Frank J. Anderson, Jr.
President and Chief Learning Officer
Defense Acquisition University (DAU)
In order to reap all of the benefits of technology, innovation and the other elements of employee education and development, an enterprise must ensure that its learning is strategically aligned with its values, vision and goals. Frank J. Anderson, Jr., president and chief learning officer at the Defense Acquisition University, understands this concept well.
“I came into the job clearly aligned with our senior leadership team,” Anderson said. “I understand a lot of the drive and perspective that they bring to learning and their expectations for the learning environment. As a result, this idea of alignment and trying to think strategically was never an issue for me because I think I brought that perspective into the job.”
Anderson knew that creating a corporate university with an eye on the bottom line and a finger on the pulse of learning would directly impact the long-term development needs of DAU’s 21st-century workforce. Using learning to impact business, support stakeholders and implement processes to improve accountability and efficiency, Anderson has taken development initiatives and employee education beyond the norm, yet he retains a firm grasp on DAU’s long-term strategic goals.
“I’m not trying to figure it out, because I understand it and I know what’s driving our senior leaders,” Anderson said. “I really do believe that has provided me with a unique vantage point in terms of thinking about how we shape the learning environment so that it becomes a strategic element of our leadership team.”
Anderson stresses the importance of leadership buy-in. In fact, he said that it’s not enough to get buy-in alone—the learning organization must entrust the leadership with ownership of the learning environment. “A big part of what I’ve pushed since I’ve been in this job is that the leadership owned the learning environment, not the learning organization itself,” Anderson said, “We are agents for our senior leaders, and our job is to stay connected to those things that are important to them and to shape the learning institution and our culture around the mission, objectives and goals of our senior leaders.”
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