A request for comments…
This morning, my mind drifted towards an idea of how to offer training that other businesses pay for without becoming a consultancy. Becoming a consultancy is a non-goal. Declaring this a non-goal is my reaction to the inevitable drift from practice into selling a product based on lessons learned from organizing how to practice. A problem with that approach is that the shift to selling a (consultancy) product removes the participant from the practice of doing the thing, and into the practice of selling the consulting about doing the thing. I’m not staking out a moral high ground, I just don’t want to do the things that consultancy comes with.
The idea that I thought of this morning is not a new idea. It was new to me in this particular context. Naturally, as soon as I was able to formulate the idea in my head, I started seeing examples of this structure all around me.
I’m thinking about offering other companies to pay their employees to work for our company/organization. In exchange, the employees are indoctrinated into how we do work. We don’t go into a company as consultants and train within the context of that company, then leave. A reason not to do that is that there’s no way we’ll get enough context for the company within the time bounds of a consultancy engagement. This might not necessarily be due to limited time, but instead, due to the psychological positioning as a consultant, which always remains. In order to fully integrate ideas about how we do work, the employees need to be integrated into the context of our work, the purpose of our work, and then practice it for a number of months in order to integrate that tacit knowledge into their understanding of work. Once this integration takes place, they return to their original companies and then integrate the understanding to their new/old work environment.
I think that a period of one year would be ideal from perspective of our company. A period of three months would probably be ideal from the perspective of a customer company. So, perhaps a period of six months might work?
Regarding this concept not being new, companies send their employees on sabbaticals. Companies send their employees to grad schools. Any sort of liaison program is very similar to this. It’s like an internship paid for by the customer company. I think there’s just not many commercial companies that explicitly accept sabbatical employees with the intent to train them and then have them return to work for some other company, but I did … oh, about zero research on this (anyone got keywords I should use?).
You may well have no idea who I am and how we work or what our company does. I can go more into the details in the future if this concept is worth pursuing. I would like to know what you think? Would your company want to do something like this with someone somewhere? Would you feel that this is antithetical to developing your core competencies? What constraints would you want to be in place in order for your company to be comfortable doing this?