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Running Training Like a Business

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Many of today's business leaders champion learning as essential to business success, backing their belief with massive investments in Training and Development (T&D). In fact, T&D investments reach $56 billion per year in the U.S. alone. In this era of unprecedented opportunity, the time is right for T&D to become a full-fledged "player" in the world of business.

At issue, the authors contend, is T&D's inability to seize this opportunity and deliver unmistakable value to its most influential customers-the exectuvies who pay for trainiing services but are unable to see clear business value being returned on their companies' training investments. The authors also contend that T&D must alter the traditional precepts that keep it "separate form the business" and "out of the loop" strategically.

Van Adelsberg and Trolley suggest that the key to delivering unmistakable business value lies in transforming T&D-in spirit and in practice-from a funciton to a business. The authors draw on their experiences working inside Moore Corporation, DuPont, Mellon Bank, Kaiser Permanente, Texas Instruments, and other top businesses to illustrate how "Running Training Like a Business":

1. Eliminates the many hidden costs of training;

2. Re-focuses T&D from delivering training content to addressing business issues;

3. Makes T&D a full stategic partner in business decision making;

4. Ensures that training measurement is "baked in, not bolted on";

5. Improves the effectiveness and efficiency of internal and/or external T&D organizations.

Trolley and van Adelsberg lead the reader through a proven four-step process for transforming traditional training organizations into training enterprises capable of delivering unmistakable value, quarter after quarter and year after year.

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11 Chapters

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1: Sold On Learning

ePub

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Say, that’s not a bad way to start a book! Too bad Dickens beat us to it. The celebrated opening line from A Tale of Two Cities aptly describes the bittersweet world of training today.

This certainly could be the best of times for T&D. Executives see a widening gap between the skills and knowledge that businesses require versus those that the workforce can offer. “The need for skilled employees has never been keener,” declared a recent article in Fortune. “One-in-ten information technology jobs sits unfilled, and companies are almost as hungry for workers adept at so-called soft skills.”1

As a result, there is now virtual consensus among executives that learning must be a major factor in their ongoing strategies for business success. Even Wall Street, never a noted fan of T&D, has caught scent of this trend. “A tsunami of cash is poised over the [training] industry,” trumpets an article in Training & Development magazine. “Within two years, it will have reshaped everything.”2 Training Magazine reports, “The prevailing thesis on Wall Street is that knowledge workers will require more education and more training than ever before. As a result, corporate training budgets will increase substantially, which will mean more money flowing into the coffers of companies that sell training.”3

 

2: Missed Connections

ePub

When Ed Trolley, a career line manager, was tapped to lead T&D for a Fortune 500 company, he asked each of his new T&D colleagues, “What value would you say our function adds to the business?” Several stared back at him as if to say, “Come again?” A little embarrassed for them, Trolley rephrased his question: “How does T&D help this business make, sell, and distribute products that satisfy customers and earn profits?”

They’d then nod, seem to catch his drift if not his precise meaning, and start to tell him about their work, often with great passion. “Haven’t you read the reports?” they’d ask. “We offer thousands of programs around the world. And the evaluations show that participants love the content and the instructors.” T&D was stimulating minds, building skills, and making people happy.

That seemed adequate to the folks in T&D, perhaps, but not to some of the company’s executives. One told us, “Training here was very program-oriented. Some trend popped up out in the literature, and all of a sudden we were doing a training program in it, even if no one asked for or particularly wanted such training. It was almost as if training was something separate from the business.”

 

3: Running Training Like a Business

ePub

Creativity… producing through imaginative skill. Courage… readiness to embrace challenges. Honesty… speaking the truth. Realism… adherence to the facts. The ideals to which most people aspire, personally and professionally, tend to be simple in concept. Living those ideals day after day, on the other hand, takes great determination.

The approach we advocate in this book—Running Training Like a Business—operates a lot like those familiar ideals. Running Training Like a Business means being simultaneously effective and efficient. That’s the core of the concept. Here, briefly stated, are the keys to making it happen.

To achieve effectiveness, one must:

To achieve efficiency, one must:

To achieve both, one must:

This chapter offers an overview of these basics. Later chapters will provide more details, tools, and examples. Throughout, we’ll share experiences and perspectives we’ve gathered from some pioneers who are now leading their organizations in this new direction.

Effectiveness begins with understanding what training’s customers hope to achieve and dedicating T&D to fulfillment of those goals.

 

4: The Phases of Transformation

ePub

Through our work with various customer organizations, we’ve defined a process for transforming a traditional training function into a training enterprise. The transformation to Running Training Like a Business unfolds in four phases, illustrated in Figure 4-1. Each phase involves certain key steps that, successfully implemented, culminate in outcomes essential to the next phase.

Figure 4-1 : The Phases of Transformation

PHASES

We’re not saying that this is the only path to Running Training Like a Business. Our experience suggests, however, that a thorough transformation along these lines is essential. In fact, it may take from six months to more than a year for your training organization to proceed through the Assessing, Planning, and Installing phases that bring you to Running, the ongoing phase of operating T&D as an enterprise.

Envisioning this multi-phased transformation from the outset will help you gain the perspective you’ll need to maintain an appropriate focus and sustain your momentum over the long haul. In this chapter, we’ll offer a high-level overview, based on the transformations in which we’ve had a hand. Subsequent chapters will explore each of the phases in more detail.

 

5: Assessing: Take Stock of Training

ePub

“Assess the training organization.” That’s not what anyone would call a startlingly new idea.55

Many training organizations do assess themselves regularly. But while traditional assessments of T&D may generate reams of data about training, they rarely produce even fundamental data on the business aspects of the training organization. How much is actually spent on training annually? What sort of ROI does T&D generate? How does training contribute to overall business competitiveness? What value do training’s customers perceive in training services? Many training organizations lack solid answers to such questions, no matter how many times T&D has been assessed.

