February 16, 2015 by Jeff Hurt
A new study finds that successful businesses focus on linking learning to business performance.
And the most successful conferences link their learning opportunities to their target market’s strategic business interest.
Ultimately, these conference organizers understand that what happens back in the attendees’ office after the event is much more important that what happens at the conference.
50% of the executives surveyed rate capacity building as one of their companies’ top three strategic priorities.
Capacity building is employee development of attitudes, behaviors, understanding, and skills that drives meaningful business results.
Successful executives site learning linked to company performance as crucial to their capability building programs.
Effective executives align their employees’ learning opportunities with business performance. They intentionally link learning directly to real business impact. And they integrate the learning results into their employee performance management. They measure employee performance before and after learning. Thus they can identify how and if skills gaps are or are not closed.
The most successful conference organizers intentionally design learning opportunities that directly link to their target market’s business performance.
They do not see their conference education sessions as a roll of the call-for-proposal-dice. Nor do they allow volunteer leaders to chose and secure speakers and content based on their personal agendas.
Instead, they insist that their education offerings must align with their target market’s strategic business interest.
They talk with their target market’s supervisors and executives. From those conversations, they diagnose and identify skill gaps in their target markets. Then they find speakers that design and deliver facilitated learning opportunities on those topics. And they take it one step further: they quantify the potential financial impact of addressing these capability gaps through the conference education.
These conference organizers view themselves as co-owners of capacity building of their customers’ companies. That co-ownership between the company’s executives and the conference organizer fosters alignment between learning and business objectives. And it results in conference success and loyalty.
Most conferences offer a majority of industry- and sector-specific education.
So do these industry- and sector-specific sessions fill the primary gap of the target market? Do these technical skill sessions result in improved business performance? Not really.
More than 90% of CEOs see leadership development as the single most important issue their company faces. Successful executives rank leadership skills as their highest priority. Not technical and sector-specific skills. And they say it has the highest impact on business performance.
Strategic thinking, innovation, dealing with change, operations, and sales and marketing rank respectively as the most important functional skills to business performance.
Industry-specific skills now rank last. This is a shift from 2010 survey results when executives ranked sector-specific skills as first or second.
Conferences must be more deliberate in identifying and understanding which capabilities truly impact their customers’ business performance. Then they secure learning opportunities that align with those capabilities.
What do conference organizers need to make the shift from call from proposals to identifying learning opportunities that link to business performance? What barriers keep conferences from shifting to a focus on learning linked to building capacity?
Filed Under: Event Planning
Interesting that Leadership skills are the #1 focus of CEO’s. That’s a good stat to know 🙂
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