO)

In most business organizations, the leader who plans and directs the learning of employees is the CLO. In many ways, the responsibilities of the CLO parallel those of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the business organization To truly understand the extent of the responsibilities, it is worth noting that many of the Fortune 50 companies employ CLO's. Examples of such companies would be Citigroup, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, HP, Goldman Sachs, G.E. and Hess. This is certainly not an all inclusive list and with the growth of the importance of learning in an information and knowledge age, the importance of investing in the learning culture of a business organization is becoming a high priority for companies seeking to grow in a globally connected networked economy.

 Some notable CLO's would include such people as:

  • Tom Evans (PWC) who was in charge of development for 39,000 employees and was CLO of the year in 2014.
  • Amy Hayes (Facebook) who was the Global Head of Learning and Development for 9,500 employees.
  • Tamar Elkeles (Qualcomm 2010) who was in charge of learning and development for 23,000 employees.
The responsibilities of the CLO might be described as follows:

 So, the question that needs to be asked is:

"How and to what degree would the role of the CLO change given the exponential changes in knowledge, technology and pedagogy?"

Although, upon looking at his or her present responsibilities you might simply say "stay the course", it is not that simple because the needs of society that are being shaped by the exponential changes in knowledge, technology and pedagogy also shape the need for new skillsets. Performing these responsibilities now require a higher level of collaboration with such people as:
  • Instructional Designer
  • Learning Principles Expert ( a new position)
  • Trainer/ Mentor 
Unlike the present status of the CLO, with the enormity of the changes that can impact the learning culture of a business organization, the leadership at this level becomes a shared leadership. Rather than the organizational structure at this level being hierarchical, it is horizontal in its design. This is similar to the organizational structure once practiced by Japanese companies such as Toyota.

The Instructional Designer needs to take direction from the Learning Principles Expert who is a person who keeps up to date with the drive to teach people how to learn in an online environment. This person is the leader in the latest Neuro-Cognitive research that describes how people learn in an online world. With this input, the Instructional Designer, employing design system thinking, creates irresistibly engaging learning experiences for employees.

The Trainer/ Mentor is no longer "the sage on the stage" but is now the "guide on the side". Although, in regards to the use of "blended E-Learning", the trainer acts as the guide on the side, this is a starting point for the transformation of the learning experiences and not the endpoint. In a world that places a high emphasis on the importance of collaboration and networking beyond the walls of the business organization, part of the responsibilities of the trainer/mentor should be to seek useful global networks and create networks that can be used to help employees engage in complex real world problem solving for the benefit of the organization. The mentor relationship with employees is important but needs to be structured and streamlined so that the experience for the employee is not impersonal. More about Mentorship in the next post.

What About the SME?

With respect to the Subject Matter Expert (SME) who is a lifeline to the business organization in keeping employees up to date on content, one realization that comes about as a result of the exponential changes in knowledge, information and pedagogy, is that there is more content out there, both valid and invalid, than can be reliably communicated, especially in an "on-time" framework. Adding into this the drive for personalized education and SME's are faced with an important question:

"Which is more important, communicate content that is constantly changing on an ongoing basis or teach people how to learn in an online environment so that they can analyze, evaluate and authenticate the content found in specific areas of knowledge pertaining to the business function?"

This would also mean connecting employees with mentors in different content areas of interest.

If part of the role of the SME changes to include teaching people how to think in an online environment, then employees take charge of their own learning and are empowered to keep up to date on their own time. This makes the job of the SME easier. They might think of also changing their title for the simple reason that the exponential increase of knowledge in the areas of interest makes it difficult for someone to call themselves an expert. Network connections on a global scale becomes a very useful responsibility for the SME because he or she no longer has to be the ultimate expert with respect to content but instead becomes the expert in connecting the CLO to these networks that will enrich the understanding and growth of learning for employees in the business organization.

Next.. Mentoring relationships as a vital past of the learning culture.

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