Many large companies build complicated e-learning systems and are mystified when they don't work. It's because they approached it as another technology solution looking for a problem. It's analogous to the VHS boom that occurred in the 1980s, when videos were magically going to be the salvation of the training world. How effective did they turn out to be in the absence of a well-thought-out implementation plan? Technology alone isn't the answer, and e-learning is doomed to the same fate as every other innovative delivery method that has been introduced in the past because the people responsible for training stay focused on the wrong end of the learning process. Launching a lot of technology without conducting the front-end assessment and research, developing a plan, communicating the project, and dealing with the cultural issues that make or break an e-learning initiative will ultimately cause it to fail.
If you've made this mistake, don't give up hope. You may be able to salvage your efforts, but only if you go back to the beginning of our ten-step process and start from scratch. It's impossible to know why your project failed until you do the research, uncover the cultural obstacles, and craft a strategic plan with clear objectives that are tied to the business goals of the company. Once you have the plan in place, you can compare what you've learned about the organization and what you want to achieve with the infrastructure that you've already implemented.
That comparison will show you the gaps in your original initiative. Depending on what you've learned, you can determine whether elements of it should be scrapped because they don't fit the business needs or if elements should be added to tie the whole project together. You may discover that the changes you need are relatively minor, such as delivering a stronger or more targeted communication plan. You may find that you have a great infrastructure but the wrong content, or your employees may want the training but are not ready to use a complicated new e-learning system because they haven't received the appropriate preparation or technology upgrades.
At Rockwell Collins, if we hadn't recognized that managers initially wouldn't support e-learning at the desktop, we might have implemented the same great technology, but it would have gone untouched because people wouldn't have been allowed to use it. The use of resource rooms ”a small but critical element of our strategic plan ”allowed us to do an end run around an obscure cultural issue that otherwise would have damaged the whole project.
The point is that you won't know where the problems are until you do the front-end analysis. This critical research is the only way to clearly and objectively identify what the enterprise requires and what you need to change to support it.