I hope to see many of you at the annual LTEN conference in Phoenix next month!

Here’s one thing I hear over and over again each year – the Exhibit Hall is overwhelming!! So many vendors, and so many messages sound the same….where do I begin?

I can help.

One of the things I love to do during the conference is meet up with training colleagues, chat with you about your upcoming challenges, and then guide you to the optimal vendors in the exhibit hall. That makes your networking efforts much more productive.

That’s what Impactiviti is all about. Personalized “matchmaking”of clients and vendors. This is my 19th LTEN/SPBT/NSPST conference, so by now I should have a pretty good idea how to advise you in your vendor selection process!

If you’re interested, just shoot me an e-mail (asksteve@impactiviti.com) and we’ll set up a time during the conference to meet and make targeted introductions. Don’t wait – LTEN is just around the corner!

One of the services offered by my Impactiviti Premier Partners is Training Needs Analysis consulting.

The major value of an outside consultant engagement is gaining an objective perspective – especially from someone who has in-depth knowledge of the field, and a wide exposure to how best practics are implemented across the industry.

Here’s an example of how one of my partners helped out a client recently:

Case Study_Training Needs Analysis

Need some assistance with needs/curriculum analysis? Contact me (stevew@impactiviti.com) and I’ll make a targeted partner recommendation for you!

Kickoff1Many training initiatives among my life sciences clients go off the rails at some point. Most of those failures can be traced to one missing piece – a charter kickoff document that covers all the bases.

I do cover this ground in my Project/Vendor Success workshops (more information about that program here), but I thought that it might be helpful to produce a single document that my clients could use for any new (or current) training managers who need to manage training initiatives.

So I asked a bunch of you for input on the main questions you seek to answer as any project kicks off, and got quite a response last week. Four pages worth of crowd-sourced feedback, in fact – with an encouraging amount of overlap.

Pulling together all the suggestions, I identified five main “buckets” of issues that need to be mapped out in order to kick off any initiative successfully:

  1. Purpose of the initiative
  2. Anticipated Results of the initiative
  3. Audience/Situational Context
  4. Scope of the initiative
  5. Stakeholders and Resources

And here’s the document that resulted – a simple, 2-page walk-through outline that you can use for your own department:

Training Initiative Outline <—-download

This document/template is meant to be edited by you for your purposes – you can make it shorter, or more detailed; you can include other steps – whatever you want. It’s not mine; it belongs to all of us (also, please feel free to pretty it up with graphical modifications!)

I hope that you find this tool helpful. And, if you’ve got other suggestions for crowd-sourced resources, just let me know!!

And, as always, feel free to contact us [asksteve@impactiviti.com] with any training needs you have – we’ll recommend the optimal outsource vendor/partners for you!

Recent months have led to an ongoing string of disruptions in our field of Commercial Pharma, with lots of good people having to seek new career direction.

We do lots of job networking behind the scenes here at Impactiviti, but there is also a service I provide directly to individuals, called Career Clarity Therapy.

It’s a half-day intensive session where we dig into your professional DNA and strengths, and map out fresh direction and new opportunities.

I have done full-day Clarity Therapy sessions for many companies over the years, helping organizations figure out their brand and their marketplace “fit” – but, in reality, the process is much the same for individuals, and I’ve worked with over 35 professionals providing clarity consulting and coaching during career transitions (everyone from Brand VPs to Training Directors; from Consultants to Sales people to Solopreneurs).

Perhaps you (or someone you know) need an outside voice to help you during your transition. This .pdf overview will tell you everything you need to know. Contact me and let’s set up your session today (note: currently for professionals in the United States only).

–> Career Clarity Therapy

“You can’t read the label of the jar you’re in!”

I’ve been wrestling with something and would really like input from you, my commercial biopharma readers.

It has to do with the misperception of the training department as something less-than-strategic in the commercial organization.

You know the drill. Financial problems? – cut training. Tactical needs? – throw it over the wall at training. Got a rising corporate star needing a ticket to punch? – put him or her over training.

Training is often viewed as a “servant” organization, without a business-value-adding identity – and we who are in the field often struggle to articulate its strategic role in the corporation.

We have an instinctive understanding of the value of T&D, but how to articulate it in the language that a C-level person would embrace? Can it be summarized in one punchy sentence?

Here’s one concept I’ve come up with so far…

Training Development value

Training’s mission is to develop the present and future leadership of the company – not only via training programs, but also through the rotation of high performers in the training department, which serves as a crucible and a sieve to create better corporate leaders.

