My 1st Friday Favorite Guru: Bill Wiggenhorn

This month we start the First Friday of December 2013 with another of my favorite gurus…

Bill Wiggenhorn

Bill hired me at MTEC – Motorola’s Training & Education Center in April 1981. It had to do directly with my use of the Rummler name. More on that later. Years after I left in the fall of 1982 that MTEC organization became Motorola University and itself became associated with the creation and dissemination of Six Sigma – which also relates to the Rummler name. Bill remarks about all of that in a Geary Rummler Tribute video from April 2009 (also presented later).

I worked for Bill from April 1981 until November 1982 when I joined Ray Svenson’s firm, where my wife also worked, as Bill had suggested THAT to Ray a year earlier.

Bill Wiggenhorn

Bill was the best Training/Learning executive I have ever worked with – and I have had 75 clients since I worked for him. He was focused on the needs of the business for performance improvement – and was pragmatic.

I learned a lot from him in my short time with him.

More on that later too.

Bill’s Biography

A. William Wiggenhorn (Bill) is a principal of Main Captiva, LLC.  Bill is responsible for custom-designed executive development strategy, systems, and programs, as well as talent management strategies and systems.  Bill is an acknowledged expert in the fields of training and development, executive and leadership development, e-learning, marketing, and business strategy.

Bill has been a consultant to industry, government, and the not-for-profit sector.  He has worked with clients in 60 countries.  He also served as a senior learning and development executive at Xerox and as Chief Learning Officer (CLO) at Motorola and Cigna.  Perhaps best known for establishing Motorola University (MU) as the benchmark corporate university, Bill expanded MU’s international reach to encompass 101 education offices in 24 countries.  He developed two corporate museums, several corporate customer briefing centers, the archives of the corporation, a university and secondary-education relationship team, and an externally-focused consulting team that worked with key Motorola customers and suppliers, the World Bank, the U.S. Department of Energy Federal Labs, the U.S. Department of Defense, and 40 universities around the world.

In addition to his work in the marketing, engineering, and financial industries, Bill’s board participation has included the ASTD Council of Governors, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Educational Testing Service, the Emory University Business School Advisory Board, the University of Tennessee Business School, the Villanova University Engineering School Board, the Institute for Work and the Economy at Northern Illinois University, the Center for Creative Leadership Board of Governors, the Rochester Institute of Technology President’s Council, the USA National Commission on Education and The Economy, and the Board of Directors of Smarter Solutions: an education company focused on improving quality in the work environment.

Bill Wiggenhorn

Bill is the recipient of numerous awards, including the ASTD 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award, the McKinsey Award for best article in the Harvard Business Review, the Rose-Huhlman Institute Award of Excellence in Corporate Education, the China Society / Xilin Association Educator of the Year Award 2000, the University of Dayton Alumni Award for work in the field of education, and the State of Penang Malaysia’s Governor’s Award and honorary title of the monarchy for contribution to development of citizens of that state. Bill holds a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree from the University of Dayton.

Bill was recognized by ASTD earlier this year (2013) for his contributions.

But first, here is what CLO Magazine says about Bill.

From Chief Learning Officer 

As the former head of Motorola University, Bill Wiggenhorn took the role from a specific, learning-focused endeavor to a global, broad-based development driver for employees in markets near and far.

Bill Wiggenhorn joined Motorola in 1981 as director of what was then called the Motorola Education and Training Center and worked his way to president of Motorola’s learning and development institution in 1986.

The center, which was later renamed Motorola University, wasn’t just set up for employee development. A primary goal was to educate customers — institutions, regulators, suppliers and employees — in newly created markets.

Wiggenhorn, who has since started his own consulting business, Main Captiva LLC, said he loved that he didn’t have a typical “day on the job.”

Travel was a significant part of his job as president of Motorola University, and he got to rub shoulders with foreign leaders such as the prime minister of Malaysia and the president of China. Traveling to visit the company’s operations across the globe enabled him to grasp the needs of local managers, government officials and local customers, and developed targeted learning and development.

He recalls a piece of advice passed along to him by Bob Galvin, who was chairman and CEO for much of Wiggenhorn’s tenure at Motorola.

“Bob said to me, ‘Bill, when you go to a new location, make sure you take two suitcases — one filled with the experience and wisdom we would like to share, and one empty [into which] you will pack the wisdom and knowledge that they share with you,” Wiggenhorn said.

