• First there was IDEO, an award-winning global design firm that decided to take a human-centered, design-based approach to help organisations innovate and grow; you may or may not have encountered its unique approach if you’ve ever interacted with the Stanford d.school. And then, in 2014, along came IDEO U (University), an online school promising to equip learners with the skills, mindsets, and tools to help us stay relevant and adaptive in our modern world. Just on its own, IDEO U would so be worth us looking at it as an example of successful online L&D, as it’s served over 50,000 learners in 100 countries, spawning a community connecting over 200,000 change makers bringing increased creativity, innovation, and modern leadership into their work. But we know that driving principle at IDEO is Design Thinking, which its chair Tim Brown says we should see as “a human-centered approach to innovation” that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success… so what is the connection, if any, between Design Thinking and Purpose? What role does Purpose play in what Suzanne’s been trying to do this past bumpy year of COVID as Managing Partner of that part of IDEO? Given that the organization specifically offers a Power of Purpose course (“A clear purpose guides people through change and motivates them to lead from wherever they are”), we knew we needed to know more. So this week, in one of our final (but not final final!) episodes in our ‘Is Purpose Working?’ Odyssey we meet the latter’s Founder and Dean, Suzanne Gibbs Howard to try and find out. Her work at IDEO U caps a pretty amazing (she’ll tell more of a “crooked path:” we think you’ll disagree) personal and professional journey that involved Anthropology and associated field work, as well as a dip into divinity school, usability and lengthy spells in China and Africa. We learn about that, as well as: why she ended up in that beautiful city by the Bay called San Francisco; how IDEO interprets Purpose—as a way of helping align people toward what's next for them; how our common tough 2020 brought Purpose to the surface for many people struggling to “keep pushing forward;" the role of Learning as a way to spark the engagement that’s the necessary precursor to successful, Purpose-driven engagement; why L&D needs to be a lot more than “just MOOCs and talking heads” from now on; and so much more.

  • Does Purpose help the bottom line? It’s a fair question, surely—maybe, ultimately, the best question we can really ask ourselves in business as the idea of a move away from purely shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism takes off. And while we do need to ask CEOs of Purpose-driven companies that question, perhaps the ideal community to seek a hard-nosed answer here is the VC (venture capitalist) world, for whom the conditio sine qua non of an investment has to be that it will pay back, at multiples. Luckily for us on Season 7 and all our now fast-interlocking conversations on our central question of ‘Is Purpose Working?’ is that today, we have the definitive answer: yes—in fact, it’s actually only the companies that have Purpose that end up with strong cultures and stronger outcomes. There’s a lot to take in to see why our guest, Deborah Quazzo, Managing Partner at GSV Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund investing in education and workforce technology entrepreneurs, is so convinced of that fact, but we hope we have intrigued you enough to listen in to see her logic and proof… but it’s also just such a pleasure to listen to the fusion of a deeply ethical mindset and razor-sharp thinking Deborah brings to her job. Just one example among many: her rhetorical question about why she does what she does: Is it more fun to go call on a company making breakfast cereal, or on a company that’s really trying to change people’s lives meaningfully? Deborah and her team have been active for many years disrupting the $6 trillion education technology sector, having helped amazing names like ClassDojo, Degreed, and RaiseMe, among many others, get out of the lab. Equally important to her, as you’re about to hear, is her work on the annual ASU GSV Summit: now in its 11th year, the Summit celebrates innovations and innovators across the global “preK to Gray” learning and talent landscape and this COVID, virtual year attracted a quite staggering 33,000 online attendees. So tune in now to hear how this predominantly Chicago-based ed tech sector investment ninja has been putting ‘Purpose’ as one of the ‘5 Ps’ a startup has to have before she even looks at them. Before we get started, two callouts are needed: one, to our on-going Season 7 partners, Dani and Stacia over at Purpose-driven HR advisory group RedThread Research, and most especially to our Season sponsors, ed tech luminaries NovoEd, who are just as keen as we are to find an answer to ‘Is Purpose Working?’ Don’t forget that in early 2021, the issues Deborah raises today will be under the microscope in our planned special live, online gated experience, where we will debate all the Learnings from Season 7. If you doubt that Purpose is good for capitalism, then make sure you can get in your two cents about it by locking-in your free place at the webinar. How can I do that, Chris? I hear you say. It’s easy: click on over to the special NovoEd microsite supporting the project, www.novoed.com/purpose. All done? Great—so let’s hear about VC money, Purpose, diversity and what a VC does, as well as: how Deborah sees a coming together of all parts of Education and workplace training; the emergence of knowledge as a ‘currency’; why what GSV does is not the same as what an impact fund tries to do; that significant 2019 Business Round Table statement… are we actually seeing enough action by companies? How Learning is starting (at last?) to be seen as an important weapon by corporate leaders to improve overall outcomes; her conviction that exponential growth in an ed tech company will come not just through great technology, but through diverse teams; what inspired her to get into the ed tech area; and much more.

