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TCPI News Vol. 2, No. 2

January 29, 2002

In this issue:

  1. E-Learning in 2002: Predictions
  2. Changing Workforce Values
  3. Your Career, Inc.

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1.     E-Learning in 2002: Predictions

In a recent issue of Corporate University Xchange e-News™ Volume 4, Issue 1, Jeanne Meister offers some predictions for the corporate university e-learning space. There is much to agree with in what she says, and the article is very informative.

Among her predictions, she believes that there will be continued consolidation of university e-learning subsidiaries with corporate e-learning providers. Noting the demise of NYUonline and Virtual Temple, she underscores the need for enterprise solutions and a strong sales and marketing program to succeed. She also sees more blended solutions evolving, with e-learning companies finding it necessary to offer more "high touch" services such as consulting and marketing with their courseware.

While the article is basically upbeat and suggests a bright future for the newly morphed corporate universities, it prompts me to humbly make a few predictions of my own.

  1. The e-learning bubble prompted by the travel nightmare after 9-11 will burst. Large-scale e-learning initiatives pronounced dormant in the months preceding the terrorist attacks were revisited as an option in Q4 of 2001. Because of the ramp-up time involved and the examination of the actual costs, what will most likely survive from these initiatives will be the advent of more e-conferencing, but little training. (see "Profiting from E-Meetings" by Jeff Moad, EWeek 18/48,10 December 2001.)
  2. More classroom and apprenticeship-type training programs will be developed. Line managers frustrated by efforts to both build and gain acceptance of corporate e-learning strategies will set aside more of their resources to provide custom face-to-face training solutions in order to mitigate knowledge gaps, morale, and motivation problems. (See "The E-Training of America," PC Magazine 26 December 2001).
  3. Implementation of many large-scale corporate e-learning programs will be stalled or abandoned. There is no reason to believe that coordination and cooperation between IT, corporate training departments, and line management will improve in the midst of the largest downsizing since 1992. The competition for resources will continue unabated throughout this year. Add to that the fact that training personnel are usually among the first to be cut.
  4. A significant economic recovery will create a large turnover of personnel. Having learned little from previous periods of downsizing, most companies are either doing nothing for their survivor populations or are treating them badly. Employees, while keeping a low profile, are dusting off their resumes and waiting for the first good opportunity to jump ship. The major problem for later this year and next will be retention.
  5. The big e-learning winners will be the interactive audio and video streaming programs like Horizon Live, Centra and Interwise, because programs can be developed quickly, are relatively inexpensive, and deliver content in a manner that fits within the learner’s "media grammar."

I’ll end this with a hope rather than a prediction. I hope this year the corporations, vendors, and user communities make strides toward putting this powerful e-learning entity in proper perspective. It’s not the answer to everyone’s prayers, but used with discretion and in combination with other delivery methods, e-learning can bring both educational and cost saving benefits to those companies who use it intelligently. Let’s not condemn it to the ash heap already littered with "teaching machine" panaceas.

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2.     Changing Workforce Values

We enjoy monitoring the trends that are shaping the workforce, and one of our best resources is American Demographics. In the December 2001 issue, Rebecca Gardyn catalogs some of the changes immediately apparent after 9-11. Here are some highlights.

Other manifestations seem to be a reprioritizing of the importance of work and career, with more people saying they plan to spend more time with family and friends.

The values shift is further exacerbated by the current high level of layoffs. Workers are finding it even more difficult to trust and commit their efforts to organizations that appear to grow continually more adversarial. In his article, "Downsizing And Organizational Culture," Thomas A. Hickok reports on a New York Times national survey finding that since 1980, a family member in one-third of all U.S. households has been laid off (New York Times, 1996). ( Note that this was six years ago, and the recent layoffs are far outstripping those of the mid 1990s.

Hickok also points out that the way downsizing is handled accounts for an additional erosion of company-centered values. He illustrates a table listing practices which can be culture reinforcing or culture destabilizing to an organization.


These shifts in values will have a significant effect on how the workforce responds to various incentives and initiatives within the organization. For example, this is probably not a good time to expect large numbers of employees to give up free time to learn online. More thought needs to be given to structuring training initiatives as part of the normal work day. Special programs must be aimed at the survivors. Or, the ones you want to stay will be the first to leave when the economy turns.

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Learn More

Learn more about Gottlieb and Conkling's book, Managing the Workplace Survivors: Organizational Downsizing and the Commitment Gap.

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3.  Your Career, Inc.

"In the era of ‘lifetime’ employment, employees abdicated control of their careers to employers because of an assumption that employers would provide years of commitment, compensation, and opportunities for advancement and skill development. Now that relationship has changed, and it is incumbent upon each employee to take responsibility for career paths." So say Dr. W. Reid Cornwell, president and general manager of Intratech, and Jonathan R. Cornwell, president of Chameleon Creative Inc. In their article "Manage Your Career Like a Business," they make the case that you should manage your career as if you were CEO of your own firm. Calling their approach the ROI career management strategy, they urge workers to think of themselves as small businesses providing essential services to clients. The services are provided on a fee-for-service basis. When the relationship no longer provides value greater than the investment made by either party, the relationship is discontinued or changed.

These are the factors that shape your thinking and drive your personal business decisions:

By answering these questions you will be able to analyze your goals, skills, and competitive position.

  1. What do I want, both professionally and personally, in the short, mid, and long term?
  2. What skills, knowledge, personal characteristics and tools do I need to acquire to achieve my goals?
  3. What action do I need to take pursuant to those goals? Be specific.
  4. What is my schedule for achieving my goals?

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