Monday, May 14, 2012

Strategic Planning that works

The MCI team has just returned from our incredibly successful team strategic planning event at Fraser Island.  It got me thinking about the ingredients that ensured that this event was so successful and why such positive ideas were generated, most of which are practical and can be implemented almost immediately - or at least within 3 - 6 months.

The recipe for strategic planning success:

1. Involve everyone. I am always amazed at how much some team members know and think about, even in areas that are not generally their field of expertise.
2. Fun activities are essential.  Play has often been shown to be a key factor in generating creative thinking and innovative solutions so don't be afraid to engage hands-on, minds-on thinking with games and different    physical activities.
3. Start by setting out the cold, hard facts.  This is very much Jim Collins-type thinking and it does set the parameters of the discussion.  There are factors in our environment that are beyond our sphere of influence or control and these have to be laid out clearly at the outset.
4. Set the ground rule:  no-one in the room can use the phrase "Yes, But.."  Everyone focuses on YES AND thinking.  This means that no ideas are bad and even within unworkable ideas, there are grains of thinking that could be transformed in to positive, workable ideas.  When team members are working in an environment where no ideas are laughed down, the amount of ideas generated is greater.  And the quantity at that stage is important if you are looking for anything of quality to emerge.
5. Set up a theme and preferably something that is competitive.  There is nothing that generates more ideas than a spirit of competition....
6. A great venue away from the office and phones and email is also a good idea if possible.
7. Establish clear goals about the reason for the planning session so that there is some form of urgency to the conversation.  Demonstrate how these ideas will make the difference to profitability or other success factors.
8. Make sure that you follow up.  We have already drafted our action plan and it has been circulated for comments and finalisation.

Please like our facebook page to see more photos from the event.

Let MCI help you ensure that your strategic planning event does not feel like a waste of time.  Make it a  worthwhile session that leads to real results!

Major changes to funding arrangements for vocational training

There have been some substantial changes to funding arrangements for traineeships that employers need to be aware of.  Whereas in the past there used to be an upfront payment per eligible trainee of $1500, this will no longer be the case.  The completion payment of $2500 per person has been changed to $3000 per person.

Here is a link that provides the full explanation:

The implications for business as we see it:

1. If you are in the process of deciding about whether traineeships are appropriate for your team, hasten this process and sign up your trainees before 30 June 2012 so that you fall under the existing arrangements of $4000 per person.
You are able to commence the training through an induction session and the balance of the program can be delivered over the course of the following financial year and beyond if needed.
In this way, you know that you have secured the best financial arrangements for your organisation and will not stand to lose the $1000 that would be the case by signing up later than 30 June.

2. For future trainees, the emphasis will be shifting to ensure that there is a high completion rate of participants.  The course will need to be engaging and totally relevant and it does place pressure on providers and on management teams to ensure that groups are applying their skills and accumulating proof of this to submit in their portfolios.
This is an incredibly positive step in that RTO's and organisational stakeholders will be working more closely than ever before to create the right learning environment to enable participants to complete.  We foresee the need for more coaches and mentors as well to assist participants to complete their evidence and to provide workplace support.
At the moment, Management Consultancy International has a very high completion rate in dedicated groups with over 90% completions.  We do this by offering non-stop support to students where needed and having facilitators who are committed to ensuring the best results possible.
It will be even better when we have more organisational involvement so that we all work towards common goals - more skilled people that are more productive.  There are so many research projects proving that a skilled workforce generates more income and higher profitability levels for organisations.  Now is the time to ensure that training adds to the organisation's bottom line as well as its positive culture.

3. We also predict that there will be a stronger drive towards on-line and virtual training as organisations seek better, cheaper, faster ways of delivering skills in blended learning environments.  Blended learning solutions offer companies a great way for ensuring that skills are learned whilst retaining the high productivity levels that are needed.
Looking at solutions that are not only based on face to face learning, creates the opportunity for organisations to come in under budget AND at the same time reinforce key messages and up-skill teams.
Management Consultancy International has a wide range of options for delivery of programs and we have seen the definite trend towards mixing the learning delivery mechanisms to suit the needs of our clients.  We continue to be amazed at the excellent results we are seeing in our groups who are learning virtually - and in fact 2 weeks ago, we held our first virtual graduation of Diploma of Management and Certificate IV in Frontline Management.  It certainly sent out a clear message that yes, virtual is a great solution for learning.

4. RPL is going to come through in a more robust way in the future as organisations look to ensuring that participants are recognised for the skills that they do have - without having the time and expense of sending them on training programs that are not needed.
There will be a more targeted approach to training and needs analysis will be done more carefully to ensure that training is properly targeted.
Management Consultancy International already uses an electronic and user-friendly needs analysis process and we are certainly going to need to focus on this more carefully in future.

5. We are also advising our clients to engage with RTO's who are truly education focused and who have the interests of students at heart.  There will possibly be a contraction in the RTO space as some providers who have business models based solely on the funding arrangements might fall by the wayside.  'Tick and flick' days are truly over.
Ask your RTO the following questions:
  • How are they prepared to work with you to ensure high completion rates?
  • What type of support is available to ensure that students complete their work - do they have access to materials on-line?
  • Do they have a dedicated account manager that will partner with you to ensure that the participants are meeting deadlines and are receiving the type of learning input that they need?
  • How will they customise the learning program from a content perspective and from a methodology point of view so that it best suits your organisation?
We would love to hear your views on how the new arrangements will work and what the implications are for your team and your sector of the economy.