Vince Serritella, CLO of Chicago-based W.W. Grainger, spoke about Finding the "Seam" in Effective Governance of the Learning Organization. The "seam" is that magical place in life where everything seems to come together. Serritella used the analogy of the perfect play in football, which he coaches, to highlight the idea. In football, that play may only happen once a game. In life, Serritella has been fortunate to find that "seam" in his work at Grainger.
The focus of the whole conference, and very much the focus of Serritella's talk, was the idea of fitting learning into the business. Serritella presented a graphic overview of how he sees Learning and Strategy working together. This is a model of governance for learning. This drawing described the processes of Alignment to Strategy; the Performance Consulting Dialog; Account Management; and Learning Process Management. These processes are tied together with feedback and the infrastructure to support them. And Serritella considers it his job to do continuous coordination and management, something he referred to as being the "chief political officer."
The other useful overview he presented was in relation to the "Alignment with Strategy" process. Grainger have a Balanced Scorecard measure of how they are doing in business. Serritella has taken the high level measures and maps the various learning and training programs into a "three degrees of separation" map, connecting them to the high level measures for the organization. He works with business leaders to understand how each program affects measurable results and draws connections between the programs and the metrics in as objective a way as possible. Pet projects falling in the "third degree" category raise some eyebrows and make the project sponsors give consideration to their value. Just as importantly, the discussion around this map helps Serritella talk rationally about connection to strategy when a business leader comes back from a conference and demands that the training department bring in a training program just because it was interesting.
Governance quotes I liked:
Governance is a system of structures, processes, practices and values of all decisions related to management of learning. Organized enterprise-wide. It's about how organizations get things done.
Governance is walking the talk - modeling business behavior.
Serritella's "seam?" As it happens, the Chief Learning Officer of Grainger reports directly to the strategy organization, so his discussions and ideas fit perfectly with the Grainger strategy.