• Another RedThread Rewind episode: “I think we have to help organizations get out of the way and let people unleash and unlock their ca-pabilities in ways that does not require the organization to be at the center.” Sounds pretty optimistic? No surprise as whatever else he is, our guest this week, Greg Pryor, is an optimist—and we are too, given the power of the examples and the strength of the conviction he gave us in this hour of debate over the future of HR. Greg, People & Performance Evangelist at Workday, a tech firm that is shaking up the world of enterprise software and which we’re grateful to have as sponsor of this whole Work-place Stories first season, shares many fascinating insights into what he sees as a totally new age for human capital management that the pandemic has tipped us all into. These cover the gamut from bleeding-edge academic research on the future of work to the life lessons kids are teaching their par-ents out of playing Fortnite, and keep Stacia and fellow interviewer Chris engaged and often delighted. It’s a great conversation: use it to level up your thinking about skills. We certainly did.

  • Sometimes you feel you’re in the eye of the hurricane: so much is happening in terms of our wider society in terms of changing expectations, changing ways of working, changing life choices. Add the potentially explosive compound called ‘Diversity’ into all this, and it can start to feel a little hot in here. But, advises this week’s special guest and DEIB and L&D expert practitioner Jesse Jackson, CLO for JPMorgan Chase with a special focus on the Wall St’s giant’s consumer community banking business: when it comes to getting DEIB right, it’s not heat you want: it’s light. This is a really fascinating chance to find out from a person deep in the midst of all the changes we’re talking about, but also deep in a blue-chip financial services firm that always has to see things in terms of achievable ROI. We’ll let you decide if you agree that’s what Jesse’s achieving: us, we’re hunkering down in the place where it’s always the most interesting… that hurricane’s eye. Because that’s where change happens.

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  • “I think that in the future, what will be really necessary in terms of skills are people that talk different languages of skills… talking different languages of different skill sets will be something really, really im-portant.” Why is it significant that become more expert seems so fused with speaking restricted lan-guages? And what does it mean to have ‘intentionality’ about skills? How do you start to really under-stand the skills needs of an organization you join in COVID? This week, these and many other thorny but critical issues get exposed via our debate with long-time friend and highly accomplished CLO and talent leader Nuno Gonçalves, who is now starting to do at global confectionary, food and pet care giant Mars what he did at European life sciences player UCB: implement a cross-company, future-focused skills strategy. It’s an excellent conversation with a truly passionate learning ninja who’s thought deeply about these problems; we think you’re going to love it.

  • Are there three sets of people in Inclusion: the folks doing the ground-level work on DEIB, maybe the researchers way off in the academic stratosphere, and then the people actually affected by these issues on a day-to-day level in the workplace? If so, could we simplify this and remove a layer? If you think that’s a good idea, then listen today to someone who is doing all she can to fuse the first two roles there—Rachel Fichter, a PhD who also works for a Wall St financial analytics firm, S&P Global… but who sees herself in a fascinating new kind of role in HR and analytics: DEIB scholar-practitioner, helping her firm Integrate Inclusion while also diving into the literature on Belonging in the Columbia University stacks. So: quite a woman. And quite a DEIB thinker. You’re going to like this Workplace Story.

  • “What I introduce [my students] to are the kinds of skills that allow them to navigate ambiguity.” If that seems like urgently-needed capability you or your team to have you’re in luck, as you’re about to find out a whole lot more about why you’d need such a thing… and why you won’t find it, alas, in to-day’s conventional curriculum (including corporate L&D). In the first full episode of our new Red-Thread podcast—our deep dive into what we’re calling capitalism’s focus on ‘The Skills Obsession’—we meet passionate educator, innovator and bestselling author Lisa Kay Solomon. Designer in Resi-dence at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (‘the d.school’) at Stanford University, Lisa presents in her dialog with Stacia, Dani and Chris something of a masterclass in what thinking about the future actually needs to consist of—and how that feeds into her conviction that, “learning is the currency of possibility.”

