Built to Learn: Creating Your Strategy
Cliff Purington (Rockwell Collins and author of Built to Learn: The Inside Story of How Rockwell Collins Became a True Learning Organization with Chris Butler and Sarah Fister Gale)
The opening talk of the conference focused on how Cliff Purington built the learning approach for Rockwell Collins from a heavily classroom-based environment at the Cedar Rapids headquarters to an environment where people are able to access learning materials online through a variety of media from offices around the world.
The process he used to build this strategy is laid out in the first chapters of the book. For each step, Purington talked about how things worked for Rockwell. Importantly, Purington reminded the audience that although there are six steps, they are not a linear progression of activities. One of the biggest sets of changes had to happen within his own training organization, where classroom trainers became "learning consultants" for the business units. They had to learn how to change their approach to training and development along with the rest of the company.
- Understand the business: Take the time to understand the motivations of the top-level people in the organization. Find out how the learning objectives will tie into the overall objectives of the organization.
- Conduct an organizational assessment: How "ready" is the organization? As the human capacity for change is limited, are they ready? Have they just gone through another big change that will kill the chances of your program working?
- Define your core objectives: For Rockwell Collins the objectives included making sure they aligned with the business; the learning system needed to be more integrated into the way people did their regular work; the system had to be available to all employees, not just the perpetual students; the technology had to be robust, challenging and of the highest quality.
- Plan your strategy: This became "provide training and knowledge to employees as they need it," because people learn best when they combine their education with experience.
- Select your vendors. Not before!
- Build the business case, including cases for divisions to be supported, in order to build support.