The February Meeting of L & D Global was an interesting one. Mr. Afeef Ahmed talked to us about Business Acumen and what Agile really is. He showed us areas, where we as trainers actually miss out in our entrepreneurial journey.
You can download his presentation from the link at the bottom of this page.
Why do you train people?
Depends on who is asking… and at what moment! The response to this question usually includes words like passion, ‘free-lance’, dream, ‘kick’, etc. Rarely do trainers or consultants use words like great business, flexibility, revenue stream, value-based execution, brand building, maintaining a competitive advantage, etc.
The responses could be an outcome of a possible unclear vision, or lack of a compelling reason, or an unplanned move due to job loss or even simply testing the waters until a firm belief is established. Whatever the reasons are, the lack of a clear HOW & WHAT can be very damaging in driving a perpetual advancement in personal or professional goals as a consultant or trainer. Surprisingly, over 80% of learning consultants do not have a business strategy as they don’t understand the business of their business!
Having Business Acumen is key, without which, making a long lasting & meaningful impact would be a continual struggle. A simple yet effective tool to help build business acumen is the Business Model Canvas (BMC). What I like about the BMC is that it starts by asking you “What is the Value you wish to provide, through your business?”. And then, look at how you can sow that value (customers, investments, time) and harvest that value (resources, returns, time).
A completed BMC, no matter how accurate or detailed, gives you a certain sense of purpose, direction and the way forward. It also points out where the fundamental flaws are or could be, while also showcasing your strengths as an individual, team or organization. With this information acting as a dashboard, you tend to be clear of your customer segments, your resources and partners and can focus on bridging these two areas of your BMC through a continual review and improvement of how you run your business.
I have found that having an agile mindset helps significantly while being able to bridge these gaps or enhance your strengths. A practical way to develop a ‘mindset’ would be through taking yourself through a process or a framework that enables abilities required to do so.
The AGILE framework is one such methodology, that helps you focus on tasks that can be broken down into smaller achievable tasks and goals, continuously improve upon them and develop a deeper sense of customer empathy while focusing on the value you wish to provide. Focusing on real value essentially means eliminating non-value-added process that doesn’t help you be more efficient or effective.
AGILE also enables you to collaborate with your team or key resources (as per BMC) and even your customers. As an independent trainer or consultant, this approach could be a challenge, as you would not have the typical resources or structure that an organization would ideally have. This is where your BMC comes in very handy, where you have identified resources, partners and channels as your team or as AGILE calls it, your ‘squad’.
A few attributes of your squad:
Common alignment towards the task at hand à sharing and committing what each person would bring to the table to complete that task à reviewing the progress through a daily 10-15 min connect call à giving each person the freedom to work in any way they find best to meet that goal, as each person has a clear sense of WIIFM (what’s in it for me) à showcasing the completed task (service/product) à reinforcing key takeaways/learnings from the showcase or signing off on the task à moving to the next task at hand
A key takeaway from this approach is that if enforces the habit or discipline to ‘stop starting and start completing’.
A word of caution however, at this point is that process for the sake of process can get stuffy and can limit any creative juices from flowing in! It is imperative that you find a balance between process and freewheeling innovation. If you are too stringent, you limit creativity and productivity. If you allow too much freedom, you enable chaos, instability, and put your business at risk.