This give-and-take mentality also was reflected in his relationship with Motorola University’s board of directors. The board, which is separate from the firm’s corporate board of directors, included senior executives from each of Motorola’s businesses, regions and major functions, such as HR or IT.

“Part of my job was to keep them informed and also to understand where they felt we needed to make investments in education and training — and to answer their questions regarding what was the return on that education,” Wiggenhorn said.

In his two decades at the company, Motorola University grew from four to 24 locations. At the end of his first year, in 1981, the education arm of Motorola had 23 people; by the end of the 1990s, roughly 2,000 people were working in the function globally on a part- or full-time basis.

“In the beginning,” Wiggenhorn said, “it was really just directing more of a traditional training organization and the focus was on our own [domestic] employees — even though our charter did include customers and suppliers.”

The next phase catered to employees globally, but by the late 1980s into the 1990s, Motorola University also focused on customers, suppliers and government regulators.

It even reached the point where different colleges — such as a college of engineering or sales and marketing; a college of leadership and management — were established within the firm’s learning function. Motorola University also set up a network of educational partners — universities and certification companies — in different parts of the world.

But with all the improvements and changes under Wiggenhorn, the fundamental underpinning of learning at Motorola remained — to ensure education programs empower employees to reach their full potential.

And here is that ASTD Award…

ASTD Lifetime Achievement Award

Bill Wiggenhorn, Principal at Main Captiva, LLC., Received The 2013 ASTD Lifetime Achievement Award in Workplace Learning.

This award recognizes an individual for a body of work that has had substantial impact on the field of workplace learning and performance. Over an extended period of time, this person has advanced the knowledge and practice of several areas of workplace learning and performance.

During the ASTD 2013 International Conference & Exposition, A. William (Bill) Wiggenhorn, renowned for his work at Motorola University, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from ASTD, the world’s largest association dedicated to the training and development profession. Wiggenhorn was one of six individuals recognized for contributions to the field.

The ASTD Awards are presented every year during the association’s annual conference, which draws 9,000 training and development professionals from 70 countries. The awards ceremony also recognizes organizations that use T&D practices to advance business goals. This year, nine companies were presented with ASTD Excellence in Practice Awards.

Bill Wiggenhorn was recognized for his work in transforming Motorola University into an operation that became a benchmark for corporate universities. He expanded the university’s international reach to encompass 101 education offices in 24 countries, developed two corporate museums, several customer briefing centers, a university and secondary education relationship team, and an external consulting team. He is currently a principal at Main Captiva where he works with clients in many industries around the world.

In previous years, this award has been presented to Peter Drucker, Chris Argyris, Edgar Schein, Warren Bennis, Edward Lawler III, Henry Mintzberg, Donald Kirkpatrick, Howard Gardner, Charles Handy, Dave Ulrich, Noel Tichy, John Kotter, Bob Eichinger and Mike Lombardo, Jack Zenger, and David Campbell.

Spring 1981

My wife was being transferred from Saginaw to the suburbs of Chicago and I sent out hundreds of resumes. Only my resume was a 16 page, saddle stitched booklet and on the bottom of page 1 it read:

Practitioner of the methods of Geary Rummler.

Barbara Warbritton was reviewing the MTEC Directors mail and sorting it into piles as she told me soon thereafter. The old Director was gone and the new one appointed, had met everyone, but wasn’t there yet. Barbara had the mail sorting duty. She opened my very different resume, scanned the first page, saw “Geary Rummler” mentioned – and decided to set this one aside for Bill Wiggenhorn. Bill had already announced that he was bringing in a series of consultants to speak and spend time with the brand new staff of this brand new organization about our various projects, and this Geary Rummler guy was the first on the list.

So I interviewed, was hired, and I came in one week early to attend that Rummler session – captured on video – here. And then during the next week, my first on the job, he brought in Neil Rackham – also on video – here.

Bill and I spent a lot of time together with Dr. Rummler, along with my boss Paul Heidenreich discussing a white paper I’d written, which morphed into Paul’s DIY Geary Rummler Consulting Kit, which morphed a few more times….

I had fun working with Bill and Geary. They were very close (it seemed in 1981) and my Informal Learning was in overdrive as I tagged along, and got to participate in that effort and on many, many other projects.

