Last week, I debuted my Learning to Fly newsletter series about skills growth in professional services marketing, business development, leadership and management. This series is relevant for anyone who has -- or wants to have -- responsibility for leading a professional firm to grow its market share. (Click here if you want to subscribe.)
I'm not the only one thinking about the issue of training people to grow their service firms.
There's a poll currently underway on LinkedIn (thank you Gary Katz), asking marketers to vote on whether they've been formally trained or self-taught. It's not specific to professional services, but I know some of the respondents, and many are indeed professional service marketers.
So far, the results parallel what I found in my own research. At this writing there are only 27 votes, but it's a pretty telling pattern so far: 63% say they are self-taught, and 38% say they are formally trained.
Interesting comments too. One person says: "Down the line we all become self-taught." Well, sure. We shouldn't ever stifle people from continuous learning, or others from continuous informal mentoring.
But what could the results of this (admittedly unscientific) poll also tell us about formal "grow the service business" education?
- That a majority of today's service marketers have yet to find an MBA program with a strong service-marketing focus, and so they had to rely on "self-taught" to advance in their careers?
- That their professional firms aren't internally helping them grow their skills, with their own internal "best practices" on services marketing?
My hypothesis: the issue of self-taught versus formal training -- especially in services marketing -- will soon become a very big issue. That's why I am devoting my 2011 newsletter series to this topic.
Mark my words: As professional service firms increasingly find that their competitive success is on the line, there will be increased interest in formally developing all their people (not just client-facing practitioners, but marketers and other administrative professionals).
"Formal learning" about the best practices of growing and managing professional service firms: that's the future.
How will we get there?
Come with me. I will show you.