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About the Author
Dr. R. Wayne Pace is professor emeritus of organizational leadership in the Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA, and adjunct scholar in the Workplace Research, Learning, and Development (WoRLD) Institute of the School of Social and Workplace Development, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW, Australia. He is also a visiting professor of management at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. He serves as corporate advisor to QuicKnowledge.com and STS International, companies in the training and development industry.
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TRAINING ACROSS MULTIPLE LOCATIONSDEVELOPING A SYSTEM THAT WORKS
By Stephen F. Krempl R. Wayne Pace
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2001 Stephen F. Krempl and R. Wayne Pace
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE NATURE OF MULTIPLE-LOCATION T&D SYSTEMS
In general, we can say that the larger the system becomes, the more the parts interact, the more difficult it is to understand environmental constraints, the more obscure becomes the problem of what resources should be made available, and deepest of all, the more difficult becomes the problem of the legitimate values of the system.
C. West Churchman
Vast business opportunities in Asia, South America, Africa, and other parts of the world have enticed many companies to expand their marketing and manufacturing capabilities worldwide. Truly, we are in a global age. Organizations all over the world are rushing to develop global operations. Odenwald (1993) has noted that "corporate human resource executives are setting up training management teams in regions around the world" (p. 160). This global expansion requires multinational corporations to examine how they manage the increased complexity of training and development (T&D) operations that involve multiple locations. Thus, we will begin by discussing the goals and impact of globalization on a multiple-location training organization and the three dilemmas that every training manager in this environment must face. How do we balance the desire for autonomy with the need for some central control and standardization? Do we position training and development near the power centers or near the people they serve? Do we want our professional staff seen as business managers or learning specialists?
Doing business globally is a tremendous undertaking for a company's internal business functions. Expanding beyond a company's primary market into new areas of the world involves dealing with diverse ethnic groups, multiple cultures, varied languages, and different business practices. These variables, coupled with local laws and restrictions, can make it difficult to establish effective work systems and processes. Developing and maintaining effective workers and business operations in this environment may be one of the most challenging opportunities that the new global economy provides. It can be a recipe for disaster.
To support employees dispersed worldwide, some companies are establishing regional support centers, which often include services for more than one company or product. For example, when PepsiCo managed Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut restaurants, its major regions (Asia, Europe, and South America) each had only one regional center. However, that regional center served all three companies. These support facilities ensured that PepsiCo consistently and efficiently delivered high-quality training, regardless of the company or region.
The T&D function must consider various distribution systems for delivering its products and services to multiple locations. Figure 1.1, which illustrates some typical distribution systems, assumes a corporate headquarters that disseminates general policies/information to distant offices. Five distribution channels are represented in Figure 1.1. A multinational or multilocation corporation could utilize any or all of these channels to distribute services, products, or information. Communication may occur as indicated by channel A, directly from corporate headquarters to employees; channel B, from corporate headquarters to divisional or regional centers and then to employees; or channel C, from corporate headquarters to markets, then to specific product outlets/stores and on to employees. D portrays a system in which policy/information is distributed from headquarters to a regional center, on to divisional sites, then market locations, then to employees, and finally to customers/users. E is a similar system but shows training being distributed from divisions to licensees, on to franchisees, dealer/ distributors, and finally their employees. The dotted line emphasizes that these units are not legally part of the parent organization. In fact, as employees of a distributor or franchisee, they may not even be employees of the corporation. Nevertheless, they are a vital component in the distribution of training.
The key intermediate point in the B and D lines is the "'region'." There is no universally accepted definition of the term region. Nye (1968) explains, "There are no absolute or naturally determined regions. Relevant geographical boundaries vary with different purposes; for example, a relevant region for security may not be one for economic integration" (p. 75). Nevertheless, a region is one important unit in many multiple-location training distribution systems.
For the purpose of clarity, we will think of a region as a geographic area defined by distinct business activity. Regions usually encompass more than one state or country. We may refer to the Asian Region (Figure 1.2) or the Latin American Region. For instance, an Italian manufacturer may classify the entire United States as a region. Thus, a region often consists of business units operating under a single corporate headquarters within a definable geographical area in which the company conducts business.
GOALS OF A MULTIPLE-LOCATION T&D SYSTEM
The T&D function has mission-critical goals. Among them are (1) to manage knowledge distribution, (2) to establish/support a culture that spans national and local organizations and connects them to the corporate culture, and (3) to enhance individual performance and organizational capability.
Distribute and Manage Knowledge
The primary goal of any T&D organization is to manage the flow of knowledge within the corporation. This goal represents a greater challenge in a multilocation system. The challenge lies in trying to capture this knowledge from the far reaches of the corporation. Doing so requires a systematic way of identifying, capturing, encoding, and disseminating the information. This is already a significant task and will become more important over time.
