Learning Implementation Action Plan

Worksheet for Developing a Learning Implementation Action Plan

By Jay Cross and Lance Dublin

Derived from Chapter 10 of Implementing eLearning, a 140-page guide to building a successful change management and internal marketing plan for your organization. You may purchase copies of Implementing eLearning from ASTD Press or Amazon.

Learning Implementation Action Plan Worksheet

Instructions in italic are for you. Delete them after you’ve put together your Action Plan by answering the questions that follow.

If you’ve read the book, insert the information you developed there into this worksheet.

Then go back through the worksheet, making things consistent, refining your plans, adding details as appropriate, and deleting things that don’t make a difference. Add a schedule of events.

What remains is your eLearning Implementation Action Plan. Congratulations.

Subject: eLearning Action Plan for _____________ Corporation

The profit potential of eLearning at ___________ Corporation is staggering, but it won’t be successful without your support. That’s why we ask that you review our findings before we meet. Are we on target? Might you suggest things we can do better? Do you buy our proposals? Can we count on your support?

This memo summarizes how we think ___________ Corporation should implement eLearning and how it will benefit our organization. We will share how we plan to integrate eLearning into our corporate culture and operations, and how the company stands to gain from the proposed initiative.

We just completed an analysis of what we need to do to maximize our ROI from eLearning. We began by addressing these key issues:

What can we do to prepare our employees, customers, and partners to get the most from eLearning?
How can we improve the odds of success?
How do we keep people coming back for more?

In the past, offering individual courses and workshops, we were content to assume that we knew the answers to these questions. Those individual courses didn’t justify market analysis and campaigns.

eLearning is a different matter, because:

  • eLearning is an ongoing process, not an event
  • eLearning represents large-scale organizational change
  • not everyone is on board
  • a large investment is at stake
  • achieving results is no longer optional
  • many people do not understand what eLearning is
  • skeptics are critical of its effectiveness.

Our in-house goals are to:

  • motivate learners, managers, and the entire organization
  • win the support of our varied stakeholders
  • build an eLearning infrastructure
  • achieve lasting results.

In a nutshell, our action plan is to…

Insert your elevator pitch from chapter 6. Briefly describe your proposed brand identity, target markets, and positioning.

(from chapter 1)

What is your gut instinct about the challenges you will face?
Take a look at factors within your organization that may help or hinder your implementation. How many good signs do you see and what are they?
What are the bad signs you need to watch out for or plan to address?

Business Issues (from chapter 2)

The primary business issues involving our eLearning are:

  • Who are the major stakeholders? Owners? Managers? Workers? Partners? Outside customers?
  • How does your proposal support the vision of management?
  • How does this eLearning create value for your stakeholders?
  • What trade-offs are you making?

Describe the risk in your proposal and compare it to the rewards.

  • How do you think your customers will feel?
  • How are you applying the 80/20 rule? What high-leverage groups or activities have you chosen?
  • What impact will your initiative have on the bottom line?
  • How does your eLearning focus on core strategic issues instead of context?

Describe the cost-benefit analysis for your proposal.
The primary change management issues involving our eLearning are:

  • What leads to the sense of urgency around this project?
  • Who is on your guiding coalition?
  • What corporate changes are you attaching your eLearning wagon to?
  • What short-term wins do you foresee?
  • What stakeholders can you recruit for your coalition?
  • How will you anchor eLearning in your culture?
  • How do you plan to recruit innovators and early adopters?
  • Who are our primary customers? Employees? Salespeople? Customers?
  • What is the clear and compelling promise of your brand?

Describe the relationship you seek with your customers.

Organizational Culture and Change
(from chapters 3 and 4)

We must keep in mind that our organizational culture is: 
List prime characteristics of your culture here:

  1. What artifacts typify your organization’s culture?
  2. What are the distinct features of your corporate culture?
    Where do you see your culture on Hofstede’s scales?
  3. And how might this encourage or block eLearning?

We are preparing to support our eLearning implementation through leadership. Which organizational leaders are backing our efforts and why?

Who are our change agents and why? What will we do to support them?

Are the learners prepared for this change? Is our organization prepared for change?

Is our technology up to the task?

How will the initiative be governed?

Do the skills, knowledge, and abilities exist in our organization to ensure the success of our implementation?

What is our vision? [A vision statement is a picture of what you want the future to look like- what you aspire to become, to achieve, to create.]

What is our mission? [Your mission examines the project’s purpose and expresses its sense of value. Perhaps most important, a mission inspires people to stand out, and it guides leaders.]

  • What audiences do we need to reach with our communication plan?
  • What are the messages these audiences need to hear, and when?
  • What are the communication vehicles and activities we’ll use?
  • What will we do increase awareness?
  • What will we do to increase involvement?
  • What will we do to increase commitment?

Market Research
(from chapter 5)

We undertook the following research to learn about:

  • our consumers, the learners
  • consumer behavior
  • competitors for consumers’ attention
  • sponsors
  • our brand image
  • organizational goals
  • our industry’s environment
  • the macroeconomic environment
  • trends in eLearning technology

Our consumers: We’ve identified and described the target customers for our eLearning.

The consumers, your customers, are the most important topic of all. Use the 80/20 rule to select the groups with the most likely impact. Then describe each group using a target consumer description form. Two forms are provided below. See figure 5-1 for some examples of how to do this.

Target Customer Description

    New hires:
    Learning needs:
    Line sponsor:
    Bottom-line impact expected:

Target Customer Description

    New hires:
    Learning needs:
    Line sponsor:
    Bottom-line impact expected:

Competitors: We’ve identified the major competitors for the time and interest of our employees.

