Researching the Training Industry
Along with compiling baseline data, we also gathered information from outside the company. We read trade journals, white papers, and research reports about recent trends in the training industry to support our theories and strategic goals. We looked at training-industry stats from the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), including the average percentage of salaries spent on employee education, average total dollars spent per employee on training, and trends in alternative learning, e-learning, and the classroom.
We learned that in 1998 training costs were expected to increase 2 to 4 percent per year ”which led us to factor a 3 percent annual increase into our annual projected baseline budget. We also found that 94 percent of more than 3,200 companies surveyed by ASTD had set a goal of becoming learning organizations.
At the time, e-learning was just becoming a popular choice among companies of all sizes and industries, and the cost benefits were being touted as the new miracle solution for training woes. The Government Alliance for Training and Education estimated a savings range from 30 to 70 percent using computer-based learning instead of the classroom, and The Multimedia Monitor suggested that retention rates for e-learners increased 25 to 50 percent over those who were trained in the classroom. While we knew e-learning alone couldn't change Rockwell Collins, the data was making it clear that it would play a role in transforming the company into a learning organization.
Motorola ”An Intriguing Yardstick
To support our industry data, we gathered case studies of benchmark companies that had become learning organizations. Some of the studies we conducted ourselves and other data we gleaned through research. We compared our current system with Motorola University's, which was touted as one of the most cutting-edge learning environments at the time.
Our comparison showed us that while Motorola made forty hours of annual training mandatory for every employee, Rockwell Collins "allowed" its employees thirty hours or less per year. Motorola's customers and suppliers received training, it had a distinct learning and development department separate from HR, and its training was integrated, global, and state of the art. None of those factors was in effect at Rockwell Collins. The comparison highlighted the differences between companies that value learning and knowledge and those that don't.
We used Motorola's model as a guide for restructuring the learning group 's roles and responsibilities at Rockwell Collins, and eventually our efforts surpassed what Motorola had only begun to accomplish. All of this data became part of the detailed strategic plan we put together over the coming months and was used to sell our story to the organization. Ironically, three years later Motorola came to us to benchmark our learning transformation. It had taken its own process as far as it could go and wanted guidance on what steps it should take next .
These days piles of research are available to support the need for a company to become a learning organization. Along with this book, you can find research reports at the Web sites of ASTD and Forrester Research. Peruse back issues of Training magazine and Online Learning magazine to find case studies of companies that have made the transformation, as well as statistics supporting your intentions. The data is out there. You just need to take the time and make the effort to find it.