Training as Strategy

1) Since the strategic goals are not mapped to the enabling activities, the organization would have no way of understanding how much they should invest in training, where they should spend those training dollars, or how to identify the return on investment when looking at the resulting operations.

2) By leveraging existing staff that “know” the tools and processes, the organization limits itself to known capability boundaries. In other words, the staff performance will never exceed the current limits. By scoping out a training plan that clearly identifies the skills and capabilities required to achieve the vision, the staff can identify previously unknown capability gaps and enhance their skills accordingly.

3) An organization that relies on the heroic capabilities of a small set of individuals as opposed to documented processes with detailed training plans has simply pre-planned an operational failure. People leave organizations all the time. If your organization has relied on their heroics as opposed to training and processes, trouble will be at hand, but the challenge was foreseeable.

So if training is strategic, what is the best approach to developing a strategic training plan? We suggest the following approach:

1) Take a classic systems engineering approach to your strategic plan to understand the processes, tools, techniques, intellectual capabilities required to achieve the goals outlined in your plan.

2) “Stack” your plan. Identify the capabilities that are foundational to others and obtain those skills first. Also identify key personnel who have training skills. It may be possible to leverage a “train the trainer” approach which will allow you to simultaneously achieve faster dispersion of new skills and develop deeper team integration and interaction.

3) Identify your “camping spots.” All organizations have programmatic and operational realities that may interfere with any training plan. So define the acceptable “training levels” where your organization can “camp” while attending to other activities. This ensures that you can capture incremental value concurrent with your training plan implementation.

In summary, do not take training lightly. While it may seem inconvenient to have staff offline for a few hours or even a few days, the strategic payoff will make it worth your while. And as your organization becomes more successful, you will only have one question left: “why didn’t we do this sooner?”