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  • Celia Berenguer. since November 2017 Chief Learning Officer at European-headquarterted Life Sciences giant Sanofi, couldn’t have been more excited getting ready to press the ‘Go’ button a new Sanofi University. Then, as we hear on this latest episode in our on-going Season 7 look at Purpose in the modern enterprise, a certain novel coronavirus decided to mess with her plans. This is a story, then, about not just how she and her L&D team had to help flip the company to remote working, but what to do about that whole corporate Learning endeavor. Celia—a graduate of Tufts who’s held senior Learning roles in organisations including Barclays, BP, and the Harvard Business School—tells me and this week’s co-interviewer, RedThread Research’s Dani Johnson, not just how she won through, but how a renewed Sanofi focus on Purpose driven by its new CEO, Paul Hudson, helped her work through many of her most difficult issues. A way we decide to understand all this is that COVID’s been a way to help L&D see that what it needs to offer is access to skills and support for talent mobility that makes sense for the individual, the company’s and their own Purpose of ‘Empowering Life:’ Purpose, perhaps, as more bottom-up than top-down, compared to other companies we’ve profiled in our exploration of ‘Is Purpose Working?’ Expect to hear a lot of honest reflection on the first steps of an amazing journey, then, as well as all the countries you need to live in to end up with that accent, the fun and challenge of working with 140 nationalities working hard on everything from general medicines to consumer healthcare to vaccine creation, as well as: how she’s seen the Pandemic throw out the talent rulebook and end standard career pathways; how Learning at Sanofi has a new focus, aligned to getting products out there to help patients; the contribution to making Purpose explicit by her new CEO; why she sees L&D as the source of all the support mechanisms and development tools that can bring that Purpose to life for people; democratising Learning and sharing Learning in a crisis; and so much more.

  • Near the end of today’s episode our guest tells us that, “My Purpose is to bring hope to every employee of Johnson & Johnson.” We have no doubt at all he means it—and what makes this even more interesting is that he’s working in an $85 billion enterprise that many see as being one of he very first American brands to publicly commit to Purpose. The company is, of course, Johnson & Johnson, a brand founded in 1886 that develops medical devices, pharmaceutical, and consumer packaged goods, and the individual we’re speaking to about Purpose is its Global Head of Talent Development, Clint Kofford. Today, we’re going to delve into what Clint means by his statement—as well as how Johnson & Johnson’s Purpose statement, its famous Credo, feeds into what he and all of its other 135,000 team members do every day. As you may know the Credo, written in 1932, lays out how, among other things, it is “responsible to our employees who work with us throughout the world” and that managers must always strive to “provide an inclusive work environment where each person must be considered as an individual”—but just as importantly, “When we operate according to these principles, the stockholders should realize a fair return.” Amazing stuff for 1932; still pretty cool—which is why we knew J&J had to be a big part of Season 7, where we’re working with the smart gals at RedThread Research to understand Purpose in modern American business… and why Clint is convinced the Credo’s more than just a moral compass, but a recipe for business success. And we do, I think, but really through a great dialog with him, not from a line-by-line analysis of any Purpose statement. A senior HR, talent, and leadership development professional with a strong track record of delivering high impact change initiatives, developing talent, and elevating executive capability across a variety of industries and business life-cycles, Clint discusses his career highlights, which include time at Nike and Mars, what led him to living in North Central New Jersey, as well as: his day to day role leading of Johnson & Johnson’s management and leadership development work; what the mechanism is for doing that at the company, the Human Performance Institute, and its roots in sports psychology, and how the Institute is now the new internal J&J ‘brand;' Purpose and L&D and how new personalised career paths are starting to energise the team; how, as a Learning professional, he’s doing what every Learning professional wants—harness the unique talents of everyone in the organisation to bring out the best ; how he thinks Purpose the glue that holds Talent together—but how internal paradigms may need to shift around the status of non-full time employees first; and much more.

  • Ask today’s guest, Dan Pontefract, about his current mission and he’ll tell you, “If we want Purpose to happen, maybe we need to take a look at our thinking”—and that, “We’re not here to see through each other, we’re here to see each other through.” Sounds like we need his input into our work trying to answer our defining question for Season 7 of ‘Is Purpose Working?’ Agreed—and we do just that in today’s episode, but then we do even more: in the first of a two-half Purpose podcast, we then have a mid-Season discussion which I’ll tell you about in a second. Now, back to Dan: based in Canada (Victoria, British Columbia) Dan is a leadership strategist, author, keynote speaker and trusted advisor. After a successful career including as ‘Chief Envisioner’ and Chief Learning Officer at TELUS, a $14bn Canadian telecommunications company where he (among other things) set up a special internal TELUS MBA, a role he took on after senior roles at major tech firms such as SAP, Business Objects and BCIT, Dan then founded The Pontefract Group, which is all about building bridges between life and work. Writing for Forbes and Harvard Business Review, he’s also an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria Gustavson School of Business, and has published four books (with a fifth on the way!). And as you’re going to hear, Purpose is very much at the heart of all his recent work and thinking; he says he helps organizations and leaders become better versions of themselves, plus offers consulting to help organisations get more “collaborative, productive, engaged and purpose-driven”. We flesh this out a little bit, and also find out how: why Purpose needs to be more than ‘values on the wall’ but a working, operating behaviour guide; his idea that there are three kinds of Purpose—personal, role and organisational; why he’s convinced there’s a direct link between EBITDA and Purpose; is it the employer’s responsibility or not to help the employee find their Purpose? why Purpose is much more a realistic business deliverable after COVID than it was in 2015; and much more.

