Frank J. Anderson, Jr.
President and Chief Learning Officer
Defense Acquisition University (DAU)
Learning innovation can mean a lot of different things. Some definitions center on technological advances. Others focus on exciting ways to deliver traditional classroom instruction. Yet another definition of learning innovation involves going above and beyond traditional classroom or new and improved e-learning delivery methodologies to provide learning for an agile, growing workforce. Defense Acquisition University (DAU) President and Chief Learning Officer Frank J. Anderson, Jr. falls into this latter category. Anderson has discovered a way to make learning work in a constantly changing enterprise and work well.
He initiated DAU’s Performance Learning Model, (PLM) a multidimensional learning architecture representing the company’s learning and development strategy. PLM involves continuous learning activities, performance support such as consulting and rapid deployment training, and online knowledge sharing resources. “We’re trying to get a lot better at knowledge sharing, which at the end of the day is really what we do,” Anderson said. “We’re trying to get the right information to the right place at the right point in time.”
Under Anderson’s leadership, DAU’s efforts to deliver timely, effective learning when and where needed to produce a versatile, motivated workforce have been realized on many fronts, and all of the advancements have taken place as the workforce grew from 100,000 to more than 134,000. The need for certified technical training also grew, and since implementing PLM, DAU graduates have increased from 32,802 to 58,290, or 79 percent. E-learning graduates have increased from 627 to 40,465, or 6,300 percent, with no increase in budget.
Anderson also has revamped DAU’s curriculum content and delivery methods, transitioning appropriate courses to Web-based format and decreasing the time students are away from their jobs while fulfilling the learning needs of the Department of Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (DoD AT&L) workforce, and improving leadership and development. For instance, in program management, Anderson’s restructuring efforts reduced students’ training weeks from 36,000 to 10,000, returning 300 annual work years or $17.4 million in productivity to the DoD AT&L workforce. “We’re starting to get there,” Anderson said. “We’re learning how, we’re going to stay focused. It’s not so much that we want to do something new. We want to get better at what we’re trying to implement.”
To increase individual performance, Anderson launched the Continuous Learning Center, which has more than 52 modules online to help keep the workforce up-to-date on current business initiatives. The number of registered users has grown from 5,000 to more than 164,000 since September 2002. Further expanding DAU’s performance support capabilities, Anderson launched the Rapid Deployment Training Initiative. When major policy or practice changes occur, teams create new learning material and enter it into a digital repository within five days of the change, giving employees almost real-time access to changes that directly affect their jobs. In 2003 more than 12,000 employees received 68,000 hours of rapid deployment training within a few days of a major change in business operations. Over 800 downloads were made per day in order to make the learning available.
DAU’s knowledge-sharing system ensures that learners can be easily connected to performance-enhancing information, and communities of practice link individuals from different business units, enabling peers to share lessons and expert help, and transfer best practices across the enterprise. Anderson’s innovative vision has helped create more than 87,000 hours of new learning assets for DAU customers in 116 countries and set in place strategically directed learning products to bring the next generation of DAU workers up to date with technology-based learning provided on a continual basis.