From various projects underway this year, we've learned a lot about organisational capability — and the ways we can help you to build it.
As a learning network, we describe our purpose as helping organisations build the capability needed to achieve their goals. You Can Now, as it says above the door.
The variety of projects that have come through that door so far this year, and the challenges that sit behind them, has helped us get clearer on what we mean by organisational capability, and the ways we’re best able to help organisations to build it.
Broadly, we might think of organisational capability as anything an organisation does well well to drive business results. But more pointedly, we believe there are three key drivers of it today. And, conveniently, they all begin with the letter P: Purpose, People and Partnerships. They’re where we’re focussed, and are especially interested in the points at which they intersect.
Organisational capability begins with organisational purpose; being clear on why you exist, for whom and the ways you’ll express it at every touchpoint. This is what will draw in future colleagues and customers, and the greater the sense of ownership of this purpose, and what it means at an individual level among the current team, the better. Through recently working with a subsidiary of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, and facilitating ways for the team to codify its vision and values, we’ve learned that people will rise to the challenge, if it’s their challenge; that they want to be heard, more than they want to be right. It’s learning we’ve carried into work with the spectacles retailer Cubitts, helping the business find focus in a way that gets the whole team rallied behind the story — because it’s their story too. We brought in brand specialist Andy Whitlock, and his writing on purpose here is a great read.
Continually developing people's skills throughout an organisation, from the leaders at the top, to their newest hires, will of course be a crucial driver of its capability too — especially when done in motivating ways, measured against the business challenges of the day. This learning should be as self-directed as possible, respecting the ever increasing expectations of the ‘consumer learner’ for whom learning experiences must stack up against any other potential use of their time. Which is common sense, but not always common practice. Our recent work with the global leadership team ar Dr Martens has underlined the importance of designing learning experiences where the transfer of new behaviours back to work, not the event itself, is the hero of the story; while our time with groups of apprentices across the Telegraph Group has been a real eye-opener on designing for digitally native minds, and the vital role of the line manager in supporting with that knowledge transfer.
And capable organisations; clear on their purpose and carried forward by empowered people towards shared goals — look outward too. They’re creative: always open to the expertise, connections and partnerships that will get them where they're headed faster, and in a ways from which they’ll continue to learn. Success is seldom a solitary sport, and so the language around our learning network, and the daily connections we can create has never been more important.
The best projects to be part of are when these three P's come together, where people from your own team synthesise knowledge and expertise with partners from outside of it — solving real world challenges together, and building new skills in the process.