I had skip-level reported to Bill for 9 months until new boss Paul was hired from the Motorola manufacturing operations in Phoenix. Working directly for Bill for those first 9 months was a great learning experience. Plus being the MTEC representative on the Manufacturing, Materials and Purchasing Functional Council. Lucky me.

And… Bill sent me to England (Sheffield) to work with Neil Rackham’s Huthwaite staff – and John Carlisle in particular – before they started a US office in Reston VA – on a research based, communications behaviors oriented, training course on Win-Win Negotiations – used for Motorola’s Sales, Purchasing and the negotiators in the Government Sector. I traveled around England with John Carlisle, observing a couple of deliveries of versions of the core stuff. I had opportunity to spend a night at the Studley Priory, built in the 1400s, and used as a conference center back in 1981. Bill trusted me on that early assignment – and I must have done allright.

In Later Years

I the didn’t see Bill again, until we were both at an ISPI conference in 1999. I had just been elected to the Board, he was meeting Geary in the lobby. I stopped to quickly say hello and exchange some small talk.

I next saw Bill at the April 2009 ISPI Tribute for Geary Rummler, after Geary’s passing in October 2008. I had opportunity to speak to both him and his wife Pat, whom I also know from back in the days of MTEC.


Some Videos

Here is a clip of Bill Wiggenhorn speaking at ISPI’s Geary A. Rummler Tribute – April 2009 – below…

The full video, 1 hours: 55minutes – is available at the Performance Design Lab web site – here —- and on YouTube – here.

Bill at the Chicagoland Learning Leaders Conference 2008

In this short video clip, Bill Wiggenhorn, Founder of Motorola University, shares insight on Leadership Skills for a Multi-cultural Workforce at the 7th Annual Chicagoland Learning Leaders Conference held in St. Charles, IL on November 7, 2008…

One Many Things I Learned From Bill Wiggenhorn

Self-Paced Training – in early 1981 he challenged me and the 12 other TPS – Training Project Supervisors – to move as much of our content into Self Paced from Group Paced. For the flexibility it gave our customers – the management of Motorola. Not just the Learners.

I have spent an awful lot of time working on the architecting of content, and the design a modular configuration of unique and share-able content components –  of mostly self-paced content – unless practice with feedback was necessary. Otherwise – most of my CADs – Curriculum Architecture Designs – were mostly SP – Self-Paced versus the traditional GP – Group Paced. Read: classrooms.

I even did my first CAD-type effort at MTEC, for the Manufacturing Supervisors at our 5 Business Units (Sectors).

In fact I would spend the next 30 years telling/challenging almost every one of my 75 CAD Project Steering Teams – declaring that unless they directed me otherwise, that I would design their T&D Paths to be mostly SP and S-OJT and US-OJT –  and as little GP as possible.

They usually like that.

SP being self-paced. S-OJT being structured on-the-job-training, and US-OJT being un-structured on-the-job-training – now known as Informal Learning.

If not, they – the Project Steering Team – were to re-direct me.

Most Paths are blends, and very few were not.

Blends of GP with SP and S-OJT and some named US-OJT.

What I Also Learned From Bill Wiggenhorn

I learned many things from Bill – because he directly informed/taught us, and indirectly through Bill’s example… examples. As I reflect, these come to  mind…

Current Contractual Obligations for Payments – Bill stressed that he needed his 13 TPS at MTEC to always be aware of where they were contractually with our many vendors on our many projects. If corporate came to us with a budget reduction, did we have current and future obligations that would put us over budget? Good to know so one might push back on a budget reduction. Made sense to me back then. Still does.

Rummler-oriented views of Improving Performance – Bill was a big fan of Geary’s in 1981, and obviously from the Tribute video, still is. We had that in common, to bond over. No one else in my peer group at MTEC had that same level of familiarity with the “Rummler” approaches, as I had, as I had experienced them since the fall of 1979 when I joined a T&D staff at Wickes Lumber in Saginaw MI, where I worked with Gear’s brother-in-law, Roger. Roger had helped hire my new boss and co-workers who had come from Blue Cross Blue Shield in Detroit where they had worked with Geary’s brother, Rick.

I had been groomed as a Rummler-ite before joining MTEC.

And Bill reinforced that – and gave me ample opportunity to work directly with Geary.

SPIN – Socratic Selling – Bill explained it this way, and then it really clicked for me. Working with Neil Rackham and John Carlisle were early career high points, all due to Bill giving me those assignments.

