Training

24 Months - 24 Customers - 24 Crozies

Crossover Leadership Partners completes 24 months on the 28th of March 2018. This blog talks about the exciting journey of how Crossover won 24 customers in 24 months and grew to 24 Associates (called as Crozies at Crossover). It is a detailed blog with multiple phases of growth and at the end, I have added a few practices that helped me in dealing with the challenges associated with growth, described in utmost detail. You can read the blog in chunks or at one stretch and I look forward to engaging with you, either through the comments on the site or in our one on one conversations or whatsapp @ +91-9686570957 or you can write to me at yogesh.a@crossoverleaders.com In March 2016 Crossover started with the plan of addressing three major issues of training that customers were talking about viz. ‘Content’, ‘Context’ and ‘Delivery’. (CCD!!)
Quality Content: Customers said that even the highly accomplished trainers were either not paying attention to the quality of the content or were not fully equipped to create them. Most of them did not design any participant workbook for learners to write their reflections, thoughts, action plans nor had a structured faculty presentation for the sessions. At the most, some of them gave printouts of the slides filled with prescriptive text, photocopied and unevenly stapled from a corner Xerox shop.
Relevant Context: The context of a customer cannot be learnt overnight and since most of the trainers took assignments of doing one-off training (not journeys) they could not contextualize the content leading to many sessions becoming ‘gyaan’ sessions rather than solving customers’ contextual issues. It was a sheer loss of time for the participants and money spent by the customer organization.
Impactful Delivery: The third issue was ‘Delivery.’ The delivery can be impactful only when the trainers who, though they came from business/operations backgrounds have built themselves up by undergoing many certifications on competency models, psychometric assessments, leadership development courses, trainer competencies, experiential learning, case based teaching methodology, learning pedagogy, learner styles and so on.
Our CCD mix: Crossover addressed the first issue of ‘Content’ by building a dedicated in-house content team. The content team creates world class participant workbooks, collaterals, contextual articles, posters, danglers and action learning plans. We have created 34 modules on various leadership areas and the best compliment on content we got recently, was from a participant, who, while looking at his participant workbook, asked us, ‘ Is Crossover Leadership Partners a franchisee of an international training company?’
The second issue “Context” was addressed by Crossover, requesting customers to not spend money on one-off programs but to do journeys of 6 months, 9 months, 12 months wherein the participants go through a workshop every month followed by a contextual article, a relevant video, submission of an action learning plan and then moving to the next topic the next month. In the journey we get to understand their context and contextualize the content and deliver accordingly. Since the involvement with the customer is so deep we are able to get leaders to come for ‘Leaders Speak’ sessions that help in cementing the learning that Crossover facilitator covers and the leader shares.
The third issue of ‘Delivery’ was addressed by building the delivery team of Crossover facilitators with business background and getting them certifications on various areas plus putting them through our internal Crossover certification process. It was not difficult to do this because I have gone through the above process myself. I moved into Corporate Human Resource Development within Wipro after a long stint of close to 18 years on the business side and then built my training delivery capabilities with 12 certifications on the areas mentioned above.
Journeying together with the Customer: Before launching Crossover, when I was discussing with some of the senior trainers most of them said that it was hard to get one day trainings and I was talking about journeys with a commitment for 12 days from the customer! Since I was convinced that value is only in journeys, I launched the journey approach and it was encouraging to see such thoughts did not deter me and it proved to be true with 6 customers signing up for 12 months journey in the first 3 months of starting Crossover.
Participants’ Challenges: When we were in the 6th month of the journey many participants shared that they were finding it difficult to apply many of the things that they were learning during the training sessions. For example they said that they learnt Collaboration in the class but were not able to apply because their SLA’s were not defined. They said that many times the proposals to a customer was not going on time because the design team did not give their design inputs on time or the finance team did not give pricing input on time or the logistics team did not give the timeline on time. When the MD of the company came to know about such delays he would come and fire all the heads about the delay. Fingers would be raised and the whole collaboration learning would go for a toss.
‘DRIVE’-ing away the Challenges: So we created our proprietary framework ‘DRIVE’ and started our Process Consulting Practice to address the above in August 2016. Using this framework, we were able to trace the source of issues that were creating delays in the system. We were able to see if people were empowered to take decisions, if the decision matrix was defined, if communication strategies were put in place and if the processes were streamlined.
The combination of journey based trainings using world class content delivered by world class facilitators combined with process consulting is helping our clients achieve their goals. We also put a nice Governance model which is not so commonly see in the Learning & Development projects.
