Providing e-learning to your employees and becoming a learning organization are not synonymous. E-learning is only a tool. It can help you move your organization's culture toward the ultimate goal of becoming a learning organization, but it won't make the transformation happen.
The strategic plan is the bridge that will carry you from your present ineffective training situation to a future in which e-learning can succeed. It is your guide to changing the learning environment, tearing down the cultural barriers, and tying your training to the goals of the company.
Even if your reason for launching the initiative is to appease the whims of your CEO, this is your opportunity to revolutionize your training process, to have a serious impact on the business, and to gain significantly more credibility in the eyes of management. You may already have the tacit support of management ”even if their reasons for doing e-learning aren't particularly valid ”and this is your chance to change the way they view you and the role that learning plays in achieving business success.
But you can't move forward without a plan. The strategic plan gives you the data to build legitimate budgets and timelines , and it defines your solutions for tackling the cultural obstacles that lie in your way. It draws a picture of the old system, the waste and the gaps, and it tantalizes its readers with a vision of what the company could become. It shows you where you are most likely to encounter difficulties. It helps you build support throughout the ranks of the company and enables you to field the hundreds of questions that will ultimately be thrown at you by supporters and nonsupporters alike. This is especially true if you operate in a company that lives and breathes business plans, as Rockwell Collins does. Showing management that you understand the value and principles behind strategic planning will drive them to pay attention to you. Doing so will clearly illustrate to management that you are a viable player in the organization, and that you've put in the time to prepare a solid, business-focused strategy.
Trying to become a learning organization without a strategic plan would be like trying to make sausage by stuffing a 300- pound pig into a meat grinder. You may have the essential ingredients for sausage, but all you end up with is a big mess and an angry pig. Just as there are certain steps for making sausage, there are certain specific steps you have to follow to change your organization's culture. If you skip any of them, your project will flounder, management won't support you, and any technology you manage to implement is unlikely to be used.