This post was written by John Helmer and first appeared on the LEO Learning blog on 5th July 2010. John describes how LEO Learning, then called LINE Communications, helped the Dealer Training team at Jaguar Land Rover to grow towards maturity in technology-supported learning and communications.
With responsibility for 60,000 people throughout the world in 160 countries, the Jaguar Land Rover Dealer Training team has some formidable challenges on its hands.
Jaguar and Land Rover are both, individually, very special brands. Each has a proud heritage well known to car enthusiasts. On a very basic level, a potential purchaser walking into a showroom will want to talk to someone who knows at least as much as she does about the cars – preferably more. There’s a lot to know, and product cycles move increasingly swiftly.
Beyond product knowledge however, dealership staff also have to embody the brand in order to deliver great customer experiences. A significant degree of responsibility for protecting a brand’s prestige falls on the shoulders of those with frontline customer contact. These brand experiences are seen as fundamental to competitive advantage within Jaguar Land Rover. The quality of people in the dealership network is therefore key to the company’s future success.
At the same time, training resources are finite. If Jaguar Land Rover did all the dealer training the team would like to do, and delivered it by conventional means, the sum total would be some 300,000 training days!
The team’s challenge is to get ever nearer to delivering a comparable amount of training value using the resources it actually has.
From first steps to growing sophistication
Technology-supported learning has played an evolving role in helping to meet this people challenge – which is to say that, as ever, the extent to which technology has proved to be useful has been dependent on the organisation’s ability to deploy it effectively. With LEO Learning’s help, Jaguar Land Rover has moved to a position of some sophistication in this regard; but progress towards this point, the team would admit, has been challenging.
Looking back seven or eight years, there was in place an e-learning solution that, while comparatively primitive, could deliver elearning around the world. Problems came with the move to a more sophisticated LMS platform. Though there was now greater complexity on offer and more powerful software deployed, from a learner perspective things did not progress as anticipated.
It was at this point, some 18 months before Jaguar Land Rover were sold by Ford Motor Company that the relationship with LEO Learning began to broaden out of the ‘content shop’ model it had previously followed.
Using a consultancy process that has since became known as the ‘Healthcheck’, LEO Learning helped the Dealer Training team carry out a 360 degree survey of what it was offering to dealers in the way of people development. The Healthcheck looked at all aspects including technology (both hardware and software) authoring, measurement, partnerships, resourcing and much more. Not only did it help to locate the current capability clearly in terms of maturity of adoption and point a clear route forward, it also served to point out various ‘elephants in the room’.
The result was a clear learning strategy and the identification and prioritisation of eight to 10 different workstreams. Some of these were concerned with protecting gains made to date, while others were about laying tracks for the future.
A certain amount of work, it was clear, would have to go into overcoming some significant challenges. Beyond certain pressing short-term priorities, however, the new strategy also looked forwards to a horizon of 2015, visioning a set of tangible goals to aim for.
Implementation began in 2008. Although many workstreams are still ongoing, solid achievements can be pointed to already, particularly in content authoring and LMS.
The Healthcheck set an aggressive target to get the lead time in content authoring down from five months to five days. This could be accomplished, it was found, principally by preventing people from reinventing the wheel. Typically, design for any given piece of online learning would start from scratch, with the location of front and back buttons on an interface, for example, being separately decided on for each new program.
Following a review of some fundamentals and by moving content production to a new authoring environment, this ambitious target was achieved. Focus has now shifted to bringing a similar slickness to the process for translation and localisation.
Another important priority identified by the Healthcheck was retirement of the underperforming LMS. LEO Learning project managed its replacement by a custom system developed by Redware. The new platform now has 42,000 users active on a regular basis, and is progressing well towards 100% usage, a 180 degree turnaround from the previous situation.
These are just two specific examples of results so far. Speaking more generally, the Healthcheck has enabled Jaguar Land Rover to take a more sophisticated approach to the use of a wider range of learning technologies within blends, speeding the shift from classroom-based to remote delivery. This is enabling the team to deliver substantially more to the dealerships within their existing budget.
Relationship with LEO Learning
LEO Learning offers Jaguar Land Rover a blend of specialist skills and capabilities across an extremely wide range, embracing everything from strategic consultancy to facilitating workshops – from advice on digital communications to technical implementation – as well, of course, as the design and production of learning programmes.
The background to this changing relationship has been the dissolving of the silo wall that used to separate all things ‘e-’ from the world of traditional face-to-face training; enabling a more holistic view of training strategy. At the same time, it has become less and less clear where the dividing line falls between training and something that looks more like knowledge management. Together with LEO Learning, the team has had to ask and answer questions such as, ‘how big should a piece of learning be?’.
Where elearning programmes might once have been 45 minutes long, we are now moving to a world where 45 seconds seems more appropriate: a world of bite-sized, just-in-time learning.
The 2015 horizon
As it looks towards the 2015 horizon, the Dealer Training team sees a world where the only constant is change.
Not only is it piloing the ongoing change programme kicked off by the Healthcheck; it also has to navigate the choppy waters of technological change. What will be the impact of the iPad on the shape of future mobile devices, for instance? And how can we future-proof learning content when the context of content delivery is so fast-changing?
Constantly in view are the evolving needs of learners. The Healthcheck has enabled the team to take a segmented view of its global user base that embraces its cultural and technical diversity. Further stages of maturity (maturation doesn’t end with adulthood, of course) will see content authoring increasingly devolved to the regions.
In all of this, a critical area of priority has been the human element. Technology, by comparison, is a relatively straightforward part of the mix. What poses greater challenges is getting everybody – authors of content, those who manage and instruct, and everyone else involved in the process of delivering learning – to accept and embrace that the world has changed, and that the business of learning has to change with it.
Growing up isn’t always easy.
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