Most organisations want to get real value from the learning and development opportunities they create or commission. Making as much of that investment go as far as possible isn’t being tight fisted, it’s very good commercial sense. It’s what we should all want.
However, you don’t shrink your way to greatness so squeezing pricing isn’t the path. It happens but in a meaningful client relationship you value what you both create. You don’t “nickel & dime” it or compromise delivery. You don’t pay late just as you don’t turn up late. You respect the relationship and the fair exchange not what you can squeeze out of each other. It’s just smart business.
What is smarter is working out how you can get even more bang for your buck, together, without compromising the fundamentals or the future. In everything I see the best way to achieve this is through the goodness of meaningful long term relationships.
The goodness of goodwill
Meaningful long term relationships are marked by mutual goodwill. The goodwill I mean here isn’t exactly the intangible financial asset we often see defined. What I mean is the intangible relational investment that’s been created in the relationship. The investment and regard that says :
1. we value each other and each others endeavours
2. we want each other to be successful
3. we want to express that and help each other achieve success
4. we don’t see each other as being limited by what we have done
5. we recognise that we both need to earn a living to make that happen
6. we recognise that if we can assure that living we have more discretionary capacity for new endeavours
If you want to get more bang for your buck and you see the value of a fair exchange then it’s this form of goodwill that you want to work with.
That means that you need to invest in relationships that are strong enough to share that mutual endeavour (points 1-4 above). It also means that you need to find a way to assure and access discretionary capacity (points 5&6 above). That is where goodwill can truly be enabled.
Barriers & Opportunities
The biggest barrier here in my experience is far less the spirit of mutual endeavour – that tends to sort itself out one way or another! No, the far bigger barrier is in creating the environment for that discretionary capacity. More specifically, the biggest barrier is the investment in time that is required to stimulate and prime new or additional pieces of work. Having lived both sides of the organisational fence I know this is true as much for the internal partner as it is for the external practitioner.
If you can usefully reduce the time investment in stimulating and priming new or additional pieces of work then you can create more discretionary capacity. If you can create discretionary capacity you will quickly find you can deliver more bang for your buck. If you can deliver more bang for your buck you’ll find new/additional pieces of work come to you!
Ultimately, the job at hand isn’t to close a good “sale”. The real job is to reduce the cost of sales in the first place without undermining the fundamentals or the future. The best way I think to do this is to invest in the goodness of meaningful long term relationships and that intangible relational investment I’ve called goodwill.
If you want more bang for your L&D buck then you might have to look quite differently at how you see and invest in your relationships.