Chief Learning Officers give their view of the future of learning

February 3, 2011 11:14 pm 0 comments

On February 3, 2011, Kevin Oakes, of i4cp hosted a panel discussion at the ASTD Tech Knowledge convention in San Jose, California. He invited a panel of Chief Learning officers to give their perspective on a series of strategic learning topics. This is a transcript of some of the converstation that took place during the discussion:


On February 3, 2011, Kevin Oakes, of i4cp hosted a panel discussion at the ASTD Tech Knowledge convention in San Jose, California. He invited a panel of Chief Learning officers to give their perspective on a series of strategic learning topics. This is a transcript of some of the converstation that took place during the discussion.

(this is a non-edited document from live notes taken by Rick Von Feldt @hrfuturist)

Tamar Elkeles @Qualcomm, Karie Willyerd @jambok, Susan Burnett @yahoo speaking at #tk11 on their view of where learning is going !

Kevin Oakes (Click to Learn, Docent, Sum Total) Runs i4cp – Institute for Corporate Productivity. Research on many topics.

Dr. Karie Willyerd, Former CLO of Sun Microsystems, winner of ASTD 2009 Best aware. Now CEO of Jambok

Susan Burnett, Chief Learning officer at Yahoo. Also from Deloitte, Gap and HP.

Tamar Elkes. CLO for Qualcomm in San Diego. Been there 19 years. Responsible for all learning and development. Centralized function for 19,000 people.

All on board of ASTD in the past.

Tamar is the CLO of the year for CLO Magazine.

Topics we may want to talk about:

Web 2.0 and Learning

Informa and Social learning

Social Network regulation

Mergers and Acquisition

Mobile Learning

Simulations and serious games

Talent management

Learning Evaluations

What was the best decision you made in technology?

Tamar: Not about purchase. But look at the need and find a solution. We have tried a lot. I wonder if we were too early of our time. Was there a need? Everyone is purchasing new products, but is there a component of is this helping the business? There may have been a few things I put out there that did not have a key business component. Don’t get caught up in the technologies.

Susan: In 1984, I was HP, doing Sales support. We were trying to get the sales force certified. I was leading that effort. But after going on calls with them, I realized they needed something for the “point of sales.” I went to IT and demo’d the Internet or Mosaic. We build the first sales portal. The portal unlocked people’s ability to get just in time info at the point of sales. We could then customize sales literature at the point of sale. It is all about look up. Chunking things. Advancing learning portals. How do you get people at the point of need?

Susan Burnett: Learning is all about looking things up – chunking and advancing learning portals.

Karie: How do we support sales? We developed SLX – the Sun Learning Exchange. We needed something that could deliver mobile content to the mobile sales force.

Panel: Interesting. We ended up building – not buying.

Kevin: The correlary to this question: What learning technology do you wish you never had to begin with?

Susan: I am in LMS hell. What is striking to my about talent systems is how little they are designed for the business process they support.

Audience: So, who will win?

Tamar: Nobody wins.

Kevin: Let me look at who you think are the leaders. Everyone is claiming to be something different. Or grander than their roots. The millions dollar question is, who will win? There is much M&A. Talea bought All are designed to have the full suite. The convergence is h

Learning Platforms, Recruiting, Performance Management and HRIS vendors.

Will Oracle buy everything at some point?

Learning: SumTotal, Plateau, Saba

Tamar: What is your issue?

Audience: I am knowledgeable, but know nothing. I want it to eliminate administrative responsibilities, but also be a

Consumer Products Company of 5,000.

Tamar Elkes: The user interface using any LMS sucks. Forget the headache, and don’t purchase an LMS.

Karie: the user interface does not exist today. There are companies that help you. And LMS are database, and get an open source data base to make your user experience the best thing possible. When I took over Sun, we had 9 LMS systems. None were cloud based. We had many versions all over the place. We created a front end with wigets. You could keep building them. Widgets are to our programs, LMS, news feeds. You have to custom build. It is pulling data. Make it the cheapest thing you can pull from.

Susan: If you don’t want open, then look at: Plateau or Sum – and deal with them as a back end. Be cautious with what they say.

Tamar: The biggest issue is that we have talent management process. As you grow larger, and the needs are different,  you have to find elements that help you manage all of the systems.

Audience: What about cloud base LMS?

Karie: Yes, you can configure it. But then it can’t be linked to internal systems. It is hard to channel in communications.  You still need a one stop portal.

Susan: But stop and ask, “What are you doing this for?” Are you really going to track every piece of information?

Tamar: Career pathing is not good in most groups.

Audience: yOu brought up a good idea about growth. We have 200 people. We will get to 3,000 to 4,000. What do we do to deal with immense growth?

Tamar: I get growth. Figure out what you can do to scale. Build for the next five years. What will you build for the next 5-10 years. What is a solution you can create and customize? What is the flexible solution. Many LMS are static. Try to build something on your own. We build our own tracking system. I just purchased an LMS just a few years ago. We were tracking training before that. Now, my staf struggles with the LMS. They are more for us, to get rid of paper.