Strategic HR: In April 2017 our SME clients, were faced with another challenge. Most of them had HR Managers or HR Executives who would do a good job on transactional HR but were lacking the strategic HR skill. These clients could not afford a senior HR leader and some of them who took a plunge to hire a senior HR leader with a high salary found that there was not enough work for the leader for the entire month. So the senior HR leader would leave the organization after few months and the client would go back to the same problem. Crossover saw this as one more opportunity to solve the customer’s problem and we launched the HR Shared Services in August 2017. Through this service we provide a senior HR leader for a few days in a month and not on full time role for strategic HR support as well as to oversee the transactional HR. The client has a choice to either deploy the junior on the ground HR resource from Crossover or continue with the existing resource or rebadge them to Crossover. This service was appreciated by our SME clients and in the first 3 months of launching this service we got 5 clients.
Catalyzing higher growth: By this time Crossover had such a deep engagement with the clients that they started now discussing with us about future business plans and manage/build the talent to achieve growth plans. It was time for Crossover to bring in Assessments for hiring, for role assignments or for promotions. So we partnered with Harrison Assessments and offered them a package with our earlier service offerings. At this time, we also partnered with HuSys to bring their Cloud Based HR application for our clients.
Tackling distances: During this time, we were doing a research in solving yet another challenge our clients were faced with, where the employees are spread across various locations and it was difficult to get them for the training sessions to one particular location for our journey based program, both from the logistics point of view to the cost of travel. Our backend research team evaluated many e-learning platforms and found that all of them to be prescriptive and a one-way download. The learner loses interest within a few minutes of starting the course. So we designed our own online platform called ‘G U E R I L A’ Learning. ‘G U E R I L A’ Learning is designed uniquely as a two way communication. So, while you go through the course, you get an opportunity at various points to enter your thoughts, reflections, and ideas. Your input is then used in the post course connect sessions. This approach makes the online learning very close to the classroom learning approach. In the classroom the facilitator picks the input from the learner and processes them, ‘G U E R I L A’ Learning does the same online. You can experience two of our GUERILA courses on “How to give and receive Feedback” at https://esleave.com/fig_2017_12_01/shell/interface.html?module01module01 and “Change Management” at https://esleave.com/chm1/shell/interface.html?module01
Further afield: In January this year we have also added Pre Sales and Sales Shared Services where we are helping our clients on their GTM Solution Design, Sales and Growth Strategies and Pipeline Management. Customer Service Shared Services and Design Thinking Shared Services are two new services that we are planning to launch in 2018.
I would like to share a few thoughts and practices that helped us in acquiring 24 Customers in 24 Months with 24 Associates. The above story sounds like a fairy tale where everything is hunky dory but in reality there were challenges both in the individual front as an entrepreneur and in the organizational front at Crossover. Below are some practices that I would like to share which can be clubbed under ‘Power of Crozietivity’ (practices of Crozies is ‘Crozietivity’ like practices of Gandhiji is ‘Gandhigiri’). The ‘Crossover’ journey calls for forward thinking because, without question, our greatest accomplishments still lie ahead of us.
Compelling Vision: In 2008 I had attended Dr. Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and what he said stayed vividly in my mind. He said that first there is a mental creation and then there is a physical creation. In 2016 when I was launching Crossover I had laid this vision of serving 24 customers in 24 months and the physical creation happened. So whatever you aspire to do put that in the form of a vision statement with some numbers and dates. Think through multiple times before you lay the vision but once that is laid then go after the vision like there is no tomorrow. You must have read many of my blogs using Salman Khan’s dialogues from his movies. An apt dialogue of Salman Khan that fits in here is “Ek baar jab commitment de deta hoon toh mein khud ki bhi nahin sunta.” Once you commit to the vision then nothing should stop you from achieving that. For the last 24 months there has not been a single night where I did not dream about serving 24 customers in 24 months. One more important point to consider here on compelling vision is that your vision should be solving some problem of this world like the problem Crossover wanted to solve was “Content, Context and Delivery (CCD!)”. You can continue to add more problems to solve but the first problem (vision) should be something that you deeply care about.
Hands On: Sir Richard Branson is my favorite leader for entrepreneurship and I have picked a lot of his practices at Crossover. He says that every leader should be hands on and do whatever his team does in a small scale, given the time constraint. Even today you will see him serving customers on flights along with the Virgin crew. He says two important things would happen if you do this. First you will know how your customers are experiencing your service and is your team serving the way you designed your company to serve the customers. Second the team will be inspired (no salary hike can match this increase in motivation at work) seeing you do what they do. At Crossover I am hands-on like Sir Richard Branson and do least 2 or 3 sessions with my team every month, get involved in designing the content, go for sales calls with my associates and partners, work on proposals with the pre-sales teams, define SOPs with my operations team, raise invoices and edit contracts with the finance team and deliver material to venue with the logistics team.
