Learning for a Better World: An interview with Kimo Kippen, Chief Learning Officer of Hilton Worldwide

Learning and development can undoubtedly benefit an organization, but it can also benefit the world. Prior to taking the stage of August’s highly anticipated Chief Learning Officer Exchange, Kimo Kippen caught up with IQPC Exchange’s Kristen Schipfer-Barrett to discuss his vision for learning and development. In this insightful  interview, Kimo shares his learning and development predictions for 2020; ways to prepare for the future;  the biggest innovations to date; the next big thing; leaders who inspire innovation; and what he is most excited about for the Exchange.

KSB: What do you think learning and development will look like in 2020 and what are some of the best ways to prepare an organization now?

KK: Great question! With everything going on in the world today, I think it's such an exciting time to be in the learning space. I imagine that we are continually at the intersection between amazing technology and enabling the human experience at the individual and collective levels. In service of creating better connections between people, technology is advancing at incredible speeds. I think we need to ask ourselves how we can leverage technology to  enable those connections and improve our experiences in real time.

2020 is only four years away. I want to say that we will see a greater focus on enabling the human experience - and ways that we can ultimately make it more meaningful. This can occur by creating an authentic and  meaningful dialogue between individuals. I believe that this expanding capability is very exciting. Technology is helping us better connect with each other in more meaningful ways. I also wonder how we can make better sense of these connections as learning experiences.  Life is about learning and learning is about life. Lifelong learning is essential for our existence as human beings. For me, that's sort of a mindset. There’s value in being curious, inquisitive and asking why; and then sharing  meaningful conversations and experiences. Part of the conundrum, is the speed of advancement and asking how I can personally take the time to reflect, learn and apply what I have learned to future experiences.

Our future is contingent upon our ability to adapt to change. Our ability to adapt to change leads to greater innovation. It is from  this disruptive change that learning takes place, and out of learning comes innovation. Organizations should help people to embrace and thrive in times of disruptive change. When they embrace it, innovation is spurred.

KSB: Speaking of innovation, what do you feel is the biggest innovation to learning and development thus far?

KK: I think that innovation lives within the ways that we learn and share information. Information, used to be considered a source of power and now that power is in the hands of everyone. This is creating a much more level playing field. Even in the deepest parts Africa, we can enable learning on iPads that are solar powered at a nominal cost. We can bring that capability to anyone  in the world. It is really exciting.

KSB: I've heard a lot about missions and goals to do just that. It is a pretty exciting time to be alive.

KK:  It is such a cool time. If I didn't have to sleep, it would be a wonderful thing, as I don’t want to miss anything. But, research shows that sleeping is a key factor in our ability to learn and develop.

KSB: Yes, I think that sleep is definitely necessary. Without it, we don’t work at full capacity and I think that would ultimately slow innovation. What do you think will be the 'next big thing' in learning and development?

KK: I think it’s the continuous push and pull for balance at the intersection of technology and enabling the human experience. The emerging role of artificial intelligence will continue to be a key influence in the ways that we live, work and  play. My one wish for us, as humans, would be to spend more thinking, reflecting and learning from one another. As humans, we are social creatures with a craving for contact and meaningful dialogue. Social learning, enabled by technology, will continue to expand and user created content will become more pervasive 

KSB: Absolutely. I think that would be a great way to get people to really understand what they are learning, and be interested in finding a better way - or innovation. Speaking of, what types of leaders foster the most innovation?

KK: I think there is nothing more important than leadership. It's all about leadership. My mini-definition of leadership, is someone who can develop, create and inspire people to do things they would not  have imagined they were capable of achieving. If I have done anything to contribute to assist people in attaining their dreams, then I have done well. The best types of leaders are open, optimistic, forward-focused and supportive of both people and their development. The part that I think applies to innovation is allowing room for error like open petri dish trials, pilots, etc. These leaders tend to have a philosophy that 80% is good enough and don’t overly focus on perfection. Focus on the good. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. People should really be allowed to experiment and express their ideas. At the end of the day, I think that people choose to be in the learning space so they can make a better world. I always ask myself, how I can become a better citizen of the world. There is so much to learn from the world around us and from each other. How can I continue to pay it forward!

KSB: Those would definitely be great leaders for innovation - and great leaders in general. 


What are you looking forward to the most about the Chief Learning Officer Exchange?

KK: I'm excited about the opportunity to discuss this whole notion of disruptive change. I look forward to discussing the future of learning -and where it's going; with other engaged and committed colleagues  in an effort of  building a better world.