Globally, companies spend over $350 billion on training. Far too little of this investment appears to make a noticeable positive difference in terms of performance. Let’s face it, we don’t need more confirmation of what we have all experienced: You and your colleagues go offsite to a posh setting to learn about leadership. You circle up at the end and report that you have been transformed. Then you all go right back to your old routines the next morning. Been there, done that.
The big problem is that the ‘system’ you return to has not changed. The system is more powerful than you, likely even if you are the CEO. So all your new learnings and insights don’t have the soil to grow in. Not to mention the air and water for new practices to grow. Part of this problem could be structural: you’ve just learned the keys to collaboration but the impenetrable silos of your organization prevent you from practicing. Part of the problem can be cultural: you’re now raring to go with the latest tools on innovation but your company is firmly entrenched in the current way of doing things. And the list of problems goes on…
Don’t get me wrong, leadership training can truly be transformational. You may have been lucky enough to have been a part of one. Those that are truly game changers share some common threads. First, they take full account of your organization’s current and desired culture and strategy. Second, they are co-designed and co-led with external experts and senior leaders. Finally, they are part of a larger plan of organization change – not simply a one-off enriching and enlightening experience.
Organizations that get this right can see a tremendous return on investment in navigating change and executing new strategies.
Kevin Cuthbert is the Associate Dean for Executive and Professional Programs at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business. Cuthbert is a talented and seasoned leader with over 30 years of experience in the human capital space.