CBIs – Bill stressed the need to always be focusing on CBIs – Critical Business Issues – whenever discussing a project – for that is how executives’ needs, issues and their solutions and ROI should be framed. For that is their focus.

Governance & Advisory Systems – was the formal mechanism we used at MTEC to put ourselves under the direction of our clients. Ray Svenson, whom I went to work for after MTEC, helped Bill put this into place. For 9 months I was the MTEC guy on that customer forum with Manufacturing, Purchasing and Materials, and formal decision making body. That was huge. To see how to engage the customers on the front end, in the middle, and at the end, in serving them and their needs.

Here is what one of my colleagues at MTEC , John Coné wrote about Bill:

I was incredibly lucky in my career. My first (CLO) boss, Bill Wiggenhorn, was a great leader of learning. Bill had an agenda.  He believed that training could be used as a means to open new geographies and create new customers for the business. His agenda included using learning to strengthen partnerships with suppliers and customers, and even to rejuvenate a brand. And he made those things happen. Not alone, he’d be the first to say…but it was his agenda and without him these things would not have happened.

Another colleague from that time, the guy who inherited all my Rummler projects when I left, Alan Ramias, writes of Bill’s role at MTEC, as a component of Motorola CEO Bob Galvin’s turn-around efforts in the late 1970s and early 1980s…

The other necessary variable is having in place the means to make the change.  Galvin did this by bringing in Bill Wiggenhorn to create the corporate training organization.  Motorola University became Galvin’s change agent.  He provided funding and political cover as MU spread the quality gospel throughout the company.  All of the major tools and ideas came from outsiders like Rummler, Joseph Juran and Dorian Shainin, and they were brought in via MU curriculum. Training does not necessarily have to be the change agent, but something is usually needed to give a company both the push towards change and the tools, ideas and mechanics.  Companies in crisis often get there because they lack critical skills or ideas, so improvement from inside is not going to happen.

Alan also wrote this article, on “The Mists of Six Sigma” – the the origins of Six Sigma at Motorola – and Geary Rummler’s role in that.

Some Great Resources From and Of Bill For You

Bill has an HBR article that was very popular back in the early 1990s:

Motorola U – When Training Becomes an Education – Harvard Business Review

See the HBR summary of Bill’s 1990 HBR article – here.

Bill’s Biography is – here.

Bill Wiggenhorn 2

Connecting and Networking via the Web & Social Media

Bill’s LinkedIn page is – here.

Bill’s firm’s web site – Main Captiva, LLC. – is here.

Share Your Stories

If Bill Wiggenhorn has been a valuable influence and/or resource for you – please share your stories about that in the comments section below.

Or simply share a URL there that is relevant.

And – thank you – for sharing!

The My First Friday Favorite Guru Series

We each have many influences, mentors, both active and passive, knowingly and unknowingly in their respective roles in our development.

This series is my attempt to acknowledge all of them… one by one… in no particular order… as I attempt to consciously reflect on what I have have learned and who I have learned it from, regarding all things “Performance Improvement” – my focus.

I have a long list.

Lucky me.

Next month –  kicking off the new year – Harold Stolovitch.

Links to All of the Past Posts in the MFFF Guru Series

Here is a page with links to all of the Past Posts below – here.

  • Bill Wiggenhorn – December 2013
  • Will Thalheimer – November 2013
  • Roger Kaufman – October 2013
  • Roger Addison – September 2013
  • Ray Svenson – August 2013
  • Dick (Richard E.) Clark – July 2013
  • Allison Rossett – June 2013
  • Carol Panza – May 2013
  • Jane Bozarth – April 2013
  • Judy Hale – March 2013
  • Margo Murray- February 2013
  • Neil Rackham – January 2013
  • Robert (Bob) Mager – December 2012
  • Joe H. Harless – November 2012
  • Thomas F. Gilbert – October 2012
  • Sivasailam Thiagarajan (Thiagi) – September 2012
  • Geary A. Rummler – August 2012
  • Dale Brethower – July 2012

Here is a page with links to all of the above Past Posts – here.

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7 comments on “My 1st Friday Favorite Guru: Bill Wiggenhorn

  1. Pingback: Video: Bill Wiggenhorn’s leadership journey: From Motorola University to the Digital Age – HPT Treasures – for Evidence Based Performance Improvement

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  3. Pingback: HPT Video: Bill Wiggenhorn – HPT Treasures – for Evidence Based Performance Improvement

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