The Big Picture of Business- Professional Education Necessary for Company Success

Professional education is an important ingredient in corporate development. Today’s workforce will need three times the amount of training that it now gets if the organization intends to stay in business, remain competitive and tackle the future successfully.

Training is rarely allowed to be extensive. It is usually technical or sales/marketing in nature. Employees and executives are rarely mentored on the people skills necessary to have a winning team. Thus, they fail to establish a company vision and miss their business mark.

Outside of ‘think tanks’ for company executive committees, full-scope education does not occur. This is primarily because niche trainers recommend what they have to sell, rather than what the company needs. Niche trainers impart their own perspectives out of context to the whole of the organization.

Team building must be part of the corporate Vision first, not as a series of exercises delegated to trainers. I conduct Executive Think Tanks for corporate management. The success of this enables trainers with the ‘rank and file employees’ to be optimally successful. Organizations of all sizes must have the Think Tank…which delineates future operations, including education and training.

Training is unfairly blamed and scapegoated for pieces of the organizational mosaic that Strategic Planning and cohesive corporate Vision should have addressed early-on. Trainers cannot reconstruct organizational structure, nor can other niche consultants.

7 Steps of Professional Development:

1. Teaching-Training. Conveying information, insights and intelligence from various sources. Categorized by subject, grade level and methods of delivery. Expert teachers (fountains of learning material) are the building block in the educational process, and the student must be an active participant (rather than a non-involved or combative roadblock).
2. Studying. One cannot learn just by listening to a teacher. Review of material, taking notes, seeking supplementary materials and questing to learn additionally must occur.
3. Learning. The teacher instructs, informs and attempts to enlighten. The student accepts, interprets and catalogs the material taught. Periodically, the material is reviewed.
4. Information. As one amasses years of learning, one builds a repository of information, augmented by experiences of putting this learning into practice.
5. Analysis. One sorts through all that has been learned, matched with applicabilities to daily life. One determines what additional learning is necessary and desired. From this point forward, education is an ongoing process beyond that of formal schooling. If committed, the person turns the quest for knowledge into a life priority.
6. Knowledge. A Body of Knowledge is derived from years of living, learning, working, caring, sharing, failing and succeeding. This step is detailed in my monograph, “The Learning Tree”: (1) Life. (2) Living Well. (3) Working Well. (4) Education. (5) Philosophy. (6) Self Fulfillment. (7) Purpose and Commitment.
7. Wisdom. This requires many years of commitment to learning, compounded by the continuous development of knowledge. Few people attempt to get this far in the educational process. Those who do so have encompassed profound wisdom. This step is detailed in my monograph, “7 Layers of Wisdom”: (1) Glimmer of An Idea. (2) Learning Curve. (3) Applications for Lessons Learned. (4) Trial and Error, Success and Failure. (5) Teaching, Mentoring. (6) Insights, Beliefs, Systems of Thought. (7) Profound Wisdom, Life Perspectives.

Categories of Professional Education:

There is a difference between how one is basically educated and the ingredients needed to succeed in the longterm. Many people never amass those ingredients because they stop learning or don’t see the need to go any further. Many people think they are ‘going further’ but otherwise spin their wheels.

There is a large disconnect between indoctrinating people to tools of the trade and the myriad of elements they will need to assimilate for their own futures. Neither teachers nor students have all the necessary ingredients. It is up to both to obtain skills, inspiration, mentoring, processes, accountability, creativity and other components from niche experts.

Therein lies the problem. Training vendors sell what they have to provide…not what the constituencies or workforces need. Emphasis must be placed upon properly diagnosing the organization as a whole and then prescribing treatments for the whole, as well as the parts.

Training should be conducted within a formal, planned program that addresses the majority of organizational aspects.

