Posts Tagged L&D Strategy

The Sacred Duty of Recording how our (L&D) Strategy has Evolved

It’s been almost 12 months since I returned to working independently.  Very shortly after leaving my last role as an employee I started a two month assignment at Qantas to undertake a strategic review of the current state Learning and Development (L&D).  It was a pilot focussed on three L&D teams which developed into a Group-wide review, and then into a transformation program.  Twelve months later the program is well underway and several internal people have been appointed to Project Lead roles.  It’s time for me to handover to the new Project Leads, complete some specific deliverables (including a learning technology road map and an L&D Capability framework) and to step back from day-to-day project involvement.

My primary task this week has been to prepare “handover packs” and start on boarding one of the new Project Leads.  I’ve spent most of my time this week using OneNote to compile the handover information.  It’s the same tool I used in September 2016 to finalise handover to my team at Coca-Cola Amatil.  Again, I’m finding it a very versatile way of compiling history, current state, and next steps for a range of strategic and tactical work items.  However, this post isn’t really about OneNote so I’ll move on.

This post is about the importance of having a documented history, something that captures the arc over time of how and why your strategy has evolved.

For example, at Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) I recorded how the Supply Chain Technical Academy had been set up in early 2012 with a mission to develop frameworks and programs to develop technical capabilities for new platforms that the business had invested in heavily over the preceding three years in order to ensure sustainable capability development and reduce reliance on equipment manufacturers.  By early 2014 we had largely met that mission, and the business strategy had been refreshed to focus more on efficiency and business continuity.  Our maturity as a learning organisation had developed, and our strategy expanded to include continuous workplace learning, with a particular focus on improving business continuity through knowledge sharing.  As I approached the end of my time at CCA the business strategy was shifting again and it was unclear at that point how the capability strategy should adapt to best support this shift.  The team member who was stepping into my role had spent a significant amount of time in Indonesia setting up a new Academy to support CCA’s local operations so there was a gap in his experience of how our strategy had evolved in the Australian operations, what had worked well, and the lessons we’d learned.  I felt significant responsibility to bridge that gap as best as I could, and spent time telling him stories about what had happened in addition to writing up this history and preparing presentations that would help him to link the future strategy to the past.

When I started preparing handover notes for the Qantas project I was aware that there had been several key shifts in insight and direction over the 12 months we had been grappling with the question of how to set up a higher impact L&D operating model.  And this was where I started – the arc of how and why the operating model had evolved.  The past seven months in particular on this project have been a period of intense activity with well over 25 workshops conducted, a LOT of stakeholders engaged, and  range of surveys and analysis of existing data sets undertaken.  We’ve spent too little unstructured time just ‘thinking out loud’ and making sense of all of these discussions and analyses.  Rather, we’ve been thinking on the run with a shifting cast of stakeholders.  It felt like a sacred duty as the one person who has been involved in this program from the start to retrace the path and document it to inform the thinking of others.

We have such a bias to action, an emphasis on delivery, in today’s organisations that we make too little time to think – to look back and look forward, connecting the two, making sense of where have come from in order to inform where we are heading.  This is as true of me as most people.  I make too little time to pause, reflect, and record how I got to a particular point and how this links to where I am headed next.  It’s time to reinstate and improve upon the personal quarterly reviews I used to undertake as part of my personal routine.  Don’t wait until a ‘handover’ or transition point to capture where you’ve been – it’s a good argument to both work out loud on a continuous basis and also to periodically reflect on and record whatever is important to the ‘big picture’ in your world.

 

 

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Why I Left a Job I Really Enjoyed to Work Independently

I recently finished working at Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA). Those of you who have follow me on social media or read my blog know that I really enjoyed my job. So you may be wondering why I have decided to return to working independently.

