‘Learning Is the New Working’ is a new podcast from Chris Pirie, ex-Microsoft Chief Learning Officer and now independent investigator of The Future of Workplace Learning. A set of stimulating conversations with some of the leading thinkers and edge practitioners in the modern Workplace Learning space, from Chief Learning Officers to Learning Experience Designers, from Neuroscientists to Technologists, vendors of Learning Tech, and the HR leaders charged with developing human capital potential. Our topics are everything from the American skills crisis to our scary, but fascinating, century: how the rise of the robots, AI, employment and demographic change are re-shaping all our lives - in work and out of it. We will also explore how the process of Learning is itself changing with current and emerging technology, share war stories about which new ways of delivering Learning work, what Sales Enablement is versus what it could be, what a ‘Learning Science’ might offer… all with the ultimate aim of empowering the CLO.
‘I try to help people grow and evolve in a way that’s good for both them and us’—Sanofi, Empowering Life and its employees
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.
‘A big organisation, but one with heart.’ Johnson & Johnson—the original Purpose-based company?
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.
Leadership strategist and Purpose thinker Dan Pontefract, and a mid-season review
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.
Rachel Fichter, S&P Global, and Purpose: ’You can’t just come up with a Purpose that doesn’t match who you are’
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.
‘Written on very, very important paper:’ Medtronic--and what having a Purpose for 60 years gives you
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.
‘We really need to invest right now in human skills:’ our Purpose exploration continues, with Aaron Hurst
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.