How can strategy instil learning principles that secure your company’s future?

How do you embed learning in an organisation, so that knowledge is understood, retained and actually makes a positive difference?

It’s a common problem.

And for many CEOs, this boils down to two main questions:

  • Is my senior team capable of delivering my strategy?
  • How do I make sure everyone understands my strategy and can deliver against my objectives for the business?

When asked to instil positive change in companies and organisations, we see these queries raised time and again.

Finding a solution for your company’s future

Our solution is to introduce a method called Rapid Strategy Deployment (RSD), which has proved to be consistently effective across many different sectors.

RSD is based on the principles of Hoshin Kanri - a process pioneered in the post-war Japanese car industry. The basic premise is that companies need a strategic vision to succeed, which is framed through clear objectives and achievable long-term goals. The crucial point behind it is that objectives and visions must filter down through the whole organisation – so that everyone, from the CEO all the way to the factory floor, understands and embraces the plan and process. Knowledge is imparted at a senior level and, through a process of continuous learning, filters down through the ranks. 

As the dramatic and ongoing success of the Japanese car industry over the last few decades proves, this approach can have huge rewards.

And its worth stretches way beyond the automotive industry.

Implementing Rapid Strategy Deployment (RSD)

We use RSD to help organisations across various sectors, by employing a real-time learning approach for senior teams. And our services are in high demand, as CEOs everywhere are looking for strategy that provides real-time leadership development for high-performance teams.

For example, we have just worked with ITOPF, a company operating in the marine spill response sector. We were asked to integrate a collaborative cultural change within the organisation. To achieve this, we worked closely with the ITOPF senior team to help them with the governance process and leadership development. We ran communication workshops to strengthen team performance and introduced a process to establish a clear set of values and company purpose to run through the firm from top to bottom. And everything was led by goal deployment – so that milestones were reached on a daily basis. This is a crucial factor when instilling change within an organisation because it makes change more achievable and measurable, as opposed to one single overall target that all too often is unworkable and remains out of reach.

Driving continuous learning starts at the top

RSD methods can get results in any firm in any sector. What we see at the end of the process is company-wide renewal – so that everyone has a revitalised sense of purpose. And this is something that goes beyond mere words into an actual cultural shift within an entire workforce, so that people have a profound belief in future opportunities and their own potential. This galvanises and revitalises all employees and produces company-wide cohesion on key issues.

The end result of this is huge benefits in terms of increased productivity and ultimately, profits. 

But success like this can only be achieved when people clearly understand purpose and visions. And for that to work – it must start at the top. This is how you instil a culture where everyone – from the highest to the lowest level - is in agreement on what needs to be accomplished. When you get to that stage, you have built a powerful and effective sense of purpose within your whole organisation – so everyone keeps learning and developing.

Putting learning principles into practice

In effect, RSD is a case of laying the seeds of continuous development, through workshops and other learning exercises. This puts in place the necessary knowledge that senior teams need to successfully instigate change. What then follows is a process of filtration throughout the entire organisation.

For many companies and people, this presents a big cultural shift – as they may not be used to the concept of learning through development, most people equate learning with training. But training is based around just one event, or a series of events. To learn effectively, it must be something that you do as you go along by putting principles into practice. That really is the only way to embed new theories and a company-wide vision. 

The fact is that you miss a huge opportunity by just focusing on training and structured learning alone. That can certainly introduce a concept or a new way of working, but is just a small part of the overall development process. Only by consistently putting into practice what has been learnt do you actually reap the rewards.

And change has to come from the top and then spread – that is how an organisation retains the capability to keep improving without resorting to outside help. It is the companies that accept and act upon this that have the brightest and most secure futures.

Tim Britt

Head of Strategic Services at Marshall Centre

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