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Are you focusing on strategy or survival?
‘Strategy-making is one of the most important activities undertaken by Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), in their pursuit of high- performance. Active, continuous strategy-making is essential for the survival and prosperity of RTOs.’ (Strategy–Making in Turbulent Times, ANTA report, 2003)
Most RTO managers tell us that they are just trying to keep their heads above water with compliance requirements and changes to the sector and that there is no time to talk strategy. Ironically it is for these reasons that this ANTA report from 2003 stresses the importance of strategy making and this is still true today!
Unfortunately, as we help RTOs work through their issues around staffing and compliance we find that survival, not strategy, is the priority.
Think about it though, your core business is not compliance it is about achieving excellence in training and assessment? How will you achieve this? With focused planning and resourcing that is underpinned by a proactive cycle of review and improvement.
Outlined below are some ideas about how you can develop and implement an improvement agenda and become strategic about your RTO’s future.
A strategy is the short and long term plan that will focus your RTO on achieving its vision and mission and outline what the RTO is going to do. Strategy is about growing and improving the RTO through effective planning and allocation of resources. Strategies are likely to change over time because they address current opportunities and should adjust to the changing needs of the community. A strategy recognizes where the organisation is today in the context of the broader vision and mission and articulates the way forward.
Whilst defining vision and mission are important aspects of strategy development, it is also important to consider the outputs of the RTO. Reflect on the current and future activities of your RTO and answer the following questions:
- In what markets will we be active in the VET sector?
- What steps do we need to take to get where we want to go?
- How will we be successful in the marketplace?
- What will be our speed and sequence of moves?
- How will we obtain our returns?
In other words, you should assess the current environment and consider the holistic operations of your RTO when thinking about strategy.
A sustainable and successful RTO must rethink and reshape their strategy on an ongoing basis to:
- Ensure the RTO focuses on the right things that utilise their strengths and core capabilities,
- Predict the changing trends that will impact on the effectiveness of the RTO now and into the future
- Adapt to the needs of a changing world
- Find opportunities for growth and sustainability
- Establish a long term but flexible vision
- Provide a framework for innovation and effective operational and strategic decision making
- Ensure that all staff and other key stakeholders know and are committed to the strategic directions of the RTO.
The questions below can be used to help you focus your energies and develop your strategy:
- What is our fundamental goal?
- What business are we in?
- What scope of educational services should we not offer?
- How will we be different to similar RTOs?
- What synergies can we create across educational areas to maximize our capability?
- What should be our demographic scope?
Your improvement agenda
As you begin to think about developing or rethinking strategy you should also think about gathering data that will inform decision making. Implementation of an improvement agenda is essential for you to systematically monitor operations and improve outcomes that align with your strategy.
Are you clear on your aims for improvement, have you established clear measures and are you collecting the most appropriate data to allow reflection on progress and planning for your next steps? To effectively inform planning for the future, your improvement process should be continuous and proactive and should be based on the collection of a range of appropriate data including internal records of student progress, trainer performance and development and industry feedback etc.
One of the key challenges of improvement strategies is to make sure that the plans are implemented effectively and they actually lead to change. Another key challenge is to ensure that Trainers and other staff see themselves as part of the change rather than spectators of change. Direct involvement of the management team(s) throughout the organisation can strongly influence the success of planning and change initiatives.
The management team should:
- Establish Goals and Expectations: It is important to set, communicate and monitor learning goals, standards and expectations, so that there is clarity and consensus about goals.
- Provide targeted resourcing initiatives: This involves aligning resource allocation to your priority goals. Staff recruitment, staff development and performance management processes should be adequately resourced in alignment with the organisational focus and informed by external and internal information gathering processes.
- Plan, Coordinate and Evaluate Training and Assessment: This includes direct involvement in the support and evaluation of training through regular classroom visits and the provision of formative and summative feedback to trainers. The management team should also maintain oversight of the quality of training and assessment.
- Promote and Participate in Professional Development: This means that the management team not only promotes, but directly participates with trainers and other staff in formal or informal professional development.
Are you actively engaged in improvement and planning activities with your RTO team? Building these considerations into your planning activities will help build community and trust across your organisation and facilitate effective planning processes.
Would you like more information about developing an improvement agenda and formulating and implementing strategy for your RTO? We can provide a range of tools to help you with this.
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for being part of our community,
Karen & Gillian