It’s widely accepted that L&D needs a makeover, and it’s been a long time coming. But making a fundamental change is tough; and it means recognizing that the old ways of doing things don’t work anymore. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.
Some people say that accepting change is needed, is the hardest part. In my experience this is not the case; for most people, things only get trickier from here on in.
Because this differs from business to business, many people get a bit stuck and inevitably jump off the bus to Change City and sleepwalk back into Do What I’ve always Done town; this is understandable.
How do you determine what needs to change, and more importantly, what it needs to change to?
Without the right guidance and support, leading organizational change can be a stressful experience.
You want to change, but don’t know how
Who can you turn to for the help you need?
Most organizations have worked with a training provider at some point. Either to cope with spikes in demand or for business-critical projects with some budget assigned. There are many great training providers out there doing great work, earning themselves a worthy place in the workplace learning ecosystem. So, you’d be forgiven for thinking that finding a training provider would be a good place to start. But are they the best choice to facilitate a change of this scale? Possibly, depending on the supplier and types of projects they’ve worked on. However, most suppliers are usually engaged for isolated projects, which leaves them a little vulnerable when it comes to understanding the wider business.
Training providers are unlikely to know enough about your business to give you the confidence needed for organization-wide change.
Strategic partnership vs. training provider
A strategic partnership is vastly different to working with a training provider (vendor/supplier). Here’s why.
Training providers (*Disclaimer: many, but not all)
When a large organization chooses a training provider, it’s typically a short-term gig (project to project), and often a transactional relationship. It usually goes something like this:
- Customer gives a brief to the external provider
- The provider proposes the best solution for the budget (usually all) and pitches for the job
- Proposal often showcases the latest in EdTech and current trends that could be deployed for the budget
- If successful, provider designs, develops, and hands over the training to the customer
- Project goes live
- Customer and provider part ways, usually before any impact can be calculated
- This is all completed on the assumption that the right problem is being tackled-and in the best way
This has BIG risks, as the provider is unlikely to fully understand your business outside of the project’s direct stakeholders, or those close to it.
A trusted strategic partner should integrate with and work as an extension of your internal team. A strategic partnership is a long-term relationship that delivers continual and compounding value. A partner should:
- Fully understand how your business works (over time), the aims of the business, who your people are, and what they need to succeed
- Help you identify where things could be improved
- Gather the data needed to make informed decisions (such as the scale of the problem, the cost of it, the cost to solve it, and the anticipated return)
- Use the data to help you prioritize what to target
- Build a backlog of other things to solve, when the team have capacity
- Work in Agile, to be able to pivot and redirect focus if business priorities change
- Involve users at every stage to help ideate and rapid prototype practical solutions (many of which won’t be training, but rather, valuable tools and resources)
- Aim to remove barriers to performance rather than train people to overcome them
- Propose solutions with the highest chance of success that will add the most value to the business
- Be able to flex the type and level of support services to reflect your needs, the business’s needs and seasonal trends
- Take on as many, or as few, of the day-to-day tasks as you need
- Stick around to validate success and iterate accordingly
- Use their influence to proactively work with users and the wider business to drive continuous improvement, whether that means training or not
- Take your internal teams on the journey from day one, providing tools, templates and frameworks
You can see just how different a strategic partnership is to working with a training provider in this simplified model.
Savvy organizations are seeing many benefits of strategic partnering, as the value to the business compounds year-on-year, as the relationship grows.
A strategic L&D partner should equip your teams with the tools, confidence, and practical experience to Reset, Rethink and Rebrand. Then support you and the business through the process of redefining the purpose, role, and remit of L&D to add optimum value to the company.
I hope this has helped you, and has gone some way to answering the question of how you change when you don’t know how.
To learn how a strategic partnership could benefit your organization, talk with someone whose client base is 100% long-term and ongoing partnerships, and 100% referrals from existing clients.
Talk to us.
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