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THE Leadership Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan

Mar 3, 2021

The exodus from the office started a year ago, when we decided the safest thing was for everyone to work from home.  We had moved to an office free seating arrangement a few years ago, so we all had mobile phones and laptops and in that sense, we were able to relocate at a moment’s notice.  Did we still expect to be working for home for the next two years?  No, but that is the reality.  Now that everyone has tasted the freedom of avoiding rush hour and the fact that technology allows work from anywhere, life will never go back to what it was.  The first thing we realised was that the systems set up for working in the office did not travel well.  Just to make it even more challenging we had hired four new key staff in January 2020.  The whole onboarding process had that raw edge to it.  I got very busy, very quickly, in a frantic treading water kind of way.


The training business has been classroom based, so boom! - suddenly no classroom.  Fortunately, eleven years ago in September 2010 Dale Carnegie in America ran its first LIVE On Line training session. Since then the HQ had built up an entire infrastructure and curriculum for remote delivery.  Amazingly, back in 2010, they were using Adobe Connect Pro because it offered breakout rooms, whiteboards, polling, and video. 


Before HQ launched the LIVE On Line training they did an audit of what was missing from online training. The most obvious thing was that it was boring, basically a slide show with a squeaky voiced talking heads emanating from a tiny little box on screen.  By the way, does that sound familiar to you?  It should, because eleven years on, that is what is the main fare of online instruction today.  Back in 2010, Dale Carnegie HQ deemed that was not good enough and concentrated on how to deliver the training in the most interactive way possible to mimic what goes on in the classroom.


In early 2020, we could quickly certify instructors and producers to deliver that interactive experience LIVE On Line.  The well oiled and well established instructor system allowed us to certify seven trainers and eleven producers in just nine days, to be able to deliver at the expected quality of interactivity. 


Now all we had to do was convince clients to buy it.  Existing clients were one thing, but new clients were an entirely other matter.  How to get hold of new clients, because cold calling went nowhere very fast? Networking was now a passive session, watching some expert panel blather away on Zoom.  We ran some free Stress Management sessions to help everyone out, who like us were feeling stressed to see their businesses hit a massive pothole on the Covid-19 highway.  This real time exposure to our interactivity persuaded clients to sign up for LIVE On Line training.  We have been raging against the pandemic and lockdowns ever since, battling it out to survive. 


The most difficult leadership factor has been the coordination of all of this rapid change.  I found that today’s young people are high on social media skills, but don’t how to use a telephone.  They don’t check their messages, so the whole ship of state machinery slows down.  We were able to preserve the culture by moving our morning chorei, the “Daily Dale” to a Teams platform, held at the same time, in the same way, every day.  We go through the WHY, the Vision, Mission, Values, the Dale Carnegie Principle of the day, who we are visiting online and who is visiting us and our top three individual priorities, ending with a motivational quote for the day.  We have to be dressed for business and be on camera.  This enforces a certain daily discipline and business mindset.


I do not expect that when the bell rings and Covid -19 is over, we will just pack everything up and traipse back to the office.  We will have a hybrid arrangement of some people working from home and some in the office.  Our clients will no doubt do something similar.  Everything will become that little bit more nuanced and more difficult to execute on.  Were we agile?  Yes, we were, but are we agile enough for Phase Two of this brave new world of remote working and leading?


We have been in our individual foxholes for the last year, fighting it out to survive this massive business disruption.  I have been like a busy bee working in my business rather than working on my business. Now is the time for me to peak above the foxhole and plan for the post partially negotiated peace with the pandemic.  How do I extract value from this situation?  Where are the gaps that clients need help with?  What are our advantages vis-à-vis the competition?  What will the new tech bring to the party that didn’t exist before, which we can utilise to change our business model.  How do we reinvent what we are doing?


How about your business?  Did you breeze through Covid-19, has it been boom times or did you feel the icy chill of imminent disappearance from the scene, as the iceberg lurched out of the mist?  The workplace Rubicon has been crossed and we are not going back to the comfort of the known.  So how do we create our futures?