    Then, as noted, we pivot after the conversation with Dan to conduct a special three-way (Dani, Stacia and I) review of some recent key developments with regard to Purpose and what’s going on out there in a fast-moving COVID world right now. Before we deep dive into all that, just a reminder that, in early 2021, the issues Dan but also all our other awesome guests will get discussed in the second half over all nine episodes of the Season will have a full Level 1 Diagnostic in a special live, online gated experience where we will debate all the Learnings and problems with Purpose we’ve uncovered. Make sure you file a question if you have one real early by locking-in your free place at the webinar. How can I do that, I hear you say? So easy it’s almost insulting to a smart person like you, I answer! Just zip on over to the special NovoEd microsite supporting the project, www.novoed.com/purpose (and thanks once again to those guys for sponsoring all this work). All set? Cool—so get ready for a quick debate between me and the smart RedThread Research ladies on what we took from talking to Dan like the many levels of Purpose beyond organisational and why they need to align and his sharp linking of Purpose and Empathy, as well as external developments such as: how talk of Purpose is everywhere right now—including for the President-Elect—but will it stand the test of Time? a year on from the famous Business Roundtable statement, what’s actually happening in the real world, Purpose-wise? a critique of the September KKS Advisors Purpose audit and its methodology; where we are with possible metrics to help… if we even need them; and much more.

  • Wall St might not be the most obvious place to find a company with Purpose. But when we meet someone like today’s Season 7 ‘Is Purpose Working?’ podcast guest, and they say things like, “If purpose is an articulation of the reason for existence, we end up articulating something we were already living,” then—maybe we’re in the right place after all. Meet Dr Rachel Fichter, once a professional cellist and educator who now spends her days helping colleagues accelerate progress in the world by providing intelligence essential for companies, governments and individuals to “make decisions with conviction”… in other words—live out the company Purpose statement. The company in question she’s doing all this at is the world’s leading provider of credit ratings S&P Global, where she’s the 22,000-strong company’s Global Head of Talent and Leadership. What’s really interesting is that her company is also helping its customers better orient to a Purpose perspective, by creating environmental social and governance information products that help investors better evaluate companies around important metrics like climate change to social justice, as well as help clients understand where it stands with respect to those increasingly critical KPIs. On the podcast, Rachel tells RedThread Research’s Stacia Sherman Garr and I all about her journey to such a position, and why Purpose could matter for a global financial data and analytics company like S&P. So, a definite important contribution today to us gathering the inputs to try and answer our question of, ‘Is Purpose Working?’ Like me, if you’re interested in how questions around how talent management, leadership development, executive coaching, organizational development, culture, and workplace Learning factor into the Purpose discussion, then you’re definitely going to want to hear Rachel’s thoughts. Finally, another reminder that all this ‘Is Purpose Working?’ work is set to peak in a live, online gated experience where Dani, Stacia and I will debate all the Learnings from Season 7 that have come through, with inputs including today’s great discussion with Rachel. There, you will be able to get your question about anything she or our other Season 7 guests have raised—but to get your questions in nice and early, lock-in your free place at the webinar over at the special NovoEd microsite supporting the project, www.novoed.com/purpose. You good? Great—so now, let’s hear from Rachel explain how you go from the New England Conservatory to the heart of American finance, why L&D is deliberately decentralized at S&P Global, as well as: why we need to stop saying ‘talent’ (hint: is that all we value in this person?); how S&P has adopted a consciously ‘Agile’ approach to delivery these past couple of years; reimagining the performance experience and what that looks like; the importance of the 2019 Business Round Table Purpose statement to S&P’s new focus on Purpose; why there are still Purpose challenges and trade-offs; why, if Learning is now everyone’s responsibility, so is Purpose; why everything she does is like interpreting a musical composition; and much more.

