Saturday, October 17, 2015

What CLO prototype do you engage with?


Recently, a good friend played a song from his pocket device. It was Crossroads by Don Mclean. And while the context was from a different calling, the river of thought runs deep with what I share here. I have been student of many a professional tendencies. One among them has to do with types of orientations in employee development that organisations foster or acquire. For a while now, I have been wondering whether the role of the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) is at a crossroad.  This is because, hard choices lie ahead, that without reflection will weaken the sinew of human essence and project onto social institutions the refuse of our ethical, moral and social worlds. Else, the mutation of this species is not only at hand, it is one that if left unmanaged, will affect the destiny of our generic species – homo sapiens itself. So what are the tendencies I have come across in CLOs that make for this crossroads.

1.       The Certainty Dispenser : Such has been the stranglehold of performance monitored materialistic reward of salary and raises, that the distinction between output and outcomes are hardly an issue for this CLO. She must have an action every minute, and each action must realise a benefit that measures up on a desired dashboard. So, every bit (well almost) of a workshop schedule, a development plan and such need to have specific predicates on paper. If you are not sure of meeting this CLO’s  high need for certainty, tread carefully into this client context.

2.       The Panacea Lab : I could well have recalled old comedian Johnnie Walker act that composition rendered by Rafi on this theme. Having the panacea for all maladies is what some CLOs posture with inscrutable fallibility and unassailable flourish. Like the half-knowledge of the freshly formulated medical representative, this CLO vends from the same generic drug with labels appropriate to the learners or their sponsors. The learner taught against his will, will be of the same opinion still, is it not? Yet the silver bullet fantasy pervades our gullible minds.

3.       The Attention Seeker : No  matter what the cause, every occasion to sieve learning content or process is an opportunity to project one’s persona. Cutting the ribbons, lighting the lamp, or even introducing the guest speaker of the day are paths to the lights on his stage. It does not matter how much or how little he identifies with the pains of the learner, the needs of the self are in unadulterated glory in one’s own image.  In fallacious extension of the adage that the medium is the message, this CLO garnishes social media presence, as if learners appetites are puny sized or restricted to a hundred odd digital characters.

4.       The Spineless Survivor :  Don’t take me for a vertebrate yet. But, when survival precedes service, the CLO billows like the unwavering vapour above a fleeting flash of light. This CLO is the escort to the fad of the day. Unable to reach into one’s own internal core, in unanchored sway this CLO is a projection of insecurity despite the mistaken belief of being avant garde – with push-button learning package content, oversimplified caricatures of phenomena and a clueless followership of virtual connect. Alter-egos of opportunist business leaders match the motives of the willing CLO’s chameleon characteristics.

5.       The Authentic Humanist : This CLO is an embodiment of human potential - empathetic, generous, dutifully forthright and willing through gracious vulnerability to laugh at one’s own fallacious self. Irrespective of efficacy on technology platforms, she nourishes the deeper needs of developing adults, in rapt listening and pretenceless giving of one’s time to others. This is the core of developmental stuff, hard and essential in process, and soft and caressing in character. With immense human capital following, this CLO may at times be even taken for granted, but is willing to learn through tempest and an ever enlarging statesmanship.   


It is but a corollary, that we do not want to lose the authentic humanist in us. Only if we could absorb it in the physical presence of such a CLO! Not that the other prototypes are without benefit; but, it is the behavior and experience we are affected by and even involuntarily recall. The scarcer this sub-species, the dearer the crossroads on which this profession stands. Which CLO’s impact do you recall more fondly? What can you do more of or better to nourish the CLO you need? Do let me know if we can meet at this crossing!