LearningElite - Nationwide Chief Learning Architect Diane August, left, and Kathy Smith, vice president, talent management and development.
Nationwide Chief Learning Architect Diane August, left, and Kathy Smith, vice president, talent management and development.
Embracing Change
This year’s LearningElite organizations use learning and development to meet disruption head-on.
By Sarah Kimmel
It’s been almost a decade since Chief Learning Officer first introduced the LearningElite, its annual learning and development benchmarking program. Over the years, we’ve heard countless stories from companies large and small about how organizations structure the learning function and tackle change. Of the hundreds of companies to apply to this year’s program, just 57 met our qualifying benchmarks in learning strategy, leadership commitment, learning execution, learning impact and business performance results. These five pillars form the backbone of the LearningElite, and without dedication to each dimension, a learning organization cannot perform at its peak.

Organizations hoping to qualify for the LearningElite submit answers to a robust set of application questions. A group of volunteer judges read and review applications according to a provided rubric. This year, more than 300 judges participated. Many judges participate year after year. In fact, 24 have judged the LearningElite for five years or more.

To determine the final ranking, the top five organizations participate in a themed capstone presentation. Previous themes include customization, technology and perfect fit. This year’s theme is disruption and learning. What factors cause disruption in specific industries? How do leaders at the top five organizations address disruption? How does the learning team work with other parts of the organization to mitigate disruption? Each capstone consisted of a 45-minute presentation on the topic, followed by a Q&A session with Chief Learning Officer editors and members of the Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group.

The Nationwide team. Photo courtesy of Nationwide.
The Nationwide team. Photo courtesy of Nationwide.

Nationwide, our 2019 LearningElite Organization of the Year, is no stranger to exemplary learning and development practices. They’ve been a top 10 organization since 2016. Over the past several years they’ve modernized their L&D strategy and not only kept pace with disruption but leaned into it, meeting disruption head-on.

Disruption is one of the biggest threats to any business. Uncertainty permeates every industry. Digital processes open new markets and close older revenue streams. Workforce disruption affects an organization’s ability to maintain institutional knowledge and a healthy talent pipeline. Disruption isn’t going away anytime soon, and the best learning and development organizations realize this. Many of the following articles and success stories demonstrate how LearningElite organizations address disruption in their industry or field.

Sarah Kimmel is Human Capital Media’s vice president of research and advisory services. She can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.