Knowledge management deals with the way in which information is distributed and used in an organization (Herling & Provo, 2000). In general, information represents the sounds and movements people make and the electrical impulses of machines before we respond to them. It is the impersonal sounds, actions, and impulses directed our way, intentionally or not. For example, when we answer the telephone, we respond to information, in this case sounds, and then make sense out of them. When we make sense out of information, it becomes knowledge. Knowledge is generally defined as having direct awareness of something, making sense of information. It is a particularly human activity.
Managing knowledge means that someone directs, regulates, maintains, and influences the sense that is made of public information—that is, information that is available to all parties. Thus, if you manage knowledge, you have the ability to influence what information employees use to make decisions and guide actions. Since the T&D function directs what information is available and influences how employees translate that information into knowledge, they have a tremendous impact on knowledge flow.
If we understand that a person's perceptions are a function of the personal knowledge they have, then we can understand the immense responsibility we have for what people think and how they act. Every program, every contact that the T&D staff have with employees represents an opportunity to influence knowledge flow, which then influences individual performance and corporate capability.
Support or Enhance Culture
The second goal of the T&D function is to establish a culture that spans national and local organizations and connects them to the corporate culture. National culture consists of common perceptions and actions in a particular country. The most apparent aspects of a national culture are language, attitude toward time, use of space, and dominant religion.
Corporate culture is a system of shared beliefs and values that guide decisions and actions. T&D influences cultural issues as an outgrowth of knowledge transfer. As information enters our consciousness and sense making occurs, we store in our minds private knowledge, our special meanings. When we talk to others, private knowledge becomes public knowledge. Public knowledge about an organization—what we should do and how we should act—is the fabric of corporate culture. Since T&D distributes public knowledge, it follows that it is concerned with the culture of the organization. Thus, the T&D function must cultivate and maintain the culture, if the culture is to support the T&D function.
An organization's culture emerges from the collective experience of its members as they share symbols, rites, and rituals. Bolman and Deal (1991) refer to this as the "symbolic frame" and compare the organization to a theater in which each person takes a role. The costumes, stage setting, and acting (ways of talking and behaving) convey the meaning of the play (the organization) to both the actors and the audience.
Like a play, an organization has a story line that articulates what is important in the culture. Business attire and uniforms become costumes. The daily enactment of the script reveals the story, and the symbols reveal those things that are stable and enduring. The ultimate expression of the theatrical metaphor is manifest at Disney theme parks, where employees are "on stage" at all times. Although Disney locations have elaborate stage settings, costumes, and scripts, each is a real business, similar to other successful businesses. Indeed, Southwest Airlines and Merrill Lynch have their own cultures that are also fully consistent with the theatrical metaphor. You may want to examine your corporate culture in terms of what its stage, costumes, and scripts say.
A strong organizational culture cuts two ways. First, unique, shared values develop a vigorous corporate identity, enhance employee commitment, reduce the need for formal controls, and create a stable social system. However, it may become rigid and thus project a narrow perspective and create a restrictive environment. If dramatic changes need to be made in the organization, a strong culture may offer strong resistance to that change, making innovation and adaptation nearly impossible.
A strong and clearly defined culture can provide a distinct advantage for multiple-location systems. Many organizations want to present a common "face" to the customer. That "face" represents the culture and values of the organization. Giving everyone the same "face" requires training—employee training, business partner training, distributor training. Strong cultures may underlie some other paradoxes in managing the T&D function in multiple locations. So, how do you bridge the gap between a strong corporate culture and the distinct local or national cultures? What strategies would ensure that the best outcomes are reached? Organizations expect T&D to gather input and provide leadership in achieving this delicate balance.
Enhance Individual Performance and Organizational Capability
The third goal of the T&D function in multiple-location systems is to develop a baseline of common knowledge and skill that spans regions and is consistent with corporate expectations. Individual performance improvement is an important goal of any T&D function, but doing that within a system of dispersed multiple locations is a great challenge. Without regularly updated information, reinforced and refined, individuals in distant locations have a tendency to evolve personalized and idiosyncratic interpretations that affect their decisions and actions.
A multitude of distortions, errors, and biases may emerge from distributing information through human systems, all of which may affect the performance and ability of individuals and groups. Quality, relevance, timeliness, and amount of information are critical variables affecting how employees do their work. Without the best knowledge, employees cannot execute their work competently. However, competence is not enough.
