Fall 2015 Symposium, Day 1: Keep Learning Personal

Editor Lauren Dixon's first full day in Austin featured thoughts on analytics, personalization and crucible moments.

“Thoughtful courage is the name of the game.” Multiple speakers repeated this quote from 2014 CLO of the Year Thomas Evans on the first day of the 2015 Fall Symposium.

Evans spoke during the Learning in Practice dinner on Sunday, Oct. 11, before passing the torch to Kimo Kippen, chief learning officer for Hilton Worldwide, the new CLO of the Year. The audience at the awards dinner was lively. The table where I sat was about half Ericsson staff, who applauded and cheered for Kuntal McElroy, their head of learning and development, when she won two awards for her work with the team.

The following day was the first for the Fall 2015 CLO Symposium. The opening address from Mike Prokopeak, vice president and editor-in-chief of Chief Learning Officer, touched on robotics and how machinery alreadydoesthings that were solely humantasks already.

But, although robotics do things we haven’t thought possible, we still need humans to do complex thinking. There are abstract thoughts humans still need to be involved in.


This conversation about complexity, automation and data, carried into the keynote address from Bill Jensen, CEO of the Jensen Group and author of “Future Strong: How to Work Unleashed, Live Boldly, and Live Life Your Way.”He emphasized the importance of using analytics in a personal way. Much of the data being used currently has a corporate-focus, but he feels it should focus more on individuals.

During table discussions, some attendees expressed that they want to focus on analytics, but many don’t track much. They also don’t know what they should track. Tamar Elkeles, chief learning officer for Qualcomm and 2010 CLO of the Year, advised attendees to be careful what they share with leaders because they will likely follow up later. So, if they aren’t tracking that data, they won’t have anything to show.

Jensen stressed the importance of personalization in analytics, and that chief learning officers should think about their personal mission and what their legacy will be.

Jensen advised attendees to think about “crucible moments.”His happened at a hospital when his mother was very sick. Because of the miscommunication between the ER and ICU, he lost 40 minutes of the last few hours of her life. He related this back to how learning officers influence their workforces. During this crucible moment he learned that the time people spend in learning is time that should be well spent.


Later in the day, during the Power Hour, Erica Bank, performance management leader at Deloitte Services, talked about her company’s new performance management system. She and her team formerly spent more than a million hours per year on performance management. However, most of this was time filling out paperwork and behind closed doors.

Her team revamped performance reviews to happen more frequently. Rather than evaluating past projects, managers provide feedback in real time, which helps employees figure out how to change their work sooner.

Analytics and personalization were common themes for the first day of the Fall 2015 CLO Symposium — we’ll see what emerges on day two.