Companies – and leaders – with obsolete tools tend to go out of business.
The impact of obsolete tools (equipment and knowledge) can have a high cost. As a business leader at any level, you need to not only keep aware of current trends but also where new challenges and opportunities might be coming from. Your older, experienced employees are retiring; your younger ones are leaving so they can have career advancement possibilities. Continuing investment in development is critical.
“But we can’t afford the costs of training!”
Many companies and individuals believe they don’t have the time or financial resources to commit to on-going development programs. Even when excellent training is available, information may needed “right now” either to address a particular problem or to take advantage of a tight “window of opportunity”. Free and low cost solutions to both those issues now exist at little or no cost to the “learner”.
Growing your corporate knowledge base
Increasingly “open” sources of quality formal and informal training from world famous universities, corporations, and individuals are available at little or no cost. You and your staff can continue to learn and be updated in virtually every discipline and role – engineering, manufacturing, marketing, finance, and leadership to name a few. These resources are available wherever and whenever the individual has the time – and an internet connection
Cost effective choices are increasing
Life-long learning is a fundamental requirement in the current globally competitive business environment but it must provide a wide variety of multi-format information whenever and wherever needed. It exists today.
Wikipedia, Google and Google Scholar represent the “first look” for literally millions of topics. Social media is also having a major. LinkedIn, the business social media site, has hundreds of “Groups” which allow discussions amongst subject matter specialists or people of common interest to broaden their knowledge and expertise.
Many universities are now offering free / low cost on-line courses covering a broad spectrum of topics. The university courses and programs are also being offered by various consortia–which include Coursera, edX, and Udacity. Australia-based Open2Study provides connections into free on-line courses in a wide variety of topics.
While many of the courses don’t provide the students with formal university course “credits” or degrees may offer “Certificates of Completion” for those who pass optional, fee-paid course exams. It is even possible to receive full degrees from some universities but these will be more expensive.
High quality, “on-demand” information can provide immediate benefits
Interviews with and presentations by world class professionals are also freely available through websites such as MIT OpenCourseWare, Google Tech Talks, Harvard Business School Working Knowledge as well as Tip of the Day, TED Talks, YouTube, and MindTools. It is easy to be briefed by thought leaders such as: Steve Blank (Innovation and Entrepreneurship), Alex Osterwalder (Business Model Canvas) as well as global business leaders such as Richard Branson (Virgin), Carlos Ghosn (Renault / Nissan), and Lou Gerstner (IBM) plus literally thousands more outstanding executives and academics. These resources are freely available – and can enable and encourage anyone who wants to progress in their companies and in their lives.
Many global consulting organisations such as McKinsey and Company and PriceWaterhouseCoopers produce excellent articles, videos and webinars that provide valuable insights. The latest business information, plus trends and ideas, are also available from topical business periodicals including Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Reuters, The Financial Times, The Economist, Fortune Magazine, and Forbes to name just a few. They not only provide the latest business related news, but also detailed market and situational analyses, case studies, and their own perspectives and insights. Because there is no “lag time” in the distribution of these materials, they have the immediacy required in the global business world.
Industry professional and trade associations as well as publishing organisations such as O’Reilly Webcasts provide insights and knowledge on an incredible range of business and technical topics . Of a different style but still very helpful is The Medium – a daily digest presents different articles on topics areas that you have selected.
Australia has a number of excellent print news resources including the for-fee Australian Financial Review as well as the related free newsletters – Smart Company, Startup Smart while The Mandarin focuses on the public sector combine the latest Australian business news and commentary oriented around their particular target readers. The Conversation is a free on-line newspaper which is written by academics using peer-reviews to ensure the quality of the information provided. The ABC offers extensive business coverage and insights both on-line and on-air.
Business Analysis and Presentation Materials
Presentation techniques and materials are crucial in almost every type of business. One of the best websites is ConsultantsMind which has sub-sections focusing on Tools and Tips. Having the right graphic images can enhance the effectiveness of your presentation. Google Images covers almost every possible topic but there may be copyright restrictions on how the images are used. However, there are many sources of “stock” photos that avoid that problem.
In summary – measurable benefits at low cost.
The benefits of appropriate training are well-documented: higher staff retention, improved staff motivation, and greater overall company success. These, in turn, lead to higher customer satisfaction and repeat business. The low / no cost of these programs increases competitive advantage externally and better profitability internally.
Individuals and organisations can continue their professional development in almost any area of business, technology or personal interest. Access is whenever time is available and wherever the individual may be. Cost need no longer be an issue. These materials can be integrated as part of an individual’s development plan , a formally structured educational program in conjunction with a local university or just because they have a specific interest.
The net result is a stronger, more competitive company capable of survival in today’s more competitive business world.
See below for the websites of the cited publications. There are obviously many more. Please feel free to recommend additions to this list. Please comment with your thoughts.
About the Author:
Lou Coenen has spent most of his career in international business, marketing and sales and technology services management at IBM, Telstra, GE, Matra Groupe in multiple industry sectors throughout the US, UK, Europe, and Austral-Asia. He has presented at a number of conferences on technology selection and implementation, successful outsourcing, and turn-around leadership. He is a sessional lecturer in Innovation, International Business and Marketing topics at Universities in Australia and Germany. He has an MSc (Mgt) and is a member of the Australian Institute of Corporate Directors.