Convert Most Classroom Courses to Technology-Based Training

Convert Most Classroom Courses to Technology-Based Training

We realized early on that the best way to achieve our goals was to implement technology-based training. Technology would allow us to deliver training not just to geographically separated offices but also right to the desktops or workspaces of all Rockwell Collins employees . It would provide the entire staff with learning opportunities twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of their location.

Technology would enable us to make Rockwell Collins a learning organization, because for the first time the delivery of necessary training would be able to keep up with the rest of the business. As soon as there was a need for training, our team would be able to provide it. And because it would be offered 24/7, every employee at any location would have equal access to the same skills and knowledge, thus leveling the playing field for all Rockwell Collins offices.

Based on these assumptions, our team created a process for selecting the tools and vendors necessary to support our transformation. (See Chapter 5 for the vendor-selection process.) We completed all of our technology research and selection long before we pitched our business case to executives so that once we got buy-in we would be ready to launch our new technology-based training infrastructure and immediately affect the company's ability to learn.

Based on our plan and our technology research, within weeks of our launch the transformation would begin. Classroom courses would be shut down and replaced with e-learning. Catered class lunches would stop. The learning and development department would cease to support requests for classroom training if computer-based alternatives existed. This was a bold decision that would frustrate some managers who used classroom training as perks for employees. However, we decided that cutting off the masses from their classroom fix was the quickest way for us to show them the value of alternative learning options and would set the standard for zero tolerance of old behavior. Believe it or not, just canceling lunch helped to make the classroom process less attractive.

Define and Map Work Processes

The training our team delivered would have to be of the highest quality to affect attitude and the value placed on learning at Rockwell Collins. If we were going to tie learning to achieving business objectives, our offerings had to do more than target core competencies. They had to deliver specific skills and knowledge that could be directly implemented on the job. Through training, our team had to target key skills and give learners the tools to transform the way they performed their jobs, allowing them to work better, faster, and more efficiently than they ever had before.

Training at Rockwell Collins didn't have a very good reputation. The perception that training has little value is one you will find in most organizations and certainly isn't unique to any one company. The quality had been so random and subpar for so long that managers and employees were skeptical of its inherent value. Some saw it as a perk, a way to avoid work for a few days; others saw it as a waste of valuable time away from their jobs and families. Few saw Rockwell Collins's training as a critical contribution to their skill development or the business goals of the organization.

That skepticism was combined with a wariness of any training outside the classroom. For a company that had spent its entire fifty-year history in the classroom, e-learning was a profoundly foreign way to learn. While Rockwell Collins's classroom courses were consistently bad, at least they were familiar. E-learning was a new and in some cases frightening way to learn, and employees were uneasy. So anything our team gave them had to be top notch . It had to be measurable, performance based, and consistent.

To achieve that level of excellence, every course had to adhere to formal instructional-design standards with specified learning objectives and established performance goals. But at that time at Rockwell Collins, no defined processes were established. Everyone on the learning and development staff had their own style and their own criteria for choosing and delivering content.

Without defined and documented processes and procedures, there was no way to standardize our offerings and evaluate their effectiveness. To better link training to the goals of the company, we defined and then mapped the formal workflow processes that our team would use from that point on to identify, develop, and deliver training. The processes we defined included the needs analysis form, validation of training need, learning methodology, the make-or-buy decision process, a standards guide for purchasing training, and a curriculum-design guide for building training (see Figure 4-2f).