  • As we dig deeper into answering our question ‘Is Purpose Working?’ we find that while Purpose is a very new concept for many, having a conscious organizational Purpose has been BAU for some corporations for decades. This week we meet one, which had it written down in 1960, and which specifically states that the company’s”first and foremost priority” is to contribute to human welfare. The company in question is $30bn, Ireland and Minnesota-headquartered Medtronic, the world's largest medical technology company and creator of the world’s first battery-operated pacemaker. And we also learn how, 60 years after being defined, it’s a Purpose statement that continues to serve as an ethical framework and inspirational goal for all 90,000-plus employees around the world. Explaining all this for us is the company’s Vice President, Global Learning and Leadership, Jeff Orlando. Based in Philadelphia, Jeff explains just how new he is in post—he joined the very week the company had to move into Lockdown, in March—but also how quickly he’s become part of the Medtronic family. With the help of RedThread Research, we find out just how-with those guys actually leading the debate with Jeff this time, and me joining in with a discussion at the end (well, actually the beginning this time, to keep things fresh)! As you’re about to hear, for me, and for Dani and Stacia, what makes Medtronic’s conscious sense of Purpose even more interesting than its heritage and on-going affirmation (something we get into big time in the conversation) is that it’s marked by ritual. In 1974, the company introduced a special in-house “mission and medallion ceremony” that’s now held many times a year at facilities all over the world; an employee gets to receive the medallion as a reminder of the honor and responsibility they have in fulfilling our mission. Acting as a deliberately symbolic way of bringing new employees together behind the company’s defined common purpose, could rituals like this be something other CEOs pursuing Purpose be looking at doing too? Should your Purpose statement really act like the Constitution for you over time? It’s a fascinating question—and one bound to come up, I predict, at the special ‘Is Purpose Working?’ webinar early in 2021, our live, online gated experience where we will debate all the Learnings from Season 7 that have come through, with inputs including today’s great discussion with Jeff. Make sure you can ask your question about Purpose and ceremony by locking-in today your free place at the webinar at the special NovoEd microsite supporting the project, www.novoed.com/purpose. So: all set? Great—so let’s hear about Jeff starting with our our executive summary of the conversation and how Purpose is brought up to make hard decisions, how you can’t ‘fake it’ and why Purpose isn’t just in pockets across the company, which as well as: a shared podcast participant history (Deloitte); how he sees L&D’s contribution is creating organisational capability to win in the market; how companies with a defined Purpose seem to have so much passion about it; the idea all employees are really only ever ‘stewards’ of the Mission (the Medtronic Purpose); how L&D has an important place in creating the space and time for the ceremonies that can anchor your Purpose work; how Medtronic's HR accepts the Mission is its Mission, too—but it still needs to help the company meet immediate targets; and much more.

  • Purpose has become more and more a key concept for modern organizations: type ‘Purpose in American business’ into Google, and you’ll get 1,740,000,000 responses, for example. But how real is it? Is it the same as CSR, or giving corporate money to a good cause? And, crucially, what’s its connection—if any—to L&D? On this special new Season on the podcast, we’re attempting to answer these and other questions about Purpose under the rubric, ‘Is Purpose Working?’ As you may know by now, we’re doing this with the help of RedThread Research and with the welcome support of an ed tech firm equally interested in finding out an answer, too—NovoEd, a developer of a collaborative online learning platform that builds high-value capabilities that result in real impact. In this second conversation in our researches, I am delighted to be joined by RedThread principal analyst Stacia Garr. Stacia proves invaluable in us both teasing out insight from someone who just might be the foremost expert on the science of purpose and fulfillment at work: consultant, VC, social entrepreneur and Seattle-based Purpose influencer Aaron Hurst. In 2014, his book ‘The Purpose Economy’ brought widespread attention to the concept of Purpose and its importance for our lives today (for me especially). Now CEO and co-founder of Imperative, a platform that connects and supports employees as peer career coaches, Aaron describes how his new venture enables video-based peer coaching conversations across organizations that drive mindset and behavior changes that increase leadership abilities, productivity, and fulfillment. It’s work that caps his famous stint as the founder of pro bono volunteer channel The Taproot Foundation, which connects talented people with non-profits—and, we hear, connects him and one of the other people on the podcast! Finally, a reminder that all this ‘Is Purpose Working?’ work is set to peak in a live, online gated experience where Dani, Stacia and I will debate all the Learnings from Season 7 that have come through, with inputs including today’s great discussion with Aaron. Be assured you will also be able to debate with us and get your question asked—but to get your questions in nice and early, lock-in your free place at the webinar over at the special NovoEd microsite supporting the project, www.novoed.com/purpose. Now let’s go, and be sure to stick around for a quick three-way debate on what Aaron told us at the end. So now, let’s hear from someone you might style the Father of Purpose, debating such key milestones of his career and thinking as: how he ended up in Seattle after ‘something of a nomadic career;' why the non-profit world he started working in frustrated him—and what he did about it; why Taproot was just a vitamin, not real nutrition; why he wrote 'The Purpose Economy' and how he’s convinced we’re in a whole new economic era fuelled by ‘meaning;' what last year’s Business Roundtable commitment to Purpose did for a lot of CEOs; and much more.

