Built to Learn
IN THIS SUMMARY
In 1998, aerospace giant, Rockwell Collins, was representative of the outdated approach to organizational learning that existed throughout the business world. Its training program, budgeted for $17.3 million, was fragmented, redundant, and largely unused, providing bland courses in bland classroom settings, which had little connection to the needs of employees or the company’s strategic goals. There was no accountability, no processes for choosing training or managing it, and results were questionable. However, by 2001, the company had transformed itself into a full-fledged learning organization, complete with a dynamic strategically aligned, technology-driven learning program. Course offerings were increased by 400 percent and were accessible to more than 17,000 employees worldwide, 24/7. And, between 1998 and 2001, the company realized an approximate savings of $23 million over the three years.Purington and Butler believe that their success at Rockwell Collins came as a consequence of their conversion of a largely classroom-based environment to one that uses technology-delivered courses exclusively. Moreover, the core of this conversion-the critical key-was their transformation of the learning culture. Their strategic 10-step process changed the way Rockwell Collins’s employees looked at training, it changed management’s attitude, and it created a new environment in which learning is a critical component of the business process. By undertaking the tasks of (1) understanding Rockwell Collins’s business, (2) conducting an organizational assessment, (3) defining the company’s core objectives, (4) planning strategy, (5) selecting vendors (6) building the business case, (7) securing buy-in from senior management, (8) successfully delivering what was promised, (9) assessing and modifying, and (10) celebrating success, the authors were able to vastly improve the quality of Rockwell Collins’s training system and guarantee the training department’s standing as an asset to the organization.Built to Learn is a comprehensive case study that explores the lessons and principles derived from the authors’ experiences in using this process to affect this stunning turnaround. The result is a straightforward, easy-to-understand tutorial for creating a flexible, performance-based, culturally focused learning organization that links learning to the business. Although the Purington and Butler show, in detail, how the process worked to transform ultra-conservative, change-averse Rockwell Collins, it is readily accessible to any company, of any size, in any industry.