A Tremendous Opportunity
Training is a key element for success in any marketing technology initiative. That goes without saying. What typically goes with little fanfare, however, is the tremendous potential that training offers.
In fact, we would even go so far as to say:
Yes, training really is all that. Or, stated in a more aspirational manner: it could — and should — be all that.
Capturing the potential simply requires fully embracing and rallying around training as a foundational pillar for transformation and success.
But: Often A Missed Opportunity
The problem is that organizations typically carry out most of their user training at the end of a technology deployment project, around the time of go-live. They focus on features and functions, ask participants to fill out a quick survey on the way out, and call it a day.
For example, as the numbers above suggest, it looks like training turned out OK, right? Well, at a glance, yes: 59% of training participants indicate satisfaction.
But if we ask about training topics beyond solution features and functions, such as how helpful training was with respect to understanding goals, business processes, roles and problem-solving, the results are often more lukewarm:
Now, to be clear: the key point illustrated above isn’t that training on goals, process, roles and problem-solving was poor — it’s that it was nonexistent. It simply didn’t happen. It wasn’t part of the purpose, it wasn’t part of the plan.
And that’s nobody’s fault.
That’s simply sight that got set too short. And a tremendous opportunity that got missed.
A Driver for Organizational Transformation
Maybe part of the training challenge is the word “training” itself. One could say it sounds kind of small, narrow, maybe even a little myopic, don’t you think?
So instead, how about if we think of it as “learning”? Or “skill development”? Or “personal reinvention”?
Or better yet: how about if we think of training as a vehicle for change management, and as a driver of organizational transformation?
Those are lofty words. But in this case they’re justified. As Steve Jobs would say, there’s an opportunity here for insanely great training — to drive insanely great transformation.
To that end, let’s consider the Change Management Landscape shown above, and discuss five key areas where we believe insanely great training can — and should — happen.
Area #1: Overall Goals & Destination
Sun Tzu said, “the battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought.” This is certainly true with respect to the initiative’s overall goals & destination. Going in, it’s important for all members of the organization to understand why change is happening, where things are headed, and what the initiative is striving to achieve.
When applied in this area, training can help ensure that:
- Everyone understands the rationale and objectives of change and visualizes the new frame of reference, its positioning and its context
- Topics and concepts involved in the change initiative are described in a way that align to and support the new frame of reference
- Timeframes and forward-looking actions are communicated across the organization (with feedback and suggestions collected, cataloged and prioritized)
Area #2: Individual & Team Roles, Responsibilities and Associated Skills
Change will entail organizational redefinition, new role assignments and responsibility adjustments. It may also require considerable skill development. Training can facilitate accordingly, by offering:
- Departmental and team-level education to define new job roles and responsibilities (and how they inter-operate)
- Responsibility and expectation redefinitions aligned to adjusted roles and responsibilities
- Ancillary skill development programs to develop associated technical or functional skills beyond the platform/solution itself
Area #3: Business Processes & Compliance Imperatives
Helping users understand the overall business and marketing processes that the technology solution will enable is perhaps the most common area of missed opportunity for training that we typically see out there.
Many organizations assume users already know the process. Or, they decouple business process training from solution workflow training.
We strongly believe they go hand in hand, and should be carefully and comprehensively conveyed together, for several reasons:
- Business/marketing processes set the context for solution workflows
- Business/marketing processes ensure consistency in terms of work management
- Business/marketing processes ensure compliance with brand standards and regulatory imperatives
Area #4: Case & Problem Solving Within Context of Solution Features & Functions
As we mentioned earlier, training often focuses on solution features and functions. However, enterprise-class marketing solutions are rarely about specific features: they are more about managing and orchestrating marketing operations.
To help marketing professionals learn how to cast and solve their operational challenges within the context of the platform or solution, we strongly recommend a problem-solving and case-oriented training format:
- Preparation of training materials that illustrate day-in-the-life scenarios
- Group brainstorming and discussion around how to render and manage marketing project information within the context of the solution
- Scenario and role-playing (especially around exception cases)
Area #5: Continual Knowledge Transfer, Acquisition & Expansion
As the organization evolves over time, team members inevitably come and go and take on different roles and responsibilities — all while new capabilities become available within the solution itself.
As a result, knowledge needs to continue growing and flowing in order to keep the organization tightly aligned to the ever-expanding marketing solution, and vice-versa.
In this respect, training — in the form of a fully developed learning center of competence — should become part of the organizational fabric. Delivered with a steady and ongoing cadence, it can facilitate change and encourage organizational transformation across a variety of areas:
- Goal, role and responsibility adjustments
- Process improvements with contextual instruction on corresponding solution enhancements
- Organizational knowledge transfer, skill development and personnel onboarding
Needless to say, we’re big believers in the possibilities of training. And to be fair, we think most organizations would agree with us. Yet somehow training often gets left as an afterthought, cast in a supporting role.
Well, let’s bump it up a notch. Actually, let’s bump it up many notches — all the way to the top!
Of course, there are many areas to take into account when developing a comprehensive training discipline. To name just a few: solution training, business process institutionalization, compliance adherence, objective setting, role definition, responsibility assignment, expectation management, knowledge transfer, skill development, etc.
But here’s the key point:
In the end, that’s what insanely great training is made of. And when applied in full, the impact on organizational transformation can be truly magical.