CLO as Sports Agent

Learn from the pros. Stats matter and finding the ones that matter to your company is key.

The results of the new SEC reporting requirements are starting to appear on company reports and they “meet expectations”. As many managers will attest this rating covers the entire range of performance from “best of the rest” down to “not great, but not bad enough to replace.” I had low expectations so well done public companies.

Last Autumn the Zooms were flickering with talking heads (mine included) talking about how this new reporting requirement was a huge opportunity to raise the profile of L&D. Executive conversation based on data in every hallway. New standards and scorecards were sure to spread like wildfire. And then…not so much. The regulation was meant to evolve over time with reporting norms coming from the companies. So it will. But it will take time.


So what is a learning leader to do in the meantime? CLO’s need to talk data. The organization must be shown that in and numbers L&D has something to add to the story being told every quarter. how learning is scaling to develop new leaders in support of growth. How development is a tool for attracting the best and brightest. How L&D will help the company win.

When it comes to talking data I like to look at professional sports. I never played sports and while I enjoy them I think I look at them differently then some. As a learning geek, sports have everything to love: people dynamics, skills, strategy, performance targets, and unlike the business world a ton of data and a short feedback cycle. Make a change this week see the results on the weekend. Fully transparent performance reviews with comprehensive analytics every week. What is not to love?

And within this world of public performance how is a team contributor (let’s call them L&D) to set themselves apart, especially at contract time? The team’s star (let’s call them sales) can focus on titles, wins and other team accomplishments. But how does the center back (footballer) or left tackle (American footballer) stand out? Data.

In baseball the batting average (# hits/ # at-bats) is a classic sporting statistic. For decades it was seen at the gauge of a batter’s prowess. Then someone (I assume a player’s agent) asked the question, “but can they hit when it counts?” and so was born the slugging percentage. This is now a common stat representing how well the player bats with runners in scoring position. It is a stat in a context that matters. And there are lots of them used all you need to do is watch a game/match/event. Some sports broadcasters forget the “that matters” parts as they list a player’s exceptionally high batting percentage, against left handed pitchers (relevant), on Thursdays in June (maybe relevant but doesn’t matter).

So why not forget the “days of learning per employee” stat and talk about “days delivered in support of new product launches” to show how critical L&D is to new revenue? Or “delivered within 30 days of needs identification” to show responsiveness. Or “% of offerings that are new or refreshed every quarter/year” to show vitality of product set. These stats are powerful differentiators, specific to your business and your L&D organization’s value proposition. Best of all they are great conversation starters.

So what is your slugging percentage?

Our Book is a Startup

Why we need your feedback and a quick 90-seconds assessment.

Please help us improve the value our product by taking 90 seconds to answer these questions about your L&D organization or the one supporting your business. In exchange you can be certain that our product, both this blog and the book, will be designed to add the value that is most important to you. We are not asking for an email or anything other than your input. We value your honest contribution and building the most valuable product possible more than building a mailing list.

Submit your responses here

Why We Are Asking

When we started this blog to explore how we might bring the best practices of leading startups in the areas of customer, product, operating principle and team into a Learning & Development organization we had an assumption.  Our assumption, based on a multitude of discussions with practitioners, industry stakeholders and business executives was that the need to innovate how we were running L&D was existent and of rapidly growing importance.

With this proof point, we began our journey looking at a range of dimensions where we could apply aspects of startups.  From leadership to a new visual business model we researched, discussed and wrote our thoughts down submitting them to the readers of this blog as well as using these “beta” concepts in discussions to further refine them. We continue to apply this product development approach to our book.  What the Lean Startup methodology calls the build, measure, learn cycle.

We believe strongly that the need to innovate across all the dimensions of L&D organizations exists. We also recognize that the priorities for our product have to be our customers’ priorities. Our customers are the L&D practitioners and business executives.  Since startups are all about data so are we.

We thank you in advance for your time and look forward to sharing the results of this build-measure-learn cycle with you in future posts.  If you are interested in a printout of the self assessment you can download the PDF Self Assessment here.