ABlogAbout: Bob

I’ve mentioned Bob before. Let’s dive in a bit. Bob is an effort I have been leading for about 8 months now. It’s our effort to improve learning design at the company. It’s based on a few ideas: 

1. Learning is a process, not an event.
2. We have historically offered formal, “heavy” courses (both online and instructor led) as our primary source of learning.
3. We are not paying enough (any?) attention to the the ways that people learn naturally.
4. We seem to expect that people will leave their participatory behaviors behind when they “walk in the doors” – leave your natural patterns behind, we’ll be offering you courses instead.

Why Bob? It’s a long-ish story. Suffice to say that we needed to use a word other than strategy, or we’d stuff ourselves into the corporate box and close the lid tightly.

Bob has really taken off for us. I’ve been presenting at many levels of the organization (saving the CEO) and have met with nothing but positive input and enthusiasm. Some natural, justified concerns, of course. But overall, it has been a fantastic, viral experience. Calling it “Bob” sounds silly, kitchy, and perhaps childish. But here is the thing – people talk about it. Status reports up to the VP say our goal for the quarter is “Make Bob a reality.” Everyone knows Bob! As I said in a session at Learning 2006, “I am perfectly willing to be annoying, as long as you remember what I’m trying to say.” Marketing at it’s finest, right?

So now Bob is a reality. My job is to find out how to “make it so.” This is where things get sticky. Yesterday’s conversation gave me some interesting insight into how others have found success. One person said we should showcase things that are currently happening around the company – and of course in outside organizations. To me this is a great plan. I think we have a big task on our hands to….. well, for lack of a better word, market the hell out of this stuff. We need to dive into the meta-learning arena. Help people see that we are not doing something out of the ordinary, or out of the blue. Show them how they already learn in these ways, and how we are trying to enhance what they already do, and what we traditionally offer.

Jay says pay particular attention to the change management. It’s critical! It’s ironic when you think about it. We need to focus on change management in order to change from an unnatural learning model to a natural learning flow.

Now as I look at my path moving forward, I think I need to ask my teammates to take over the technical piece of it – identifying the ‘approved’ technologies inside our firewall, finding out what it takes in order to deploy this model globally, etc. Meanwhile, I need to focus on the marketing, the change management, and look more closely at how our changing design model impacts learners, designers, instructors, management, etc.

Lots to do!

Next big challenge – how will this model play out globally? What happens when we implement this model the first time around with a program piloting in China? I’ve got two weeks to figure that one out. Thoughts, anyone?


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