7 Biggest Misconceptions About Training:

  1. One Size Fits All. If it’s not customized, it’s not going to be effective.
  2. Trainers Are Business Experts. Generally, they are vendors who sell ‘off the shelf’ products that target small niches within the organization. Few are schooled in full-scope business culture and have not been previously engaged to advise organizations at the top.
  3. Human Resources Oversees Training. By their nature, HR departments are designed to uphold processes and systems. Training is about change, which contradicts the basic construction of HR. Not all HR people are versed in the subtle nuances of people skills and are, thus, not the best to supervise training. It really should not be under the thumb of HR.
  4. Trainers Write the Training Plans. All major departmental plans should be written objectively and in concert with the Strategic Plan…by qualified advisors. Training companies often give free assessments in order to sell their programs. Free surveys do not constitute a cohesive plan. Let trainers do what they do best: training. Let experienced planners design the training plan, with input from trainers included. Don’t let the plan evolve from a training company’s sales pitch.
  5. Only Industry Experts Can Train in Our Company. What companies need most is objective business savvy and sophisticated overviews. Core industry ‘experts’ only know core industry issues from their own experiences. Quality training must focus on dynamics outside the core business, yet should have relativity to the organization.
  6. One Course Will Fix the Problem. Training is not a punishment for having done something ‘wrong.’ It’s a privilege…a major benefit of employment. It unlocks doors to greater success, growth and profitability…for those trained and for the sponsoring organization. In order to be competitive in the future, today’s workers will need three times the training that they are now getting.
  7. That It’s Supposed to Be Popular. The biggest mistake that meeting planners make is determining the effectiveness of training and training professionals via audience survey. Most conference evaluation forms are lightweight and ask for surface rankings…rather than for nuggets of knowledge learned. Speakers and training budgets are therefore judged upon whimsical comments of individual audience participants…which get harsher when the training is for topics they need, rather than things they would ‘prefer’ to hear. Voices of reality are always criticized by people who really are not qualified to assess them.

7 Levels of Training:

  1. Mandated.
  2. Basic Education.
  3. Informational.
  4. Technical, Niche Skills.
  5. Procedural.
  6. Optional.
  7. Insightful-Deep-Rich-Meaningful.

Levels of Mandated Training:

  1. Fix Those People.
  2. Stay Where You Are.
  3. This Is the Way It Is.
  4. Accept Our Pet Project.
  5. Things ‘They’ Are Making Us Do.
  6. What We Want to Teach You.
  7. You’ll Do It, and You’ll Like It.

Levels of Optional Training:

  1. Micro-Niche.
  2. Things to Perform Tasks.
  3. Process Administration.
  4. Procedural Adherence.
  5. Hobby-Fun-Entertainment.
  6. Skills Enrichment.
  7. Personal Development.

Levels of Training That Are Rare But Truly Needed:

  1. Pride in Workmanship.
  2. Learning, Growing, Mentoring.
  3. Fully Actualized Professionalism.
  4. Amassing People Skills.
  5. Pursuing Excellence.
  6. Adding Value to the Organization.
  7. Developing a Body of Work-Knowledge.

These pointers are suggested in the selection of training providers:

  • Ask a senior business advisor to help determine which consultants are needed, write the
    training program, evaluate credentials and recommend contracting options.
  • Understand what your company really needs and why.
  • Don’t pit one consultant against another, just to get free ideas.
  • Don’t base the training decisions on ‘apples to oranges’ comparisons.
  • Ask for case studies which were directly supervised by the person who will handle your training…not stock narratives from affiliate offices or a supervisor.
  • Find out their expertise in creating and customizing for clients…rather than off-the-shelf programs which they simply implement.
  • Determine their abilities to collaborate and interrelate with other consultants.

These pointers are suggested in budgeting for and pricing services:

  • Budget for training at the start of the fiscal year, averaging 10% of gross sales.
  • See training as an investment (short-term and long-term), not to be short-changed.
  • Every size of business needs training.
  • The company which makes the small investment on the front end (training) saves higher costs. Research shows that training investments foregone are multiplied six-fold in opportunity costs each year that action is put off. (This is another of my trademarked concepts, known as The High Cost of Doing Nothing.)

