Operating a Business in the “Learning Space.”
For the week’s blog on Lifelong Learning, our Founder Ron Slee addresses the topic of operating a business in the “Learning Space.”
Our backgrounds, Caroline and I, are in education. More specifically in Classroom Face-to-Face Teaching. As teachers we are concerned with our students and their growth and learning in the specific subjects that we are teaching. We have tests, quizzes, and discussion groups to help us in tracking the learning levels and growth of each student. And, please, never forget that all of these different aspects of teaching allow us to understand what is working and what is not. Many people overlook that aspect of tests and report cards.
In the e-learning world there are many more challenges in the creation of products that will help in employee development. The first question we must ask ourselves is “does our current offering, the assessments, classes and lectures match what the market needs?” This is an ongoing challenge as the market is constantly changing. The question becomes “are we delivering the proper learning products to the proper people in a manner that they find interesting and productive?”
Of course, we have to first define our purpose which with us is very straightforward “We want to assist people in the identification of their individual potential.” However, as you will no doubt realize, that is a challenge all by itself. We also add that our goal goes further in that we want to offer products and services that allow each of the interested people to realize that potential.
That meant that we had to identify the specific aspect of the employee population that we could help with the most. Our conclusion was that we wanted to touch everyone who led people and everyone who interacted with customers or supported people who did interact with customers. That covers nearly everyone in the product support disciplines, the distribution channel, in the capital goods industry. We recognized that although there is different jargon and some different practices that most of the capital goods industries needed similar things. Construction, Agricultural, Light Industrial, Material Handling, Engine, On Highway Truck and Trailer, Marine are some of the industries we are focused on today.
We have a lot of operational experience in these industries and we have multiplied that experience with our large group of Contributors who contribute to our market with blog posts and podcasts and assist in our newsletters. These Contributors, all forty eight of them, have deep understanding of all aspects of the operations of dealers and distributors.
One of our challenges is to bring our product to the market. It is a rather daunting task to attempt to cover all of these companies by ourselves. In order to penetrate this huge market worldwide we have created a smaller group of specialists to help us. They are aimed at educators, the industry associations, the manufacturers of the equipment as well as influential dealers and distributors.
We first communicated directly with industry associations. This is, of course, where I was first teaching in the distribution channel, with the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED). I personally did all of their parts and service operational training from the early 1990’s through 2015. We did Parts Management, Service Management, Product Support Selling and Parts and Service Marketing training. We also provide training services to manufacturers, in some cases worldwide. Companies such as Caterpillar, Deere, Komatsu, Volvo, Ditch Witch and Vermeer to name a few. I also was involved in many industries convention and annual meetings.
We recognized that we need to have a community of influencers.
We were very fortunate to have the help of Steve Johnson. Steve, until he retired was the Vice President of the AED Foundation. This foundation was the area of training and employee development for the association. Steve has been in touch with a large number of schools across the US and Canada establishing, what he calls, Centers of Excellence. These are the schools that he has selected to represent Learning Without Scars across Canada and the United States of America. We are extremely excited about this aspect of our business.
We have established two streams of learning products: one for academic credit and the other for workforce development. For the academic credit stream, we have created classes that will earn seven academic credits (that is fourteen classes as two of our classes earn an academic credit). For the workforce development stream, we have one hundred and eight classes; thirty-six for the parts business, thirty-six for the selling and marketing businesses, and thirty-six for the service business. We also have eighteen job function skills assessments for the workforce development stream. We are currently working with university professors to create a selection of Lecture Series. We hope to have the Lecture Service earning Academic Credits as well. There is a lot of work involved and a lot of effort put in by a lot of people. This is not an easy thing to get done.
One of the challenges for industry is being able to identify the individuals who are the best fit to help companies succeed in their businesses. Universities do this will various tests, such as the Executive Function Test. Businesses do this with various personality profiles such as Briggs Meyers, Personalysis, Caliper and many others. Associations do this with their individual “certification” programs. Manufacturers do this with their technician training and certifications.
As an Accredited Provider with IACET, The International Accreditors of Continuing Education and Training. We are the only ones in the world with this accreditation. We are going to be pursuing further accreditations this year to make our products even more unique to the marketplace.
I hope this gives you a more complete understanding of the “business” we have been building for the parts thirty plus years. I would like to extend my thanks to all of the students, the more than twenty-five thousand of you, that we have had in our classes all around the world. I sincerely mean it when I tell you that this would not have been possible without the contributions that each and every one of you have made I the classrooms with me. Thank you all so very much.
The Time is Now.