  • In December 2020, I was invited to host three live Learning podcasts at last year’s HR Innovation and Tech Fest (#HRTechFest), a week-long event hosted in Sydney, Australia by Hannover Fairs; I’d previously attended as an in-person delegate, and loved the energy and vibrancy of the Antipodean L&D community I interacted with, so I was more than happy to help out when asked (and can’t wait for it to go back to being real-world again later this year!). You may have caught my previous excellent Tech Fest conversation with Air New Zealand’s Dr Sydney Savion—and this is the perfect follow-up: Director of Manager/Leader Capabilities, Worldwide Learning at Microsoft, Shelby Grieve. A progressive, results-oriented leader with nearly 25 years of experience building and managing high performing, cross-functional teams, as well as building impactful, highly scaled global programs, Shelby has proven leadership skills and is a 2018 recipient of Microsoft's prestigious Circle of Excellence award, and at Platinum Level. And former Basketball champ and coach! Our conversation ranges across a range of really interesting L&D issues, shaped by her experience at a Microsoft actively moving to the famous shift from ‘know-it-all’ to a ‘learn-it-all’ culture demanded by LFG's favourite CEO, Satya Nadella, as well as: what 18 months of structured modelling, coaching and caring tuition for managers is achieving; how ‘model, coach and care’ capability is genuinely a performance metric now and what she and her team do when it isn’t happening enough; Microsoft’s new rule of three (personal impact, how much you helped others succeed, and how well you leveraged the work of others); a very different picture of virtual corporate training looks like; good tools to help you; what Microsoft is doing to get ready for the imminent hybrid workplace; and much more.

  • In our thematic Season 5—‘The Learning Leaders’—we’ve been meeting both new and seasoned leaders from industry, academia, and technology. The sole criterion for us profiling them is they have made significant contributions to workplace learning, EdTech, and talent leadership disciplines—and that’s absolutely true of today’s guest, 15-year veteran of leading and consulting on talent development and learning transformations in Fortune 100s, Matthew Daniel. Now Principal Consultant at Guild Education—which is an amazing institution in its own right, of course—Matthew is genuinely passionate about skills and the trouble we may be storing up for ourselves as a society around them. And indeed skills is the focus of the whole separate podcast series I am borrowing this excellent conversation from, our partner RedThread Research’s amazing ‘Workplace Stories’ podcast: kicking off in February, this is a series of analyses with experts (and indeed, Learning Leaders in their own right) who are working wit Stacia, Dani and I to unpick, in Season 1, what RTR sees as our current ‘Skills Obsession.’ This run is being sponsored by the great guys over at Workday, who plan to run an exclusive live webinar towards the end of the season, where you can meet us and join in a conversation about the future of skills and skills management. Find out more information, and access exclusive Workplace Stories from RedThread Research Season 1 ‘The Skills Obsession,’ please go to the main RedThread home page at redthreadresearch.com and click on ‘Podcast.' I hope you like this episode enough to want to get more, so please think about Following (what we do now instead of ‘subscribing,’ see) on your podcast platform of choice; see you over at Workplace Stories soon!

  • If you're working for a body whose main mission is to develop a Georgia where schools and communities pursue breakthrough success for all students regardless of race, geography, or family income, you’re right in thinking that support for diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) is going to be a big priority. Then the pandemic hit—and here in Season 6 of ‘Learning Is The New Working’ we’re looking into the impact of the global health crisis on the future of work and Workplace Learning. So this week we get a chance to not just do that, but also to see some real pandemic-inspired L&D innovation, too, as we hear from the great people over at non-profit Glisi, the Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement. Set up by former state Governor Roy Barnes with a mission to uplift school leaders, transform mindsets and action, create vibrant cultures of innovation and build excellent and equitable schools, Glisi is there to help: so get ready to hear how it did so, with something different—the use of bite-sized, 1200-character max text-based learning… and all this in the crazy first months of the ‘rona, as part of a drive to help teach thousands of educators and managers in one of the State’s biggest school districts get to grips with what can be a very challenging topic for L&D (and users). So listen as the organization’s Senior Program Director Letishia Seabrook Jones and her colleague the Associate Director of Organizational Effectiveness, Kasey Wood, share with us the practicalities of working with this unique L&D tech, which is from Arist, which develops text message-based learning that is strives to be as accessible, engaging, and super effective as possible. These practicalities include working with that very tight constraint of 1200 characters, as well as: a core design principle—let’s get through all of this course, even if it makes you uncomfortable; a great project motivator—How do we keep people uplifted during this year with so much this past year, with so much change, and so much unknown? what it’s like to build two new courses from scratch, remotely. over 10 days each; going from creating hours or days of content to something much smaller; how text-based content met the need for steady light touches in the flow of work to coach people when maybe they couldn't dedicate 30 minutes, but they could dedicate five or 10, maybe even 15; how useful the supplier’s guidance was on things feedback on basics of instruction, use of emojis, and where to put links so that they weren't missed; and much more.

