Silo-bridging

What I learned over my Christmas vacation

This holiday season I found myself afflicted by a condition known as “TV binge-watching.”  I received the 5-season DVD set of The Wire, and from the first episode of season one to the final episode of season five, I was hooked.   Having completed all five seasons, I am now going back through the discs to replay the episodes that have commentary from the producers, directors, writers and actors.  I am fascinated to get a tour behind the scenes from those that deliver this magnificent body of work.There is so much to apply from The Wire to organizations, teams, leadership, culture, and performance.  I was curious to know if any universities were using The Wire and found that, although for a slightly different focus than organization development, The Kennedy School at Harvard uses the series as a case study on the urban inequality in America’s inner cities.There is one point that I would like to address that was raised in commentary by the writer of Episode Two in Season Three, Richard Price.  If you have not watched the series, in short, The Wire explores the drug war in the city of Baltimore, MD.  Across the five seasons the drug trade is examined through the lens of the police, port system, politics and government, educational system, and press, respectively.Each season is fraught with ideological, structural and interpersonal conflicts that the organizations, teams, and individuals must find a way to work through or past in service of achieving their goals.  Examples at the organizational level alone include the police vs. the drug syndicates, city vs. state government, and schools vs. the school board.The point Price makes is that part of what makes the series, and life, […]

What can you learn by simply switching lenses?

Last month I spoke at the CLO Exchange, held on Coronado Island off of San Diego in southern California. A beautiful venue for a thought-provoking gathering of Chief Learning Officers and other learning professionals from around the country.

One of my messages was the importance of expanding beyond our functional expertise as learning professionals, to integrate best practices from other disciplines. Every function or discipline approaches problem solving through a particular lens, and often the solution can be found by simply switching lenses.

The case study I shared was about integrating marketing principles as learning professionals. I find that many learning and development practitioners struggle with how to get buy-in or support from the business leaders with whom they work for the portfolio of learning and development programs and services they offer. What is the ROI? How can we measure the outcomes? In a resource constrained world, both financial and human, business leaders are appropriately challenging their learning organizations as to the value of a leadership development workshop, or the rotational program for high performing talent. The natural tendency is to respond by defending the proposed workshop, to justify the cost of the rotational program, and to attempt to quantify the value of work that is inherently qualitative and difficult to measure. As an aside, I advocate for measuring business outcomes not the learning program, and linking the business outcomes back to the learning. But this is a topic for another blog posting…

Rather than falling into a trap of defending and justifying each workshop and program, what can we learn by looking through the lens of the marketing professional. Marketing teaches us the power of a brand. A strong brand equals a strong reputation. If you […]