Karie: It is not what LMS you have. But maintaining the culture you want to keep. I interviewed Tamar in my book. She has an idea called “Fifty Two Lessons.” An LMS should be one of my last thoughts. Culture and Talent are so much more important.

Karie: An LMS should be your last thought. Instead, thinking about culture and talent.

Karie: Consider items like Google Analytics – because it can track their audentity. You can see how long your users stay on sites. What you cannot do is to have it connected to alerts.

Karie Willyerd @jambok @angler: Google Analytics is a great learning user tracking tool.

Susan: Learning and the user have converged. You need flexible, customzed and quick. No LMS does that.

Susan: You want to learn about your users.

Kevin: Let’s talk about Talent Management. I am on ASTD Talent Management committee.

New book: The Executive Guide to Integrated Talent management” by Kevin Oakes

Learning is a key component and critical role to integration.

Kevin: How is this convergence of silos? Is it happenng at all? How is learning playing a role?

Tamar: It is about attraction, development and retain. That is our job.  an…. We are thinking about all three.

Tamar Elkes: Our job in learning is to attract, develop and retain talent. How do we motivate. Engage. Reward. We must thing TM System.

Kevin: most organizations spend time on the front end – the skills and competencies. But once they are hired, the data is thrown in the trash. It is not centralized. So – who controls that? Do you see a centralized skills database.

Tamar: We have that. Some is pre populated. Some is populated by managers. I think that is the responsibility of us. If we need 10 new software engineers, we can search our database. Or we can give them development to get to that area. We want to mine the data about the employees.

Tamar Elkeles: I don’t like competencies. It sounds like evaluation. I would rather see “dimensions” like communication or strategy.

Kevin Oakes @i4cp – There is a convergence of silos in learning. Attraction. Development. Retentions

Audience: What is the size of a company, before you can really track that skill.

Tamar: The

Kevin Oakes @i4cp When do you need a talent management system? When the CEO does not know all employees.

Tamar: When we grew too big, we had so many people that it was difficult to put in so many profiles. We were late. Do it early. Or you will be too late. The key thing is when does the scale become to big of a business need? Boards of Directors are starting to push that. That pressure was not there 5 years ago Not it is.

Tamar Elkeles @qualcomm: At the 500 person mark is when you need to know the talent of your company.

Audience: Starting with learning technology, when there are old school thinking. We started, but it was slow for acceptance. How did you do it? More than LMS. Social media. Informal learning.

Karie: When I market with Jambok, I start with data. Do you know how much people are using it for their learning experience. In less than 3 years, half of our population will be millennials. In the future, they won’t work for organizations that don’t have these kinds of tools. It makes the ahh haa sound better.

Susan: I worry so much about getting people interested in technology. I don’t care about it. I care about winning in the market, getting customers, getting a better business. If there is a way I can show you how to get business results better, would you be interested in that? If I could crowd source content that could help the business win, would this interest you. I know it sounds cliché. I am rabid about it. Start with the business need.

Susan Burnett, CLO @yahoo: I am rabid about the customer. Don’t tell technology in learning. Sell business need. Start with the sales organization.

Tamar: I had a technology department in learning. They helped us move social learning. That is different than IT. Or HR IT. If you con’t have it, you need to have your own technical team.

Tamar Elkeles @qualcomm If you don’t have a Learnining IT team, you loose. Not IT. Not HRIT. But your own.

Susan: If you are a sales manager, you focus on the basics. They have needs like closing deals faster. How to create a bigger deal size.

Tamar: We used Metrics that Matter. It works for us. It gives a perspective on the value of investments. How do instructors compare. Industry comparisons. Classroom implementations. It is from Knowledge Advisors. That is the best thing out there that is a system that you can purchase. We have been a customer for 2 years. We implement for 90% of our classes. It helps me make decisions on my investments. We don’t have people scorecards. We don’t have processes around the business metrics. But there is value of human development. At Qualcomm, learning is a part of our culture. We maintain that culture. We need leaders to become better. I manage the climate process. We correlate stock price as compared to our talent.  My advice on ROI? If your leader is asking you, then already, you should find another job as they may already not trust you.

Karie: The cover issue this month on “Does Social Learning Measure up?”  We use Capital Analystics to look at the variable that are at play. Our learning is that mentors are affected the most – more than mentees. If you do studies, you will find

Dr. Karie Willyerd @jambok @angler: ROI in learning? The first question is, “Is it worth measuring?” Does it really matter?

Karie: How will it inform management decisions going forward? Will we do something differently?

Audience: We are developing a distance learning program. The development of training and content is not easy. No one has time. As experts, what is a good idea for me to move forward to finding volunteers. What makes you want to be in training?

Susan:  The answer are the people you hang out with. I told HP that being in ASTD is my development. I serve with the best people. And I bring back nuggets. You need to get anchor tenants. Kevin called me to be on the panel. If we have dinner together, we learn something. People are attracted to people who give them insight.

