How to get Enterprise Fluency out of the pipeline and bring it to life
Gordon Hui presents a brilliantly simple explanation for why so many companies land upon the next big idea, but then find themselves unable to execute. Writing for Fast Company’s Co.Design, he calls it the “pipeline paradox” and describes it in terms of innovation.
He asks readers to picture a funnel in which ideas are pouring into the wide end. What ultimately squeezes through the end of the funnel are the most winning ideas. Success is within reach. So what goes wrong? These companies often make a fatal error: They invest in finding the idea “but fail to allocate enough resources and staffing on graduating projects beyond the funnel and ensuring they can be easily integrated into a business…As a result, a lot of ideas get suspended in the middle of the pipeline.”
Hui outlines a four-step plan to break the pipeline paradox—and it’s a plan that can be wisely and easily applied to companies trying to bring one such big idea to life within their own company: Enterprise Fluency.
Realizing that improving Business English proficiency is critical to advancing Enterprise Fluency and organizational success is half the battle. Defining and implementing a specific action plan for implementing a Business English solution is the other half. But these four steps, based on the Fast Company article, can help provide a clear path for success:
- Set clear goals for what you want to achieve. From the beginning, companies need to get a handle on the scope of the task and the resources needed to invest in advancing their company’s Enterprise Fluency. Consider scalability, management, employee learning styles and what metrics matter the most to your company (and look for a solution that addresses those issues). When looking at solutions that cover different learning styles, make sure they can cost-effectively tackle the different ways employees learn—research shows that adult learners acquire knowledge in different ways: 70% is learned through on-the-job experience and practice, 20% through informal and social learning (such as peer feedback) and 10% of learning in the workplace occurs through traditional formal learning. Take a look at this video from Charles Jennings, the former Chief Learning Officer of Reuters to learn more about this approach and workplace solutions.
- Run a pilot and have very specific goals for it. Hui recommends that companies ask this question: “What is the smallest, lowest-cost way to obtain the greatest validation about my key assumption?” Pilot programs and small-scale implementations are great ways for companies to get a good understanding of whether a solution meets their specific needs and goals. Plus, these programs can help companies better understand what’s required to implement and manage the solution. It’s important to work closely with the solution provider to establish clear goals for the pilot so expectations aren’t misaligned—if, for example, you run a pilot for three months, you should make sure that your goals can be met within that timeframe.
- Figure out how to accelerate the innovation now. Having a Business English–proficient workforce in the long term will certainly increase communication, collaboration and profitability, but what about in the short term? To remain competitive you need to innovate, and innovate fast. Find a solution that can improve proficiency in the long run AND provide immediate efficiency gains tied to English so you don’t have to wait to benefit from the collective knowledge and ideas of your entire native and non-native English-speaking workforce.
- Keep the wisdom of Steve Jobs in mind. In the words of Jobs, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Bringing your idea to life “means devoting time and resources to guarantee its success.” Make sure to share your idea with key stakeholders in your company early on. Our experience has shown us over and over again that the most successful Business English programs have widespread sponsorship beyond the tactical owners of the project. It’s important for each of these stakeholders to understand why advancing Enterprise Fluency should matter to them so that they can become evangelists for your idea.
Bringing a big idea to life doesn’t have to be a daunting task if you have the right partner. We’re here to learn about your challenges and offer you specific solutions on how to advocate for, implement and successfully manage an effective Business English solution so that your company can quickly start reaping the benefits of Enterprise Fluency.