The Spring 2016 CLO Symposium theme “Learning Redefined” couldn’t have been more apt. Some 300 learning leaders from a mélange of global companies turned learning on its head during a variety of workshops, panels and discussions at The Ritz-Carlton in sunny Amelia Island, Florida. The talk in the halls and breakout rooms covered driving business agility, learning via virtual reality, cutting through leadership development “b.s.” and how to create a sustainable talent ecosystem.
There was a lot of fun, too. The learning community is extremely close knit, and there’s something about this particular group of leaders that screams “share”. Networking, LinkedIn connecting, business card exchanging and offers of help all happened between hugs, laughs and jokes. Chicago-based improv-training company The Second City kicked off the festivities on April 4 with a lively game of rock-paper-scissors, an icebreaker activity that not only got everyone up and moving but also helped to keep attendees’ minds open and nimble.
A childhood game might seem odd until you consider that in today’s environment, learning leaders can’t afford to not be nimble and open, willing to try new things or potentially fail while developing new learning opportunities. Failure was a related side topic that keynote speaker Gretchen Rubin dug into as she discussed habits and how people can manage themselves and others better if they can build good ones.
She also discussed why it’s so hard to overcome bad habits. Rubin, author of “Better Than Before,” created a personality framework based on four types: questioners, upholders, obligers and rebels. Her scenarios detailed how each personality contributes to or detracts from workplace productivity and performance reveal that behaviors — like a questioners continuous and often annoying queries — don’t always mean what we think. For instance, the questioner is not trying to be obstructive. They may actually be trying to help, to root out issues that could hitch up the team later. Hence, we have to learn the why behind a person’s actions, and then figure out how to adapt to achieve the desired result.
EY Chief Learning Officer Brenda Sugrue, one of several learning leaders who took the stage during the CLO Power Hour, offered a different strategy. Sugrue advocates using evidence-based, or data-driven, decisions to prompt organizational change through learning. And her fellow Power Hour presenters — General Motors’ Mimi Brent and Ericsson’s Kuntal McElroy — each discussed their respective learning approaches to meet critical business needs, all through vastly different strategies.
Ahead of networking and refreshment breaks, learning leaders had their pick of workshops. K4 Consulting Owner Ray Kelly talked about the importance of CLOs establishing pre-employment upskilling processes. Rob Cromwell, Inkling’s co-founder and vice president of engineering, discussed new approaches to enhance the knowledge supply chain and its effect on learning.
Day One ended with a celebration; 70 organizations attended a gala to accept their well-earned LearningElite awards, Chief Learning Officer’s sixth-annual learning benchmarking program. The program recognizes organizations that have made a significant impact on workforce development and performance and their bottom lines using targeted learning strategies and top-tier learning delivery methods. Investment management company The Vanguard Group, walked away with the No. 1 honor, Defense Acquisition University took home No. 2, and residential living company Vi was No. 3.
Stay tuned. We’ll have more coverage of the three-day event, and we wish you were here. Did we mention the weather is in the mid-70s? We’re based in Chicago; color us impressed — and learning.
Bravetta Hassell is a Chief Learning Officer associate editor. Comment below, or email editor@CLOmedia.com.