Magazine article Talent Development

John Cone: Principal, the Eleventh Hour Group Scottsdale, Arizona

Magazine article Talent Development

John Cone: Principal, the Eleventh Hour Group Scottsdale, Arizona

Article excerpt

John Cone consults and writes on issues of organizational learning, with emphasis on strategy and the role of the chief learning officer in building and managing highly effective learning groups. He chairs a panel that provides advice on learning to the U.S. government, and works with chief learning officers and chief talent management officers to identify new areas for actionable research.

Cone was a founder of Motorola University and spent six years as creator and vice president of Dell Learning where he focused on using technology to put the learner in charge. He served as interim president and CEO of ASTD and chairman of ASTD's Board of Directors. He provides an ASTD membership scholarship to students and received the ASTD Gordon M. Bliss Memorial Award for his contributions to the workplace learning profession.

Q| WHEN DID YOU INITIALLY BECOME INTERESTED IN THE FIELD OF ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING?

I was running a multimedia center at a community college in Illinois. Summers were slow, so on the side I produced videotapes for local companies. One summer I received a call from Motorola. They had an employee participation program called PMP--Participative Management Program--that included eligibility for a quarterly bonus for every employee in the company.

The chief operating officer had determined that the program was not being implemented properly, so he declared that no further bonuses would be paid until people were properly trained. The company needed to train more than 100,000 people in multiple countries within three months (before the next bonus was due to be paid). I joined the team designated to develop that training.

We got the job done, and the training seemed to work very well. But I realized afterward that I couldn't explain why it worked. My fascination with organizational learning--trying to understand exactly how learning happens--started there.

Q| WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE 2013 CHIEF LEARNING OFFICER?

The CLO in 2013 and going forward is, most of all, a guide--a tracker in territory that is always new. She has to synthesize vast amounts of data and discern patterns--patterns of what people need to know, how people are learning in the organization, and where new opportunities for learning exist.

The job is not one of curating learning. I think it is about seeing the organizing principles and ideas that naturally exist in the organization and are driving or can drive learning, and then doing the things that make learning inevitable. …

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