Few people know this, but after Goldilocks famous and dangerous encounter with the 3 Bears she became a business trainer. Goldi (as she liked to be called now) was indeed the most engaging and brightest trainer there ever was and although she fled the forest with the 3 Bears all those years ago she now found herself working in a different kind of forest; the corporate forest. Instead of the tall trees there were skyscrapers, rivers were roads and sunlight came from fluorescent strips in the ceiling. To Goldi, this new forest was just as exciting as the old one and she found herself deeper and deeper until one day she met a new kind of Bear, in fact 3 of them… the ROI Bears.
The biggest of the Bears was CEO Bear. He was full of his own importance and strutted around making declarations like “ Need more sales”, “Drive down costs”, “Protect margins” and “Aren’t I brilliant”. The second biggest bear was CFO Bear, he spoke a weird language and only understood numbers. He often spent his time following CEO Bear around counting things on his giant paws while mumbling to himself “profit, loss, accruals, accruals”. The third of the bears was HR Bear, the kindliest of all the bears. She sometimes had the most rewarding job in the forest but mostly had the toughest job clearing up the mess left behind by the CEO and CFO bears and even doing their dirty work for them.
One day, after another depressing economic report from Robert Pestonmist on the BBC (Bear Broadcasting Corporation) news, CEO Bear decided he should cut something to prepare from the impending doom forecast by the media. He declared to the mirror in his penthouse office “In these tough times I’m cutting everything that isn’t essential or doesn’t add to the bottom-line” then he picked up the phone, having now practice his declaration to a satisfactory pompous level and said it again to the CFO bear this time adding “Find me something to cut that doesn’t generate profit and is simply a cost”. The CFO Bear scampered off to look at his accounts singing “profit, loss, accruals, accruals” as he was privately delighted that CEO Bear knew that it was the numbers, and by association, he thatmattered. After a few seconds in shallow thought, CFO Bear cried out “I’ve found it” and scurried off to tell CEO Bear what he’d found.
What CFO Bear had found was that Training appeared as a “cost” in the accounts and their was no entry for “profit” under training. So he told CEO Bear that they could cut it and save straight away. The CEO Bear was delighted so decreed “Stop all non-essential training now” so loud that HR Bear could even hear it on the ground floor. She ran up the stairs to the penthouse suite (because the the lift was closed in earlier cuts to save power) to find CEO and CFO Bear doing a little jig, delighted with their saving. “We need training” pleaded HR Bear who was a little short of breath, “It shows people we care about them, (pant) that we are prepared to invest in them and develop them for the business (pant)”. “Nonsense” said CEO Bear, “I can’t care about people, I have to care about shareholder value and profit, that’s what matters” and carried on jigging. “But training does deliver revenue and profit” said HR Bear, “Show me exactly where on the accounts” sniggered CFO Bear in a condescending tone, “You can’t can you… training is cancelled”, “Yes training is cancelled” echoed CEO Bear. As the jig was winding down and CEO and CFO Bears were busy congratulating each other agreeing they were both very clever, a tear welled up in HR Bear’s left eye and spilled onto her reddened cheeks as she turned and left the penthouse suite and made her way to where Goldilocks was taking a training course to deliver the bad news.
Goldi was oblivious to all these goings on. She knew her results on Metrics That Matter and Net Promoter Score had always been fab. The only negative comment she had ever seen was that “there were too many questions on a Metrics That Matter survey”, and quite honestly, she agreed. She had saved emails detailing the millions that had been made and saved over the years from the many delegates that had chosen to stay in touch. Her favourite training format of 2 + 2 days, 30-days apart meant she achieved a deeper relationship with delegates and she found it gave people a chance to try out things they had learnt between the sessions. They discovered that the things they learnt in the first session really worked which meant they were hungry for more when they came back for the second session that accelerated learning and made it super sticky. People who left Goldi’s training were always inspired and full of confidence, ready to change things for the better, drive performance and deliver results. But all that didn’t seem to matter anymore when HR Bear stepped into the training room at lunch…
“Goldi, after this group we’re cancelling the programme. Sorry but CEO nad CFO Bear are cutting back to make this quarters profit targets and don’t believe training adds value” said HR Bear. “But it does add value” pleaded Goldi, “you know that”. “I do” said HR Bear, “but unless we can show real monetary return from each training, there won’t be anymore training”. “What if we can find a way to show real money” said Goldi, “Will they change their minds?”. “Oh Goldi dear, maybe they would but how can we do it in a way that will make them see it”. Goldi thought , and thought and thought some more until suddenly she looked up and said “ We can do it HR Bear, I have a magical plan”.