  • Back in August 2019, the Business Roundtable—an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies—said that the Purpose of American business was no longer to maximise shareholder value but to instead promote an economy that ‘serves all Americans.’ “CEOs work to generate profits and return value to shareholders, but the best-run companies do more,” stated one Roundtable member, Tricia Griffith, President and CEO of Progressive Corporation. “They put the customer first and invest in their employees and communities. In the end, it’s the most promising way to build long-term value.” A lot’s happened since then, as we all know, but multiple events over the first few months of Lockdown seems to bear out the idea that Purpose really has become front of mind for many corporations right now. So we decided to find out more—and in this special new Season on the podcast, that’s what we’ll be doing: answering (if we can) the key question, Is Purpose Working? We’re joined on our journey by the super-smart ladies of RedThread Research, who have kicked off an in-depth, on-going probe into Purpose in parallel to our show. And even better, we’re being supported by a great ed tech firm equally interested in finding out an answer, too—NovoEd. Global enterprises rely on its collaborative online learning platform to build high-value capabilities that result in real impact, with its customers working to deliver powerful, engaging learning that activates deep skill development, from leadership to design thinking and digital transformation, as well as driving measurable business outcomes. It’s also well worth knowing that the Season culminates in a live online gated experience where I will be debate all the Learnings from the Season with RedThread, and you will be able to debate with us the implications and ask your questions and get your comments heard. Secure your free place at that today, over at www.novoed.com/purpose... then listen in to this scene setter, where I and Lead ‘Threadhead’ Stacia Sherman Garr set some goals and identify core Purpose topics, such as: why ‘Why we do what we do’ seems to be the best definition of Purpose we’ve found
    why ‘cause’ isn’t the same as Purpose; why HR needs to get more involved when it comes to Purpose; some hints on some of the amazing writers, thinkers, venture capitalists and stakeholders coming on the Season; why are people coming together to work? the need to look at all the axes Purpose affects—leadership, people and systems; a new concept: the stake-giver; a quick progress report on RedThread’s ongoing Purpose research exercise; what Purpose in a Pandemic looks like; and much more.

  • Founder & Principal of boutique HR consulting firm Daimler Partners, Melissa Daimler has always said that if you do it right, work is the best learning lab you could possibly want. She’s certainly done her best to make that maxim work for her: we’re talking about a career that started with Psychology at college to setting up Adobe’s entire L&D practice to experiencing Twitter grow from 400 to 4000 staff in her four years there. With WeWork also on her curriculum vitae, you know you’re dealing with a major player—so how refreshing to find out in person Melissa is down to Earth, great fun, whip-smart but still very much looking to keep learning. She is a perfect interview for this next episode in our on-going COVID-19 mini-Season ‘From What-If To What Now?’ where we’re exploring what the massive change rippling through the worlds of Work and Learning looks like at ground level. Oh, and last but absolutely not least: our episode is sponsored by by the great guys over at genuinely innovative SMS-based learning innovators Arist (www.arist.co), who’re working 24x7 helping brands and non-profits alike create and launch amazing text message courses in minutes, not days. So sit back or get the New Balance on with us for an hour as we review her singular professional journey, talk about how COVID may or may not be permanently changing the work culture of her adopted home, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, see what systems thinking can offer the L&D practitioner, as well as: why a certain dot com bubble helped her choose her forever home… which she still loves despite having to keep checking the air quality index; what it’s like to work at a place that got a tad too excited about a big market cap; what she thinks ‘culture’ really is; how are all good L&D practitioners know everything’s interconnected already; how the Pandemic is showing the best leaders asking such good questions of themselves, their execs but most importantly, their teams; why we must work out a way to get back the office experience (and that isn’t just the amazing donuts at Twitter); where her personal sense of purpose and inspiration comes from; and much more.

  • Time was, the biggest L&D brand was a long-vanished enterprise called the Katherine Gibbs school. What it taught: the hugely in-demand skill of working the world’s most valuable piece of information technology, the manual typewriter—a technology that hit its peak in 1975 with the Smith Corona Super 5-Series portable electric typewriters, famed for being quiet, efficient, and fast. But 1975, as we hear in this latest episode in ‘Season Eight,' where we’re ‘Connecting The Dots’ to form a picture of what we’ve learned in 18 months of our investigation into the future of Workplace Learning, was also the year that the company behind that awesome machine and the subject of all the hard training at the Gibbs schools went bust. 1975 was also the year two kids surnamed Gates and Allen teamed up to start a company called Microsoft, that 6 years later would release its first ever stab at word processing software. So in this episode, it’s a lot of déjà vu; we replay how some once-invisible industries crumble, how once-ubiquitous careers (membership in the company typing pool) can vanish, and how skills that once seemed really worth learning (transcription and stenography) can become worthless almost overnight. Along the way, we meet some interesting historical characters, but end with a really challenging proposition: what if we’re seeing very similar patterns, where we’re teaching stuff that in a few short years no-one will need to know… and we might be calling it computer programming right now?

