Like so many of you, I find I’m spending far too much time on airplanes these days. I don’t need to get into the rigors of business travel—you know those all too well. But I am writing this letter while sitting on an American Airlines flight that is taking me home from Seattle. Unlike most travel experiences, this flight has me on a high that I seldom experience.
I was in Seattle this week on the invitation of Cedric Coco, one of the Microsoft learning executives featured on this month’s cover. As we planned our profile of Coco and his colleagues a few months ago, he invited us to hold a think tank of some top CLOs at the Microsoft Executive Briefings Center in Redmond. It is really quite a facility and to my surprise, in the past 90 days the center has hosted the CEOs of about 75 percent of the companies represented in at the CLO Think Tank.
What happens when you bring together a dynamic group of industry leaders? In our case, the energy level was off the charts. Imagine 15 live wires cross-connected, competitors working in concert, peers in partnership for the common good. We’re talking about an incredible group of business leaders from leading businesses:
With the agenda built around a theme of organizational efficiencies, facilitated discussions focused on identifying competency gaps, building learning cultures, working with business units and the management of the learning business. As might be expected, those topics spawned frank and lively conversations on a wide array of related issues and ideas.
The cliché is true: You can’t make this stuff up. Conversations on culture melded into discussions on capacity. Discussions around workforce competencies yielded opinions on the current and future roles of chief learning officers. And we probably could have sold tickets to the business discussion that turned into a spirited, productive debate on the very concept of return on investment. Everyone walked away friends, but the intensity of ideas, the depth of convictions around ROI and measurement was an energizing experience in and of itself.
I wish you could have been there. The invitation-only nature of the CLO Think Tank was designed purposely to keep the conversations manageable and productive, but the idea exchange was something demanding to be shared. Happily, we’ll be doing just that.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be releasing a white paper based on the Think Tank, sharing the lessons learned and ideas exchanged. To no great surprise, we will be focusing much of the content of the next month’s fall 2006 CLO Symposium in Austin, Texas, on the topics discussed in the CLO Think Tank. I’m pleased that many of the participants have agreed to participate in various roles in the program.
I’m sure you’ll see your own issues reflected in the white paper and the discussions that are bound to take place in Austin. In them, I know you’ll find new inspiration for your efforts to channel the renewable source of energy that learning creates into your own organizational effectiveness.
Editor in Chief