Questions to consider in evaluating training providers include:

  • Would you feel comfortable if they ran your company?
  • What is their longevity? Were they consultants 10-20 years ago? Consultants must have at least a 10-year track record to be at all viable as a judgment resource.
  • What is their maturity level? Could they appear before a board of directors?
  • How do they meet deadlines, initiate projects and offer ideas beyond the obvious?
  • If one level of consultant sells the business, will this same professional service your account? Big firms usually bring in junior associates after the sale is made. Demand that consultants of seniority staff the project.
  • How consistent are they with specific industries, types of projects and clients?
  • How good a generalist are they? Trainers with too narrow a niche will not ultimately serve your best interests.

Professional status is important. Prospective clients should inquire about the consultant’s:

  • Respect among current and recent clients.
  • Reputation among affected constituencies within the business community.
  • Activity in professional development and business education. If they do not pursue ongoing knowledge progression, they are obsolete and not valuable to clients.
  • Track record at mentoring other business professionals. Check to see that they give beyond the scope of billable hours.
  • Pro-bono community involvement. If they have done little or none, they are not worth hiring. Top professionals know the value of giving back to the community that supports them, becoming better consultants as a result.

The ideal training provider:

  • Clearly differentiates what he/she does…and will not presume to ‘do it all.’
  • Is a tenured full-time consultant, not a recently down-sized corporate employee or somebody seeking your work to ‘tide themselves over.’
  • Has actually run a business.
  • Has consulted companies of comparable size and complexity as yours.
  • Has current references and case histories.
  • Gives ‘value-added’ insight…in contrast to simply performing tasks.
  • Sees the scope of work as a professional achievement…rather than just billable hours.
  • Pursues client relationship building…as opposed to just rendering a contract service.

7 Biggest Benefits of Training:

  1. Measurements. Test scores, grades, class rankings, GPA, SAT, professional certifications, licensing examinations, juried awards. Whether in school or business, we are all measured. Knowledge helps to make and predict society’s measurements which are expected.
  2. Thinking-Reasoning Skills. What we learn is important. Further, what we do with lessons, how facts are interpreted, how we approach problems and the faculties of common sense are vital to economic, social and self-betterment success.
  3. Socialization-People Skills. Through trial-and-error, success-and-failure and the observation of other people’s strengths-and-weaknesses, we learn how to live and work with others. Mastering people skills makes for win-win propositions.
  4. Professional Development. Education does not stop after the highest degree completed…it merely begins. Training, professional enrichment, membership in associations and constructive business interaction are vital for career longevity and economic independence.
  5. Mentorship. Learning from others takes a higher plateau when under the wings of experts. Mentorship (which has seven levels) is a stairstep process of bettering all participants. Meaningful lessons, paying dues and developing relationships empower those who make the effort “go the distance.” Learning from different, ususual and informed sources is the art of mentorship.
  6. Earning Power. Education (formal schooling, professional development and enhanced-relationship study) has a direct relationship to financial rewards. It begins with school but bears fruit in the willingness to learn, change and grow professionally.
  7. Future Life. A truly successful person commits to mentoring others, giving back, mastering change and never failing to learn. Education is more than confirming one’s held beliefs. It plants knowledge roots, which sprout in ideas, applicabilities and lifelong insights.

I recommend that team building training be conducted as part of a company Strategic Plan, with top management participating. Companies must plan…predicting (rather than reacting to) strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Professional development must be offered to every employee, including mentoring for top executives and up-and-coming young people. Education should show decision makers all phases of the organization and what it takes to succeed and grow, personally and as a team.

Topics recommended to be taught:

  • Marketplace factors outside your company, how they can hurt or help your business.
  • Generational work ethics and why young people need executive mentoring to ‘go the distance’ in their careers, offering value to the company and profession.
  • Understanding the value of conducting independent company assessments, other than the ‘bean counter’ approach.
  • Workplace literacy. Much of the work force does not have basic skills, nor reasoning abilities. They embrace technology, rather than ideas and concepts.
  • Understand and celebrate diversity. This is a blessing, not a mandate.
  • Accept and embrace change. Research shows change is 90% beneficial. So why do people fight what is best for them?
  • What business the company is really in…why…where they are headed…with what resources-knowledge-skills…on what timeline…who plays a part in growth…and how (the process known as Visioning).

