If you work at Amazon.com, Google or even a stalwart company like 3M, you know the term “innovation” may not be a useful distinction much longer. Today, if you’re working, you should always be innovating, inventing new ways to do things better, faster or cheaper.
Consider Google’s 10X strategy. The company approaches every project trying to make things at least 10 times better than anything on the market. “At Google, we have a fundamental belief. We think bigger … bigger than anyone has ever thought in everything we do,” said Patrick Pichette, chief financial officer at Google, in a lecture at Tuck School of Business. “When I get up in the morning, I think 10X. For any project, I ask, ‘How will it wow? How will it change the world’? … And to get there you have to be willing to experiment.”
CLOs may not be able to always think 10X, but there are some inspiring innovations out there they could adapt to advance learning today.
People usually look for incremental improvements — 10 or 15 percent is considered pretty good. But some have higher aspirations. Amy Rouse, director of learning services at AT&T, is comparing a custom massive open online course with a traditional classroom-based course on the same topic.
Her evaluation will determine if the MOOC methodology will deliver a richer learning experience when face-to-face training isn’t feasible and traditional online learning isn’t optimal. The design follows the Udacity MOOC model of videos, interactivity every 60 to 90 seconds, graphics, assignments and collaboration among learners and subject matter experts.
The comparison will also consider design, development and delivery costs, as well as learner knowledge and engagement. So far the video component takes longer and costs more to produce than traditional Web-based training.
Speaking of MOOCs, university consortium edX has partnered with Google to further develop Open edX. The MOOC platform combines an LMS and authoring with customization, machine learning-based grading and analytics.
And then there’s HelpOuts.com, a real-time, video-based marketplace to give or receive help. Whether it’s a computer glitch, a question about big data or learning guitar, this service connects an expert with someone who needs help at a negotiated per-minute price. Users select based on qualifications, availability, price, ratings and reviews, connecting instantly or scheduled.
Innovations like these could do great things for learning, but one must also consider the reality of work and leadership today. To get some perspective and a dose of practicality, I turned to Brian Fishel. He offered the following advice for learning leaders based on lessons he picked up as a learning leader at PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Bank of America and now as senior vice president of talent acquisition and talent management at KeyBank.
• Contract upfront with senior business leaders on what the critical business issues and opportunities are and how you will help resolve them. Re-contract as needed throughout the project to ensure all parties stay aligned regarding deliverables and outcomes.
• Spend your money and focus your effort on only those issues of greatest importance, the ones that will drive the business forward. Do not try to be everything to everybody.
• Have a sense of urgency. One never wants the business leader to say “Hurry up,” or “Where are you on this project?”
• Be proactive. Have an estimate of what things will cost and how long a project will take before you’re asked. Anticipate questions and be ready to respond.
• Be a businessperson first. Learn the challenges facing the business as well as the industry.
• Use business terms to explain what learning does for the company. Find business data to justify every project.
• Be curious. Read a broad range of topics and make connections.
• Surround yourself with great people. Never settle for average performers.
• Always deliver what has been agreed to, and then some.
Innovation is a necessity, but to make new ideas work, they likely should be tempered with a dose of practicality.
Brandon Hall is a veteran learning analyst and founder of Brandon Hall Group. He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.