Monday, 30 June 2014

Customise Weapons for Winning the Competitive War


Off the shelf training courses are useful for imparting competencies which are needed by all businesses- competitiveness comes from being able to do things differently by applying unique skills.

This article explores the magic needed to build those competitive weapons.

Crucial Elements for Competitive Competencies

How do we develop training tools for winning the competitive war?

Much of our organisation’s current intellectual capital exists in the heads of those who have been around for some time and have gained their expertise through time spent at the coalface.

On the other hand we are fully aware that today’s ways of doing things will not keep us competitive in the future- we need to be bringing new knowledge, skills and attitudes into our organisation. To do this we need to track the changes in our environment and to conduct research on how these changes should be addressed: there are extensive sources of information – networking and the Internet being the main ones.

Creating Magic

Finding the content required for a training course through these channels is only one element – what is key is the transformation of this information into something about which people are really excited to learn and, once taught, ensures that participants hit the ground running when it comes to motivation and application of this learning in the work environment.  

This requires the generation of creative synergies between two areas of expertise:
  • The subject matter expert, the person who knows, or has access to, WHAT needs to be trained, and
  • The instructional designer who knows HOW to train any subject in the way best suited to the content, level of complexity and target audience.

This combination very rarely exists in one individual: subject matter experts are those who, as a result of their experiences, can be expected to be older and more process oriented. By contrast, instructional designers are creatively driven – training technology is evolving at more rapidly than most others. World class training interventions are no longer simply a set of course notes and some PowerPoints- they may include audio, video, games, workbased assignments, games, collaborative exercises and many more. These need to be combined so that, by the end of each training intervention, measurable business objectives have been met.

Whilst we may fondly remember the good old days when we were allowed to leave our offices and attend a five- to 10-day course. Now we’re lucky if we have time for a lunch and learn. Yet we’re expected to learn more with less whilst achieving a greater effect on true performance. The objective is to fully engage participants as much learning is concentrated into as short a time as possible.

It is for these reasons that the welding together of subject matter experts with an instructional designer is so essential.

Putting the cart before the horse

What are the measurable business results that need to be achieved from the training intervention? The answer to this question must be agreed between subject matter experts and instructional designer before any course design can start.

In other words we start with the end in mind and work backwards: the end, the reason for investing resources in the learning program, is typically to solve a business need and to help an organization accomplish a goal.

These results are not just an afterthought, they  the whole point. We therefore must spend time upfront to reach agreement with business leaders about the role training can play in achieving the goal, the expected impact or other measure of success

A last word: Research has shown that if, in our efforts to change behaviours, 90% of the effort is in the delivery of training, then 70% of the people will try new skills and fail. However, if 50% of the effort is in the delivery, and 50% is in follow-up activities, then 85% of the people will consistently apply what they learnt. 

How does our company ensure that the skills and expertise built up by practitioners over the years is passed on to the next generation?

What tools do we use to track changes in the industry and ensure that we are meeting the changing needs of our clients?

What facilities do we have in place to design and deliver our own training courses so that we can remain competitive?

To what extent do we believe that training adds to our competitive edge?