Herling and Provo (2000) explain that
"having a competent workforce allows the organization to maintain its competitive position. To move the organization forward and grow requires highly knowledgeable and skilled individuals capable of solving progressively more difficult and unique situational problems. In short, sustained organizational success requires employee expertise, not just employee competence." (p. 5)
The ability of the T&D function to help employees access the knowledge necessary to enhance their existing abilities and develop expertise may determine the long-range success of the organization. In establishing a multiple-location system, T&D leaders may encounter common paradoxes that directly impact on the strategy they choose for their day-to-day operations.
PARADOXES IN MANAGING MULTIPLE-LOCATION T&D SYSTEMS
The nature of a multiple-location system lends itself to contradiction and paradox. The system has roots in a centralized organization such as corporate headquarters but must function in a local environment far removed and vastly different from the central unit. This paradigm gives rise to several questions. Where should T&D reside, and what criteria should be used to make that decision? Are T&D professionals primarily educators/trainers, or are they business thinkers whose venue is adult education and training? Who should control which aspects of the T&D function—corporate or regional? These issues must be explored as a multilocation system is designed.
Paradox 1: Business Managers versus Learning Specialists
Managers located in business units or operational units sometimes argue that T&D staff do not understand business or operational issues. They are educators. Thus, the operations function often establishes its own training unit charged with business, technical operations, or sales training. T&D, then, handles only management development, a nonbusiness responsibility. One way to address this paradox is for T&D staff to be fully informed about business issues. This allows the function to be based where it can achieve its goals most effectively, engage in the most effective knowledge management, develop the most appropriate organizational culture, and improve the performance and capability of both individuals and the organization.
Paradox 2: Power versus Proximity
As a general principle, the T&D function should be located where it has the most positional influence. If human resources is an established function that carries the right budget and political influence, then T&D should be located there. However, if operations is the strongest unit, it should be located with operations. Making the decision based on positional influence also means that T&D could report directly to the chief executive officer.
Always, however, T&D should be closely connected with the people so that it can work effectively on knowledge management, organizational culture, and performance and capability improvement. It needs to be "out there" in the field where the work is performed. But the centers of power are usually not in the field. How does T&D maintain a close connection with the power base and still be near the people? The means to this end are simple and inexpensive. The keys are communication and visibility. T&D must have constant contact with the centers of power and keep those in powerful positions well informed about what is happening in the function. By conscientious use of the regular communication channels such as written reports or status update meetings, T&D maintains a presence with upper management. A more sophisticated approach would be to draft an advisory council or advisory board from among internal and external stakeholders or request the opportunity to present your plans and progress at a senior management meeting. The goal is to ensure that all parts of the corporation understand what T&D is doing and its impact.
Paradox 3: Central Control versus Regional Autonomy
In widely dispersed, multiple-location organizations, the issue of who controls the creation and distribution of T&D materials can become a difficult question. The dimensions of this issue are portrayed in Figure 1.3. The x-axis shows types of information to be developed and distributed as part of T&D functions; the y-axis identifies the location or level at which development and distribution could occur. As you can see, corporate headquarters (y-axis) has control over core operating standards (x-axis). This represents the most closely held issue at the center of the multilocation system. However, note that the units and markets exercise little control over core operating standards. As you travel farther from this central issue, both organizationally and geographically, you begin to see how control of information shifts toward the regional level, with divisions and regions exercising greater control over product information and functional development. By the time you reach the market and unit levels, there is almost no control over core operating standards or product information, but extreme control over individual development issues. Thus, it may be inferred that in a multiple-location system there is both autonomy and control at work, but the issues over which each location exercises that control vary greatly, with corporate having more control over issues affecting the entire enterprise and units/markets dominating more individual and professional development. This makes sense as you look at the stakeholders in each area. As you study the chart, attempt to locate your situation in the matrix. You can then decide whether T&D materials should be handled somewhat differently in your organization.
Excerpted from TRAINING ACROSS MULTIPLE LOCATIONS by Stephen F. Krempl R. Wayne Pace Copyright © 2001 by Stephen F. Krempl and R. Wayne Pace. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of ContentsPreface
CHAPTER 1 The Nature of Multiple-Location T&D Systems
CHAPTER 2 A Model for Creating a Multiple-Location T&D System
CHAPTER 3 Using Business Functions as a Frame of Reference
CHAPTER 4 The Role of Technology in the System
CHAPTER 5 Managing Multiple-Location Systems through Regional Centers
CHAPTER 6 How to Assess Performance
CHAPTER 7 How to Ensure Survival
CHAPTER 8 How to Build Organizational Capability
CHAPTER 9 A Call to Action
Appendix: Communication Climate Inventory
About the Authors