CLO Symposium

Along with my Internet Time Alliance colleagues Jane Hart & Clark Quinn and several hundred chief learning officers, I attended the Fall CLO Symposium this week. Our theme was “Game-Changing Learning: Development for the New Normal.” Sports metaphors filled the air.

CLO Symposium

The location was stunning: the Ritz-Carlton at Laguna Niguel. The hotel overlooks the magnificent beach at Dana Point. From the terrace, you could see a hundred surfers trying to catch the next wave way down below. This makes for an inspiring setting for networking. Norm Kamikow, Mike Prokopeak, and their team at Human Capital Media have a tradition of hosting great get-togethers at dynamite locations.

CLO Symposium

The buzz on Friday was Skillsoft’s acquisition of Element K. Some of us speculated that perhaps the acquisition came about to shut up Element K, whose attack ads were irritating Skillsoft mightily:

At a lunch sponsored by Knowledge Advisors, David Vance gave an overview of Talent Development Reporting Principles. This is a framework for reporting the business results of learning in a rigorous, structured manner. It’s intended to underpin the dialog between CLO and executive management. On the surface, this looks great. It replaces the inward-looking mumbo-jumbo of Kirkpatrick and the Phillips with business measures. I’m looking forward to reading the white paper. I’m not far enough into this to see if social and informal learning are part of the equation so I’m reserving judgment on this potentially promising effort.

Stephen M.R. Covey delivered the opening keynote on trust. Trust is vital for business; it’s not just touchy-feely — there’s a huge economic payoff. While I buy the message, I was squirming during the keynote. Ironically, Stephen’s preachy delivery style makes me suspicious. I’m enjoying reading a proof copy of Stephen’s forthcoming book, The Speed of Trust.

CLO Symposium

Internet Time Alliance led the next event, “Controversy in the Fishbowl.” Mike Prokopeak introduced Jane, Clark, and myself, saying that we were going to lead a panel session. Argh. No, Mike, we’re going to engage in a conversation. An empty chair awaited anyone who wanted to join us on stage. I explained that we had no Powerpoint slides or agenda and that we hadn’t practiced. We asked the audience to talk among themselves about thorny issues, controversies, and BS. They fed us issues on paper. We ended up chatting about the fallacy of digital natives, Twitter for learning, the role of ADDIE, the importance of mobile, informal learning, social networks, abolishing training departments, the convergence of work & learning, and learning ecologies. Most people seemed to enjoy the free-flow that addressed their issues. A few were chagrined that we hadn’t prepared. (These folks failed to appreciate that we’ve been preparing for more than a decade.)

Liberty Mutual’s Larry Israelite described the simple but elegant measurement system at the heart of the firm’s outstanding success. Everything begins with a few management beliefs. Making these explicit and explaining how they’re derived eliminates needless handwringing over definitions. When desired outcomes aren’t achieved, execution is tightened up or the beliefs are re-examined.

CLO Symposium

Bill Sullivan, president and CEO of Agilent, described the measures that have led Agilent to impressive success as the world’s premier measurement company. The keys are customer satisfaction, employee ratings of leaders, and superior returns to shareholders. “Nobody cares about internal metrics.” Agilent relentlessly surveys customers. Leaders are rated red-yellow-or-green on such things as speed to opportunity and customer orientation. Patience is a virtue. Agilent’s future is in emerging markets; that’s where the growth is and Agilent aims to outgrow the market. Agilent, the measurement company, deplores bean counting. “Finance destroys organizations. What was Columbus’s ROI?” I told Bill I was delighted with his work; I own a chunk of Agilent stock.

CLO Symposium

CLO Symposium

The workshops did not seem up to the calibre of the keynotes, so we played hooky at the Hart Vineyards in Temecula. Here are Philip and Jane Hart at the eponymous winery:

CLO Symposium

For the finale, Booz & Company’s Jon Katzenbach talked of culture. It’s the source of energy. It’s persistent. It’s slow to change. And you can’t change it directly. Compelling stories of the U.S. Marines reinforced his messages that emotion is as much or more important than the rational, that behavior is what counts, and that spirit and sense of purpose are the prime motivators.

My wife Uta joined the Harts and me for a few days in Palm Springs. Several thousand bikers have shown up here for the weekend. It’s zoo of strange-looking people on outrageous hog bikes.

Palm Springs Palm Springs

Palm Springs Palm Springs

Palm Springs

Palm Springs

My photos on Flickr

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