Learning to get one step in front of your competition


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Do you remember HAL? I was reminded this week of an old story that once surfaced about the heuristically programmed algorithmic computer (HAL) in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

The story suggests that HAL was so-named to indicate that he was one step ahead of IBM. Alphabetically “H” “A” “L” precede “I” “B” “M” by one letter; although the author of 2001, Arthur Clarke denies this legend in his book “Lost Worlds of 2001.”

All the same, doesn’t it feel good to be one step ahead of your competition? Many executives look to their employees to provide that extra step, but that may not always work because in their human capital management algorithm, the training and development function is currently Lost in Space!

If your customer-facing employees are poorly trained, no amount of spin, marketing or branding will fix the problems they create. If your goal is to build a high-performance brand through a differentiated customer experience, you may need a new way of thinking. In the book “Execution” by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, the authors point out that the prevailing culture in a business defines what gets appreciated, respected and ultimately rewarded. To deliver a differentiated customer experience you may need to start with your organization’s ingrained beliefs concerning the role of training and development in the execution of your customer experience strategy.

Start with the business case for learning. Companies in which most employees have high quality learning plans have a 27% lower turnover rate and earn twice the revenue per employee as other companies, according to a recent study by Bersin & Associates. Then consider some lessons gleaned by Bersin through a close examination of high-performance organizations:

  • Learning and development plans were well-defined and actionable, with very clear goals, activities to achieve those goals, and concrete timeframes.
  • Plans were aligned with the company’s broader business goals and strategies, improving or leveraging employee skills and experiences to drive positive impact.
  • Employees and managers were both engaged in creating the learning plan. Learning thrives in a “feedback culture” that builds a dialogue of candor and transparency.
  • People learn through many types of formal and informal training. Development activities included online training, coaching, mentoring, job rotations, cross-functional assignments, and degree programs.

Leaders are learners and continuous learning is the key to success. Lifelong learning is the minimum requirement to stay one step in front of your competition. Make a decision today that your company is going to become a high-performance organization by evolving policies and procedures that optimize the effectiveness of your employees’ development plans.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


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