  • Here’s a question that’s fascinated me my entire professional life: How might technology change the future of Learning and Work? But actually, as I finally figured out only a couple of years back, the more important is WHY technology change the future of Learning and Work. That insight is what eventually led me to set up both The Learning Futures Group and this podcast, which has now hit over 50 episodes in just over a year. And what I’ve Learned in that journey is what I am starting to try and feed back to you guys in this special season of the podcast, which is where I am trying to ‘Connect The Dots’ and map out some provisional findings from my conversations with CLOs, edtech pioneers, Learning Scientists and thinkers out there. In this second episode in the run, I return to what sparked my personal journey—the arrival of Microsoft’s third CEO into my life—as well as relevant soundbites from just a few of the great people we’ve met so far. So, welcome (or welcome back) to ‘Season Eight:' with an overall theme of ‘Connecting The Dots,’ our aim is to move slightly away from our interview format to a more ‘radio feature’ audio style, where we are pulling together insights gained from all of our conversations and research to scope out what L&D needs to do to catch up with Our New Normal, starting with: another stimulating clip from super-inspirational MS’s Satya Nadella on why he led the charge to move from a ‘Know-it-all’ to a ‘Learn-it-all’ culture (and why that freaked me out!); what some of our podcast guests are worried about; a scary look into a workless world, which is already here for a big part of young Humanity (hint: William Gibson—The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed); and much more.

  • Way back in 2019, we started this fifth season of the podcast, ‘Learning Leaders,’ with a commitment to let you hear from Learning Leaders from industry, academia, and technology who have made significant contributions to workplace learning, EdTech, and talent leadership disciplines. The program was originally initiated in collaboration with The Learning Leaders Conference, and some episodes were recorded onsite at the 2019 conference in Washington DC Watch this space for more details; this is one, though we haven’t featured a chat done this way for some time. We have a great return episode, though: Fernando Sanchez-Arias, a former member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Talent Development (ATD) but who is now powering away at a Washington, DC-based think tank for research and education on culture, leadership, innovation, connection, and knowledge he set up called the CLICK (Culture, Leadership, Innovation, Connection, and Knowledge) Institute. When we spoke last year, Sr Sanchez-Arias was Head of Learning, Cultural Diversity, and Innovation at the body after being Chief People Officer; now he is now the organisation’s pro bono Co-Chair of the Advisory and Academic Councils. It was great to talk to Fernando last year, and it’s wonderful to be able to share this with you now. I am also delighted to say this is another episode in the Season sponsored by our friends at The Future Workplace Academy—a curated collection of five week online cohort courses to up-skill HR and HRIS team members for the future of work, with all content designed by and for HR leaders and which is being guided by an advisory board led by Future Workplace. It’s a great project, and I hope you have time to join us—but first, let’s hear from Fernando and his current schedule of splitting his time between D.C. and a ‘beautiful, green’ planned community in North Houston, as well as: his personal journey from studying business in Venezuela to Texas via Belgium, via time in armed forces, oil &gas and academic contexts that’s included many great milestones—including his years leveraging Learning as a way of building Trust with the world’s largest home improvement firm, Home Depot (which we dive right into!); his deep interest in multi-disciplinary approaches combined with a primary alliance to data, research and the science wherever possible; the way he’s pursuing the Lifelong Learning pathway, including an on-going Micro Master program; the aims and tactics of the CLICK Institute and the international network he’s rapidly building with it; the five ‘diseases’ that ‘kill’ innovation; the mentors who challenged him to leave his original love, business administration, to this world; and much more.

  • It’s our first birthday as a podcast! Though actually just over a full circle round the Sun, we’re still celebrating… yup, an amazing 16 months of podcasting, with this as our 50th episode—landmarks accompanied, we’re amazed to say, 20,000 downloads. And the way we’re doing that isn’t so much with cake and candles, awesome as those things are, but a new format for ‘Learning Is The New Working’ we’re calling ‘Season Eight.’ With an overall theme of ‘Connecting The Dots,’ our aim in this new collection of episodes is to move away from our interview format to a more ‘feature’ audio style, where we pull together sound clips and insights gained from all of our conversations and research in short chunks we will lay out our manifesto for what L&D needs to do to catch up with The Fourth Industrial Revolution, natch). In this scene setter we review where we are, starting with that great quote we reference from President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel back in 2009—that you should never let a serious crisis go to waste as, “it’s an opportunity to do things that you did not think you could do before.” We then fast forward to remind ourselves about when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told us about the Future of Work arriving, a great observation from Kevin Oakes of i4CP, who we met back in Season Six, as well as: an audio snapshot of me asking CLOs if they feel they’re confident they’re adding value back in February in London; reminding ourselves what some recent podcast guests like E&Y's Mary Slaughter and Cargill's Julie Dervin have been saying about the crisis; a fascinating look back into when the robots started coming… and it’s been longer than you think! and much more.

