Cisco: Centralizing Learning and Development for
the Benefit of the Employee and the Company
Don McLaughlin, a speaker at the marcus evans Chief Learning Officer Summit Fall 2010, on developing the
leader of the future.
Chief Learning Officer Summit Fall 2010
September 15, 2010 10:33 AM Eastern Daylight Time
LAS VEGAS--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--
Chief Learning Officer Summit Fall 2010
Las Vegas, October 27-29
Interview with: Don McLaughlin, Chief Learning Officer, Cisco
Cisco has adopted a strategy of looking at what skills the future leader might need and considering how those
capabilities can be developed within the organization, says Don McLaughlin, Chief Learning Officer at Cisco. This
requires building flexibility and having a set of tools ready to deploy as capabilities present themselves. A speaker at
the marcus evans Chief Learning Officer Summit Fall 2010, taking place in Las Vegas, October 27-29,
McLaughlin discusses centralizing learning and development for the benefit of the employee and company.
What long-term strategies for learning, training and development management would you recommend?
Don McLaughlin: “Our key strategy is to understand what both the technical and human skill sets of the future leader
might look like. If we can paint a picture of what we think they will be, we can look at a person’s skills and consider
how we can nurture the ones we consider essential.
Today, the workforce is global as well multi-generational and the growing complexity of work is presenting
organizations with a huge opportunity from a learning and development perspective. We are looking at giving leaders
the chance to develop their skill set via different paths, rather than a single structured approach to learn what we
believe the leader of the future will need. We give them a certain amount of autonomy in their own development,
while making sure we have the toolset capabilities and the corporate culture to make that possible.”
How can CLOs prepare the organization for an uncertain future?
Don McLaughlin: “To prepare for an uncertain future, we have to incorporate flexibility when building learning and
development capabilities; the more flexible the internal capacity, the lower the base cost structure and the greater the
ability to adjust to business volume needs.
Another way is to make sure there is the opportunity for self-directed and instructor-led training, to present multiple
modalities. Having short cycle times in the delivery of programs and that we have flexible capacity models that allow
for the business’s upturns as well as when we are facing difficult times.”
What trends or technologies do you see playing out in the near future?
Don McLaughlin: “The introduction of the social networking technologies and their capabilities around enterprise-
type communities is presenting organizations with a whole new way of approaching community-based learning. We
have just scratched the surface of how social networking can be utilized for training and development purposes.”
How can CLOs make the most of limited budgets?
Don McLaughlin: “Budgets are tight and we are looking to optimize the investments we make and determine the
appropriate way to measure the effectiveness of those investments. We pay a lot of attention to the Total Available
Market, as we need to know the addressable market that we are considering and the adoption rate of a given
program and that we are measuring the result of that investment.
We have a balanced approach in our budget base for our learning and development organization. We also give the
business the opportunity to invest in the organizational development programs it considers essential from its own
Do you have a final message to CLOs?
Don McLaughlin: “Pay equal attention to the business leaders as to the academic nature of the work. We exist to
develop the human capabilities as they present themselves within our various enterprises and it is important to
understand the academic nature of the learning solutions, what is effective, but it is at least equally important to
understand what the business needs are, why we are making the investment in people and how we want that to
manifest itself in business results.
If we keep a balanced look at both sides of the equation, the net results for the enterprise will be greatly enhanced.”
Summit Website: www.clo-summit.com/DMBW
Tel: + 357 22 849 313