Constant Education: There is a tendency amongst many entrepreneurs to evaluate a prospect before spending time on educating the prospect about the service offering. I do agree that as you grow you will have to qualify your prospects and the time you spend on the segment that you want to go after, but in the first few years one should keep educating them about the organization with no expectation of whether he or she will become your customer. While the prospect may not become your customer but your ‘no expectation, enthusiastic sharing’ will make him reciprocate your effort by sharing the same onward with other potential prospects as well. I was just thinking about the number of presentations I have done in the last 24 months and on an average I have done 4 to 5 presentations every week taking it to 400+ presentations on Crossover offerings to prospects, facilitators, and partners.
Bouts of Uncertainty: When you run your own business there is no one who can assure you, your salary on a fixed date every month like the way your organization does when you are an employee. In fact, you need to forget about the worry of how your household will run but worry about the household of your employees. This uncertainty is not easy to manage initially but as you learn to manage your cash flow and build a relationship with your bankers or investors this uncertainty settles down. So don’t give in to that uncertainty experience when you start your own business. Keep the Salman Khan commitment reiterating along with your vision every night. That will neutralize the bouts of uncertainty.
Adjustment to Lifestyle: While you are an employee there is a routine of going to office at a certain time and returning home at a certain time (return time may not be fixed nowadays in most organizations including Wipro where I worked for more than a decade). Weekends are usually for your family and for yourself, plus one can plan vacations as there are backups to handle your responsibilities. When you become an entrepreneur the lifestyle completely changes. For example, I had to work on proposals in the evening after meeting prospects during the day, or contextualize the content for the second day in the evening of day one after getting input from participants, or work with operations team to solve a venue issue in the middle of lunch time as I was delivering the session. Since you have to manage with a lean team or even yourself in the initial period the direct impact is on your lifestyle. Your vision should be so compelling that this change in lifestyle should not bother you and it is also important to get your family’s buy-in especially your spouse.
Focusing on Positives in People: It is not easy to find readymade people who will be as enthusiastic about your vision. You may get frustrated by the delays in tasks not happening at the speed at which you would love it to work. You need to be patient from outside even while your vision is making you impatient from inside. Keep looking for what positive aspect each new person, who is associating with you, is bringing to the table and gradually you will see the collective positives make the group so powerful that the team as group will drive the vision of the organization.
Transparency: It is quite natural for a person to not transparently share about his or her idea with the worry that the idea may get stolen. In my experience any idea to become a reality it needs many things and unless you share your ideas with others you will not get the support required to make it a reality. In fact, people will give you feedback on your idea which will help seal any leakages to make your idea successful. At this point you need to start sharing how will you share the success with those who are giving feedback as that will make them share more with not only with you, but market your idea in their circle as well. Also Sir Richard Branson in one of his interviews said that people can steal your ideas and framework but it is not easy for them to steal your partnerships and the people who are now part of your vision.
Observantly Focused: It is important that you keep observing your environment, how other businesses are doing, what are the additional services that you can add on to your original idea. While it is important to observe but it is more important to not lose focus of your core idea while you observe. There will be times when you will get too excited about almost everything that comes your way and the way you are passionate about your core idea there will be many passionate people with their core ideas but your ability to choose from all those passionate ideas of which will create additional value to your idea is key to your success.
Long Term Thinking: Think about your organization, of how it is going to solve the problems of the customers or the world at large next year, 2 years from now, 5 years from now, 10 years from now. Things will change as you step into the future and uncertainty is part of the VUCA world but this constant long term thinking will give you more ideas, it will give you that inner peace, inner silence, the worth of your existence on this world, help garner people aligned to the vision and the joy or making the difference in everybody you touch.
Let me end this long blog here with the hope that I was able to give value for your time to read this and dedicating a dialogue by Sahir and Samad from “Dhoom 3” movie for the Crosover Team “Bande Hain Hum Uske, Hum Pe Kiska Zor, Ummedon Ke Suraj Nikle Charon Aur, Irade Hain Fauladi, Himati Har Kadam, Apne Haathon Kismat Likhne Aaj Chale Hain Hum.” For my non Hindi readers let me attempt to translate this dialogue where they say that there is nothing that can stop us from achieving our dreams as we are determined to write our own destiny and we see hope all around.
I look forward to your reflections, comments, thoughts and plans of achieving your dreams. Please do share this further with people who you think can benefit from this blog. Last 2 years were quite busy setting up Crossover and I had not posted any blogs like I use to do earlier but moving forward you will see regular posts coming from me. Keep Crossing over.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *