In my practice at CLI, I serve as a coach, trainer, strategist and designer for our diverse client base. One of the trends I am seeing as we come away from the financial fallout of 2008 is an uptick in the need for expedient training services.

Let’s take a moment to think about why that might be. Not long ago, I started seeing that clients across sectors and at varying sizes shared a common problem. They had reacted to the recession by wisely limiting their training and development budgets. They tightened their figurative belts to make it through the lean years, serving as an excellent short term strategy. Right?

We all felt lucky just to have a job. It was superfluous and frivolous to take capital and reinvest in skill building—especially if the skills were not directly related to a monetized outcome.

Now, six years later, many of us are paying the price for “freezing” training and development. The result is that many clients, shockingly, have no healthy, developed training and development pipeline. At the same time, we have a resurgence of smaller companies who have grown from the start-up phase, mid-size companies without a training department, even large companies attempting to grow globally. Throw in the rise of the millennials moving toward management and leadership positions, the relocation of baby-boomers into new positions and the need for a full-scale training pipeline becomes very obvious.

And yet, we have learned that we can do without much training, even when the current evidence suggests otherwise.

Habits are hard to change, that’s for sure.

CLI’s response has been to serve as the “training department” for clients who are caught in this mid-stream scenario. To do that, we have borrowed design strategies from lean manufacturing. We have created an instructor-led, on-call “training department” that we call the“Rapid Learning University” Essentially, we help clients determine their training needs, prioritize these needs, then create an internally branded “University”—a series of shorter in-house training sessions delivered on-site.

Our new Rapid Learning University has been so well received that we are expanding the concept to larger organizations. Let’s take a close-up look at one client’s University offerings:

The ADK University


These are the topics that the client needed— in the priority order as determined by contributors at the staff level. And we sift this through a carefully worded survey, which has allowed input and buy-in from everyone in the organization.

To develop an optimal flow for each session that fully engages participants, we designed shorter lecturettes combined with longer discussion/application times. We use technology to wow the group’s coupled with time-tested break-outs that build energy and participation. Finally, we ask participants to complete a short action plan and to use the job aids we leave behind.

Creating an on-call, just-in-time training series—internally branded as your own—can strengthen contributors at all levels, and impact performance— all of which does one wonderful thing: rebuilds your  training department that will drive your sustainability and profitability beyond short-term thinking.


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