The Learning Spotlight
Beware the Wannabees
By John Grubbs
In nature, many creatures have copied the characteristics of other more beneficial organisms. Insects and animals copying color patterns are all wannabees in the natural world. This phenomenon is not unique to the animal world and is very common in the world of business. If something is perceived as successful, imitators are quick to appear and may even be hard to differentiate from the original
source. We see this in business plans, logos, products and even training. Once successful, others are certainly going to follow. The very rules of nature apply to the everyday challenge your business faces. This path of least resistance is similar to following a trail through the jungle that was blazed by the hard work and creativity of others.
With so many organizations struggling today, one method of giving to customers and other stakeholders is to provide training. The abundance of grants and other funds have created a plethora of training providers in the business community. From non-profits to community groups, everyone is a training provider these days. Unfortunately, with this population spike, we also see the
imitators that may look (on the surface) like the creature it is imitating. Yet with closer scrutiny, the differences can be easily observed.
So what is the problem? Many groups find it valuable to leave the rigor of their competencies and attempt to provide value in the form of knowledge transfer. Information for a thirsty generation seems to make a great deal of sense. In an economy with people worried, why not offer hope to the struggling enterprise in the form of business or personal growth? Tragically,
these false prophets are very common. With little knowledge or experience and with no understanding of knowledge synthesis, these wannabees are invading the organizational development market in large numbers.
Armed with a promise of grant reimbursement, these so-called training providers are making tragic claims of excellence to a hopeful and concerned public. Businesses struggling to stay afloat are grabbing at anything they can to survive and will spend (in some cases what they do not have) in order to gain a glimmer of hope for the future. All the while, these imitators are more than willing to take the
last dollar and make the promise of salvation or transformation.
Warning…these trainers can be disguised as people and groups we trust. They seem harmless on the surface and may even offer the hope your team is so hungry to achieve. Most often they mean no harm. Unfortunately, there are no short-cuts for business excellence. Just like dieting and health, there are many offers to shorten the hard work necessary to stay
healthy. From pills to miracle diets, if it seems too-good-to-be-true; it usually is. When you see that great offer, remember there are no shortcuts and you will often get exactly what you pay for when you choose based on price alone. Excellence takes discipline, redundancy and effort. If it were easy, your competition would already be doing it! Your team can achieve excellence through a commitment to learning that is ongoing and iterative. Each competency builds upon the
successful achievement of the past. Hitting a ninety mile-per-hour fastball cannot be learned in a weekend seminar. That skill is learned slowly over years of development by someone with a foundation of talent. In the same way, great customer service or making quality products are all based on cumulative principles that are taught the proper way. Investing in the proper development of your team can truly become a value and eventually a core-competency for your
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