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Do-It-Yourself Workforce Development

We have become a do-it-yourself obsessed society. You can't surf past more than five channels on any cable TV provider without some expert showing us how easy it is to remodel our home, landscape our backyard, or prepare a gourmet meal in less than 30 minutes. Many organizations try to raise that concept from the personal level to their workforce and discover it may not be as easy as it sounds. This article will help you decide when to ask for help and when to do-it-yourself.

We have become a do-it-yourself obsessed society. You cannot surf past more than five channels on any cable TV provider without some expert showing us how easy it is to remodel our home, landscape our backyard, or prepare a gourmet meal in less than 30 minutes.

There are entire sections in bookstores where we can teach ourselves how to design a website, fix our car, or get rich selling real estate. So, we think, why not raise this concept above the personal level and apply it to a corporate or organizational setting?

After all, the basic concept of doing-it-yourself is the same regardless of the subject matter or location. It is the idea that, although there may be parts of your planned project that require the vision and creativity of a professional, there are many things we can do by ourselves to save a little money while giving us a tremendous sense of satisfaction (assuming it ends up as you expected, of course!)

Here is an example. Last summer, my wife and I finally gave up on creating an attractive landscape design for our backyard. We had watched countless television shows where a variety of experts converted that week’s rock-filled, pot-holed, and weed infested plot of land into an attractive little garden with beautiful flowers, singing birds, and smiling homeowners.

We spent a lot of time tearing pictures of landscapes we loved out of magazines and searching through plant nurseries and home-and-garden centers trying to bring those pictures of perfection to life in our yard.

Finally, after spending a lot of time and money accumulating an eclectic assortment of decorative objects and expensive plants that still did not give us what we wanted in our yard, it eventually dawned on us that, while we were smart enough to follow a plan, we did not have the skills to create one.

That was a simple fact of life we had forgotten: the ability to visualize someone’s dream and then design a plan to achieve it is a gift born in some people: you cannot learn creativity. For others (like us), it is wiser to pay for a professional plan for a beautiful garden than to waste time and money trying to do it ourselves.

So, we hired a landscape architect to visualize a beautiful garden for us based on what we wanted and to create a plan that we could follow. She designed a beautiful one for us, marked the boundaries in the ground for the various areas we wanted, labeled the drawing with the kind of plants and trees to buy, and even suggested where to find some decorative objects.

Then, we went to the plant nurseries and garden shops with a plan and a purpose. We followed her plan, did all the work, and saved a ton of money by not paying someone else to do the things we could do for ourselves. We gained the beautiful garden we wanted and derived immense satisfaction from our part in creating it.

All of that to say developing a workforce in an organization can be accomplished in much the same way. A professional with a vision can develop the overall plan and you and your project team can probably follow it. And, just like our landscape architect was always available for us if we had questions or needed clarification, an organizational development (OD) professional can be just a telephone call away for you, too.

We want this series of articles to be a resource to help you determine what you can do for yourself and when a creative professional needs to be called.

However, before you call the professional, there is a lot of information about your organization they will need to know before they can create the best solution for your problem. You can either pay them to collect it or save some money by having it waiting for them when they ask.

We can help you decide what to collect by providing lessons learned from others who have been in your shoes, and tips from professionals in the field who want you to be as successful as possible. They know if they help you be successful, there is a good chance you will develop trust and a mutually beneficial relationship as time goes on.

The more you understand about the world of workforce development, the more confident you will feel when selecting and working with a professional to develop your plan and guide you along.

And then, after your workforce development initiative is underway and going smoothly, maybe you will share some of your lessons learned and tips with usArticle Submission, too.

This is the first in an on-going monthly series for those who realize they do not have the creative skills necessary to undertake a workforce development initiative alone but are fully capable of following a visionary’s plan if given a chance.

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Richard ("Dick") Grimes uses his 30+ years experience in training and operations management for private and public organizations as a foundation for his company, Outsource LLC (

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