Training and capability building are words that people often use interchangeably, but they represent different concepts. Training is a static event, such as attending a one-day course or series of classes. When I leave, it’s done.
Capability building, in contrast, is a journey that shifts my behavior and mind-set so that I can sustain a new performance level over time.
To help clients build capabilities, McKinsey has developed a program called Growth Accelerate. It couples the very best adult-learning principles with content and tools that help clients in a range of businesses build capabilities on individual and institutional levels.
One strength of Growth Accelerate is that it embeds capability building into each phase of a transformation. When we start at the diligence-review phase, we do a capability assessment and also look at institutional readiness to change and to grow. We conduct this assessment through a simple survey tool, complemented by interviews and working sessions with the leadership team.
As we move from diligence to roadmapping, we hold what we call our Design in a Day workshop. There, we prioritize the core capabilities that will drive value. We get all the right folks in the room, including marketing folks, sales folks, business leaders, and HR, and together we prioritize the capabilities that we need.
But we don’t just prioritize capabilities. We also link them to impact. Because it doesn’t matter if you build a capability for the sake of having a capability. You need to get business results. This workshop is a mechanism to figure out how to do that and set a course for the learning journey. For example, we decide when to use coursework and when to use fieldwork.
When we get to the implementation phase, we can tactically embed capability building into the initiatives.
Tailoring a standardized approach for each organization
One benefit of Growth Accelerate is that we use the same steps every time. We’ve developed a very clean process for building capabilities. What varies with each transformation is the capabilities that flow through this program. We tailor and customize these capabilities for each client using assessment tools that link to its target value.
By tailoring the prioritization of capabilities while using the common chassis of a single approach, we can embed the capability-building process into a transformation.
It’s not a side thought, or an afterthought, or some parallel component. It’s part of the core work we’re doing that enables a company to achieve its targeted impact.
The Growth Accelerate program creates new behaviors using a tested methodology that is repeatable and rigorous. It allows us to determine, “Do I have my leaders armed and ready to lead us through a transformation? Do I have the skills and capabilities to do the work that’s being asked of me? And do I have the mechanisms to execute and relentlessly go after these new ways of working?”
The metric of success is that, ultimately, we emerge with a new way of working. We now have a set of new behaviors that company employees can use day to day to get their jobs done. In the end, they achieve sustained growth because they behave in new ways.