None of the information gathered in these meetings was a surprise because we had already done our homework and could see the writing on the wall. It was clear from the start that while Rockwell Collins wanted to be a learning organization, it didn't have the understanding or structure to create an atmosphere where learning was a valuable element of the organization's success.
Even though we didn't learn anything new, the real value of these meetings came from the fact that we met and networked with these leaders . We established their trust and promised solutions to their problems. We gave them the chance to vent their frustrations at the training process as it existed to this point, and we got them excited about the future. Our plans sparked their interest because we made it clear that our goal was to help them achieve theirs.
We pointed out that they were paying for training out of their annual budgets and asked if it wouldn't be great if together we could use those dollars to make sweeping changes that would directly affect their rates of success. By and large they agreed.
Managers are not interested in the philosophy of training; they are interested in success rates and dollar figures. When we made connections between the two and tied our vision to managers' needs, we could not help but capture their attention and support.
At the end of each meeting we clearly established what our intentions were: to further research the state of training in the organization and to be back in three months with a strategic plan. This plan would outline how we would deliver a critical targeted training solution that would help them achieve their goals better, faster, and cheaper.