Moving Learning From General Motors Production Model to Google Search and Find Model

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 06.22.08

First group from the Learning Innovation Network at Sun Microsystems
We held our first meeting of the Learning Innovation Network at Sun Microsystems this week. The focus of the dialogue and discussion was around the range of innovations we are experimenting with in corporate learning. This includes an enterprise web 2.0 toolkit of blogs, wikis and online communities as well as metaphorical learning experiences, focused on designing learning with impact while meeting key business outcomes.

We had a wide ranging discussion of how learning will change and evolve from a traditional function to one that is more integrated into the fabric of every employee’s life. Key themes that emerged include:

  1. The team from Sun Microsystems kicked off the event with a major theme we discussed for the rest of our day and half. The trend, dubbed, “Learning 2.0″ is moving corporate learning from structured programs to collaborative learning experiences. This means top-down push learning is being replaced by self service “pull” learning with an overall goal of taking our General Motors production model for designing and delivering learning and shifting this to a Google-like search model.
  2. Sun is determined to push its LMS system (currently the heart of its learning system) to the periphery of a new, strategic (and open source) tool that will allow flexible, web-enabled learning from anywhere, including mobile devices, and will encourage employees to contribute to course content creation.

  3. Learning is becoming more social, informal, continuous and embedded in our daily activities. While the term “social learning” has gained a cult status, the ability to collectively create and collectively understand is becoming a mandatory skill for employees at all levels. In fact, credit Suisse shared their online virtual communities of practice model which connects employees to others in the organization based on their skills and knowledge sets. It makes it easy to find expertise, to “know what Credit Suisse knows.”
  4. Learning is becoming more mobile. Millennials view the Internet as something that comes to them not something they go to. With over 2 billion mobile devices in use, mobiles have now eclipsed PC’s in the marketplace. We should remember that as we consider delivery options for current and new programs. At Sun Microsystems, technical training is being delivered globally to field engineers on their iPhones, seems like this model will continue to gain traction in the coming months.
  5. Finally, after many demo’s of new tools, programs, games for learning and metaphorical learning experiences, we closed with the need for learning professionals to:
    • Focus less on how technology is changing learning and more on how the learners, especially the 80 million Millennials, are bringing new expectations and demands to the workforce. These include being able to use the same applications they have grown up with, such as Instant Messaging, Mobile web conferencing, BlackBerries and video-sharing on-the-job.
    • Be open to new needs and expectations of four generations in the workforce.
    • Understand and share how to make change happen in an organization. It’s not easy but there are lessons in how to improve your odds of success with implementing innovations in corporate learning.

if you are interested in learning more about the Learning Innovation Network, send me an email at We are looking for more learning departments operating “on the edge.”

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  1. Dana Nagengast, June 26, 2008:

    I was very inspired as a result of attending the LIN event at Sun Microsystems. No only did I gain relevant insights to immediately take back and share with my organization, I was also motiviated to “up my game” in learning more about the innovations discussed.

    As a former member of the Toyota family, I have a strong understanding of the “push” vs “pull” concept. I have to admit that attending this event gave me a healthy “push” to go out and discover learning innovations again. Now, I feel more empowered to seek ideas, collaborate with others in the learning community, and start implementing changes to positively impact my organization.

    Thanks for creating this opportunity for us to learn!

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