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The future of work, the future of training
Huthwaite’s Director of Marketing, Karen Woodhead, examines the changing corporate landscape and how training partners can stay relevant to the new mindset.
Three factors are transforming how we do business; technology, globalisation and humanity
Technology is giving us new, more efficient ways of working, the ability to join up and become more integrated, faster and fitter.
Globalisation is driving down cost, increasing competition, introducing commoditisation into sectors once considered high value and specialist. Trading is becoming ever more difficult and turbulent.
The behaviour of bankers, politicians, corporate tax avoiders and others is reducing tolerance levels for that which is unjust and does not give due care and attention to our humanity.
The corporate response
These macro factors are changing how corporates operate, or aspire to
Operationally we’re seeing greater streamlining to drive down cost. Automation, robotics, AI and block chain technology are speeding up actions and transactions. They are shaping how we work, where we work, and the skills we need to work. Corporates everywhere are planning what the future of work will look like for them and how they can use technology to help them transform performance while reducing cost. Such as with fewer buildings, more integrated job roles, more remote and mobile working and so on.
They are also changing how people think
Business leaders are questioning the status quo, challenging the norms, imagining transformations, thinking holistically. The focus is not on departmental objectives but enterprise-wide benefit. Disruption is no longer the mindset of an avant-guarde entrepreneur or digital start up. It’s now a mainstream corporate concept and has become so because technology is making everything and anything possible.
At Huthwaite International this big picture thinking is prevalent within many of our client organisations. Some are loud and proud transformative disruptors. Others are looking how to engage their own clients in more holistic ways. Our recent European research amongst medical device sales leaders shows a strong focus on finding and articulating wider organisation benefit beyond their immediate buyer and /or departmental needs.
It could be argued that the benefits from one-off investments, such as sales training, conducted in silos, which take no account of the wider enterprise and its macro influences, are not sustainable since they are not aligned to the holistic company view. Some might counterargue that they deliver what clients ask them for. But the truth is clients are thinking differently. Though in some cases that might have yet to filter down to grass roots decision making, the training provider who talks from this perspective with a guiding hand in this new landscape can be more relevant than those who don’t.
That’s not to say that training providers should change their products or that clients no longer have a need for said one off investments. But for the sustainability of our industry we should consider our relevancy to the macro cultural conversation. In so doing we can contribute to client thinking wherever it is happening and offer a different and more valuable perspective as and when clients are ready for it. This is relevant to SMEs too albeit on a smaller scale. Flexibility and options are key.
It’s logical to assume that if the focus of our clients, on an enterprise level, is increasing performance and reducing cost and in wider and more imaginative ways, we must contribute to that objective.
But enabling enterprise wide benefit is a different level of thinking even the most forward thinking clients might not be physically ready for. It requires a collective model and a shift from running uncoordinated efforts (such as improving negotiation skills in procurement, or increasing value building skills in sales) within silos to launching an integrated, enterprise wide, selling culture perhaps organised around the customer lifecycle. Additionally reducing cost should not mean reducing fees but guiding clients through a robust learning partnership with as much focus on permanent behaviour change of their participants as immediate skills transfer.
Sharing this visionary landscape is one thing, implementing is quite another. But in many ways immediate execution is less of a concern. The fact that it exists is enough evidence to reassure clients that their training partner is talking their language and has the capability to scale once the corporate structure permits it.
What next for the future of training?
Should our purpose change? Is it ok to be a training partner or should the focus be on performance improvement, or behaviour change, or delivering sustainable selling cultures? At Huthwaite, we're all of them. What’s important for us is ensuring that whatever we do and how we talk about ourselves has at least one foot in the macro environment and the associated contemporary challenges and opportunities faced by our clients. We offer a solution to a new kind of problem and whilst some of our clients are already there, others are not but their aspiration most certainly is.
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