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Insight

What Future-Forward Leadership Looks Like

Monday, September 14, 2020

It is difficult for today’s talent development leaders to find the time to reimagine tomorrow. With competing demands as a business partner, change agent, guardian of organizational culture, and overseer of the learning function, even the best-intentioned leader requires accountability and support to think beyond the responsibilities of now.

That is why CTDO Next exists.

CTDO Next is ATD’s premier membership for talent development executives who want to shape the future of the profession. This network of global learning leaders is passionate about transformations that are impacting the field. Through the work of CTDO Next, members (called Nexters) explore a variety of forward-focused topics—such as the disruption of talent development, digital transformation, and the future of leadership development—with the goal to take a position and lead the profession.

The charter


Founded in 2017, CTDO Next defines its purpose through the following charter:

  • Vision: We advance the talent agenda to create an optimized workplace.
  • Mission: As a group of talent thought leaders, we shape what is next in talent development.
  • Values: Contribution, Trust, Demonstrated Leadership, Openness

“CTDO Next is a unique opportunity for me to expose myself to important topics of the future,” says founding member Eivind Slaaen, head of people and culture development at Hilti Corporation. “Together with a diverse group of outstanding professionals, I can contribute to shape the future of talent development and prepare for the discussion we need to have in our company. The openness and trust is special, and we have built the solid foundation we need to address the challenges ahead.”

The THINC tank approach

The network is a platform for members to rethink the future of talent development with like-minded peers. Using a THINC tank approach, Nexters discuss transformational topics, explore their human implications, and determine necessary changes and new capabilities. This approach is accomplished through the following steps:

  • Topic selection. At any given time, Nexters examine a handful of transformations in talent development and the future of work. Together the members choose which topics they wish to explore for the advancement of the profession.
  • Subject matter expert presentations. A thought leader shares research, trends, and experiences with members during a monthly meeting. For example, at the CTDO Next program at ATD 2019 in Washington, DC, Chef José Andrés described the future of leadership development as a practice that gives people freedom and autonomy to accomplish a vision and adapt as needed.
  • Member-sponsored working sessions. Each topic is sponsored by a member, someone who is personally interested in moving the agenda forward for that transformation. Guided by the CTDO Next Catalyst who facilitates monthly meetings and synthesizes content, this member leads group working sessions to further explore ideas and their implications and propose necessary changes. Members begin to take a position on the topic at-hand.
  • Base document review. After a series of thought leader presentations and working sessions, members review a draft summary of the various discussions and their emerging positions. They provide feedback and further refine their thinking.
  • Content outputs. Creating usable content that pushes the field to think and act differently is the goal of the THINC tank approach. At the final stage of this process, CTDO Next produces a variety of content outputs showcasing their thought leadership in these transformations. Outputs include magazine articles, research reports, webcasts, and conference presentations.

A new vision for the future

“If we weren’t always doing it this way, is this the way we would start?” Paul DePodesta, chief strategy officer for the National Football League’s Cleveland Browns posed this question to CTDO Next members several years ago while they were exploring emerging trends in talent measurement and analytics. This sentiment unites the work of the network as members reimagine the future of the profession.

Adrian Stevens, former vice president of talent management for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, sums up his experience tackling transformations in the field as a CTDO Next member: “Talent, learning, careers, heightened business imperatives that demand transformative thinking to ensure our functions create value in an ever-evolving business environment. CTDO has provided welcome access to some remarkable thought leadership, peer networking, and deep dives to tackle a range of vital opportunities encompassing talent analytics and AI, the competencies of tomorrow, technology adoption in talent development, redefining the measurement of our value, and even the emerging role of blockchain and learning!”

About the Author

Community of Practice Manager, ATD  Ann Parker is senior manager of the Human Capital Community of Practice and the Senior Leaders & Executives Community of Practice at ATD. Prior to this position, she worked at ATD for five years in an editorial capacity, primarily for TD magazine, and most recently as a senior writer and editor. In this role, Ann had the privilege to talk to many training and development practitioners, hear from a variety of prominent industry thought leaders, and develop a rich understanding of the profession's content.

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