How to Create a Learning Organization Maturity Model [Part 4]

In the fourth installment of this Caterpillar study blog series, Alfonso Riley, learning technology consultant at Caterpillar Inc., explains how their Global Dealer Learning (GDL) team created a plan to align and achieve their L&D and business goals.

Transform and align your approach to training.

When our GDL team set out to transform our approach to training, we applied Lean 6 Sigma methodology to generate rapid changeover to achieve our aggressive, enterprise-wide business goals.

As a result, our projects portfolio was divided into three streams: People, Processes, and Technology.

What is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma (a combination of Lean Enterprise and Six Sigma) is a data-driven methodology that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste and reducing variations.

How did the GDL team define the specifics of each stream?

We hired Deloitte to help provide us with the framework for a Learning Organization Maturity Model, and we used their research as the foundation for our transformation.

  1. The People element looks at the organization’s people strategy and the roles and skills that need to be developed to be successful in reaching our business goals. In particular, GDL performed rapid job task analysis to develop and update the competency models and define the skills and knowledge required for development of people for each of the learning programs.
  2. Then, we looked at the Processes we needed to support that development. As a result, we were able to make critical changes that have enabled our team to increase customer coverage, accelerate development of learning solutions, and lower distribution cost to serve.
  3. And Technology covers the tools and systems required by our processes to support our People Development programs. We adopted a flexible learning ecosystem and moved away from relying solely on an LMS as the delivery platform for dealers. By diversifying the functions of the learning ecosystem, our team can better control the quality and velocity of our operation.

The heart of our learning ecosystem is a content and syndication management system provided by OpenSesame. This service allows customers to connect with GDL-developed learning solutions and third-party learning content via their LMSs.

The brain of our learning ecosystem is Watershed’s learning analytics platform, which tracks and measures learner behavior. The capability to collect and standardize data across all learning platforms in a standard format, regardless of the source, aids in the continuous improvement of the learner experience.

Why is having a flexible learning ecosystem important for your team?

We needed flexibility to adapt to our dealers’ business systems, especially as changes occur in our enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, SAP and Workday. Having all learning data and reporting in our own LMS did not meet our quality and velocity requirements for our customers. Therefore, we started the design of our learning ecosystem to accommodate for all the learning system needs for providing our services to our customers without additional overhead charges.

Additionally, we needed to have the ability to:

  • quickly update our content and plug and play third-party content based on its quality, and
  • have the latest and greatest content in the learning ecosystem, without having to invest so heavily in development.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since going from a sole LMS to a larger, integrated ecosystem?

Thanks to having a flexible learning ecosystem, we’re better able to connect and serve learners. By providing multiple channels for learning, learners can find content in a format that fits their needs for content, experience, and access.

Since creating an environment that makes learning content more accessible in multiple platforms and formats, we’ve seen a 50% increase in adoption and usage of tools and technology—indicating that learners are using this content as performance support aids.

Did you run into any challenges once you defined these streams? If so, what and how did you adjust moving forward?

The biggest challenge in shifting away from an LMS-centric ecosystem was changing from a responsive training mindset (i.e., we need training because we have a problem) to a mindset that focuses on an agile learning organization (i.e., develop strategies to upskill on demand as business needs changes).

Up Next: Developing change management solutions for a flexible ecosystem

In the next post, Alfonso discusses the steps the organization took to prepare and support their dealer network through the organizational changes. Learn more in the next post as we continue this client story blog series.

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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