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Dave Wilkins, Learn.com, and Talent Management

June 21, 2009

    So I guess the title gives it away, right?  ; )  Today I start a new job at Learn.com as Executive Director of Product Maketing.  I realize that this may surprise some, especially given my leadership of Mzinga’s social learning strategy.
    It’s about talent management.  They offered me an attractive pay-for-performance compensation package that appealed to my “kick-ass and take no prisoners” competitive side.  And they didn’t pussy-foot around the details.  They offered me a good package out of the gate and practically dragged me to headquarters by the scruff of my neck.  It felt nice to be wanted.  Who doesn’t like that feeling?  But they also moved fast and executed well which, coupled with the pay-for-performance comp plan, also suggested a culture built around perfomance and flawless execution.  I’m ready for a team that will come up with a plan and then kick it’s ass over and over until it’s done.I was also impressed by the extent to which Learn “eats it’s own caviar.”  In the first five minutes of my interview, JW (COO) showed me how they use LearnCenters® internally as intranet sites through which they drive most of their internal collaboration and knowledge sharing.  Did you know that over 60% of Learn.com employees work remotely?  This isn’t just social media fun and games, it’s how they actually coordinate and do most of their real day-to-day work.  This is workforce 2.0 kind of stuff.

    They also showed me how they also use their LearnCenters®, not only as client portals, but as the platform driving their entire externally-facing website.  First, how cool is that?  Second, think about what this means in terms of their world experience with new models of client support, client engagement, and communication and sharing across the extended enterprise.  They also talked to me about their committment to execution and client satisfaction.  Did you know that Learn typically signs clients to six month contracts, after which they can switch to month-to-month contracts?  Why?  Because if you are committed to client satisfaction and client success, you earn it day in and day out.  And if you truly respect your clients, you empower them make the choices that are best for them, even if that means a parting of the ways.  Powerful stuff.   Attitudes like these are also probably why Learn continues to be the most highly rated vendor in terms of client satisfaction and why so few of their clients ever feel the need to leave.

    So ok, you get it, they seem like a good company.  What about all that social learning stuff I’ve been talking about?  My committment there is unwavering, and from what I’ve seen already, Learn has some pretty crazy possibilities in this regard.  Do you know that they have a B2C offering called Learn.com Personal Edition (LPE)?  It’s basically a site where job seekers or existing employees can “skill up” in a particular job or role.  Learners earn a Skill Score® which then indicates some level of competency in that job role.  Imagine if we married this to some of the ONA concepts I’ve been talking about?  Or maybe we marry it to reptuation management?  In either case, the idea is to connect individual achievement with group dynamics – cool stuff.

    Learn also has a customizable form builder, FormFlow®, which provides all sorts of intriguing options around new models for blogging, discussions, wikis, microblogging, idea sharing, and FAQ engines.  They have deep social profile technology which is already being extended, and web services hooks into multiple entrprise level apps.  So again, think about the big picture – personal HR data, CRM data, ERP data all feeding a central profile via web services, a profile which is further enhanced through social and personal data added by the employee.  They are already very far down this path.

    Suffice to say, I’ve already had like a bajillion ideas of how some of the social concepts I have been kicking around for around nine years now could find their way into the Learn.com platform.  The ideas above are the obvious ones.  I’ll share the less obvious ones once they come to market… ; )  

    So am I excited?  Hell yeah.  I’m going to miss some key people at Mzinga, most notably Randy Saari (who is hands down, the most impressive leader and sales VP I have ever known) but I’m excited to meet my new team at Learn.com.  And I’m anxious to get the party started.  For the first time in many years, I have that nervous, “the game is about to start” feeling in my stomach.  The good news is that I’ve been training and preparing for this moment for the past 15 years, and it’s no longer a question of being ready, it’s only a question of many goals we’re gonna score.  Based on how I feel right now, I’d put that number at a “whole shitload.”  Hoo ra!

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2009 8:19 am

    Congrats Dave… watch out everyone else.

  2. June 22, 2009 8:32 am

    Congrats! Moving to FL? Big change from Boston.

  3. June 22, 2009 9:46 am

    Dave,

    Do they realize they have just put a very big kid in a very cool candy store? I know you are going to have a field day figuring out how to infuse the platform with social media and networking. No wonder you’re jazzed about this opportunity! Congratulations!!

  4. John Smith permalink
    June 22, 2009 10:11 am

    Wow, a direct competitor. You didn’t have a non-compete clause? Any ethical misgivings about your move?

  5. June 22, 2009 10:35 am

    Rock on dude,

    Continued mad love and well wishes!

    Don’t forget about us! 🙂

  6. Virginia Crerie permalink
    June 22, 2009 10:47 am

    Every success Dave….you continue to be an amazing inspiration. Look forward to more 🙂

  7. heatherjstrout permalink
    June 22, 2009 1:01 pm

    Dave, I am so happy for you. I’m thrilled to learn that your incredible talent will be fully utilized by a company you sound very excited to work for. It’s great to hear that they are really practicing what they preach, or as you put it, “eating their own caviar.”

    Thanks for putting me in a category with you and all those other fabulous folks. I’m flattered.

    I look forward to hearing more.

    Heather Strout | @heatherjstrout

  8. June 22, 2009 2:20 pm

    Welcome to learn.com Dave. Learn.com’s RFI is currently uploaded in our LMS Evalation center and being included in shortlist evaluations.

    http://vs.technologyevaluation.com/browse/327/Learning-Management-Suite.html

    I’ll give you a call in a couple of days to describe our business relationship in further detail.

    Hope Randy is doing well – I remember him from the KnowledgePlanet days.

    Cheers, Joanna

  9. June 23, 2009 3:53 am

    Dave, congrats and good luck. Since I talk to learn.com (Ted Schneider) quite a lot, I think I will have the chance to continue our association. Rob Kime also joined Learn right?

  10. Jignesh Parekh permalink
    June 23, 2009 4:17 am

    Heyy Dave,

    This sounds wonderful and especially the fact that you are now going to be in a position to take Social Learning to a completely different level infusing your ideas and giving shape to what at times is difficult to even imagine 🙂

    Wish you the very best and Congratulations on the new position.

    Cheers !!

    Jigs

  11. Aaron Strout permalink
    June 23, 2009 9:21 am

    Dave – a hearty congrats. I know you’ll be missed at Mzinga but as Steve said, you’ll now be the proverbial “kid in the candy store.” Best of luck. I look forward to more blog posts!

    -Aaron | @aaronstrout

  12. June 24, 2009 6:31 pm

    Dave-first and foremost congratulations on your new position. I have no doubt you will make a powerful contribution to Learn.com. I also appreciate your kind words about me. I also agree that some amazing talent has left Mzinga…like all companies. I feel compelled to point out that amazing talent still remains at Mzinga. With the changes at Mzinga we have promoted a whole new generation of “A” players in services, customer support, marketing, finance, solutions architects, product management, engineering, analytics, advanced engineering and operations. These are experienced professionals that continue to get high marks from our customers. When you layer on some uniquely competitive products and concept to completion services, Mzinga will continue to deliver world class solutions with some of the highest customer retention rates in the industry.

    Finally it’s been a fantastic 7 years and I look forward to competing on the social and learning playing field.

    Best Regards,

    Randy

  13. August 28, 2009 12:19 pm

    Congratulations! Learn.com is a good company and has a solid platform. You will have fun with it. I certainly did!

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