A small team creates a revolution

An accounting firm was having trouble making a decision at senior partner level to move forward with a series of our programs. Believe it or not one of the issues they identified was poor decision-making processes! In the end, we proved that a small team can create a revolution in culture change.

Out of frustration, one of principals decided to move forward with our programs in her regional office. We started out with our Profiling Program for the partners and managers and followed that with Strategic Planning, Performance Management and Advisory Skills Development.

In eight weeks, we have seen the changed processes and behaviours in the regional office create enormous interest in other offices. The interest was like a groundswell from people in middle management and junior levels who were interacting with people in the regional office.

small teams can create large scale change in an organisation.

The groundswell began as informal conversations and then we noticed emails being sent to managers, partners and senior partners. The messages were clearly motivated by a fear of missing out, FOMO.

The most common topic in the groundswell was about the new client projects the team in the regional office were working on. These were apparent both in SharePoint and the CRM used by the business. The most common topic among the senior partners was the increase of $55k in the 8 weeks after the Advisory Skills Program.

Other changes took a bit longer to be noticed. The Profiling Program expanded in the regional office to include all of the accounting professionals. As usual, this prompted people talking about their profiles and their efforts at becoming better communicators and relationship builders. People in the regional office would innocently ask about the profiles of their colleagues located in other offices and this generated the ‘why didn’t we do the profiling?’

The revolution was underway. In July we begin our Programs in the head office with a roll-out plan across the firm ending in September. You can drive organisational change beginning with a tribe. In our case, the smaller regional office became the role models for what is possible. They will now be our role models, coaches and mentors for participants in our upcoming programs.

Do you want to learn more about how we initiated and executed this revolutionary change in a staid culture? Get in touch.

Is your LMS blocking strategy execution?

The learning management system (LMS) should be a primary support tool for ensuring strategic execution is successful. A business that is focused on strategic execution needs all people to be working on the right tasks at the right time. The whole organisation needs to know the strategic goals and their role in achieving them.  A learning management system, with the right features and tools, is ideally suited to align people to strategy and provide learning support.

One of the biggest barriers to successful execution is people not having access to information and learning to support their work. An organisation with high levels of productivity and engagement does not lose focus by people having to search for information and learning on topics they need to complete tasks. The learning management system should be a key software tool to improve productivity and engagement with learning. 

If the LMS is not performing these vital functions effectively then it is acting as a roadblock to strategy execution.  How does a well implemented learning management system support strategic execution? Below are some of the ones we have identified in our most recent implementation projects.

  • Configurable, flexible and scalable organisation structure in the LMS that accurately reflects how the business operates and its ongoing reporting needs. 
  • Ability to support large numbers of users and an extended enterprise. The performance of the LMS should not be compromised when there are large user populations accessing it. 
  • User administration of large populations is supported with the user interface, bulk actions and  adaptable configurations. 
  • The LMS includes extensive automated actions and workflow configurations to support how the  organisation operates. You should not be forced to adapt your workflows to the LMS.   
  • Reporting must be extensive and flexible. The LMS should provide senior leadership historical and predictive indicators to support decision making.
  • Integration and data sharing is essential to support the organisation’s information architecture. The LMS should not be an ‘island’ of data. 

It is critical that the selection process reflects requirements that are both strategic and tactical. The requirements are best collected and assessed drawing on a wide range of stakeholders in the organisation including the ‘C suite’.

There are just some of the areas that we assess when working on a new LMS acquisition plan with a client. This helps us assess the various LMS software options and vendors that are proactively updating their software to meet changes in the workforce and operating environments.

  • Are there plans for any mergers and acquisitions?
  • Is the business likely to open up offices in other locations?
  • Will be business adopt a remote workforce model?
  • Does the business currently support a channel or may do so in the future?
  • Will the business undertake a digital transformation project and will the new learning management system remain fit for purpose?

Next Generation Team Training

Specific autonomous training that harmonises with corporate training objectives. Has there ever been an example when one size truly fits all? A label that’s been stamped on everything from hats and clothing to table cloths and diapers, this type of statement couldn’t be farther from the truth. These days it’s all about customisation and this is critical into the world of effective training. Studies show that learners may retain information very differently and this has been one of the key drivers in the widespread rapid adoption of blended learning. This concept also holds true from a trainer’s perspective — one size does NOT fit all when it comes to team training. It is imperative that business units across an organization are equipped with the right tools to meet their specific goals and objectives. And, this often comes with unique training needs that do not always fall under the same organizational LMS umbrella.
Enterprise LMS

Training should be tailored to team needs.

No two teams are alike, nor their training needs. Every organisation has some type of hierarchy or chain of command that functions along the idea that all the individual units work together for the good of the whole. However, would it be safe to assume that sales and marketing will have very different training needs than manufacturing, safety and HR? Or, IT versus customer service? While there will always be some cross-over in training needs, there are also a significant number of situations where specific teams need a tailored solution. Common problems teams face include:
  • A lack of administrative access or control of the corporate LMS.
  • The corporate LMS is too complicated for small team needs.
  • The LMS does not offer administrative tools for specific user populations.
  • There is an inability to customise learning paths and training for specific team requirements.
If your business is not  delivering tailored training and/or performance support to specific teams and groups you may consider the following:
  • Review the capabilities of your LMS to determine if you can deliver tailored training and user experiences to specific teams and groups.
  • If your LMS has these capabilities but they are not utilised, consult your vendor or support provider to determine the scope of activating this set of capabilities.
  • If your LMS does not have this capability you may wish to explore other options. The use of learning management systems across the extended enterprise is now more common and proving an effective business development and competitive differentiator.
  If you would like further information on this subject please get in touch with us. We can provide ideas on how to roll out tailored training and show you some e-learning modules designed for these types of scenarios. You may also wish to have a look at an LMS configured for an extended enterprise deployment.  