The plan really was magical. That afternoon, Goldi told the group she was with to come up with a project they thought would add money or save money for the company. Goldi knew that they would all have ideas because they are the ones that are closest to the customers and clients and to the business processes that make it all happen. Anyway, if you sit in any canteen you will know that people are full of ideas about ways to improve things, it is just that most businesses don’t want to know or don’t want to listen, but this was a chance for the ideas to come to life. When they had an idea, Goldi showed them how to shape it into a plan and how to measure the success. The aim was to use the next 30-days between the modules to put the plans into action, using all they had learnt to make it happen and get the result. Then, on the second module they would review the ideas and count up the value of the results to show the ROI Bears. It was going to be brilliant.
The group were nervous about the idea at first; “I’m just a small cog and can’t make any difference” said one. “I work in a team , its not me that can make decisions that make money” said another. “I’m not in sales, how can I contribute to the bottom line?”. “STOP” said Goldi “You all add real value to the business. Without you the business doesn’t work. Everything you do serves the customer in some way, your part of the chain that delivers value to the customer and profit to the business. You deliver value. Everything you do contributes to performance, you just have to recognise it and show it…we have just 30-days to save training and this business”. The lights went on in the groups minds and ideas for projects flew around the room.
30-days later the group came back for part 2 of the training and had smiles as broad as an ocean. One had got a client to commission something 6-months early worth £230K. Another had shortened a reporting process by 50% saving 120 man hours a week worth a staggering £144K per annum. Another had found an opportunity to get a new product line into a client worth an additional £400K within 12-months. In all, in just 30-days, Goldi’s group had found £3.1m of opportunity and savings over the next year. Everyone was happy and Goldi sent the results to HR Bear excited about the response.
“I’ve had push-back on the results” said HR Bear, “CEO Bear said it is too big to be real” and CFO Bear said “The numbers are too soft and I can’t see them in my revenue reports” so they are still cancelling the training. “But they are real numbers and you can guarantee there will be a conversion rate on opportunity that will deliver new revenue way above the cost of the training” said Goldi, “That’s as maybe” said HR Bear “but they just don’t believe them”.
Goldi was dismayed at this response but then seemed to jolt as an idea sprung into her head: “HR Bear, the programme cost just £30K right?”. “Yes” said HR Bear. “Then what if we just show £50K we can measure now then we have a return that’s not too big to embarrass the Big Bears, and not too small to disappoint, so it will be just right”.
Goldi went back through the projects and found one that was just perfect and presented it to the 3 ROI Bears. “Show me the money” said the CEO Bear, “I want real numbers” said the CFO Bear and Goldi gave them exactly what they wanted. It wasn’t too big or too small in fact it was just right.
CEO Bear went on to see a £1.2m lift in revenue in the next two quarters, and even more after that. He found his teams who had trained even more productive than ever before and a stream of new ideas and creativity was constantly pulsing through the company. Of course, he and CFO Bear didn’t believe it was training by Goldi or anyone else that contributed to the results. One day, even CEO Bear, in a moment of weakness said “CFO Bear, do you think that training has contributed to our good sales and profit this quarter?”, the CFO Bear was puzzled and looked at his accounts “I can’t see a line for it here in Sales so probably not sir, its all down to your strategy” he said. “Of course it is” agreed CEO Bear “How silly of me”, and looked to the mirror to count his chins, then decided to let the CFO Bear do it for him . But little HR Bear knew exactly where the new performance and culture had come from and believed that the small changes that begin in training with a new thought, a new behaviour or new skill grow into future profit and performance far greater than you can ever imagine. What HR Bear knows that we all know in our hearts is that ROI from learning is not about just profit tomorrow but for profit ever after.
From then on, HR Bear always showed “just enough” ROI to the short term Big Bears to keep them investing in training. She knew that it was adding millions, saving millions, inspiring contribution and change and making people feel truly valued. HR Bear kept on working with Goldi and her training friends happily ever after.