a space to share thoughts and ideas and to stimulate discussion around the space where business meets society. And to think collectively and creatively about how to create and preserve value at the meeting/collision point where business meets society.
CSR Training: Seven strategies to make it work for participants
Executive training programs can be
boring, dull and virtually useless. Or they can be dynamic, career
altering, fun and productive.
Here are some thoughts on how we can make CSR Training work better for
How do we learn to do CSR Better?
What do we mean by ‘doing CSR
Different people have different answers to these
questions. I’ll share mine with you, but
encourage you to seek other answers and opinions too. In CSR, diversity rocks!
Let’s take the second question first. What is ‘doing CSR Better’?
For me it is all about value, always, every time. CSR is about creating and aligning value;
value for shareholders and value for stakeholders. In ways that is not zero sum. It is done through the integration of
resources, strategy, time, etc.
With this perspective we do CSR better by creating more value for
any given level of inputs and by optimizing value created against
inputs like time, money, opportunity cost, etc.
So, how do we learn to do that?
Notice that I said how
do we learn to that and not how do we do that. You can see
numerous posts on how to do CSR here.
This post will discuss what I know about teaching and
learning CSR; knowledge built over decades of doing CSR and several years of
developing and delivering CSR training to executives and leaders worldwide.
1.Diversity is key. By its very nature CSR is about working with
diverse interests and developing common ground and value-alignment. Successful CSR programs involve internal and
external stakeholders with a ‘what’s in it for them’ approach.
Diversity of participants and faculty is key to successful CSR training programs
Having different industries as
well as diverse sectors (private, public, NGO, community, government,
international organization, etc.) and geographic diversity adds a lot of value
to CSR programs. So too does having a
range of functions and positions at the learning table.
Participants have the chance to learn and understand the viewpoints
and perspectives of others. For example
a case study on stakeholder engagement is much richer when you have project
field staff, corporate executives, community representatives, government
officials, multi-lateral institutions and others at the same table. They learn from and with each other.
This can be invaluable as people
go back to their own organizations to design, manage and implement CSR programs
– when training is integrated with organizational and project level CSR
strategy it can be beneficial to have a more homogenous internal group
involved. But, even in that type of
situation there are advantages to bringing in others for some components.
2.Blend of theory
and practice. All theory makes for a
boring learning experience and people dis-engage. All practical doesn’t provide the theoretical
framework that can help participants know material and concepts in a way that
makes it easy to apply them.
Ideally a session will involve a
lecture that discusses theory, frameworks and big picture perspectives and
looks at how they are applied in real-world situations.
This is then followed with a group
exercise and/or role-playing scenario where participants get to learn from and
with each other and apply the theory and frameworks to a realistic simulation.
Diversity – learning from the same person day after day after day gets
boring. And it limits the perspectives
that participants are exposed to.
I’ve found that participants learn
more and retain more when they are taught by a diverse faculty that includes
practitioners, private and public sector executives, NGO leaders and
others. While this isn’t always
practical, especially for shorter programs, it is important to bring as much diversity
as possible to the Faculty Team.
Training Conferences – traditional executive programs provide a structured
learning across a range of tightly managed subject areas. They promote personal development and, often,
theoretical understanding of issues and concepts.
Industry conferences are more
dynamic, have a range of speakers and facilitate dynamic networking and a state
of the industry knowledge.
Over dozens of CSR training events
I’ve found that a blend of executive training and industry conferences produces
the most meaningful learning and is the best way to equip participants to hit
the ground running right after the program.
We have developed a methodology we
Training Conferences – that integrates the structured learning and personal
development of traditional Executive Programs with the dynamic networking,
variety of presenters, industry knowledge and diversity of international conferences.
Conferences bring together a global group
of executives and managers from industry, NGOs, development agencies and
international organizations to learn with and from each other in a dynamic,
interactive and highly social setting.
and driving the CSR bus – Participants are much better able to apply the
learnings from a CSR training program when they have a chance to engage in
testing ideas and driving the CSR bus through group-work sessions and
scenario/role playing activities.
These provide them with the
opportunity to put theory into practice in a non-threating, risk-free and supportive
environment. When coupled with broad
group diversity these practical and hands-on components can be one of the most
valuable aspects of a high-level CSR training program.
support – nobody can retain everything from a training session. Invariably a few weeks or months later a situation
will arise and the participant will remember that something similar was covered
in the program but either cannot recall the specifics, or simply wants to get
feedback and guidance on it.
It is important that participants
are encouraged to network with each other after the program and also that they
have access to faculty and/or program leaders for a period of time after the
session has ended.
It is also helpful to have an
online forum or vehicle for sharing of ideas and asking questions.
These are some of the elements that I’ve found can help turn
a CSR training program into a life and career changing event. By using these methods the CSR Training
Institute has been able to achieve very high participant satisfaction ratings with
over 80% of participants rating our programs as one of the top three training
programs they have ever taken. You can
see what our participants have to say in their own words here.
If you are interested in learning more about CSR Training
me. If you are interested in upcoming
programs you can check out the links below or go to our website.