How do you build a big company?
As I sat in a room full of information hungry owner-managers, the question 'how do you build a big company' seemed like a reasonable one. The enquiry was directed at a successful entrepreneur and as she composed herself to answer there was a palpable sense of expectation as the audience prepared themselves to lap up the words of wisdom, to learn the secret formula.
The answer was one of the wisest pieces of advice that I ever heard about building a business. I agreed then and still agree now with the reply. It made sense. It felt logical and doable. My learning journey had been enriched.
The answer was simple. It was, don’t!
Instead, concentrate on building a good small company, get that company into profit and use those profits to hire great people. Let them build the big company.
What a perfect philosophy. Start with something manageable to test that your theory works as expected and then use the results to iterate, improve and in time grow.
So here’s another question: “how can companies with great people provide supportive training as the company grows?”
Building on the thoughts above, the answer is to keep it simple. Concentrate on building a good small programme to get the buy-in and support from a core group of people in the business.
When we launched a maritime maths course for the Marine Society with a few participants, for example, we found this was a great way to raise enthusiasm and deal with initial hiccups. The next stage was to achieve greater reach with the course and included deployment to hundreds of potential Maersk staff. This was consequently easier and better received as a result. New courses are being added to the Marine Society portfolio and so from small beginnings is emerging a suite of targeted support.
By utilising the benefits of an online approach you can offer social media style tools within the course structure to let the project grow and develop. As more people become involved, so feedback and user generated data will start to provide the valuable and necessary information needed to improve the courses. Courses should have a degree of flexibility within them to ensure they stay relevant and whilst releasing updates may be as new versions, the process of monitoring and updating is a continuous cycle.
Giving tools to learners that allow and encourage open and transparent contextual discussions about the content means you are giving yourself the opportunity to let your great people take your small course and make it a big company-wide success. This ongoing discussion about the actual content of a course by the people who are following it is one of the big advantages of e-learning, and it makes sense to encourage it in as many ways as possible.
Having deployed lots of courses over the years, we’ve developed an arsenal of methods to get this done: surveys, contact forms, and of course the Learning Line, where participants can discuss content among themselves or with their tutors and mentors.
Good luck with your journey!