Chapter 3: Step 3 Define Your Core Objectives
"No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew."
Identify recurring themes in your organizational assessment data.
Define your top three to seven core objectives.
Depending on the size and layout of your company, the amount of existing data you need to collect, and the willingness of employees to participate in your fact-finding research, completing all of your cultural and historical training research can take anywhere from weeks to several months. The more an organization's culture values data, the more data you will need to gather and wade through, and the more persuasive the data must be.
It's critical to be thorough, but time is also a factor. The sooner your research is complete, the faster you can implement your strategic plan and begin to affect the culture of learning at your organization. To accelerate the process, approach every aspect of the research time simultaneously . While you are meeting with executives, compile your historical data, distribute surveys, and schedule focus groups. This is not a linear process. All of your data points affect one another.
Even with a limited surveying approach, it took us several months to gather all the data. From the day we began meeting with executives at Rockwell Collins to the day we presented them a draft of our plan, three months had passed, and we should have had it completed sooner.
You will know the research gathering is coming to an end when you have clear ideas about what the key training issues are and you have hard statistics to support those ideas. Patterns will have begun to emerge. Skill and knowledge issues that relate to business problems will have cropped up continually in interviews and focus groups, and these issues will lead you back to historical data and survey results. These patterns are indicators of the problems within the work environment that must change if the organization is to transform itself into a learning organization. Finding them will help you define your core objectives.
Core objectives are the foundation of your initiative, showing you what you need to do in order to close the gap between where you are today and where you need to go. Core objectives are enterprise-level solutions to the shortcomings in your learning system. Embedded in these objectives are the business requirements of the company, which are usually expressed in quantifiable terms such as time or money. For example, a core objective may be to reduce the amount of time it takes to deliver company-wide training on key products, or to spend less to achieve the same training results. As you implement your plan, these business requirements will become the signposts that let you and your supporters know that you are achieving your strategic goals.
If you have some analytical background, identifying the issues that continually arise based on the research you've collected shouldn't be difficult. There may be dozens of them, but you need to focus your attention on those critical few that are enterprise level and directly tied to the culture and strategic business goals of the company. For example, training the sales team to correctly use a new sales-force automation system so that you can get a company-wide view of customer contacts may be a critical enterprise-wide objective, whereas training a handful of computer-illiterate sales reps how to use a spreadsheet program may be a training need but does not tie directly to business goals and therefore doesn't rate as a primary endeavor.