!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: The Learning Function at QUALCOMM

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Learning Function at QUALCOMM

Back in October 2007, Chief Learning Officer published a two-page compilation of "The CLO's Top 11 Successful Practices." It was written by Tamar Elkeles, QUALCOMM's VP of learning and development, and I flipped right by it because it was so generic — perfectly reasonable, but also predictable.

Now, about a year later, I've read a brief write-up concerning a particular learning program at QUALCOMM, spearheaded by Elkeles, that is quite impressive, and I realize I should have paid more attention to what Elkeles had to say concerning do's and don'ts of structuring and performing a company's learning function. (I should add that QUALCOMM shows up as #90 on the Training magazine's Top 125 list for 2008.)

In "Staying Connected at QUALCOMM," Elkeles explains how
... the Employee Communications team — a group within the QUALCOMM Learning Center — developed an Online Employee Tradeshow [for remote employees] that mirrors the live technical learning event held at the corporate campus [in San Diego].

The Online Employee Tradeshow's launch page includes an interactive map that emulates the floor layout of the live event. Employees can navigate through the various technologies and company divisions represented at the tradeshow, or visit the "Information Booth" for more tips. All of the virtual booths sport the look and feel of their real-world progenitors, and include interviews with key QUALCOMM personnel and even video demonstrations filmed during the live event.
What caught my eye was the clarity and persuasiveness of the tips Elkeles offers other companies considering doing something similar:
  • "... my biggest piece of advice is to highlight the specific technologies, innovations, ideas, and topics that your employees care about." QUALCOMM does this "by maintaining open, clear channels of communication between management and staff. We also have an advisory group that feeds many ideas and suggestions in to us, and we feature an Amazon.com-like 'rate it' feature as part of the tradeshow experience, which gives us a very good sense of what attendees like and want to see more — or less — of in the future."

  • Make the tour self-guided, i.e., "we let attendees control where they go and which information they take in. Allowing them to pick what's important to them not only personalizes the experience, it also drives attendance."

  • Enable people to take the virtual tour in a group. "In some of our international offices, groups of employees gather in a conference room to go through the tradeshow together online, with a manager or executive facilitating the experience. If you can rally your international managers and executives to fill the role of event facilitator, it can increase event attendance and create a richer experience for attendees."
It is clear from an article about Elkeles published in Training in May 2001 that she has been pursuing her sophisticated philosophy of how to run the learning function effectively from the time she first arrived at QUALCOMM in 1992 as a doctoral student intern.


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