Continuing professional development has 4 generations


  1. Conversion (some content on some channels) – Get some skin in the game - Hype
  2. Flexible delivery (all content on all channels) – All things to all people –Disillusionment
  3.  Blended learning (Content on best suited channel) – Horses for courses - Productivity
  4. Transmedia storytelling (Different content on different channels) – The medium is the message - Innovation


What do you think?

6 Replies
Steve Flowers

Interesting model seedling. I think you're on a good track. My gut says that there isn't a simple direct evolution path and we're looking at a couple of different axis. I like the content : channel relationship. But I think there's another axis that's more closely related to method selection maturity and execution maturity. These could fall something like this:

1) Novice Level Mode Conversion - Lots of folks try to run complete conversions to start in an attempt to capture the essence of one fruit in the form of another. Many of these aren't great right out the gate. Attempts at innovation.

2) Experienced Mode Conversion - As folks see more and more of what works and what doesn't, things get marginally better provided that the organization embraces the change in mode.  If the org shows promise that they'll embrace the method, you'll start to see the beginnings of the hype cycle in pursuit of increased momentum higher powered champions. This stage refines the innovation but kick-starts the hype.

3) Method Selection Maturity (includes Blended Learning) - I don't think many organizations reach this stage consistently. Smaller sub-programs and skill areas with less volatility may hit this level as other parts of the organization struggle. Those that reach this stage have kicked past the hype stage and are leveled at productivity. Those that have been at the Experienced Mode Conversion but stuck in that mold may float into the disillusionment stage.

4) Method Innovation (includes Transmedia Storytelling) - I think more organizations attempt to dabble at this level than those that consistently reach method selection maturity. For those that aren't haven't reached method selection maturity, attempts at innovation to break free from the shackles of disillusionment rarely deliver positive results. For for those that have method selection maturity and measurable & repeatable processes, this stage helps to expand the solution toolbox. This pushes the cycle back into innovation.

  • So I think in many cases it starts with innovation (change / improvement trigger)
  • This moves to hype as the struggle to gain a foothold with resources and champions rages on
  • Some reach the plateau of productivity.
  • Others sink into disillusionment.
  • The innovation cycle is both an attempt to battle disillusionment and an effort to evolve beyond productivity.

That's my feel. But I think it's probably different depending on where you are, what type of industry you're in, etc.. There are some organizations and teams that assemble kick-ass talent (that undoubtedly already spent time at the novice, experienced, and disillusioned levels independantly). For these folks, it tends to be warp speed to method innovation.

David Becker

Thanks Steve, interesting response. A question

Could the difference in innovation between stage 1 and 4 be:

Stage 1  Reactive innovation - Eg some sort of competitive pressure like price pressure from a new entrant or maybe a structural driver like need for rapid scaling in response to a regulatory change)

Stage 4 - Proactive innovation - Eg having learned the rules of the domain (and likely achieved financial security and market/brand strength in the plateau of productivity), starting to experiment in breaking rules, disrupting the domain maybe even moving into new markets or blue ocean creating new markets in order to evolve beyond productivity.

I think you are right, the weakness in the model I proposed is in being too prescriptive about the channel mix stages, your model is more accurate in that it describes levels of maturity, rather than specific channel methodologies.

Steve Flowers

I like Reactive Innovation as one potential driver. I'm not sure it addresses all innovation forces early in the maturity model. For those that come into this fresh, discover a new tool, or any other type of rookie / novice entry -- I think Discovery Innovation (put nicely) or Tenderfoot Innovation (put less nicely) are accurate descriptions. I think this is a natural state and a great place to be, but it's often the place where you'll look back and want to put face to palm over the decisions you made, and in some cases the time you wasted on things that weren't as important as they seemed (neat factor). I think stage one can be driven by Discovery Innovation or Reactive Innovation - or both.

I like your description for stage 4 innovation characteristics.

David Becker

Good points. Here is model iteration 2:

eLearning in continuing professional development goes through four stages:

  1. Discovery - Content conversion in reaction to stimulus (eg: market forces, regulatory change) - Hype based on quick wins
  2. Methodological maturity - Content production in pursuit of business advantage (eg efficiency, scale etc) - Disillusionment based on diminishing returns
  3. Pedagogical maturity - Learning designs to achieve outcomes (eg constuctivist approaches, blended learning) - Productivity through quality
  4. Innovation -  Learning ecosystems to create change (eg disruption, dissonance of behaviors, markets etc) - Innovation through blue ocean strategy

For some reason I am not being notified of replies to this thread (even though I am subscribed), so apologies if I don't reply immediately.