Is Productivity Killing Your Business?

Productivity is a hugely popular topic and there is no shortage of authors, teachers and ‘gurus’ out there to help you get more productive. You may be using Microsoft Outlook at work but if you do a search on ‘productivity apps’ you will get an avalanche of options for your laptop, phone and tablet. Productivity is a big deal and big business. It has advanced way beyond the days of sending people to a time management program and see them return with a paper planner in a binder. If you don’t remember those days you did not miss much.

Do you ever wonder why key strategic milestones and projects are not completed successfully and on time? Is your organisation slow to respond to changing internal external pressures? Are you only discovering failed or stalled projects when it is too late?

Organisational and team productivity is not always a sum of the ‘parts.’ Every person in a team may be highly productive but this does not always translate to overall productivity when measured by successfully achieving objectives. As a leader you need to take a deeper dive and build processes that will ensure productive activity achieves outcomes.         Strategy Cascade.001

Our process on a high level includes the following and we may go into a deeper dive in subsequent posts. In addition we have a number of tools to help teams and managers execute tasks and achieves tasks more effectively.

  1. Your corporate or organisation’s strategy must be clearly ‘cascaded’ to the individual level. Each person must have ‘line of sight’ from their role to the overall strategy.
  2. Your strategy should be broken down into goals, objectives and tasks in alignment with your structure and the strategic horizons assigned to roles and job titles in your business. This is a very simple structure.
  3. The most difficult phase of achieving excellence in execution is changing the way people work together and introducing systems and discipline in at least one management process. This process includes the following steps:
  • Weekly team meetings with a structure set of questions coupled with accurate note taking, task creation, task assignments and follow up. The manager meets with the team every week.
  • The agenda is fast and focused.
    • What are you working? Is it on your work plan and/or task list?
    • Is there anything or person disrupting or distracting you from achieving completion?
    • The manager asks, “What can I do to ‘clear the path’ or support you in achieving your tasks?” This is recorded as well.
    • The manager has one day or less to follow up with the person on actions taken.

4. The meetings are fully documented and retained. I have clients who use OneNote or          Evernote to record these meetings. The information captured is excellent for use in      management meetings, reporting up the organisation and for performance reviews with the manager and team members.

This can be a major change program depending upon existing systems and processes in your business and the culture you have. This type of process must be implemented at all levels of the organisation and not focused on one business unit or functional area. All managers who will be conducting the weekly team meetings must be trained in how to conduct them and record information. If a manager is away for any reason the weekly meetings must still occur.

The end in mind for this change initiative is achieving higher levels of engagement, adaptability and competitiveness. You achieve these outcomes by enabling people to work effectively to achieve your strategic objectives.

The Case for Performance Support

Performance support is not instructor led or e-learning.  Performance support is all about providing easy access to knowledge and information that people need to execute their roles.  Performance support delivers information at the point of need.  Performance support must support traditional learning but neither is a substitute for the other.

The case for performance support is being made globally.  The competitive and environmental stressors facing organisations are varied and expanding in size and impacts.  As most other competitive advantages decline and blur, people and teams are still primary to sustainable growth and success.  If you understand the competitive advantages that learning and development can delivery then you will also understand increasing the pace and pertinence of shared knowledge in an organisation results in benefit flows within and outside the organisation.

Some key realised benefits in our clients who are in the process of a performance support implementation:

  • faster response times to client help enquiries.
  • higher productivity levels of all client facing teams.
  • greater cross-team sharing of best practices.
  • emergence of thought leaders within the organisation.
  • less resources committed to instructor led training and issues with retention of information.

To further distinguish performance support there are three characteristics of performance support:

  • Information is available within a ‘workflow’ and available with a minimum of navigation.
  • The information is directly relevant by being contextual to the work being performed by the individual.
  • The user accesses enough information to get the task done without too much information or opportunity for distraction.

Performance support may be digital or analog.  There are plenty of examples of paper ‘ready reckoners’ or ‘quick start’ guides that qualify as performance support in an analog format.  Paper based content tends to be less easily accessible and searched.  The most common place you will find analog performance support material is pinned to a cubicle wall.

Digital performance support takes many different forms in different media across many different delivery channels.  In many cases the content is accessed from a computer, tablet or mobile phone from a platform of some type; for example MicrosoftSharepoint, in application contextual support, Google sites, Salesforce Libraries, deep links to an LMSOneDriveDropbox,Box, among many others.  We have worked with all of these tools as well as some more social style channels includingHootsuite, Yammer, Lync etc.

Performance support needs a change program to be successful.  A learning culture must not only exist in the organisation but a shift to adopt performance support changes the way information is shared and sourced.  Performance support demands a self serve, self reliant mind set removes any anxiety around finding the right information and applying it quickly.  There are always those that prefer asking a question to solve a problem over sourcing an answer via search.

There are some key planning measures that are critical to success, among these are:

  • Understand the different ways people learn and catering for this diversity.
  • Ensure the means of accessing information is simple.
  • Choose simple, easy to use technology platforms.
  • Use search technology.
  • Your content must be fit for purpose; fast to read and easy to comprehend.
  • Performance support requires ongoing commitment and administration.