Summary: As you plan your vision and strategy for 2018, it’s important to take a look at your industry in general. Let’s discuss why and how.

As training professionals, we have to remember that our industry covers not only the industry of our firm but also the industry related to training and development. And both of these areas can have an impact on your strategy for the upcoming year. The second step in planning your training vision and strategy for 2018 is to look at both areas in terms of trends and changes.

On the industry and organizational level, you may wonder why it’s necessary to look at trends when your organization’s executives may make decisions based on those trends.
First of all, you may be able to see trends and changes in the industry that will change the
way your organization conducts business from a different perspective, that is, the perspective of a training manager. Often organizational changes in response to the industry overlook the training aspect, so you can be better prepared for what’s coming. In relation to training and development, obviously any trends or shifts in the way training is designed, delivered, or managed can be used to the organization’s advantage.

One of the best ways to examine overall strategies and trends is through your professional network. Ask your colleagues what they have going for 2018, both within the industry and within training and development. Find out what new technologies are being deployed and how they are being used. Obviously if you are dealing with a colleague from a competing organization you may not get the details, but you may be able to obtain an idea of where firms are headed. In terms of training and development, it often seems that training professionals are willing to share their uses of technology and training trends with colleagues, so ask questions of your network and form a picture of how training is going to develop in the upcoming year.

Another way to look at strategy is to benchmark similar organizations. Keep in mind that similar may mean in the same industry or same group of industries, but it also may mean the same size training departments or similar training deployments. Benchmarking may be formal or informal, so your informal benchmarking may come when you work your network for upcoming trends. However, don’t be afraid to conduct some formal benchmarking, where you contact training leaders in similar organizations to determine how they are managing training now and in the future.

You can also take a closer look at industry publications, both traditional and online. Let’s face it: sometimes the latest publication issues end up far down the list in our email inboxes or stacked under paperwork on our desks. For the next few weeks, take special  care to read these publications in order to detect trends in both the industry at large and the industry specific to your organization. Use your intuition to list common elements and common trends. In fact, you can use the information you find to work with your network or undertake benchmarking studies for the upcoming year.

As you are “studying” the industry, try to separate trends from “trendy,” especially where technology is concerned. Spending for training has to be undertaken with even more care than in the past, so you want to come up with ideas that truly match industry trends and will truly last long enough to show a benefit to the bottom line. In addition, when dealing with your industry, try to discern between temporary “blips” and those trends that are here to stay. This may be difficult, so you may want to ask your executive sponsor or team for input as you work through trends and changes for the upcoming year.

The idea with industry strategy is to obtain a picture of where the training industry and your specific industry are headed in the upcoming year. You may find a great deal of useful information, or you may find that the information you uncover simply helps you understand general trends and where your organization is in relation to those trends.

Next, we will move back into our own organizations to determine what our “best” training customers are planning for 2018.

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