Change Management Process and Structure for Learning Transformation

In the fifth part of our case study blog series, Alfonso Riley, learning technology consultant at Caterpillar Inc., explains how he and the Global Dealer Learning (GDL) team focused on change management solutions to create a flexible learning ecosystem for a dealer network of more than 150,000 employees across the world.

Four-Part Change Management Process

Once the GDL team developed a plan to transform and align our approach to training, the next step was creating solutions to prepare, support, and help our dealer network (i.e. Leadership, Sales, and Service employee groups).

To assess the transformation from current state to desired state during Caterpillar’s Global Change Management Process, we evaluate transformation projects from the following four areas and their corresponding metrics:

  1. Structure: The resources, people, and technology needed to deploy our services.
  2. Process: How we create, deliver, and manage our products and services to our customers.
  3. Culture: Our values and rules required to sustain the change
  4. People: The skills our change needed to target to learn and master to make the transformation successful

1) Structure—centered on a learning ecosystem

To ensure the right expertise is on the right team, we redirected teams from focusing on regions to focusing on programs and functions. However, because our learners are spread across the globe, we needed to reconfigure the GDL team needed to better provide support for learning programs.

As a result, we implemented digital collaboration tools to ensure consistent, manageable communication across teams and learners. We also provided training on how to use this technology and created communities of knowledge and helpful resources.

How did the learning ecosystem concept come about?

It started from customer feedback—as we grew the utilization of our learning assets through digital channels, our dealers needed to access our content without having to incur higher costs due to duplication of platforms. By shifting from an LMS-centered structure to a flexible learning ecosystem, we were able to provide customers with the option to use their existing resources (i.e. ERPs) to integrate their own LMSs to our learning marketplace.

This shift also came with the additional question of: How shall we measure the informal activities and track their effectiveness? And this brings the need to have a system that can capture activities occurring both in and outside the LMS—and still be able to track and analyze both individuals and specific groups of individuals—to measure learning impact.

Here is where the learning record store (LRS) plays a role. The LRS helps us:

  • decentralize elements of our digital tools,
  • connect and disconnect functionality based on demand, and
  • give the flexibility to adapt our learning technology to achieve our customer success.

What roles were critical for this transformation to be successful?

We identified that we required more central functions (e.g. instructional design, multimedia development, etc.) as well as learning systems and support teams. In the past, these were all siloed in either specific learning centers or other verticals. This meant we needed to bring new skills to the table, as well as change our approach to how we manage our dealers—which took a marketing approach by having learning consultants and account/program managers to provide real-time services where and when they are needed.

Do you have any advice or lessons learned to share?

For a company like ours, this type of transformation can have a high risk of failure because it requires careful coordination of resources and clear communication of expectations and impact. We learned quite a bit about trying to change a lot in little time. And the biggest lesson learned is to over-communicate as much as possible and with clear intent.

2) Process: centered on consistency in delivery

We needed to update learning offerings’ development and delivery processes to support career development programs while also ensuring a consistent approach across all learning products and programs. However, the programs for Leadership, Sales, and Services were at different maturity levels.

Our team identified commonalities through the rapid improvement workshops (RIWs)—which incorporated SMEs for each program. As a result, each program was updated to be delivered in the same format (following the five steps in the competency model). The RIWs helped unify criteria and use the expertise of Caterpillar and its dealers to develop the right processes for GDL’s learning programs.

Why is it important to have a consistent approach and delivery across all learning products?

By having a consistent customer experience through global processes for design and development of our learning solutions, we can leverage our knowledge capital to produce world-class learning solutions that can be delivered on demand through any of our delivery channels—such as our learning centers, dealers locations, and digital channels.

Once the structural and process portions of the change management process is set, you have the foundation to address the critical components of the cultural values to sustain change and the skills needed to make those transformation successful.

Up Next: Change Management for your People and Learning Culture (Steps 3 & 4)

In the second half of the Change Management topic, Alfonso will discuss how Caterpillar drives cultural change across their learners. Specifically, he will explain details around Steps 3 and 4 of the Caterpillar Global Change Management Process.

The information provided in this series is based on Caterpillar’s 2019 award from the Brandon Hall Group in the category of “Best Advance in Creating an Extended Enterprise Learning Program.” Special thanks to Alfonso Riley, Jeff Barbee, Phil Adams, and Paul Gasparro of Caterpillar for their time, contribution, and insights.

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