From Fashion Disaster to Timeless Classic

The January sales have been on and I’ve been prowling around for a bargain or two! Sales shopping can be a dangerous pastime. It’s easy to find yourself getting swept along on the ‘bargain’ tide and lured into buying a load of stuff that is highly trendy right now, but completely out of fashion by Spring!

I do my best to avoid the trends and go for a more classic approach that will hopefully stand the test of time, and it got me thinking about the trends that might be around in the world of learning and development during 2013, and the ones that will become classics.

Doing More With Less

I think that it’s pretty safe to say that the days of unlimited spending on learning and development are well and truly over, and probably have been from some time. In a recent poll I saw, a significant majority of the people who responded said that they would be spending less, not more, on training and development during 2013. So the squeeze continues, which means that doing more with less is certainly going to be a trend that continues into 2013 and beyond.

Perhaps the question that we should ask ourselves is how can we work this trend and potential fashion disaster and turn it into a timeless classic?

The ‘Small is Beautiful’ Approach

We could focus spending on a discreet population within the organisation. This is a way of offering a depth of development that will have a significant impact on a small and carefully chosen group of people.

Of course, the selection mechanism has to be right for this to deliver maximum return on investment. Ideally, ‘the chosen ones’ will be those who have the potential to ‘make things happen’ as a result of their development. And not just for themselves but by positively influencing the performance of their peers, direct reports and the wider business. And that word ‘potential’ can cover a multitude of factors…..

We’ve seen this approach in action during 2012. We designed and delivered a programme of development that focused its attention of a small population of key personnel facing a particular operational or professional challenge.

Through their shared experience, this small cohort developed a level of trust and respect that reached far beyond the original scope of the development programme.
Adoption of the development messages was lightning-fast and motivation was high, as was the determination to take the messages and share them beyond the original group to others who would benefit from new ways of thinking and behaving.

It’s safe to say that although the audience was small, their collective reach into the organisation was far greater than the confines of the training room, and their willingness to share what they were learning gave a real boost to the return on investment from the programme.

On the downside, whilst the development messages are hitting home with the carefully selected cohort of learners, and their thinking and ways of behaving at work are starting to evolve for the better, success also relies on the line managers to support and encourage learners and attempts to embed changes can be easily scuppered without their buy in.

Also on the downside, with only a small proportion of the organisation being given access to development opportunities this can leave others feeling deprived and envious.

5 ways to maximise your Return On Investment with this approach……

1. Involve Line Managers in the programme design and keep them up to speed as the programme progresses so they can regularly check in on progress, ask relevant questions and give insightful feedback to their learners.

2. Encourage learners to share what they are learning with their own teams and colleagues so knowledge and information flows throughout the organisation in an informal way.

3. Make sure that Theory can be easily turned into Practice. Support your investment with tactics that will speed up the rate of implementation. Access to coaching and peer learning groups are two great ways of doing this.

4. Monitor progress closely and make adjustments as the programme is delivered to tweak anything that isn’t working. The beauty of a small audience is that the programme can be tailored to suit them so that get the most from it. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.

5. Be vocal and upfront about the commitment that the business is making to the development of individuals in the organisation. Set expectations so that there is clarity about how they can hold up their end of the bargain and inspire them to get as much value as they can from the development on offer.

Sticky Thinking Top Secrets for Doing More With Less

Number 1
If you want to get more from your training budget, look for a solution that treats more than the current symptoms.

Ask your supplier how they can design a programme for you that teaches learners skills that address not only the issue you want to fix right now, but gives them skills that can be applied in a range of different situations, today and in the future.

Number 2
We learned this from an inspirational manager we worked with a few years ago. She asked us what percentage of our potential we thought we were fulfilling every day at work.

Anything below 100% suggested room for improvement; not only in the way we were working but in the way we were being managed. It was a thought provoking question and one that you could ask any one of your team this afternoon!

Number 3
The Big Question…

“How will you do more with less during 2013?”
“How will you be super-creative to get more from the resources you have?”

We’ve shared some of our ideas, and we’d love to hear your thoughts too. Get in touch at and let us know your plan……perhaps we can help you make it happen.

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One thought on “From Fashion Disaster to Timeless Classic

  1. Pingback: Choose one thing, tell everyone! | A Space for Clear Thinking

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