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Practicing What We Preach
By: Beth Schaefer
The Metro State Institute for Professional Development (known as The IPD to most of you) uses the tools it teaches to run its department. Every 3 years or so, IPD uses those tools to check in with its customized training clients. Customized training clients have purchased training to be designed and delivered to their employees to build specific skill sets useful to the organization. This usually occurs at their organization, but The IPD has the ability to host training sessions at the university too.
This article discusses some of the tools we teach and use while sharing the results of our most recent survey.
Our Business Architecture Certificate Program has two core components: understanding the business and moving from business strategy to execution. The survey is part of the first component of understanding out customized training clients’ needs. IPD wanted to measure if we are providing the products and services our customizers need and delivering them in a useful way. To do this, we used a process we teach in the business architecture course:
- We described the work our clients are trying to get done by outsourcing the training of their employees to The IPD.
- We described qualities of the product (The IPD training) that they found valuable.
- We described how The IPD does is unique from others who offer training and may be the reasons that our clients use us for training.
- We used the survey to verify with our clients that we had guessed correctly (or not – in some cases) on their work, their needs, and their IPD value.
- At this point, one usually writes a value proposition statement to keep their products and services focused; however, IPD already had this statement, and when our team revisited it, we verified that our value proposition statement is still accurate.
Our next step is to define our strategy and align projects to execute that strategy. As an intermediate step, I have summarized our results using a strategy we teach in our leadership courses.
Leadership Evaluation Strategy
In our Public Sector Supervision courses, we teach the use of the STOP, START, CONTINUE strategy. As a leader, when you get new information from an internal source (like a new process from finance) or an external source (like new legislation or best practice from a training workshop), the STOP, START, CONTINUE allows you to do a quick evaluation on how that new input could or should change what you currently do.
Here is what it looks like when I apply that evaluation tool to our customized training clients survey results.
- Spending too much time and money developing virtual/online courses for customized training. Unless our customized training clients have employees spread out at national locations, they prefer to have them gather in person for our training workshops.
- Handing out paper certificates. While this may be helpful sometimes, most are interested in acknowledging accomplishments in a more streamlined way.
- Using electronic badges when someone completes a stackable credential or certificate.
- Adding advanced training topics on the topics and courses we already offer.
- Figuring out how to add ongoing support after the direct training is completed and participants try to implement their new skills and learning.
- Vetting and using instructors that are both knowledgeable of the topic and able to engage their audience.
- Developing training that is about the immediate application of new skills.
- Being flexible on where and when training is offered.
- Using the training proposal as both a tool to scope projects and a tool to speed up contract execution. Note: In every past survey, the contract process (8+ weeks) was listed as something we needed to improve. Thanks to this new process and a new contracts expert in the finance office, The IPD can now execute a contract with a client in 8 days.
Armed with this client information, IPD will define some long-term strategies. For instance, IPD is currently developing some courses for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training. As we do that, we are looking at client information to align those training features with the ones our clients need and want.
Thank you very much to the clients who took the survey and the clients who continue to support our work with repeat business and by recommending us to others!