Chapter 4: Step 4 Plan Your Strategy


Chapter 4: Step 4 Plan Your Strategy

Overview

"Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence."

ABIGAIL ADAMS

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GOALS FOR STEP 4
  1. Write a list of action items to achieve each objective.

  2. Define each element of the strategy for each objective.

  3. Calculate the cost and impact of your total project.

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With your core objectives defined, it is time to delve into the matter of how you will achieve them. Your strategy outlines the steps you will take to accomplish your transformation. What will you implement or change in the company that will allow you to achieve your goals? Think about action items. Make a list of events that must take place if your organization is to move from where it is now to the future state that you have envisioned through your objectives.

There's no generic formula for defining strategies to achieve your core objectives. Even if your objectives are identical to the ones we defined for Rockwell Collins, your implementation plan will be different. You need to take what you know about the strengths and the weaknesses in your existing culture, then compare these with the benchmark data from external companies and training-industry research. Compile that information and then, working with your team, brainstorm solutions to your problems. Ask other companies that have successfully implemented e-learning if they have run into the types of problems you're dealing with or that you anticipate having to deal with. Learn from their experiences. While you are crafting your strategies, always ask yourself, "How does this support the business objectives of my company?" This simple question will keep you on track and help you avoid costly failures down the line.

As you make your plan, remember to keep in perspective that you're working in a system, and no single activity can work to the detriment of the rest. None of the objectives implemented on its own will cause significant, long- lasting change in your organization. To succeed in this transformation process, you must create a plan that addresses all of your core concerns simultaneously . You are not creating six separate plans but rather one overreaching plan that incorporates activities and changes to achieve each individual objective. If you've chosen the right objectives, this shouldn't be a problem because the ultimate intent of each objective will be to tie training to the business goals of the organization.

If your objectives conflict with one another, then you've made an error. Go back and reevaluate your choices and determine which objectives are not naturally inherent to the business process. Ask someone from outside the project to review your objectives and look for the gaps between what you've discovered about the culture and what you intend to do about it. Sometimes a fresh look from someone you trust is imperative to shine light on your missteps.

For example, before coming to Rockwell Collins, Chris Butler was hired by a computer-aided design software company to develop a time-management course for developers. After interviewing four people, it became clear to him that their problem was not due to poor time management but to an isolated "knowledge is power" corporate culture. Only high-level people communicated with those outside their department, so anytime an employee needed something, the request had to go up through the ranks to the executive level and back down again, causing simple requests to take days to be fulfilled. Butler suggested that, instead of time management, they work on rebuilding lines of communication in the company. They declined ”and a year later were bankrupt. They were too blinded by corporate opinion to see the value of an outsider's view.

We cannot stress enough the value of having an impartial third party give you perspective on the choices you are making. These objectives are the foundation of your plan. Making the wrong choices or missing obvious problems or obstacles during this phase will damage the entire project.

Based on the goals of our core objectives and the culture and business drivers at Rockwell Collins, we made the following plan, which included a list of enterprise-level action items that would allow us to achieve the core objectives. Many of the elements of this list are tied to one specific objective, but all of them link directly back to our primary goal of linking learning to the business goals of the company.

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STRATEGY FOR ACHIEVING ROCKWELL COLLINS'S CORE OBJECTIVES
  1. Transform learning and development staff into learning consultants .

  2. Create learning councils.

  3. Convert 70 percent of classroom-based courses to alternative technology-based training.

  4. Make up-front needs analysis mandatory.

  5. Define and map learning-department work processes, including (a) validation of training need, (b) make-or-buy flowchart, and (c) standards for buying training.

  6. Create a curriculum-standards and style guide.

  7. Define roles and responsibilities of learning-team members .

  8. Establish criteria and contracts for subject matter experts (SMEs).

  9. Outline development process and value stream map.

  10. Focus on the needs of engineering and manufacturing ”80 percent of Rockwell Collins's employee base.

  11. Create training resource rooms.

  12. Test training's effectiveness in a controlled lab.

  13. Reduce the budget and improve the offerings on a yearly basis.

  14. Pick the low-hanging fruit first.

  15. Develop an adult learning environment versus the traditional public school models.

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