  • In 2019, the Business Roundtable surprised many when it declared that companies should have a purpose beyond serving shareholders—that the corporation’s goal should also be to deliver value to customers, employees, suppliers and communities. Clearly, learning and development is critical to delivering this vision: by investing in the workforce, we give our users the skills and knowledge they need to feel valued and deliver better service to customers and communities. But how do we know if our investment is working? What does successful purpose look like? Inspired by the Roundtable announcement, longtime friends of the podcast RedThread Research and I decided to try and find out in the shape of what became Season 7 of ‘Learning Is The New Working’—our attempt to answer the question, ‘Is Purpose Working?’ It should be noted Stacia and Dani had already had the purpose question under their research microscope, which gave us a great platform for our work of discovery—and leading L&D tech firm NovoEd, also fascinated by the implications for its customers of the shift to Purpose, also decided to help out by generously stepping into sponsor the work. As you’ll know, over the course of 10 episodes, comprised of a scene setter and nine interviews with purpose stakeholders across a range of industries, we really shook the trees on this one. And this week, we pull all the threads together (a word deliberately chosen, as you’ll about to hear) for a special summary discussion, ‘The Role of Purpose in Supercharging Workplace Learning,’ that forms this special final season episode, our season-capping webinar hosted by the good people over at NovoEd. Tune in now to listen to myself, Stacia and Dani, as well as NovoEd’s Director, Product & Content Marketing Declan Fox—all under the expert MC-ing of his colleague, the company’s Chief Learning Strategist, Todd Moran—walk you through what we learned over those 10 discussions, and perhaps more critically what the takeaways have to be for both global business and the L&D function as purpose becomes more and more a focus of us all, from individual team member to board. And for me personally, I now think ‘purpose’ is the fuel that L&D professionals have been looking for and will really work for our community. My reasons for thinking so include: Purpose provides meaning in a time of crisis; Purpose isn’t just branding; Purpose ≠ ‘good deeds’ alone; Purpose is fully compatible with turning a profit; It’s starting to be a real bottom-line performance metric; Purpose and the talent pipeline: a highly potent mix; The coming centrality of L&D in purpose; and much more.

  • With Season 6, we’ve been looking into the implications of the global pandemic on the future of work and Workplace Learning. This week we get the helpful perspective of what many people in the business say has been a quiet force for innovation over decades: HR and L&D heavy-hitter Bill Pelster. A resume that includes building major people practices at not just one but two global consultancies, as well as being the man who bought Josh Bersin into one of them, Deloitte, and who then founded that organisation’s much-envied Deloitte University outside Dallas would in itself more than justify Bill being included in any one of our on-going thematic seasons. But the rise two prominence through COVID of the new HR tech group he set up with Josh in 2019, The Bersin Academy, is what sealed the deal for us: Bill and his team have been right at the eye of the health crisis hurricane here, so we knew when he paused for breath we’d want to hear his thoughts on our central question of, From what-if to what now? So, in this very focused episode, look to hear from Bill about the steps that take you from “the nuclear side” of the Air Force to working with big companies dealing with SAP where he decided the HR side of the problem—“These darn people!” as he jokes—was more interesting than the coding, his retirement and immediate pivot to set up his shingle with Josh and why he lives in the beautiful Pacific North West, as well as: how Bersin is doing, and even growing, in the pandemic; the 10-20m professionals who either have HR or learning or talent in their job description, and why that’s huge lever for change in any organisation; what the Academy stands for (democratizing of professional development, a home for HR best practice, networking and support for conversations with peers); how the pandemic meant HR went from being part to the team to leading the team; the inter-relationship between the Academy and Josh Bersin’s ongoing research
    the rising importance, even in the these crazy times, of physical spaces for effective learning; the inside story of how the Deloitte University was designed, including its out-of-city locale; the benefits from mixing up people from different disciplines he learnt from his daughter’s experiences at USC; some hints on what the Academy has planned for 2021; and much more.

  • Now we’re (still) all meeting virtually, making virtual events work is a priority, but many organisations have struggled to make them work: it’s particularly an issue when we’re all fried from endless Zoom meetings anyway. This week on Learning Is The New Working, we meet someone who says they know how to fix that, and even gives us the algorithm: an interactive design, a skilled facilitator, prepared participants, equipped to learn. Sound useful to what you’re trying to do? Then check out the guidance and advice you’re about to get from virtual training consultant, facilitator, author and speaker Cindy Huggett. Cindy is convinced that virtual events can be immersive, interactive and engaging—which could also easily be our ‘review’ of this great conversation with a genuine Learning Leader. That’s our thematic season, as you will remember, where we meet new and seasoned leaders from industry, academia, and technology who have made significant contributions to workplace learning, edtech, and talent leadership discipline. And it’s also an episode in Season Five that’s been kindly sponsored by the amazing team at Arist, the pioneer of text message courses that let you teach and train in bite-size chunks that learners love, and whose use cases ranging from leadership training to knowledge reinforcement. So now we’re all set up, get ready to find out about Cindy’s 29 years of professional experience that include leadership roles in global organizations, starting a non-profit focused on volunteering and community service, serving on the national ATD Board of Directors, teaching classroom trainers how to engage with remote audiences and designers how to use typical platform tools to create interactive classes, as well as: why she’s based in North Carolina; her core definition of key virtual training terms (and why they matter); why your assumptions about virtual training were pretty much all wrong pre-2020; how design thinking, interactivity, and tolerance came to the rescue; her views on change in terms of virtual training platform tech; the highlights of her unique annual survey, especially a big drop in content prep time; our new perspective on making the best use of everyone’s time; and much more.

