In the final article of this three-part series, we will talk about two of the most exciting transformations you can create in your training program. These two strategies are essential building blocks for building a brilliant organization that can continue to generate even more success despite its current greatness!
Embed visionary creativity
This is the principal challenge facing every single great organization today. Can you embed, enfranchise, and institutionalize visionary creativity throughout the entire organization. This is the essence of building a visionary organization, and it is the only way for a successful organization to stand the test of time and resist the long, slow slide into irrelevancy.
Unfortunately, it is very, very hard to do for several reasons.
Visionary creativity is risky
The game changes once you achieve greatness. The road TO greatness is relatively simple. Before achieving greatness, you have relatively little to lose. But once you’ve achieved greatness, there is an immense pull to protect what you have. You’ve worked so hard to get there, and you don’t want to lose it by taking unnecessary risks. The problem is, greatness is only achieved through risk. The key is to build systems to manage risk and know when to break them.
Visionary creativity is unruly
Visionary creativity doesn’t play nice. It doesn’t obey the rules. It hates the status quo. It is always changing things, breaking things, and sometimes building something better. It is a messy process that is hard to control. This lack of control makes it hard to scale. It is far easier to build, implement, and measure a training program that teaches employees what to do and how to do it. But the real benefit comes from teaching employees why you do what you do. Then give them the room to find a better way.
Visionary creativity is inefficient
Visionary creativity doesn’t lend itself to a predictable process from start to finish. It is seldom linear. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but visionary creativity never works that way. If you were to draw the process, it is more like a Picasso than an architectural schematic. Even a cursory look at our revered inventors and visionary organizations will clearly indicate failure is essential to the creative process. However, when you’re developing a training program and submitting it for budgeting, that’s a rather poor proposition. “We’re going to get less efficient as we teach our employees to fail more often.” Yet, that is exactly what must be done.
Foster rapid information sharing
Great training programs do wonders to tear down walls within an organization. Whether it be the divide between senior management and everyone else, sales and fulfillment, long-standing employees, and new recruits. It’s organizational nature for walls and silos to form, especially as an organization increases in both size and age.
Bad training programs make the problem worse, institutionalizing the siloes while pretending to tear down organizational divides.
While there are any number of reasons this happens, there are two you can change immediately and see a dramatic improvement.
Many of the best training programs in practice today (like Pixar University) leverage the existing talent within their organization to build up the potential talent within their organization. This benefits everyone involved.
Attendees: Anyone can attend anything. There’s great freedom and empowerment in being allowed to choose your own path. You are far more likely to retain and enjoy what you choose to learn than you are what someone else has forced you to endure. Some of the most enthusiastic learners I know were terrible students. Yet, now that they can direct their own learning, their thirst for more is insatiable.
Trainers: I believe the best way to learn something is to teach it. Being taught is a largely passive activity. We have to work to engage in learning while being taught. Teaching, on the other hand, demands learning. You cannot teach something well if you don’t understand it very well. It’s also a confidence booster. It is a great feeling to know that the organization you work for values what you know enough to let you teach it to others.
Leaders: Democratizing training moves leadership from a heavy push mode to a much more effective pull mode. You are able to focus on the context for the training while allowing others to provide the content, and it’s the best of both worlds. All the while, everyone is benefitting. Your trainers and attendees are deepening their knowledge, and you’re making it possible.
Involve senior leadership
At a glance, this may appear to be the opposite of the previous point. It isn’t; it’s simply another facet of an effective training program. If senior leadership steps out of the program or never steps in in the first place) any progress made in all of the other areas mentioned in this series will be short-lived.
- You simply cannot shape a culture of development without senior leadership modeling that culture.
- You simply cannot drive productivity from an ivory tower without looking like a heartless taskmaster.
- You simply cannot create room for the status quo to be challenged if senior management isn’t in the mix, lending their authority, power, and influence to make it stick.
- You simply cannot build a visionary organization if all the “visionary-ness” is reserved for the leaders at the top of the org chart.
- You simply cannot democratize training if all the power is held by an authoritarian elite.
By bringing your leaders into the mix, allowing them to not only teach but also learn, and letting them model the culture you want to create, you will move your organization toward a more successful future faster than ever.
While corporate training is all too often dreary, disheartening, and even dire, your training doesn’t have to be any of those things. You can build a vibrant, visionary organization that will develop and grow long after you’re gone by building a brilliant training program for your employees.
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