Summary: You have a vision and strategy for training in the upcoming year and it’s taken quite a bit of time, assessment, and brainstorming. But the best strategy is useless unless you know how to execute it.
Visions and strategies can fail easily if there is not a solid plan for execution, especially if you need to present the vision and strategy to a decision maker. Also, when it comes to being a visionary and innovative training manager, it is absolutely necessary to think through the “how” by circling your strategy at a very low level. You may be able to do this alone, but if you have a training staff this is another time to bring them into the planning process. Many times the people who execute every day can see things that you might miss.
When it comes to your vision, remember that this statement or group of statements serve as a guide and a reality check for the upcoming year. But you translated your vision into a strategy, so the strategy should be your focal point for execution. As a training manager, you should also be able to put together a mental picture of the execution components as the vision and strategy are being discussed and brainstormed. To adequately plan execution, look at your strategy from the standpoints of technology, human resources, physical resources, “buy in,” and finance.
In terms of technology, you may already know what components are missing in order to execute your strategy for 2011. For example, if you know you need to add technology such as Captivate or Articulate, this should produce a blank line for human resources and finances. But don’t forget about other technological aspects of execution. Is the staff hardware and software adequate to add technology? Will you need to expand PC memory, screen sizes, or capabilities in order to add design technology? If you are planning a technology that affects the entire organization, now is a good time to involve the IT people. All of these components will create a technical execution plan and will also contribute to your human resources and financial execution plan.
Next, examine intellectual capital, or know-how, in both the training organization as well as the organization as a whole. Determine what knowledge needs to be added or modified in order to execute your strategy. For example, if you are planning to implement a web conferencing tool, is the administrator or instructor going to need training in addition to the users? Or can a quick reference guide work for the general population? Within your own training organization, do you think it will be necessary to send your developers to classes so that they can learn a new program, or do they have the ability to “pick it up?” Remember when you are examining the technical aspects, look for bundles of products and training in order to present the most cost-effective technical upgrades for the training department.
The discussion of intellectual capital may lead to your human resources capabilities. In order to execute your strategy, are you going to need to add staff? Is there a potential for this, or should you suggest outsourcing to contractors to begin with? Another way to look at human resources is to consider “insourcing,” that is, changing skill sets in order to change job responsibilities. For example, if you have an instructional designer who has a high level of technical ability, you may simply need to train him or her to take over a new job function that deals with your new technology. Or perhaps you have an instructor who has expressed an interest in content development. This could be a great time to begin thinking about how to develop your existing staff without asking for cash to add resources.
Financial concerns will probably make themselves known throughout the execution planning process. Be sure to know how much you need, what the purpose of the money will be, and most importantly what will the “payback” will be. In other words, training can no longer simply exist – it is necessary to prove your worth by providing a cost benefit for every dollar.
With all of this information pulled together, create a step-by-step business plan that explains your execution strategy. This plan can also serve as a guide and a reality check as the year unfolds. But more importantly your business plan proves to the decision makers that you have considered every angle, that you have alternatives, and that you know exactly what you can deliver in the upcoming year.
For our final step in creating a training vision and strategy for 2011, we will examine how to present your plan to executives and decision makers.