  • What or who are your major competitors?
  • What other corporate priorities will you be competing against?
  • What objections do you expect from your customers?

Sponsors: We’ve coordinated our plans with many people in the organization.

  • Who are our executive sponsors? What’s in it for them?
  • Who are our line management sponsors? What’s in it for them?
  • Who are our technical sponsors? What’s in it for them?
  • Whom must we rely on for success? What’s in it for them?
  • How do we plan to get their backing and support?
  • Organizational goals We know and support what our company is trying to accomplish

What are our organization’s overall goals?
What is the current mandate from executive management?

How does our eLearning initiative relate to its achievement?

Our industry’s environment in light of the direction in our industry, we’ve identified trends that will influence our eLearning initiatives.

  • What are the major trends in our industry?
  • Is solution selling replacing point sales?
  • Are customers going for self-service?
  • Is automation changing the flow of work?
  • Is the enterprise becoming more international?
  • Are processes being outsourced or moving overseas?
  • Are competitors introducing new generations of products?

Macroeconomic environment. We expect global events will affect our industry and its need for learning.

  • What political, economic, and social changes in the world at large may affect our business?
  • What impact do you expect from increasing workforce diversity? Aging of the workforce?
  • Economic volatility? Declining half-life of knowledge? Faster pace of business? Increased regulation? Globalization? International terrorism? Declining public education standards? Other factors?
  • How do we plan to adapt to the changes deemed relevant to our industry?

Learning technology: In all likelihood, the next three years will see shifts in eLearning technology, and we need to lay the groundwork for adaptation now as…

  • learning and knowledge management converge
  • eLearning becomes a Web service
  • simulation replaces linear subject orientation
  • eLearning and other enterprise-wide systems converge
  • content becomes more industry-specific
  • extent of high-quality generic content increases in core areas
  • individualized learning prescriptions are based on competency assessments
  • competency management replaces needs analysis.

If you’ve shared your findings with others, perhaps via your intranet, describe the confirmation or suggestions you’ve received from them.

Your market research could fill an extensive report. Don’t let it. Less is more.

Go back through your findings and eliminate anything that doesn’t matter. After all, not every industry trend or competitor is going to make even a ripple in your eLearning pond. Less is more. Pick the two or three most striking findings in each category, and use them to write a terse market research summary.

Marketing Design
(from chapter 6)

Effective consumer marketing strategies rest on a foundation of

  • a brand that creates a reputation that keeps customers coming back and attracts new customers
  • market segmentation that optimizes results by leveraging the most appropriate groups of customers
  • a position that places your product in the “sweet spot” in the mind of the customer.

We have used these concepts to develop our eLearning implementation plan:

[Please restate your elevator pitch here.]

  • What do we want our organization and services to be known for? What do we promise our customers?
  • What is our functional value proposition to our consumers?
  • What is our emotional value proposition to our consumers?
  • How will our brand identity give meaning to the lives of our customers?

Just as a brand identity may reflect a person (personality), it may reflect an organization and its culture.What attributes of your organization might your incorporate into your brand identity?
With these factors in mind, the brand identity of our eLearning consists of the following elements:

Brand name:

Brand symbol or logo:

A few core values:

What are our target markets and why did we choose them?
Which market segments will we focus on?

(from chapters 7 and 8)
Include the materials you developed in chapters 7 and 8. For example: a three-paragraph email announcing the eLearning initiative, a draft brochure for the program, an email invitation to an open house and demonstration, and a publicity poster.

List five ways you intend to create “buzz.”
List five common obstacles to eLearning, and for each explain how you propose to overcome it.
[If you are receiving help from your marketing communications department, you’re naturally going to describe what they are doing for support and show any samples they have developed for you.]
Sustaining eLearning
(chapter 9)

  • How will we provide feedback to learners and their bosses?
  • How will we handle complaints?
  • How will we assess customer satisfaction?
  • How will we keep our focus on the customer?
  • How will we show our customers that we respect them?
  • Do we plan to use “mystery learners”?
  • How will learners be able to co-create future learning events?
  • Are we setting up a learner council?
  • Are experienced employees to mentor new employees?
  • How will we support the development of communities of practice?
  • How frequently will we provide progress reports to stakeholders?
  • What will be in stakeholder reports?
  • How will we identify or solicit new challenges?
  • How will we monitor satisfaction?
  • How will stakeholders request improvements or additions?
  • Are we setting up a board of advisors or a steering committee?
  • Is professional development of one’s direct reports in managers’ job descriptions?
  • Have supervisors themselves learned to support and reinforce their subordinates’ learning?
  • What systems need to be changed?
  • What performance management systems need to be changed?
  • What formal and informal rewards and recognition systems will you leverage?
  • Hitch a ride! What organizational initiatives will you seek to become part of?

It’s a shame when people work hard to create a program and then blow it by under-investing in packaging.

We’ve presented the development of your eLearning plan as a fill-in-the-blank exercise. Filling in the blanks is not all you need to do. 

Have some old hands and people unfamiliar with your project read through your plan. Pay attention to their feedback. Tighten up your logic and your writing. A couple of months’ work justifies a few days’ polishing to sell your ideas.
Remember the old story about the retired engineer who’s called back to work to fix a boiler? He raps it once with a hammer and asks for a fee of $10,000. Incredulous, the management asks how he can charge so much for one tap with his hammer. He presents an invoice:

Boiler Repair
Tap once on boiler ———- $1
Knowing where to tap —- $9,999

In the realms of eLearning, marketing, project management, design, publicity, and boosting morale, Jay knows where to tap. Maybe a tap is all you need.

Find out more of what didn’t get into the book. Typos, far-out ideas,
and topsy-turvy presentation. This is unedited. From the heart.