This is the second of four blogs considering some new descriptors of the great CLOs of the future.
These CLOs are experimentors, mentors of experimentation. In the (not so) old model of training I insist that there is actually no such thing as a “pilot program.” Oh, we say we are piloting a new class; but the reality is that it’s the first run of the class. Why? Because we spend months and thousands to get the program ready. We pull people away from their jobs for hours or days. (And these people are never coming back. This is their only shot at the training.) We pay for materials, equipment, instructors, and classrooms. So the course has to work. Sure, we can make a few tweaks; but it’s pretty much baked. If it isn’t, it could be weeks or months before we can fix it.
Today things are different. Learning experiences can be short, individualized, done at the workplace, and easily repeated. If people grab a bit of learning and it proves unhelpful, they can quickly grab another….and another.
This new reality allows us to admit a great truth about what we do: The overwhelming majority of the interventions we provide are experiments. We use every bit of our science and experience to guarantee our success; but ultimately we don’t know until well afterward if we were successful. In the old model we got one shot at the experiment. Now we get many. We can try something, fail, try again, get better, try again and get even better….all in less time than it used to take to write a good design document.
That may sound scary, or even like a violation of ISD principles; but it is already happening. It will grow. The organization will do it with or without the learning function. That’s why great CLOs are experimentors.They use their expertise to help the organization maximize the leverage that can be gained from inevitable and pervasive experimentation.
When the CLO sees that an experiment has worked, she can promulgate the results and the method that lead to them. (Think: DEVELOPMENT FORENSICS: The capture, use, modification, and re-use of deliberately or spontaneously generated capability from around the organization.)
An experimentor moves nimbly across the organization and among its issues, establishing momentary alliances (with consultants, companies, universities, individuals) to meet temporary needs. She is always thinking of multiple alternatives and assumes nothing has value until after it has worked. He helps the organization move past those experiments that have the least leverage…or which have outlived their utility.
The CLO as Experimentor thinks differently about how to design interventions. She knows that you build things differently when you think of them as transient and disposable. And he understands that, in the experimental world, he cannot control or even predict who will use the tools.
If all learning interventions are experiments; then the CLO as Experimentor focuses on applying experience and expertise to maximize the likelihood that each experiment will succeed.