  • In December 2020, I was invited to host three live Learning podcasts at last year’s HR Innovation and Tech Fest (#HRTechFest), a week-long event hosted in Sydney, Australia by Hannover Fairs; I’d previously attended as an in-person delegate, and loved the energy and vibrancy of the Antipodean L&D community I interacted with, so I was more than happy to help out when asked (and can’t wait for it to go back to being real-world again later this year!). My first live podcast was with this week’s LITNW guest Dr. Sydney, GM Learning/CLO at Air New Zealand and a former chief of education strategy at Dell-EMC and Learning leader at Booz Allen Hamilton. Sydney is definitely a prime candidate for us to profile her as one of our Learning Leaders, where we meet new and seasoned leaders from industry, academia, and technology who have made significant contributions to workplace learning, edtech, and talent leadership disciplines. After all, she does truly believe that “creating a true learning culture starts at the top with embracing the power of democratized learning to reshape mindsets, human capabilities, and organizational culture.” Hear hear! So in our conversation look to hear more about her personal journey, which includes being crowned CLO magazine’s Chief Learning Officer of the Year 2020 (Better Work Media Group), as well as: what it’s like when 60% of your company’s income goes away overnight
    her belief in personal purpose and providence; working life in a nearly COVID-free New Zealand; the importance of her 20 years in the US Air Force on everything she does; how you crunch 7 LMSs down into one (cloud) one; how she got to her mantra of ‘survive, revive and thrive’ and what it really means; and much more.

  • In 2013, Big Four consulting firm Ernst & Young, a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and consulting services, rebranded as ‘EY.’ What maybe few of us picked up on at the time was that part of that rebrand made an explicit Purpose statement front and center: ‘Building a better working world.’ But in this, our latest ‘Is Purpose Working?’ season in collaboration with RedThread Research sponsored by edtech leader NovoEd, that was actually a hugely important internal cultural shift and pivot for the company: “By everyone knowing our purpose statement, it creates a golden thread--so no matter where you are in the world, what culture you have, whether you're a new employee or a tenured employee, what service line you're in and what work you do you come to work to do every day, we are all connected by the fact that we are all building a better working world.” Join us, then, for a deep-dive into why this global service leader adopted Purpose and how it’s helping, as well as the critical role it sees L&D in that pivot, framed as a key role in helping people become performers, colleagues, leaders—and people. Helping us understand are two excellent speakers, Tal Goldhamer, Partner and Chief Learning Officer - Americas, EY, and his colleague Jeff Stier, EY Americas Consulting Purpose & Vision Realized Leader. As ever, our investigation is aided and sharpened up by the participation of RedThread, this time Stacia flying solo: and it’s a genuinely fascinating and at times moving and personal exploration, featuring a 6th Century CE Anglo-Saxon poem, as well as: EY’s in the unique position to bring the power of a large firm to support our people on their personal journey of discovering their individual talent that they develop for themselves, their teams, their clients, their communities, and for the world
; details of how EY individuals have found Purpose through internal, L&D-led, Purpose programs
; an intriguing new concept in our Purpose journey—the idea of nested Purpose
; why the guys believe that personal purpose and personal vision and organizational purpose are part of what gives daily meaning to the work that you do daily
; how, if you want to be an organization that claims to be purpose- and vision-led, you need to be led by leaders who themselves are purpose- and vision-led—which means developing a platform and program around personal purpose and vision
; and so much more.

