I was speaking to a CLO (Chief Learning Officer) today about research-to-practice stuff, and he made a statement that blew my mind. It was brilliant!
First, a little background.
He's been a CLO at two organizations with over a decade of tenure in learning-executive positions. He knows what he's talking about.
He talked persuasively about how many learning and development units are stuck in the old-world view of learning as delivering training (and training alone). In such learning cultures, L&D folks are order takers. A more enlightened approach includes training, but it also involves performance-consulting, performance-facilitation, knowledge management, improved evaluations, etc., with a key goal of helping to create a partnership between L&D and its organizational stakeholders.
Okay, that's not news. We know this is the right thing to do.
Here's what struck me as illuminating. He said that what's really needed to make the leap from the old way to the new way, you need a large capital-like investment to get you started, to bring in committed change agents, to overcome inertia, to have resources and tools to let you leverage research-based methods. Without a large resource infusion, you get incremental change, but it's just not enough to change the culture so you end up fighting long exhausting battles with only some success.
But what CEO's are going to be so enlightened as to pony up the dough?
You'd think they might. After all, making huge investments upfront is what successful businesses do, what successful entrepreneurs do, what successful athletes do, etc.
We in L&D have to figure out a way to convince our CEO's to make the investment. Otherwise, we'll likely remain in the purgatory of order taking henceforth.
By the way, if you're a CLO or other learning executive and you want to take part in my research on the state of the industry, please email me (see the announcement here). It's an hour-long interview over the phone, and your organization will get the report first and get it free.
The gentleman CLO I spoke with today actually made notes during today's interview, because our discussion triggered ideas for him and his organization. It's a win-win. Good for you, for your organization, and for our industry. Let other folks know!!