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405 Question Everything! Hone Your Leadership & Transform Your Learning Organization

3:15 PM - 4:15 PM ET
Monday, November 7

Tracks: Leadership

The challenges facing new learner leaders often cause them to question themselves and decisions. This is even more difficult when they are tasked with transforming stale learning institutions. The leader is living in a fishbowl; the boss is watching closely, as are the employees—and both are tapping on the glass, needing attention. The boss wants immediate change and the employees do not understand the need for change. The learning leader must strike the right balance to satisfy the boss and employees, while also settling into their new role, establishing vision, and gaining insight into training operations (customers, budgets, etc.). The leader must question everything in a non-threatening manner and build coalitions for future successes. This is often a once-in-a-lifetime situation with few getting the opportunity to repeat success. Are you interested in a front-row seat to learn from a peer’s experiences guiding numerous learning institutions through transformation?

In this session you will learn how to balance competing needs while transforming a stale learning organization to one that outperforms peer learning organizations. You’ll learn how to remodel the organization and establish an operating model improving effectiveness and efficiency while maintaining employee morale, meeting customer demands, and ensuring the boss is happy.

We’ll begin by looking at the value and non-threatening methods of questioning everything—challenging status quo, conducting an assessment of your new organization and role as learning leader, engaging customers, and finding out what your boss and employees will tolerate. You will learn how to include employees in the change process, moving even the most stalwart non-believer from status quo to improved learning operations. You will learn how data collection and reporting can be used to support the why behind the need for transformation, helping you win over instructors and organizational leaders. You’ll leave this session with an appreciation for the challenges associated with transforming a stale global learning organization to one that customizes learning for the organization’s culture, provides learning in innovative ways, and directly supports the strategic vision and goals of the organization. You’ll also learn the value of rewards and recognition and their positive impact on changing the behavior of those fearing transformation.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How to balance competing needs and develop trusting relationships with organizational senior leaders, customers, and learning organization staff
  • How to conduct a thorough, non-threatening assessment of a learning organization’s operating model
  • Techniques for data collection and reporting, and the value of storytelling to assuage fear of change
  • How to maximize your own talents, overcome even the most extreme challenges, and cultivate a culture of continuous improvement alleviating changes of status quo recidivism

James Backus

Retired Learning Leader

Retired Dept. of Defense

Dr. James Backus is a semi-retired learning leader. He retired from the Department of Defense (DoD) in February 2022 after more than 40 years of service. During this time, he led transformation of career specialty training and the establishment of a unique training detachment teaching Air Force personnel skills for wartime duty. As a DoD civilian, James helped establish the Academy for Defense Intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and later led the DoD Joint Military Intelligence Training Center through remodeling of joint intelligence training. In his final assignment with DIA, he served as the functional manager for the International Affairs career specialty. He established first-ever professionalization of the specialty leading to development of career and professional, education and training, and certification requirements. James has been a higher education learning leader since 2006 as an adjunct professor of criminal justice and political science courses for two universities.