“She works on learning and technology
in a way that is creative, concrete and quirky”

My commencement address to the workforce learning class of 2012


I am entering the field. What do I do to make a success of it?

Let’s pretend that somebody asked me to deliver a commencement speech in response to that question, preferably on a lush, ivy covered campus, near amiable watering holes.

Thank you for inviting me to share this wonderful occasion with the workforce learning graduates of 2012….

Let me begin by congratulating you on your career choice. I am sure your families are delighted– after all you could have selected law school.

After years of clamoring for a seat at the table, C-levels are increasingly intrigued by what we can do for them.  Pressure for growth, technology, and a competitive landscape create abundance and opportunity for workplace learning people. Every sector, from higher ed to pharma, is seeking candidates whose heads are screwed on right. What do I mean by right? I am talking about heads with an unrelenting focus on performance and results.

Everything I say then is from the vantage point of celebration. I think this is a bountiful time to be in our field. I am pretty sure you can get in the door. That’s not the big challenge. The challenge is to make the most of it once you are in place.

My advice to you as you commence this tasty career….

1.     It’s not about how. It’s about why.  Several years ago, I served on a committee to review submissions for awards at an international conference.  We considered a four-day course for engineers soon to be tasked with serving as instructors. The course devoted itself to teaching them Instructional Design 101, with half of the first day spent writing letter-perfect, four-part objectives. And so on and so forth. My eyes glazed over. The engineers’ eyes would close entirely. Wrong stuff.

A more recent example came from online compliance training I was dragooned into taking. The topic was information security. Screen 3 listed the objectives. Only three of the eight had anything to do with my work and life. How would I endure the next 73 screens? Even animated pandas could not make this e-learning successful. Wrong stuff.

In our business, we begin with the end in mind. Heaven help us when those ends are wrong-headed. <more>

Thus commences my guest blog at ASTD’s Learning Circuits. For the rest of this commencement speech, please visit that blog spot.



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