  • First there was IDEO, an award-winning global design firm that decided to take a human-centered, design-based approach to help organisations innovate and grow; you may or may not have encountered its unique approach if you’ve ever interacted with the Stanford d.school. And then, in 2014, along came IDEO U (University), an online school promising to equip learners with the skills, mindsets, and tools to help us stay relevant and adaptive in our modern world. Just on its own, IDEO U would so be worth us looking at it as an example of successful online L&D, as it’s served over 50,000 learners in 100 countries, spawning a community connecting over 200,000 change makers bringing increased creativity, innovation, and modern leadership into their work. But we know that driving principle at IDEO is Design Thinking, which its chair Tim Brown says we should see as “a human-centered approach to innovation” that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success… so what is the connection, if any, between Design Thinking and Purpose? What role does Purpose play in what Suzanne’s been trying to do this past bumpy year of COVID as Managing Partner of that part of IDEO? Given that the organization specifically offers a Power of Purpose course (“A clear purpose guides people through change and motivates them to lead from wherever they are”), we knew we needed to know more. So this week, in one of our final (but not final final!) episodes in our ‘Is Purpose Working?’ Odyssey we meet the latter’s Founder and Dean, Suzanne Gibbs Howard to try and find out. Her work at IDEO U caps a pretty amazing (she’ll tell more of a “crooked path:” we think you’ll disagree) personal and professional journey that involved Anthropology and associated field work, as well as a dip into divinity school, usability and lengthy spells in China and Africa. We learn about that, as well as: why she ended up in that beautiful city by the Bay called San Francisco; how IDEO interprets Purpose—as a way of helping align people toward what's next for them; how our common tough 2020 brought Purpose to the surface for many people struggling to “keep pushing forward;" the role of Learning as a way to spark the engagement that’s the necessary precursor to successful, Purpose-driven engagement; why L&D needs to be a lot more than “just MOOCs and talking heads” from now on; and so much more.

  • Does Purpose help the bottom line? It’s a fair question, surely—maybe, ultimately, the best question we can really ask ourselves in business as the idea of a move away from purely shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism takes off. And while we do need to ask CEOs of Purpose-driven companies that question, perhaps the ideal community to seek a hard-nosed answer here is the VC (venture capitalist) world, for whom the conditio sine qua non of an investment has to be that it will pay back, at multiples. Luckily for us on Season 7 and all our now fast-interlocking conversations on our central question of ‘Is Purpose Working?’ is that today, we have the definitive answer: yes—in fact, it’s actually only the companies that have Purpose that end up with strong cultures and stronger outcomes. There’s a lot to take in to see why our guest, Deborah Quazzo, Managing Partner at GSV Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund investing in education and workforce technology entrepreneurs, is so convinced of that fact, but we hope we have intrigued you enough to listen in to see her logic and proof… but it’s also just such a pleasure to listen to the fusion of a deeply ethical mindset and razor-sharp thinking Deborah brings to her job. Just one example among many: her rhetorical question about why she does what she does: Is it more fun to go call on a company making breakfast cereal, or on a company that’s really trying to change people’s lives meaningfully? Deborah and her team have been active for many years disrupting the $6 trillion education technology sector, having helped amazing names like ClassDojo, Degreed, and RaiseMe, among many others, get out of the lab. Equally important to her, as you’re about to hear, is her work on the annual ASU GSV Summit: now in its 11th year, the Summit celebrates innovations and innovators across the global “preK to Gray” learning and talent landscape and this COVID, virtual year attracted a quite staggering 33,000 online attendees. So tune in now to hear how this predominantly Chicago-based ed tech sector investment ninja has been putting ‘Purpose’ as one of the ‘5 Ps’ a startup has to have before she even looks at them. Before we get started, two callouts are needed: one, to our on-going Season 7 partners, Dani and Stacia over at Purpose-driven HR advisory group RedThread Research, and most especially to our Season sponsors, ed tech luminaries NovoEd, who are just as keen as we are to find an answer to ‘Is Purpose Working?’ Don’t forget that in early 2021, the issues Deborah raises today will be under the microscope in our planned special live, online gated experience, where we will debate all the Learnings from Season 7. If you doubt that Purpose is good for capitalism, then make sure you can get in your two cents about it by locking-in your free place at the webinar. How can I do that, Chris? I hear you say. It’s easy: click on over to the special NovoEd microsite supporting the project, www.novoed.com/purpose. All done? Great—so let’s hear about VC money, Purpose, diversity and what a VC does, as well as: how Deborah sees a coming together of all parts of Education and workplace training; the emergence of knowledge as a ‘currency’; why what GSV does is not the same as what an impact fund tries to do; that significant 2019 Business Round Table statement… are we actually seeing enough action by companies? How Learning is starting (at last?) to be seen as an important weapon by corporate leaders to improve overall outcomes; her conviction that exponential growth in an ed tech company will come not just through great technology, but through diverse teams; what inspired her to get into the ed tech area; and much more.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.