The assessment we suggest you conduct, in contrast, seeks to bring together, in one place and at one time, the answers to all of these questions:

These are questions you must answer to move toward Running Training Like a Business. The key steps for gathering those answers are laid out in Figure 5-1.

Figure 5-1 : Key Steps for Assessing

PHASES

 

6: Post Assessment: Weigh Your Options, Make the Business Case

ePub

In the last chapter, we advised you to assemble your assessment data into a gripping story of what training is, could be, and should be for the businesses you serve. Now it is time to weigh your options for fulfilling that vision, and to make the business case for pushing forward on that course.

Figure 6-1: Decision Point—After Assessing

PHASES

Of course, your business assessment of training could indicate that you should do nothing. We’ve said it before: Running Training Like a Business is not for everyone. 79

When is it wise not to attempt Running Training Like a Business? When your assessment reveals findings like these:

A decision to maintain the status quo does not make your assessment a failure. You will have gained many valuable and applicable insights from the experience, and you will have systematically explored possibilities that no business should overlook.

If your assessment suggests that you should move toward Running Training Like a Business, you’ll want to spend some time weighing your options for pursuing the transformation. Our experience suggests that there are three ways you might go:

 

7: Planning: Design a Value Machine

ePub

Now that you’ve conducted your assessment and made a compelling case for Running Training Like a Business, you may come under pressure to instantly launch a new training organization. (“It makes great sense, so let’s go!”) That sort of demand can be intoxicating. After all, you’ve worked hard to stir up just such enthusiasm. Our advice? Enjoy the feeling. But keep a clear head. Your next few moves will be crucial. Figure 7-1 lays out the key steps for this part of the transformation, the Planning phase.

“When you decide to build a house, you don’t immediately pour concrete. First, you draw a blueprint,” notes Mary Maloney, a Forum colleague who pioneered much of the planning process described in this chapter. “Even before you draw your blueprint,” she says, “you ask questions like, Who will live here? How much space will they need? What’s their lifestyle? Taking a little time to determine those things in advance is common sense. The same common sense applies in managing a major business project.”

 

8: Installing: Launch the Training Enterprise

ePub

Installing is the phase in which you actually create the new training organization and launch its operations. Your transition team will define and develop your initial product offerings; establish effective and efficient processes for relationship management, consulting, publishing, delivery management, and value measurement; create systems for learning technology, knowledge management, and resource management; build your information systems and office infrastructure; select, hire, and train the staff; and initiate your ongoing stakeholder communications. Figure 8-1 illustrates the Installing steps and their position in the broader framework of the transformation to Running Training Like a Business.

Figure 8-1 : Key Steps for Installing

PHASES

If it seems to you that Installing is a lot of work, you’re right. It’s akin to launching a full-blown business. The mental, emotional, and even physical demands may wear on you as the weeks roll on. It’s not the kind of challenge you tackle for a mere paycheck: You do it to fulfill a vision.

 

9: Running: Deliver Unmistakable Value

ePub

“This is not the end,” Winston Churchill once told his gallant countrymen. “It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” That is precisely where this chapter brings us. Through long and diligent effort, your traditional training function has been transformed into a training enterprise. The people, products, processes, and infrastructure required to run training like a business are in place. Any early wins you achieved during the Installing phase have alerted your customers that you are determined to make a difference. It is the end of the beginning. It is time to deliver unmistakable value.

Figure 9-1 : Key Steps for Running

The phases described in preceding chapters were essentially projects, to be completed within a certain number of weeks or months, and all toward completing a transformation of the training function. In contrast, Running constitutes the ongoing operation of your training enterprise.

In this chapter, we’ll review five main areas—outlined in Figure 9-1—in which a training enterprise must excel, day after day and year after year, to succeed as a business. As we go, we’ll tap the experiences of people who are now engaged in Running Training Like a Business, to give you a first-hand feel for the challenges and rewards one might find there.

 

10: A Customer’s Perspective

ePub

As we were finishing work on this book, we invited a training alliance customer, Susan Christie, Vice President of Sales Operations for Moore North America, to share her perspective on training that runs like a business. Here’s what she told us:

Your book says, “Training should address the customer’s issues and strategies at that moment in time.” I say, “Nothing less will do.” Not in our world.

The Sales Operations group, located in Lake Forest, works closely with Moore’s North American Sales organization as well as the Moore Learning Alliance. Our job is to make sure the structure, strategy and training all come together to help us optimize the unique strengths that differentiate Moore from the competition. The industry as a whole is experiencing great change, and our customers’ expectations are changing as well. Moore is creating a very different organization to meet these challenges, lead the industry, and better serve our current and future customers. I tell you this because it’s important to understand: That’s the environment here. All of us in Sales and Sales Operations are very excited about what we’re doing. We must be able to move very quickly and our partners must do the same.

 

Appendix

ePub

The Scoping Questionnaire is used primarily in the Planning phase.

Initially, it is used by the Transition Project Leader to estimate the length of the transition, to define the size and capability requirements for the transition team, and to forecast what other resources may be required to successfully complete the project.

The Scoping Questionnaire is subsequently used by the entire transition project team to develop a clear understanding of the current state of T&D, shape and scope the new training enterprise, and identify specific gaps between current resources and capabilities and those required for the future.

Planning your work, and most especially establishing clear accountabilities, is essential to meeting customer expectations and to achieving operating efficiency. These three frames are abstracted from a much longer Moore Learning Alliance chart of project work flows that specifies accountabilities and timing from the proposal and contract all the way through measuring and capturing learnings.

 

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