DAVID MILLIKEN

Meet Blueline's Founder

A training industry entrepreneur, thought leader and consultant.

David is a Princeton-trained economist with 25 years of experience in the training and assessment industry. As CEO of Blueline Simulations, today he plays a pivotal role in transforming his clients' businesses through immersive learning technologies. Over the past decade, Blueline has become synonymous with learning visualsclassroom simulations, and esimulations. He credits his mentor, Bill Byham (Founder and CEO of Development Dimensions International), with introducing him to the world of workforce training and assessment and inspiring a passion for the power it can create. Nearly a decade ago, after holding senior leadership roles at Deloitte & Touche and Paradigm Learning, he founded Blueline Simulations to serve the needs of an exclusive portfolio of hand-selected clients. We had a few moments with David to hear his unique perspectives on organizational learning.

Q| How does a Princeton-trained economist become a fixture in the training industry?

A: It's simple. I have a passion for learning: My own, and those whose lives our company touches.

Think about the training and development professionals that you know. Can you imagine a group of colleagues filled with more wonder, passion to make change and hunger to grow personally? That's our team at Blueline Simulations! I feel lucky to be a part of a group that transforms lives, and makes companies stronger and better places to work. And, as an entrepreneur and economist, I love the challenges created by this very inefficient marketplace.

Q| What do you mean by inefficient marketplace?

A: An efficient market is one in which every client has access to every available solution -- one in which needs are identified and quickly and accurately met with the most effective solutions. Our industry has long been dominated by independent consultants and small companies that each serve just a few clients. Many of these small firms are visionaries and innovators, but because their best practices are largely unknown, many of the companies that could benefit from their services never do. For the clients that we serve, we eliminate those inefficiencies by clearly defining their need and pairing them with the best possible solution – whether that is a Blueline solution or one chosen from the hundreds of providers we have researched and vetted.

Q| Despite difficult economic conditions including unprecedented unemployment, Blueline Simulations seems to have flourished. In fact, you've made a name in the onboarding arena, with recent awards from ASTD and Bersin. Does that seem odd to you?

A: There's nothing magical about that. Our clients are industry leaders with powerful reputations and strong balance sheets. Regardless of the economic climate, they continue to make investments in their people that deliver a return.

And, at Blueline, we've made the case for the economics and effectiveness of engagement.

Take Booz Allen Hamilton. They've been around for more than a century, and are credited with inventing the field of management consulting. They recently faced the challenge of growing to meet the complex demands of a public sector in transformation.

The firm engaged our team to help redesign its onboarding program. Together, we developed a branded, phased, 12-month series of events. These initiatives were designed to help a very diverse group of new hires quickly engage with the organization, feel comfortable joining their respective teams, and develop a strong level of knowledge about the firm's culture and core values. We used immersive learning techniques, including simulation and discovery learning visuals. That's how we got such high levels of engagement. And by integrating with the firm's myriad social networking, career and individual development systems, adoption levels were outstanding. Making a case for ROI wasn't too difficult, because this combination of approaches is incredibly engaging. It increased job readiness and employee affiliation; and it reduced attrition, time to productivity, and compliance risks.

Q| In your role you often get to experiment with new learning technologies before they become mainstream. What's new in immersive learning today?

A: There are two things that have my attention right now. First, we just recently launched a new coaching simulation that may mark the end of classroom-based role-play as we know it. It leverages a gaming engine, voice recognition, and hundreds of decision points to create an experience so real that participants can play for hours without having the same experience twice.

Second, several of our clients have been experimenting with innovative software that uses artificial intelligence to speed mastery by creating a unique experience for each learner. This new tool incorporates all of the latest research about brain function and learning. The preliminary results suggest that learners who use this software retain three times the information… in less time. I'm really excited about it.

Q| How will the training market evolve over the next decade?

A: For much of the last decade, corporate America chased innovative learning technologies because we could afford to. Now we're chasing them because we can't afford not to. Over the last decade we watched as developers raced to create sexier and sexier designs. More recently, we have watched the pendulum swing to simpler, low-cost outsourcing solutions. These approaches promise savings with volume, and they leverage wage imbalances by maintaining workforces overseas. As this economy gains traction there will be a movement toward solutions that simply deliver results. The market will demand easily implemented solutions that are proven to develop mastery quickly -- created by people who have the skills and passion to understand the challenges of the business. Online simulation and social media applications will continue to evolve and to play an important role, but classroom training will make a resurgence with more and more immersive designs – as they remain the most effective way to facilitate transformational change.

LET'S TALK

Interested in learning more? Set up a meeting with David Milliken, Blueline's Managing Partner.

David Milliken Blueline Simulations