Developing a Learning Culture

The CIA Creates New Plan of Attack for Recruiting, Training, and eLearning

It sounds like an initiative even Jack Bauer could be proud of: CIA Director John Brennan announced via internal memo that the Agency would overhaul its existing digital arms, including a new plan to institute more sophisticated recruiting, training, and performance management structures.

As threats to national security make the shift from physical terrorism to that of the cyber kind (see also: the Sony hack and Edward Snowden) the CIA has no choice to create the precedent by which all cyber threats are monitored and handled. As arguably the most advanced (and the most forward-facing) agency, the CIA has to position itself as the world leader – from foreign intelligence to HR.

Making the Change

It’s not often that one of the government’s most vital agencies undergoes a complete digital overhaul, but Brennan believes that the change was a necessary one. “The initiatives… are driven by fundamental shifts in the national security landscape,” he says in his March 6th, 2015 agency-wide memo. “The first is the marked increase in the range, diversity, complexity, and immediacy of issues confronting policymakers; and the second is the unprecedented pace and impact of technological advancements.”

From monitoring social medial to evaluating current and future threats, the new digital-centric CIA hopes to first, recruit the most brilliant minds in cybersecurity, and second, focus more heavily on cyber threats and intelligence that can be gained from digital sources.

“The CIA has to stay ahead of the curve,” says Jack Mahklouf, Chief Learning Architect for eLearning Mind. “They set the standard for dealing with the ever-changing digital world.”

The Spy Who Trained Me

It’s true that most organizations are dealing with issues that are decidedly not of the life-or-death variety, but that’s not to say that recruitment and training strategy is any less important. Note that the CIA’s first initiative is to hire the right people, and then use those people to extend the agency’s technological reach. Through the natural evolution of digital communication, recruiting the right candidates and successful onboarding could make a life-or-death difference for your organization.

Hey, if the CIA thinks that eLearning should be part of an operations overhaul, we can’t help but agree. While the CIA’s approach might be a little more sophisticated (we’re predicting biometrics security, engaging content, and more than just a precursory check of a candidate’s Facebook page), but it doesn’t mean any company should be less vigilant in recruiting, onboarding, and consistently training those who have the best chance at making a difference at work.

It might not be a matter of national security, but there’s something to be said for following the lead of one of the most technologically advanced government agency. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time they were onto something.