You planned the work, and now you've got to work the plan. After the official launch, which was your primary job, the mission you will engage in for many months to come is to boldly and stridently market the project to every member of the organization. You may have sold the company on the dream, but now it's time to deliver the results.
During the early months, you may spend some of your time monitoring end users or ramping up for tool rollouts, but a huge part of your schedule should be dedicated to selling the project. Your principal purpose in life will be to get people interested in what you are doing by explaining the value ”the "what's in it for me" ”and getting them excited about what is yet to come.
This is counterintuitive for many training professionals who have little experience as marketing wizards and have fallen prey to the belief that employees will automatically migrate to quality training. That's pure fantasy. Unless you promote the system constantly, you won't capture and retain employees ' attention, and all your efforts will not pay off to the full extent possible.
If you don't know how to market yourself, ask for assistance. We made use of the Rockwell Collins marketing department to help us run an ad campaign promoting Project Oasis. With their guidance, our team members designed and mailed out postcards directly to people's homes with our logo and directions on using the systems. They sent global e-mail announcements to employees' workplaces, inviting them to try the courses and offering tutorials and incentives to early adopters. They wrote articles for the company newsletters and put up marquee posters that announced, "Oasis Is Live." Early supporters were rewarded with gifts and praise, and employees who took advantage of the system were publicly celebrated.
But the most important piece of our marketing campaign was the two of us. In the first year after Project Oasis's rollout, we sold the system over and over again. We held brown-bag lunches to introduce the courses to employees and managers, walked them through the system, and shared with them other users' success stories. We distributed mugs, hats, and mouse pads to flood the environment with Project Oasis logos and materials. We traveled to every office to deliver our presentation, again pitching the strategic plan and demonstrating our content.
We revamped the business case for our executive supporters, adding details about the new courses, results we'd already gathered about usage rates and cost savings, and information about how to use the new programs. One of the most intriguing financial goals our team achieved early on was that in one day the learning department saved Rockwell Collins $660,000!
In the past, the company spent $1 million a year on IT and end- user training. When our team replaced all of that with the initial 300 Web-based courses from SmartForce and NETg, the annual cost dropped to less than $300,000. So, on day one Project Oasis saved the company money and was able to offer substantially more training to the employees. As per our original promise, 40 percent of that savings went back to the company in profits, and our team was able to put the remaining 60 percent toward our Year Two goals.
Our loud presence and intriguing financial successes won us the attention we needed from management and end users alike. Several times during those early months, we were invited to staff meetings by key executives who wanted to share our story with their people and further discuss their own strategic needs.
Once they saw what our team was doing and that we were committed to the process, many leaders found new ways for the learning department to help them achieve their objectives. It was during one of these meetings that the vice president of manufacturing asked for our help in dealing with his rapidly retiring workforce. From that conversation was ultimately born the QuickLearns methodology ”a rapid-development process for creating CD-ROM-based training modules that portray subject-matter experts performing key skills coupled with text-based procedures and tests. QuickLearns became one of Project Oasis's biggest success stories, capturing the knowledge of seasoned professionals and sharing it across teams . It's an extremely fast and low-cost solution that had a huge impact on the manufacturing team's ability to ramp up new employees. (See Chapter 10 for more on QuickLearns.)
Whenever people approached or walked by the training and development department, Purington pulled them in to hear about the latest course rollout, success story, or usage statistic. To this day, we continue to monitor which Rockwell Collins sites are using the system and which ones are slacking off. If we see that we are losing a group, we go back on the road to deliver the presentation again, meeting with managers and end users to show them the benefits of Project Oasis. Every time we make that presentation, usage rates in that group jump immediately.
Our irritating commitment to marketing has for the past three years kept the employees buzzing about Project Oasis and thinking about how it could affect their lives.