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Why Do We Listen to Each Other?

What if it were true that we only understand a fraction of what others say to us? And if true, what can we do about it?

As someone who has taken great pride in accurately hearing what others say, I was annoyed to discover that it’s pretty impossible for any listeners to achieve any consistent level of accuracy. The problem is not the words – we hear those, albeit we only remember them for less than 3 seconds and not in the proper order (Remember the game of Telephone we played as kids?). The problem is how we interpret them.


When researching my new book What? Did you really say what I think I heard? I learned that our brains arbitrarily delete or redefine anything our Communication Partners (CPs) say that might be uncomfortable or atypical. Unfortunately, we then believe that what we think we’ve heard – a subjective translation of what’s been said – is actually what was said or meant. It’s usually some degree of inaccurate. And it’s not our fault. Our brains do it to us.

Just as our eyes take in light that our brains interpret into images, so our ears take in sound that our brains interpret into meaning. And because interpreting everything we hear is overwhelming, our brain takes short cuts and habituates how it interprets. So when John has said X, and Mary uses similar words or ideas days or years later, our brains tell us Mary is saying X. It’s possible that neither John nor Mary said X at all, or if they did their intended meaning was different; it will seem the same to us.

Not only does habit get in the way, but our brains use memory, triggers, assumptions, and bias – filters – to idiosyncratically interpret the words spoken. Everything we hear people say is wholly dependent upon our unique and subjective filters. It’s automatic and unconscious: we have no control over which filters are being used. Developed over our lifetimes, our filters categorize people and social situations, interpret events, delete references, misconstrue ideas, and redefine intended meaning. Without our permission.

As a result, we end up miscommunicating, mishearing, assuming, and misunderstanding, producing flawed communications at the best of times although it certainly seems as if we’re hearing and interpreting accurately. In What? (free download) I have an entire chapter of stories recounting very funny conversations filled with misunderstandings and assumptions. My editor found these stories so absurd she accused me of inventing them. I didn’t.

It starts when we’re children: how and what we hear other’s say gets determined when we’re young. And to keep us comfortable, our brains kindly continue these patterns throughout our lives, causing us to restrict who we have relationships with, and determine our professions, our friends, and even where we live.


Why does this matter? Not because it’s crucial to accurately understand what others want to convey – which seems obvious – but to connect. The primary reason we communicate is to connect with others.
Since our lives are fuelled by connecting with others, and our imperfect listening inadvertently restricts what we hear, how can we remain connected given our imperfect listening skills? Here are two ways and one rule to separate ‘what we hear’ from the connection itself:

  1. For important information sharing, tell your CP what you think s/he said before you respond.
  2. When you notice your response didn’t get the expected reaction, ask your CP what s/he heard you say.

Rule: If what you’re doing works, keep doing it. Just know the difference between what’s working and what’s not, and be willing to do something different the moment it stops working. Because if you don’t, you’re either lucky or unlucky, and those are bad odds.

Now let’s get to the connection issue. Here’s what you will notice at the moment your connection has been broken:

  • A physical or verbal reaction outside of what you assumed would happen;
  • A sign of distress, confusion, annoyance, anger;
  • A change of topic, an avoidance, or a response outside of the expected interchange.

Sometimes, if you’re biasing you’re listening to hear something specific, you might miss the cues of an ineffective reaction. Like when, for example, sales people or folks having arguments merely listen for openings to say that they want, and don’t notice what’s really happening or the complete meaning being conveyed.