  • Last week, in our on-going COVID-19 related mini-Season here at ‘Learning Is The New Working,’ ‘From What-If To What Now?’ we kicked off a special three-part discussion on the importance of Listening. That was with the fascinating Oscar Trimboli, who’s all about Deep Listening, but this week in the second in our trio of dialogs we go in a new direction: the Listen-Think-Speak approach to communication and collaboration in. That’s with today’s guest, Colorado-based Dana Dupuis, who is about to take you on a journey into deep background into the science of Listening. Dana and colleagues have spent eight years developing a truly cognitive-based listening assessment that’s got real science behind it, and is emerging as statistically reliable. Now, the assessment helps leaders and teams quickly understand and adapt to the listening styles and corresponding behaviors of team members, prospective clients, individual employees and future hires. So, as Dana is very much a Learning Scientist, that’s why we’ve put her here in Season Three, ‘The Learning Scientists,’ where we’re meeting practitioners drawing on science based practices to move the L&D profession forward. Be assured you’re in good hands here, as Dana’s actual day job is about knowing this amazing stuff: as of February this year she’s Executive Director, Research and Development in what her employer has specifically called out to be ‘Listening Science.’ That new employer is none other than virtual communications and leadership experts Mandel, and I don’t need to tell regular listeners that Mandel is a friend of the podcast and the on-going sponsor of these ‘Learning Scientists’ profiles. So, thanks once again to Mandel, and to Dana, who walks us through how important Listening has been to her over her career, which actually started in Sales, before she got to her current position, as well as: why she lives in Carbondale, Colorado and why the people and the mountains make it such a special place for her and her family; what she decided was a consistently poor approach to speaking to customers in Sales told her about the importance of Listening; why she gravitated to Mandel (hint: its emphasis on presentation skills acquisition); our different Listening ‘habits,’ what they are, and why it’s useful to know what the range is; a brief history of 70 years of study of Listening in business; why Microsoft saw a need to move from ‘Pitch’ to ‘Listening’ Perfect (and how spotting your customer’s Listening style connects to more effective selling to them); the connection between Listening and Empathy; how your humble podcast did on her test! and much more.

  • In our on-going COVID-19 mini-Season at ‘Learning Is The New Working,’ ‘From What-If To What Now?’ we’re exploring what the massive change rippling through the worlds of Work and Learning looks like on the ground. This episode, we get a unique perspective from author, mentor and free-thinker Oscar Trimboli, who is 100% all about using what he calls “the gift of Listening.” This conversation also starts a mini-season about Listening on the podcast, incidentally, as I think it’s such an important topic; and as Oscar tells us, we listen at 125 words a minute… but can think at 900. Essentially, Oscar believes that if we learned to Listen better, we’d be able to see positive change in homes, workplaces and the world itself—and that leadership teams need to focus their attention and their listening on building organisations that have impact and create powerful legacies for the the people they serve, today and, more importantly, for future generations. An Aussie marketing and technology industry veteran, with over 30 years' experience across general management, sales, marketing and operations for major brands including Microsoft, PeopleSoft, Polycom, Professional Advantage and Vodafone, Oscar now consults with organisations such as AstraZeneca, Google, and Qantas, from his Sydney home base. Let’s ‘Listen Deeply’ together, then, to Oscar, and it’s a Listen that involves a fascinating mental experiment and some great war stories, and what he has to say about: his quest, which has already touched 1.7 million; the many costs of not Listening, from the start of COVID to project failure; his definition of Listening, which centers on the willingness to have your mind changed; the invisible internal and external distractions that keep us from really Listening (but also, some tools to help!); silence, and its different cultural weights; the deep business value of listening beyond the first few words to what hasn’t been said yet; some excellent tips on how to make Zoom effective for you and your team; and much more.

  • What’s it like trying to lead change at a two century old beloved brand? Precisely the question we asked this week’s guest, Gina Jeneroux, who’s doing just that at one of Canada’s biggest financial services companies, BMO Financial Group. Toronto-based Gina, who’s Chief Learning Officer, more than answers that intriguing question—and is thus the perfect next up in our on-going dialogs with ‘Learning Leaders’ in this thematic season of Learning Is The New Working. Tune in, then, as they used to say, to hear her thoughts on her role and contribution which covers everything from advancing performance through enterprise learning strategy, design, operations and governance. It was great to talk to her, and I am also delighted to say this is another episode in the Season sponsored by our friends at The Future Workplace Academy—a curated collection of five week online cohort courses to up-skill HR and HRIS team members for the future of work, with all content designed by and for HR leaders. The all-online courses are being guided by an advisory board led by Future Workplace, an HR Advisory and Research firm providing peer networks, professional development and research on What’s Next in Transforming and Re-Imagining HR. Future Workplace operates the Future Workplace Network, a consortium of HR, Talent, and Corporate Learning leaders from FORTUNE 1,000 organizations who convene four times a year to discuss and debate what’s next in preparing for the future of work. It’s a great project, and I hope you have time to dip in, but as an appetiser, let’s hear from Gina and her twin role of leading the Bank’s Corporate University, a beautiful real-world facility called the Institute for Learning, as well as: her personal journey from working as a Saturday morning teller as a teenager to leading a 200-strong internal L&D resource for her company; what BMO’s trying to do with a CAN$80m a year formal- and informal-training war chest across the group a priority investment; how training is changing to meet the needs of BMO’s 12m customers; practical D&I; ‘that March weekend’ when she went to helping 500 people #WFH to over 30000; why her University is shaped like a bow and arrow design; and much more.

