Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

16 April 2008

Learning Management Colloquium: Bob Dean

Clark @ 1:42 PM

In addition to the Q&A with Patrick (and Steve Wexler on the Guild research), the other thing I wasn’t involved in was Lance’s thought-provoking interview with Bob Dean (who I’ve blogged about before). He came in as a representative of the CLO role, and threw out more TLA‘s than you can shake a stick at.

In talking about what he was looking for in his role, he said “universities are one of the least innovative solutions” in reference to many corporate approaches. What he wanted was a Talent Development System (TDS), which is much more than an LMS. I didn’t get a chance (but I’ve pinged him) whether the performance ecosystem was close to what he had in mind. It would include competency modeling, online performance review, yellow pages, profiles, and career development history. Talent’s the new way to view the learning role, it appeared, and he suggested their needs to be a Chief Talent Officer (CTO, which is why I’d suggest it might be Chief Performance Officer, CPO, not to step on the toes of IT).

I did get to ask him, in light of the increasing change, whether competency models would be out of date too fast, and whether he was thinking it would be closer to 21st century skills (learning to learn, etc, the type of curriculum I think we need). He basically agreed, indicating there might be core skills and new skills. Interestingly, talking about their (recruiting firm) 19 C-suite competencies, he thought that they weren’t needing to change, but the 5 or so priorities that they ask their clients for are!

As before, he was still enthused with learning experiences, and as before I fully agree. He talked about Continuous Development Experiences (or CDEs), and it’s not a bad notion: viewing learning as an ongoing process instead of a punctate series of events. Now that’s a role for mobile learning to augment.

He was not focused on ROI, but on Return on Visibility (ROV), where how the efforts were perceived were what carried weight. He reckoned that by the time the numbers were available they were on to other things, and getting programs done was what was important. In contrast, I remember Ellen Wagner once saying that “if you aren’t measuring it, why bother”. Still, it appeared to be the context that they aren’t looking to him for measurable results.

I note that, given Marc’s talk yesterday and Bob’s today, it’s clear the new strategic concept is ‘alignment’. The notion is that learning (or talent) initiatives need to be geared towards organizational goals. I think it’s obvious, but clearly to be buzzword-compliant I’ll have to get better at tossing the word around ;).

Overall, Lance did a good job handling the interviews , the colloquium seemed valuable to the audience, and fun for me. Well done!


  1. I agree that talent and performance can be intertwined, but isn’t part of the focus on performance too mechanistic to detect and nurture talent?

    Comment by Lisa Neal — 20 April 2008 @ 6:37 AM

  2. Lisa, you’re right that our systems should detect and nurture talent. That’s implicit in my model of the performance ecosystem when I talk about eCommunity to provide support and development as well as expert collaboration, and I probably don’t make it explicit enough. Yet again, it’s in the notion of continual development, and a focus on learning to learn to facilitate learners taking some responsibility. At end, blended learning may also mean a hybrid of between learner-initiative and external coaching!

    Comment by Clark — 20 April 2008 @ 12:57 PM

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