Ultimately, in order to ensure an ongoing connection, to make sure everyone’s voice is heard and feelings and ideas are properly conveyed, it’s most effective to remove as many listening filters as possible. Easier said than done, of course, as they are built in. (What? teaches how to fix this.) In the meantime, during conversations, put yourself in Neutral; rid yourself of biases and assumptions when listening; regularly check in with your Communication Partner to make sure your connection is solid. Then you’ll have an unrestricted connection with your CP that enables sharing, creativity, and candor.

About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. ( She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

To contact Sharon Drew at [email protected] or go to to choose your favorite digital site to download your free book.

Human Performance Management Best Practice 13 – Independent Verification

StrategyDriven Human Performance Management Best Practice ArticleRecent industrial accidents remind us of the critical importance of proper equipment operation. While some operational errors result in immediate negative impacts, the consequence of other errors may be delayed for a time.

Hi there! Gain access to this article with a StrategyDriven Insights Library – Total Access subscription or buy access to the article itself.

Subscribe to the StrategyDriven Insights Library

Sign-up now for your StrategyDriven Insights Library – Total Access subscription for as low as $15 / month (paid annually).

Not sure? Click here to learn more.

Buy the Article

Don’t need a subscription? Buy access to Human Performance Management Best Practice 13 – Independent Verification for just $2!

About the Author

Nathan Ives, StrategyDriven Principal is a StrategyDriven Principal and Host of the StrategyDriven Podcast. For over twenty years, he has served as trusted advisor to executives and managers at dozens of Fortune 500 and smaller companies in the areas of management effectiveness, organizational development, and process improvement. To read Nathan’s complete biography, click here.

Human Feedback is the Greatest Path to Efficiency

Feedback, at its core, is simply information about the results of past action that can improve the results of future actions. An airplane’s navigation system, the thermostat in your home’s heating unit, and a flashing electronic sign that displays your car’s speed are all examples of feedback that drives improvement. The plane adjusts its course, the heat turns off in the warm afternoon, and you slow down to the speed limit. Each time an adjustment is made, a ‘feedback loop’ is completed.

It’s not happening in the workplace
This is so not the way information flows between human beings in the workplace. Although employees receive massive amounts of information via electronic sources, feedback from their boss – information that could help them improve performance – dribbles in at a very slow pace or not at all.

Why is this?

Hi there! This article is available for free. Login or register as a StrategyDriven Personal Business Advisor Self-Guided Client by:

Subscribing to the Self Guided Program - It's Free!


About the Author

Anna Carroll, MSSW, is an organization development consultant, facilitator, coach, and speaker. She designs and leads training and group planning experiences and creates learning tools and assessments to speed up group success. Most recently, Anna has focused on how leaders and team members can overcome their barriers to exchanging valuable feedback in the workplace. Her book, The Feedback Imperative: How to Give Everyday Feedback to Speed Up Your Team’s Success, was published in July 2014 by River Grove Press.

Want to learn more? Visit Anna’s website: or contact her by email at [email protected].

How to be an Effective Manager

Effectively managing people, processes, or both is in many ways a balancing act. Some would even describe it as an art form. There are many variables in play simultaneously which determine if somebody will ultimately be successful in a leadership role.

Before a manager begins to understand all of these nuances they must learn one of the major underlying principles if they are going to recognize their full potential as leaders. They must learn to walk the tightrope between being personal and professional at the same time. It is important to be personal and on good terms with your team members because this is the only way to ensure teamwork and peak performance, but you must also be professional to be respected and trusted. Be too friendly and you may be taken advantage of or not taken seriously, be too buttoned up and ‘professional’ and you risk coming across as uncaring and stubborn.

Hi there! This article is available for free. Login or register as a StrategyDriven Personal Business Advisor Self-Guided Client by:

Subscribing to the Self Guided Program - It's Free!


About the Author

Gabriel Bristol, president and CEO of Intelicare Direct, is one of today’s most versatile CEOs, having led remarkable turnarounds for several large corporations as well as helping establish rapidly growing start-ups. Gabriel’s success has been well documented, with features in Forbes and other publications throughout the country. To read Gabriel’s complete biography, click here.