Cliff Purington was hired as learning director of Rockwell Collins in late 1998 with the mandate to transform the company into a dynamic learning organization. At the time, the company's training programs were fragmented , duplicated , and largely unused. The $17.3 million training budget featured approximately 167 individually titled courses delivered multiple times per year in a classroom setting. The training process itself was back-end focused with little accountability and no processes for choosing or managing training, and its results were questionable, which is fairly typical of most organizations of a substantial size .
Shortly after his arrival, Cliff turned to Chris Butler, president of The Performance Engineering Group, for assistance in bringing clarity and organizational-development expertise to the project. Together, they began researching the Rockwell Collins environment and pinpointing the cultural barriers that would stand in the way of this transformation.
As a result of that research and organizational assessment, Cliff and Chris built a comprehensive strategic plan for change that was tied directly to Rockwell Collins's business goals. They linked all learning activities to the company's business objectives ”reducing the overall cost of learning while increasing its quality and making learning and development activities accessible to more than 17,000 employees worldwide, twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. With the support of senior management, who were floored by the extensive detail of the plan and the research supporting it, they implemented their objectives, transforming the aerospace giant into an organization centered on a strategy-based, technology-driven learning approach. In the process, they expanded the company's learning offerings by 400 percent while saving it $23 million over three years ”and that's a conservative estimate.
Most important, Rockwell Collins employees are now taking advantage of the company's learning offerings in record numbers because for the first time the training meets their direct needs on the job. Because most of the content is delivered via technology directly to the employees' workplaces, they have easier access to just-in-time learning designed to help them at the source of their problems, and at their critical time of need.
This book is founded on the lessons and principles derived from our experiences at Rockwell Collins. It explains how to become a learning organization and describes the critical cultural barriers that must be surmounted in order for that process to succeed. It explains the role e-learning plays, and how not to fall into the technology traps to which so many companies fall prey. The ten-step process laid out in these pages shows readers how to transform any company ”regardless of size or industry ”into a learning organization by focusing on the front end of the process, the culture, and the long-range vision of the business.