Define the Vision or Strategic Intent
The first step is to develop the vision or strategic intent for the L&D function by identifying how it will help realize the organization’s vision and strategic priorities and in so doing, how it will add value to the organization. This step involves first clarifying the organization’s vision and strategic priorities or goals. Based on this understanding, L&D defines the role it will play by creating a vision or strategic intent, identifying its strategic goals or priorities, defining its products and services and identifying the customers or clients it will serve. This process is shown for two different types of corporations in Table 1. The table includes a description of the company’s vision and strategic priorities, L&D’s vision and strategic priorities developed to help the corporation realize its vision and priorities, the L&D products and services to support the vision and priorities and the L&D primary customers
Table 1: Developing a Vision and Strategic Priorities
Consumer Goods Company
1. Summarize the organization’s corporation’s vision and strategic priorities.
· To be the premier provider of technology and business solutions to support telecomm and data networking in our business customers.
· Partner with customers to provide the capabilities to run worldclass networks.
· Provide complete solutions using our technologies.
· Grow profitably by becoming the leader in the AsiaPacific market.
· Provide leadingedge business and technology solutions that enable our customers to add value to their customers.
· To make life better for people by providing foods that are nutritious, healthful and taste great.
· Source or develop lines of food that are nutritious, natural and pesticidefree.
· Deliver foods through franchises that support and educate customers about a healthy lifestyle.
· Source products from the highestquality providers worldwide.
· Create a healthy and stimulating work environment.
2. Create the L&D vision and strategic priorities to help realize the company’s vision and priorities.
Provide consulting and learning solutions at a lost less than competitors to add value to our business by:
· Developing global technological, business and leadership capabilities in our people.
· Providing product and service training to our customers that enables them to add value to their customers.
· Proving consulting and performance solutions to improve sales, product development and product implementation.
· Provide training to our people and to our customers to help them make life better.
· Train franchise owners on running a successful business and positioning “a healthful nutritious lifestyle.”
· Create a culture where people live our vision and values as a way of life.
· Develop an executive team with the entrepreneurial global leadership skills to run a successful business.
3. Define products and services to be provided to realize the vision and priorities.
· Performance solutions including training, job aids, process redesign and structure redesign.
· Product and service training.
· Strategic solutions selling for all account team members.
· Global Business Leadership Executive Development Program.
· Franchise owners certification and training.
· Senior leadership team talent management and development process.
· Employee orientation to “Living a Healthy Lifestyle.”
· Employee training in the core competencies of product sourcing, managing a franchise and promoting valuebased products.
4. Identify the customer.
· Senior leadership team and CEO
· Business unit leaders
· Product managers
· Senior leadership team
· Franchise owners
Create a Strategic Game Plan
Create the game plan for L&D to realize its vision and strategic priorities or goals by identifying the key objectives or moves (create a strategy map) to be made and defining the measures of success (develop a Balanced Scorecard) to demonstrate that you realized the game plan and added value to the corporation or organization.
This planning methodology, which was created by Robert Norton and David Kaplan and the Balanced Scorecard Consortium over the past 10 years, is a worldclass practice used by companies such as Chrysler, Mobil, CIGNA, SAS and ABB Switzerland to create corporate and/or business unit plans to ensure their businesses are successful. It is just in its infancy as a learning and development best practice for creating L&D strategic game plans. Many corporations are beginning to focus on human resources functions such as learning and development, information technology and organization culture as the differentiators of corporate performance for the future.
Begin by considering your vision or strategic intent and your strategic priorities or goals, your products and services and the customers you serve. Next, based on this definition for your business or the game you are in, identify the strategic objectives to realize this vision and make your business a success. Realizing these objectives often involves identifying, benchmarking and implementing worldclass practices. These strategic objectives are developed from four business perspectives: financial, customer, operations or process, as well as learning and growth or capabilities. The visual depiction of these objectives in the four quadrants showing the relationships between the objectives is called a Strategy Map.
Next, a Balanced Scorecard is created, which measures the accomplishment of the objectives and the realization of the vision, from all four business perspectives. Figure 2 shows the strategy map for the Consumer Foods Company. Figure 3 shows the Balanced Scorecard.
Identify WorldClass Practices
Step three involves identifying worldclass practices to realize the objectives identified in the strategy map. Let’s look at a couple of examples of identifying best practices to realize objectives.
- Example 1: Having identified an objective such as “Consult with clients to provide comprehensive learning and business solutions which meet their needs and create value for their business,” one can look across all industries as well as across other L&D organizations to find the worldclass practices to use to accomplish this objective. For example, one might benchmark a wellknown consulting firm, IBM’s solution selling methodology.
- Example 2: For an objective such as “Develop an integrated talent management program including a series of executive development programs focused on creating the core competencies for leaders,” one might benchmark universities, visit companies that have created customized executive development programs to address their core competencies or review recent research and studies on executive development approaches by research groups such as the Corporate Executive Board’s Learning and Development Council.
The sidebar “Leveraging WorldClass Practices to Realize a Winning Game Plan” provides examples of best practices to use to realize the strategic objectives in any L&D strategic game plan. The approaches to identifying and implementing worldclass practices are also discussed in the sidebar “Way to Find WorldClass Practices.”
Communicate the Vision, Game Plan and Value
The key here is to communicate, communicate, communicate! In the beginning, you will communicate the vision and strategic game plan to align your stakeholders and engage others to realize the plan. The first time you communicate the game plan and vision, your stakeholders may understand it, but will probably question how long it will last. The second and third time, they may believe that you believe it and will reinforce it. The fourth time, they may begin to ask “So what does this mean for me?” By the fifth time, you may be able to share your feelings, passion for and commitment to the game plan. It is through first, understanding the content of the plan second, understanding the meaning of the plan and third, understanding your emotions around the plan that you may ultimately inspire them and align them so that they can implement and realize the plan.
Later, as the plan is being implemented, you will communicate the vision and the game plan, not only to continue to express its importance and to focus everyone on the single plan, but also to continue to use the plan to allocate resources and prioritize work. And as worldclass practices are implemented, as you collect the results on your Balanced Scorecard and compile the stories that illustrate how you contributed to the success of the business, you will communicate these results to all of your stakeholders on an ongoing basis.
Being Invited to Play at the Executive Planning Table
As leaders of learning and development, we can put together a great plan. And many of us have successfully implemented a plan. Our challenge, if we want to be recognized as strategic business partners and invited to play at the executive planning table or move into other key business leadership roles, is to develop and execute a strategic game plan that makes an impact on the business and adds value to the key stakeholders. Use of a worldclass planning process, including a vision or strategic intent with a set of strategic priorities, a strategy map to define the strategic objectives and identify the worldclass practices to realize the vision, and a Balanced Scorecard to demonstrate success, can help get the recognition needed for “the invitation.” However, it is only through implementing the game plan, realizing the business impact and communicating it through the Balanced Scorecard that the “invitation” is likely to become a reality. At the same time, you will have become one of the few business leaders who can successfully use strategy to achieve extraordinary business results.
June Paradise Maul, Ph.D., is president of Advantage Value LLC. June has more than 20 years of experience leading strategic change in organizations, including Qwest Communications and AT&T. For more information, email June at email@example.com.
July 2003 Table of Contents