Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chief Learning Officer and the Chief Talent Officer - Natural Evolution or the End

I got to participate in a virtual meeting this week with two people from a leading executive recruiting firm. They shared their perspective on what firms were looking for in relation to Chief Learning Officer positions. While there were a number of interesting insights and perspectives about CLOs based upon their recruiting experience. The one that caught my attention was this one statement.

"In the last year and half, I have conducted one CLO search, but 15 Chief Talent Officer (CTO) searches."

For me, that leads to a number of questions about the profession I have chosen...

- Is the CLO still relevant?

- Is the CTO replacing the CLO?

- Is there something that CLOs are not doing that is needed?

First, I think there is still a significant role for the CLO in enabling execution of business and mission strategy. As key strategic human capital capabilities, the CLO will support those by providing business-aligned and high-impact learning solutions that enable such key capabilities as collaboration, speed, and innovation in organizations. The CLO will have to determine their role in developing these they leverage social networks and informal learning as other learning tools in the toolkit.

There is evidence that the CLO may need to do a better job in aligning learning to business. The current economic situation drove this home as cost-cutting became critical. But the need to do detailed planning of how to align learning resources and initiatives to business strategy has been a constant and consistent message to learning professionals. While a number of companies come to mind that are leaders in their ability to do this, like Cisco, IBM, and Bank of America, there are indications that significant room exists for improvement.

A survey report by the Masie Learning CONSORTIUM on learning governance stated:

"86% of organizations do not have an enterprise-wide plan for learning that spans the organization."

While our profession has a number of articles and conference proceedings on this topic, something prevents it from pushing forward and obtaining that position as a trusted business partner.

With this perspective in place, I don't think the CTO will replace the CLO. The CLO has their role to play supporting learning and development and the leadership development efforts at organizations. What the CTO does bring is a focus on the integrated talent management process. Developing an employee value proposition, communicating employer brand, recruiting, performance management, leadership development, succession planning, etc.

As I have discussed in my first blog post, CEOs recognize the importance of people skills in moving their organizations forward and enabling them to be successful. That requires talent. Talent that is either bought, developed or rented to execute the strategy. CEOs will continue to look for CTOs as the mechanism to position their organizations for future success. The difference between the CLO and CTO is that the CTO will focus on the integrated solution approach to developing strategic human capital capabilities. The CLO will be a part of the overall integrated solution.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Business Success - Structure or Capability?

In the book "Organization of the Future 2" (Edited by well known leadership developers Frances Hesselbein and Marshall Goldsmith), a chapter authored by Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood discusses whether organizations are about structure or capabilities. The authors claim that companies like GE, Disney, Google, and Apple are known for their capabilities and not their structures for conducting business. The authors state...

"Capabilities represent what the organization is known for, what it is good at doing, and how it patterns its activities to deliver value."

This has great application to fostering new thinking on human capital development. The business challenges that organizations face now and in the future, such as speed/context/scope of change, globalization, talent shifts in the workplace, and others, will drive development of key strategic human capital capabilities to overcome these challenges. While the normal inclination in challenging economic environments, like the recession faced in 2008-2009, has been to restructure and cut costs, forward thinking companies made a commitment to establish their organizations for future success coming out of the recession. They did this by focusing on what the environment would look like, opportunities that environment would present and how it would deliver value to its customers.

Organizations like GE, Google and Disney are driving strategies to develop and enhance their competitive positions within their markets. The capabilities required for their competitive advantage are varied, but should focus in a specific area...overcoming human capital challenges to enhancing their competitive positions.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Agility and Adaptablility...

Organizations are under constant pressure to succeed in a global business environment that is fraught with uncertainty, complexity and dynamic change. Companies that are successful in this environment are able to do so because of developing strategic human capital capabilities that create agility and adaptability in the workforce.

In IBM's 2008 survey of senior HR executives, captured in the study "The DNA of the Adaptable Workforce," asked to rate their workforce's ability to adapt to change in the business environment. IBM found the following:

"While 53 percent of companies state their workforces are generally capable of adapting to change, only 14 percent say they are very capable."

Of those 14% that stated they were "very capable," these companies were top financial performers based upon available public information. So the correlation is extremely relevant in today's business environment. The capabilities to move quickly to existing or new markets with the right products or services (agility) and adjust to the speed of change in the business environment (adaptability) are key differentiators and can provide a significant competitive advantage. Instead of reacting to the business environment, organizations that are able to develop these two strategic human capital capabilities lead the business environment.

Key to enabling development of these capabilities in the workforce is a clear linkage to the business strategy, understanding of the current and future business environment, and being able to define the knowledge and skills necessary for the workforce to develop and refine the agility and adaptability capabilities.