Signed in as:
Signed in as:
By: D.C. Alves M.Ed., Chief Leadership Officer, ExuLAB
Chief Learning Officers (CLOs), you are the thoughtful guardians of your organizational learning biomes. And the health of your learning biome is a direct mirror reflection of the strategic leadership decisions you make on behalf of its wellbeing. Every single decision you make reflects a profound devotion to protect and nurture its utmost health and vitality. This includes the promotion of a very strong immune system. In the human body, the liver is the frontline protector of the immune system. It is miraculously designed to surveil, capture, clear and purify toxins. It is the grand filter that promotes wellbeing. So, too, must the organizational learning biome also possess such a strong and noble filter. That filter is you.
And ironically the learning and development function is the filter for the organization as a whole. When I work with executive leadership, I coach them to see their organizations from these two critical perspectives, The healthy and harmonious functioning of these two filters is imperative to the vitality of the enterprise. They must be aligned.
Cumbersome and chaotic programs, products, systems, processes and services are some of the toxins that can bloat and blurry organizational vision, skills development, performance and excellence. They take a toll on the physical and emotional vitality of the organization. I have seen organizations that are so burdened by their own chaos that they literally are on life support when I come on the scene. Their liver (aka filter) is sick and is not working properly. Their immune system- shot. It is from here that we begin the detox.
The detox begins by zeroing in on the learning function diagnostically- looking for signs of chaos, confusion and 'cumbersome-ality' (yes I made that word up!) among the learning programs, products, systems and services... and how these are received by the learner. That is the most critical piece- putting yourself in the learner's shoes or as I like to call it looking at your learner as 'supreme end-user'. Seeing and feeling how your learner experiences your programs, products, services and systems will be your blueprint for identifying what to filter and its priority in the process. I invite learning leaders to really look deeply at the entirety of their learning biome. It is surprising to me how many learning leaders do not even know or simply have only a vague understanding of their own learning programs, products, systems and services! They lack the intimate connection and knowledge that effective organizational learning requires in order to promote and nurture a healthy learning biome.
CLOs- it is time to get up close and personal with your learning strategy! Experience it, feel it, learn it, lead it! The success of the learning biome is a direction reflection- good, bad or indifferent- of your leadership... and care.
Only when you have this level of leader ownership, understanding and devotion to your learning biome can you be its worthy guardian. At this level of intimacy, your surveillance will be accurate- and your filter acute- able to promote its vitality and wellbeing. The strength of the filter is in direct correlation to the health of the learning biome.
The detox involves a vital filtering process that many organizations and CLOs overlook but is essential to learning effectiveness: identification of “scrap learning”. I want to note here that even if your organization is just in the beginning phases developing an L/D effort, designing with this "detox mentality" is critical. Being mindful of creating a healthy biome from the get-go will position you to carry this through its performative evolution.
So, what is "scrap ;earning"? Scrap learning is an essential part of a successful and effective learning strategy. Scrap learning are those trainings, programs, products, systems, tech stacks and services that need to be pruned from the stable of learning resources that have outlived their usefulness, are ineffective and throttle consequent performance, or are out of date with compliance and legal regulations.
Often organizations may be overly loyal to old resources that no longer serve their purpose and strategic vision- this can be a source of resistance to the detox. If you determine that these resources are important to the organizational history, outmoded resources can be appropriately re-categorized as legacy material or archived as part of the organizational historical memory. But it is no longer part of the vitality, future state or function of the living learning biome.
Bloat on the biome is a trend I am seeing in organizations especially with regards to response and preparedness to the past pandemic. I marvel when organizations tell me that they "put it all online" or "went completely virtual"- in a blink of an eye! Everything was converted over night! When critical observation reveals that many programs and services were merely just 'slapped up' online to give the appearance of a state of functionality. Due to the fear and frenzy from the crisis, often the thoughtful intentionality and what it really takes to build a successful program, product or service are not evident- and understandably so. What is evident however is a cumbersome array of ineffective products that provide a false sense of security- mis-alignment with the organizational objectives, little to no memorability, applicability nor connection- that are still being used. It's time for these programs to go into detox.
Sometimes the system and/ or the very tech stack itself are the core elements that are the root source of biome disfunction- although more difficult, learning leaders can try to identify what can be done to streamline here- looking for what is within their operational control. The tech may be too tangled in the biome to do anything without a total re-haul- and this can be fiscally impossible depending on scale- but it may be worth a look if re-investment really is the only cure- however friends, this is an entire topic in and of itself!
Whatever the cause of the disfunction, it takes courage as a leader to clearly identify the toxins and take necessary action to prune, streamline and filter to promote and optimize biome balance and vigor. It is vital to the longevity and health of the biome and organizational performance.
5 Innovative Tips to Consider when Leading an Effective Organizational Learning Detox: Identifying Chaos, Confusion and 'Cumbersome-ality' in the Biome
1. CLOs, look at your learning biome holistically- see all of your learning programs, products, systems and services as though you are an outsider looking in at the scope of the learning biome in its entirety... for the first time. Look with a fresh new set of eyes- what do you see? How does it communicate to the outside world? To the internal and external stakeholders? How is it received?
2. Imagine yourself as a learner immersed in the biome. How are you experiencing your programs, products, systems and services? Are they aligned with the organizational objectives, vision and purpose?
3. Imagine yourself as a first time learner who is just entering into and experiencing your organizational learning biome, what is your very first impression?
4. Where is there "noise" in the learning biome? As CLO, see where you have full operational control and 'power' here to activate the filtering process.
5. CLOs, if given a magic wand, what would you immediately want to do to promote serenity, ease and effectiveness in the learning biome?
Leading a learning detox in your organization as part of your overall learning strategy will prove to be one of the most effective actions you can take as CLO to ensure a healthy, lean and stealth learning biome, Your role as strategic filter will help to better align organizational objectives with the learning function. It takes courage to clean out the clutter, confusion and chaos but your learners will thank you for your intentionality and dedication to their learner wellbeing and the consequent wellbeing of the learning biome and the organization as a whole. Clean, clear, fresh- that is what your learning biome will become- and with this- the possibilities and potential for innovative ideas, skills development and even stronger streamlined successful programs, products, performance and potential are endless.
CLOs as Chief Liver Officers (yes I went there!)- now that's cause for celebration...
Green juice anyone?
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