  • With a 25-year plus pedigree in applying advanced algorithms to Learning, Danish company Area9 Lyceum believes that we should encourage Learners to make mistakes and pursue misconceptions so that we can better duplicate real-world cognitive situations. Driving that idea both internally and externally for the company for the past four years is its Chief Learning Officer and Evangelist, Yorkshireman Nick Howe—the perfect next guest in our on-going ‘Learning Scientist’ thematic season here on ‘Learning Is The New Working.’ Why perfect? Because he’s another Workplace Learning thinker (and doer) who also sees himself, as so many of you guys do, too, as “Fighting the good fight against outdated, misused, misleading and just plain wrong approaches to Teaching and Learning.” So buckle up, as we get through quite a lot of deep theory in our hour’s sit-down with Nick, covering everything from public sculpture to the intriguing work of pioneering Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson (prior to his sad recent departure, on the firm’s Advisory Board), and what it might mean for us in L&D going forward. Listener warning; there’s a little break at about 49 mins in due to connectivity issues on the day which we have hidden with a music cue, but please don’t think that’s the end of the episode! Along the way, we also rap about: his personal journey to where he is today (Northern England to Southern Florida, from Chemistry to Learning personalization); the Area9 Lyceum story (hint: there’s a cool story between both parts of the name!) and its origin story in medical and computer specialists finding common ground in helping doctors stop making mistakes; what terms like ‘confidence’ and ‘adaptive’ really mean for him; ‘not a buzzword company’—the on-going relevance for academic research into what his company is trying to do; why giving access to 10,000 courses doesn’t mean your job is over as a CLO; why he thinks so much about the centrality of motivation; and much more.

  • In our ongoing ‘Learning Leaders’ thematic season here at Learning Is The New Working, we’re super-keen on getting real insights into how the Chief Learning Officer’s job is changing (and how they themselves are leading that change). We’ve got a perfect example in this week’s conversation with Julie Dervin, since 2016 Head of Global Learning & Development at the largest privately-held corporation in the entire US in terms of revenue, Cargill, a Mid-West headquartered leader in everything from food and beverage to meat and poultry production. Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Julie has actually been at the organisation in senior roles since 2008 after coming over from eight years with information tech firm Insight. At Cargill, she is currently charged with leading the execution of a whole new L&D vision and strategy in order to accelerate organizational learning, strengthen the learning culture and dramatically improve the employee learning experience—a role she sees as also encompassing positioning Learning as a catalyst for accelerating positive change and transformation. Incidentally, Learning Futures Group is collaborating with Julie and other CLOs on a September course for The Future Workplace Academy—a curated collection of five week online cohort courses to up-skill HR and HRIS team members for the future of work, with all content designed by and for HR and HRIS team members. The all-online courses are being guided by an advisory board led by Future Workplace, an HR Advisory and Research firm providing peer networks, professional development and research on What’s Next in Transforming and Re-Imagining HR. Future Workplace operates the Future Workplace Network, a consortium of HR, Talent, and Corporate Learning leaders from FORTUNE 1,000 organizations who convene four times a year to discuss and debate what’s next in preparing for the future of work. I’m delighted to say the Academy are also sponsors for this episode, but let’s dive into our great conversation with her, covering everything from: how Cargill’s HR sees L&D and how that maps on to her firm’s federated model of content ownership; drivers for change and transformation in her vital, global market—agriculture—and a ‘need for speed’; connecting her company’s purpose of safe, responsible and sustainable food production with Learning; what making L&D more useful and effective at Cargill’s looks like (hint: less specific content change, more a whole new way of delivering Learning); the importance of building a strong relationship with her peers in IT; DevOps and Agile as L&D aids; a peek into her Innovation Lab (and how she’s ‘hard-wiring’ Innovation into management goals); how she and her team might have found a better way to organize all these virtual calls we’re having to do! and much more.

  • Hi y'all, hope you are all staying healthy and safe. We're taking a vacation this week, and so we're re-publishing one of our most listened to episodes from last year, our second-ever episode where we sat down with RedThread Research's Dani Johnson. A big theme for Dani (now and then) is the importance of putting humanity back into our Learning Programs. That's a passion that feels even more relevant today in our COVID world, where digitally mediated interaction is making true human connection a little tougher, but it remains an essential goal for any Learning Leader. Though we're sure Dani doesn't need any introduction, but she is of course Co-Founder and Principal Analyst at her company, and has spent the majority of her career writing about, conducting research in, and consulting on human capital practices and technology, in such contexts as leading the Learning and Career research practice at quality brands like Bersin, as well as the Human Resource Competency Study (University of Michigan) and the RBL Group. That last gig resulted in her co-authoring the book, HR Competencies: Mastery at the Intersection of People and Business, while her great ideas and CLO community observations can be found in high-prestige L&D/CLOp publications such as CLO Magazine, HR Magazine, and Employment Relations today. PS: we are working with RedThread on an exciting new project we will announce later this month, but in the meantime, enjoy the episode, stay well--and try take a break, too!