And as Jim Trunick (formerly of Allergan) once pointed out to me, part of that mission (which is irreplacably in the hands of T&D) is imparting and reinforcing corporate culture.

Corporate executives are often quick to cut or devalue “training.” But creating and equipping leaders at every level is perhaps the conversation we need to embark upon – because that’s all about strategic business value.

What do you think?

I’ve seen a lot of things impact training and development departments over the years. But, by far, the most disruptive force I’ve seen derailing any kind of strategic direction is regime change.

regimeYou know what I mean – leadership change at the top.

One huge cause of regime change is M&A activity. After almost 19 years in the industry, I’ve seen far more mergers and acquisitions than I care to remember (and far too many displacements of good people in the process). What tends to happen is that everything grinds to a halt – and depending on the relative size of the two companies involved, sometimes any kind of strategic advance freezes up in both companies as the details of the merged companies get hashed out.

Programs carefully defined and well-funded die on the vine. Turmoil replaces structured implementation. Sometimes there are 12-18 months of questions-without-answers, plus (once the merger/acquisition is finalized), another 6-9 months of shuffling the deck until some new departmental order emerges.

That’s a lot of lost opportunity.

Not only does this create a lot of uncertainly among those within these departments, but it can cause quite a bit of havoc for vendor/partners who work with either or both companies involved. Funding tends to dry up; training programs move into a holding pattern; and, for some vendors who only have a few major clients, this experience can turn into a revenue death march. I always urge my vendor partners to try to have no fewer than 4-6 steady clients just because of this reality.

But mergers and acquisitions are not the only cause of regime change. Sometimes someone is brought in from outside T&D to run the department (often, in this scenario, the T&D department is viewed as a stepping-stone to corporate advancement). And what is the new leader charged to do? Why, change things up, of course!

Change structure. Change people. Change direction. Change strategy. Change message. And sometimes – well, sometimes it’s needed, and the right person is tapped to implement change!

But, many are the tales I have heard of leaders taking over a department who do not have the training background and experience to implement and carry out an effective T&D strategy. Big consulting groups are paid to create roadmaps, plans and programs are overturned, and then…2-3 years later…the cycle repeats itself as leaders are re-shuffled and another round of regime change begins.

These dynamics may not change any time soon. But perhaps what we need to do is elevate the corporate conversation around T&D – carving out training’s role as a strategic asset, not just a “servant” department meant to take on whatever tactical tasks are thrown over the wall by Sales or Marketing.

What strategic roles and responsibilities can Training and Development embrace (and effectively communicate) in the organization that will make it more of a valued strategic partner that transcends the latest regime change? Your thoughts?

(here are some interesting insights from Lisa Dreher of Ferring in the latest edition of FOCUS magazine, on Having a Seat at the Table)

As I talk to business leaders – owners of small businesses, leaders of departments, etc. – one common theme emerges. It’s the power of the immediate to derail long-term strategic direction.

Tyranny of the UrgentIt has several aliases:

  • Tyranny of the Urgent
  • Reactive Thinking
  • Tactical Overwhelm
  • The Daily Grind (also useful for coffee references)

Call it what you will, it boils down to the fact that being in the weeds of day-to-day execution tends to obscure our long-term thinking. We lose sight of the goal.

In ice hockey, have you ever seen those scrums on the boards where several players are piled up, all kicking at the puck (and whacking each other’s ankles)? The focus is entirely on that little piece of ice and that rubber disk – no-one’s looking at the goal.

Ever felt that way during the week? Yeah, I thought so. Bad for the ankles, I find.

Losing sight of the forest while in the trees is a very common leadership struggle. In fact, for my friends who lead Training and Development groups in biopharma companies, one of the ways in which this is accentuated is the perception that T&D is a “servant” department – Sales and/or Marketing tosses stuff over the wall for Training to execute. No strategic alignment need get in the way of the “Need it NOW!” ;>((

As a solopreneur, I have to fight this battle all the time. I get immersed in low- or no-return activities that pop up in front of me instead of staying on track. I fail to keep my focus on the clients, partners, and opportunities that are most productive long-term. I have to remind myself constantly what really matters – and even then it’s still way too easy to lose sight of the goal.

What about you? How do you stay on track in the midst of the reactive mode that presses in on you daily? Share your tips and practices for the rest of us to learn from!


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