A socially acceptable cliché is that the people on your team are your greatest asset. It’s the sort of general remark that often goes unquestioned and appeases just about everyone. But because this is my blog, I’d like to offer a challenge to it.
To be clear, I do believe great people are critical to success. Team members make companies hum. They enrich the experience clients have with our companies, they inspire our best actions, challenge and improve the thinking of leaders, innovate, motivate, and humanize organizations. They indeed make companies great. But I’ll argue that the greatest asset for your company isn’t the people on your team, but instead, it’s what they know.
Your greatest asset and competitive advantage is the wisdom inside your organization.
When PlaybookBuilder was in its formative first few years we took a client on that was comprised of 125 sales people scattered throughout the country. They were a highly motivated crew and the company was considered the second largest in their category. And the revenues were pouring in. But they had a problem – one that is all too common in sales cultures – the old 80/20 rule as it pertains to performance. The top 20% were driving 80% of the production in the company. And with over 100 producers in the bottom 80%, there was a lot of opportunity to grow and expand.
They’d asked us to take their most successful rep, Dan, and essentially “Playbook” him – transform his experience and knowhow into a series of virtual training videos and then share it across the enterprise using our PlaybookBuilder software. They shrewdly anticipated that by bottling up the wisdom of their senior producer and sharing it, they’d see improvement in the ranks.
And as it turned out, they did. Dan, we learned, was quite effective in the role of trainer and took on the challenge with real enthusiasm. Once completed, he’d created a few hundred short, but on-point videos explaining how he did what he did and why. PlaybookBuilder allowed him to pair the videos with files like PPTs of his presentations, Word documents with his phone scripts and checklists, even quizzes to confirm people understood the learning. It was a smashing success. We rolled the program out to the rest of the producers and they embraced it. 1 trainer with 124 students all improving their game by 10% makes for a pretty impressive ROI.
We were very pleased and I felt very good about the engagement.
But then something unexpected happened. Dan decided to leave. No less than 60 days following the rollout of the training and he’d been courted away by a competitor, elected to leave, and exited from the role and the company he’d help to grow. He took his book of business, a sizable chunk which hurt them financially, but he also took his leadership. A hard blow for the company.
Except for one thing…
The company had something left behind that Dan had created and that made his exit a little less painful…it was his training. Dan’s training would endure forever. And while the hurt of losing such a talented part of the company cost them, they were able to recover and carry on. They had Dan’s wisdom – captured and shared on a learning platform that would support the team and serve as a valuable corporate asset for years to come. In fact, with it, they could rebuild – recruit, onboard and train new hires, enhance the performance of the team, and preserve the heritage of one of their leaders. They didn’t have Dan…but they did have the one thing they really couldn’t live without – his wisdom.
When we look back on that engagement I realize that we’d done those reps a great service by providing them with the best training the company could offer – not something off the shelf or bought from some outside consultant – but instead, the wisdom from one of their own people who understood the job and did it daily to great success.
Your greatest asset and competitive advantage is your company wisdom – the hard earned knowhow that comes from experience and focused attention on results. That’s what makes your company great and it’s your most critical activity to define it, capture it, and leverage it. Where is that wisdom? It’s hiding in the heads of the people that do the job daily, exceed expectations, and carry within them the greatness that could be leveraged if it was captured.
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