In a fast changing industry, it is key to make sure your staff has the latest knowledge. You make sure they read (sites like State of Digital). You make sure your staff attends events. And you get your staff trained. The problem with all of these methods, but training especially, is universal. How to get the knowledge that is being picked up, put in place. In a way that your business actually benefits. A combination of training, coaching, psychology, co-creation and agile / scrum turned out to be a revolutionary way to get results. Here’s how we got there. Last year something interesting happened. It was a Thursday afternoon. I was standing on the school playground, waiting for my kids. A guy comes up to me. I’ve seen him before. He’s the brother of someone I know. We start chatting and he tells me he is a marketing manager at a big Dutch insurance company. He saw me speak at an event. He says he would like to have coffee someday. To chat about some things he’s working on. He’d like my input. That day, something amazing started. When Pim, which is the guy’s name, and I went for coffee, he explained to me that he wanted to train his staff. Now that’s not uncommon of course. But, he didn’t want to train them in the way we are all used to. He wanted to tackle a problem that many businesses have. How to make sure that what is being covered, is also actually used in day to day office work.
Actually making sure the topics you get training on, are also implemented is not easy.
It’s something many businesses struggle with. You can try to bring knowledge, but how to actually put in place that knowledge? We discussed some ideas. My new made friend suggested getting together with someone who he had been working with for a while: Daniel. Daniel is a coach, a facilitator of change processes. He had helped management team members at Pim’s company in the past, so he knew the organisation. Pim understood that it doesn’t only take knowledge training. It also takes coaching, to make an impact. From that day on, we started talking about possibilities and ways of working. I can tell you, the possibilities seemed, and still seem, endless.
Planning our efforts
We started with a small group of people. Consisting of Daniel, Pim, myself and a few enthusiastic team members. Together, we worked out the best way of working. The result was a combination of training, coaching and co-creation. All done on the job. We decided to embrace the agile/scrum way of working. This meant we would be taking short ‘sprints’. In those sprints, we would tackle one ‘issue’. When that sprint is ready, we move on to the next.
The project started off with two teams. Both on different topics. Together with the team members (co-creation remember), we kicked things off. We set goals, we looked at the topic and then ‘went for it’. We would not only be working on the job, we would be learning as well. The ‘ride’ was amazing. Yes, we faced struggles with team members not giving the full attention. Yes, on occasion I needed to ‘correct’ the direction of thinking when it comes to content marketing. And yes, one team was more self-steering than the other. But we knew that.
The most important thing, though: in the end, it worked. Within 6 weeks we saw results coming out of the teams. We saw them heading in the right direction. They didn’t just understand the marketing principles. They learned how to implement them as well. On top of that, we created a learning organisation. Through co-creation, the teams found a way forward. In the end, we had created a ‘flow’ that worked. We started with the strategy part. In this part, Daniel and I were most actively involved. This is where we set the ‘structure’ for the future steps. Steps which would keep recurring. In the end, every team worked based on the strategy that was developed in the first ‘sprint’.
The secret of success
Why was this a success? It was because of the mix of talents and approach. We didn’t take a ‘one-size-fits-all’-approach. We looked at each team and each team member separate. We decided right there and then what part of our knowledge they needed. Sometimes it was marketing knowledge, tactics and strategies. Sometimes it was about behaviour. They needed to see how their own behaviour prevented the process from going even faster. And sometimes we were able to ‘make things flow’. When that happened, it was amazing to be part of the process. I would help them on their way. For example with a simple exercise on researching the audience. They would ‘take it’ and come back with great results. And Daniel would make sure they continued on the right track. By highlighting the attitude. By showing the progress. And at the same time by understanding their struggles. And in the end, they started to teach each other: mission accomplished. Working together with someone like Daniel was a great, even life changing. I was able to bring my knowledge. We were able to co-create. And we were able to bring something in there I’ve been advocating for years: learning on the job. Look at my thoughts on what we can learn from Nelson Mandela on this topic. I do a lot of training. It’s become my core business in the past few years. And I’ve always felt training shouldn’t be the same for everyone. It’s great sharing knowledge. But you want to knowledge implemented as well. We’ve accomplished that here. Which I’m sure we will be able to do in many different places. At the Searchelite conference in May, Daniel and I will talk about this. We will show what we’ve done. We will talk about what we’ve learned. I’m very excited by that. In our session “How to make digital marketing work in your organisation” we’ll show you our unique approach to marketing. You’ll learn how to keep up with what’s happening and make sure your team adapts. See details of the session and the Search Elite programme at http://www.searchelite.co.uk/programme/. I want to see you there! I’ll be around all day to answer any burning questions you may have. In fact, I’ll be there the day after as well. To do a workshop on content marketing. In that workshop I’ll show you all the insights I gave the Dutch Insurance company as well! In that workshop I’ll show you all the insights I gave the Dutch Insurance company as well! The organisers gave me the option for a discount as well. So if you want 10% off on the ticket, use this link. Search Elite is on 9th May at the Trampery, Old Street London EC1. See you there?