The Job I Enjoyed

In November 2011 I started a 6-week contract with CCA to design a national approach to capability development in Supply Chain.  One thing led to another and I joined CCA in early 2012 as an employee to lead the Supply Chain Technical Academy.  At the time a completely decentralised model was in place for technical capability development with an independent, inconsistent approach in different locations. CCA had invested heavily in a range of equipment and platforms, and wanted to ensure that their capability to use these was sustained and improved. The introduced a robust national approach to developing core technical capabilities via blended learning utilising the 70:20:10 framework.

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Australian Institute of Training and Development Awards to CCA Supply Chain

In early 2014 the Supply Chain business strategy changed. We updated our capability strategy to maintain alignment and strengthen governance. We also explicitly added continuous workplace learning to our strategy, which we defined as ongoing learning outside of structured programs. To execute this strategy we set about modernising our Learning & Development approach and capabilities.

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Finalist – 2015 AITD L&D Professional of the Year

My time at CCA was a period of significant professional growth – due both to my work experience and self-directed learning. In 2014 I transformed my professional development, as described in, and symbolised by, this blog. I have developed a strong global Personal Learning Network (PLN), adopted Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) and Working Out Loud (WOL) practices. This enabled me to step-up my strategic leadership and implement modern approaches to workplace learning. One business challenge I became particularly interested in is improving the use of knowledge and expertise to improve business performance.

At CCA I had the opportunity to be innovate. I felt I could make a positive difference to the daily work experience of people across the organisation. My role was a vehicle to impact individual, team and organisational performance. I worked with people I liked who were professional, reliable, and cared about what they did. For the most part I did work I enjoyed that gave me a sense of meaning and contribution. However, over time my strengths and interests shifted – and I wasn’t able to find a way to focus on those within CCA.

Why I am now Working Independently

Having realised that it was time to move on, I could have looked for another corporate role. Instead I have chosen to return to working independently. Here are the reasons for this choice.

1)  To focus on work that plays to my strengths and interests – I want to pursue projects that focus on the things I am really good at and that bring me the most satisfaction. In a corporate job I would be in a weaker position to say ‘no’ to elements of the role that don’t meet this criteria. Working for myself increases my position to choose what I work on.

2)  To have greater impact. Working independently extends my reach. My personal vision statement includes the aspiration: “I make a positive difference and leave people, places and organisations in a better state than I found them.” Working with more people and organisations increases my opportunity to make an impact.

3)  To learn even more. When I last worked independently I found that working with a range of organisations accelerated my learning. I get to see what is working well and what could be improved in every project or task I work on. My capacity to create value constantly increases through exposure to a variety of organisations.

4)  To be valued more – As my external profile increased through networking, writing, and speaking, people from other organisations sought me out. They wanted to know more about what I did and how I did it, or to use me as a sounding board for their work challenges and opportunities. This tells me that I have knowledge and experience that I can contribute to others in a range of organisations. As an employee people inside your organisation often value your contributions less because you are one of them and not an external expert.

As an aside, why do people leave it until someone’s farewell to say ‘thank you’ for your contribution and tell you what they appreciated about your work?   Tell a colleague today what you value about their work and thank them.

5)  To improve my productivity – I don’t need to spell this one out in detail – less corporate administration, less organisational politics, fewer distractions and interruptions, less commuting. I’m very good at organising myself and find it easy to focus when working independently.

6) To improve my lifestyle – I want greater flexibility to work when I want in the way I want. Working independently increases my capacity to create balance across the many roles in my life. Another consideration is that while I am still energetic and passionate about my work, I am closer to semi-retirement than high school graduation. I am in a better position to create ongoing income sources working for myself than for an organisation.

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What I Will Miss Most

The thing I will miss most is the daily camaraderie and energy of my Academy colleagues. They are professional, reliable, willing to take a risk and try new things, and have a growth mindset. They supported, encouraged, challenged, guided, inspired and motivated me.

What About You?

What is your current work situation? Do you work for yourself, or are you considering this option? Why? Leave a comment to share your experience and thoughts on working independently versus being an employee.

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