Karie: One of the things I am thining about as a new entrepreneur. How do you build community. And the skills it takes to facilitate real live community is different than virtual community. How do you garden and nurish? It is a really interesting thing to begin thinking about! Example – in a virtual communicate, no one is even welcomed. Or nourished.

Audience: For training orgs that are externally focused, how do you do this?

Karie: Yes I did $200m of external training delivery at Sun. We had to worry about the “grey” market. People could undercut us. We had to think about creating value in distinguishing us – better than the grey market. We wanted to be able to connect to our engineers. External people could interact with our internal engineer. We did spend money to look how much impact certification impacted productivity. Example – we found that you could be 17% more productive if you get certified. We connected the user to our community.

Kevin: Here is a new topic: Difference between Training 1.0 and Training 2.0 – how training is shifting. Trainign is not longer the sole provider of content. Employees are. How is that shifting things in inside of your organization.

Tamar: Training 2.0 is what we do. We facilitate knowledge. It is a different role. We don’t push content. We facilitate. How to bring knowledge inside of the organization and share.

Susan: At Deloitte, you have knowledge workers. How do you get their knowledge of the deal? Everyone contributes knowledge at the deal. The incentive was to keep your job. But if you published, you would get knowledge awards. We had a knowledge world.

Susan: At Yahoo, we are not an empty search box. We are now content. We are digital media. We are the largest in the world. On the ousdide, we crowdsource, curate and

Susan Burnett @yahoo As learning, our job is to crowdsource, curate and organize content. Not create it.

Susan: for content inside, we have to as good as we are externally. We need compelling content. We have to kick it up a notch. How to add chats about performance management. Content is co-created. Created every day. Internal needs to add more knowledge. But how do you keep it factual. Does the community get certified?

Susan: We must have credible good content. Everything on the internet is not true. Credible. Real time. Co-created in the organization I where it is at. Then, you must be a different type of learning kind of people.

Content. Crowdsourcing. Co-creation.

Tamar: The hard part is control. You have legal issues.

Susan: You need learning co-creation hourly – not weekly or monthly.

Karie: Why should you go to learning 2.0? The average knowledge worker is spending 20% of their time searching for information. A day a week. If you make it easy to find current updated validated information, instead of chasing documents, you have a compelling business case.

Karie: We added features page or “editors choice.” This is where we can mark what is content you can trust. And be sure people’s names are attached.

Audience: (I work at Sony). Tamar, I know that you sponsor many organizations in San Diego like art museums and music.

Tamar: We think art and music is important. The Qualcomm museum is something I created. It was f 4 month project. I went to our CEO and president. We have been in business for 25 years. We don’t want to loose it. We are 19,000 people. I hired a company that creates marketing material. And a company that does events. Using Disney theme partks to tell the story. I  believe as a CLO, I am responsible for culture. We need to be able to enagage the employee base about the history and the future. We look backwards at the last 25 years. And we also look forward about how we are going to change the future of the world and organizations. I manage our corporate library. I thought I would take a section of the library and create a museum. We have so many things. There are materials. T-shirts. To existing employees. And to future employees. Instead, the CEO gave us a 35,000 SQ feet. The reason this is important is that it is about the power of the story. Who are we an organization.

Tamar Elkeles @qualcomm Learning is in charge of the culture. We must tell the story of the past and the future.

AUDIENCE: If you are building a learning organization from scratch, what would you do?

Susan: I like building them from scratch. Start with building business relations. You can come from technology or sales. But know how to design and think about how people learn. Be an exceptional communicator. All organizations has stuff. What kills learning people is that they cannot traverse through that effectively. How do you find that? It is hard.  You don’t have to be Tamar. But you have to be open and curious. Try it fast. Iterate.

Susan Burnett @yahoo Advice on being a learning leader: Try things fast. Iterate. Ask people what they need. Be curious. Agile. Fast. Fearless. Politically saavy.

Tamar: Find people good at needs assessments. Ask the tough questions. Follow through. Most people in learning are pizza delivery people. Someone orders cheese pizza. They deliver cheese pizza. Needs assessment is important. Consulting is important. Highly flexible in needs assessment.

Karie: You have to really understand your companies culture on who they are going to accept. Inside person? Or outside? In other companies, they want perspective! No matter how good they are, if the culture rejects them, it will be a difficult road.

Susan: “No offense. Nothing you delivering is relevant to my job.”

Susan: When I arrive to Yahoo, we have 10,000 elearning programs. Millions of dollars. I look at them all, and I ask for how many have more than 20 users: The answer was only 20. And when I looked at users, then it came to $1,800 per head. The notion that you can throw stuff out, and expect it to fly, it not right. We don’t have that contract anymore. Learning to the point of need.

Tamar: The number one engagement factor is Career Growth

Karie: The number one need (from all three panelists) from learners? “Does it help me develop my career?”

Susan: My rule is that training has to be less than 10 minutes. No one watches anything less than 10 minutes.

Susan: You are downloading and learning from your apps. And there is no LMS tracking.

Kevin: We will end here. The panelists are here. Karie is doing her book signing in the bookstore. We appreciate it you taking the time.

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