Taking an old-school approach to new ABM Training

Guy Phillips joined Momentum ITSMA in April 2022 to head up the Learning and Development service. Before he came on board, he jotted down some notes about why he took the role...

Guy Phillips

by Guy Phillips

June 23, 2022

Leadership & Transformation

I joined Momentum ITSMA in April 2022 to head up the Learning and Development service. Before I came on board, I jotted down some notes about why I took the role.

Both my grandfathers were teachers in the same small city of Lincoln in the UK. Pop was Head of English at the esteemed Grammar School and would draw me parallels between anything that was going on in life to Shakespeare. (In my opinion, this one feels very apt at the moment.)

My other grandfather taught boys that the traditional school system had let down. Grandpa could turn his hand to almost anything, from building a chair or a doll’s house to repairing the car, and he knew some Shakespeare, too. Both were very imposing men in their own ways, but what I remember most was their passion, expressed vigorously to me, that young people acquire the appropriate skills to navigate their own journey through life.

Traditional education is about learning ‘stuff’ to pass an exam. Learning, though, is aligned to development. Both my grandfathers drummed home the idea of learning as a way to develop the character and capability to effectively navigate the tasks that face us. From “critical thinking” to “use your common sense,” they continually reminded my parents and the pupils they taught the importance of using what you learnt in your everyday life. This was passed down the family tree to me.

When I was considering the vast and complex nature of a subject like ABM and wondering how to build upon the Momentum ITSMA training programs that have already been so successful, I saw the parallels with my grandfathers’ teaching.

Traditional education is about learning ‘stuff’ to pass an exam. Learning, though, is aligned to development.

Guy Phillips, Global Director of L&D

Developing the right ABM skills for today’s business

The factors that influence the success of a program – account selection, senior stakeholder management, alignment with sales, creativity and objective, critical thinking – are really just elements of the Momentum ITSMA process and the 7-step framework covered in our ABM Certification course. They enable our delegates to focus on and hone a wealth of skills to take back into their organizations, with an aim to embed them in everyday tasks and to improve the impact they can bring to their business.

These skills seem even more important, after the last two years of our collective experience. After living and working through the pandemic, it’s become apparent that both critical strategic thinking and the practical application of ABM are ever more essential skills to hone. But of course, we can’t just rely upon “hand me down” wisdom from schoolteachers who retired many years ago. That’s why I was so intrigued by McKinsey’s excellent article Ready, set, go: Reinventing the organization for speed in the post-COVID-19 era from June 2020. In it, the authors call out nine tips for handling the speed of change the pandemic brought upon the world. Please read the full article, but for the sake of brevity I want to highlight tips five and eight. These stood out to me as I contemplate how I can help ABM leaders develop their teams and set them up for success.

Tip 5: Unleash nimble, empowered teams.

The pandemic has seen the large-scale deployment of fast, agile teams, often small, focused, cross-functional teams, working together toward a common set of objectives that are tracked and measured. Research by McKinsey and the Harvard Business School found that companies that had launched agile transformations pre-COVID-19 performed better and moved faster post-pandemic than those that had not. Agile organizations had an edge because they already had processes and structures available to them, such as quarterly business reviews, empowered frontline teams, and clear data on outputs and outcomes, that proved critical to adapting to the crisis. They adjusted faster, and with less employee turmoil.

The study also found that the crisis forced non-agile organizations to experiment with the concept of agility. The speed that resulted, including faster decision making, reduced bureaucracy, and better communication, are attributes that many organizations are now working to maintain.

Tip 8: Learn how to learn.

Learning and adaptability have been on the CEO agenda for some time, but increased in importance during the pandemic. Forward-thinking companies are accelerating their capability-building efforts by developing leadership and critical thinking skills at different levels of the organization, increasing employees’ capacity to engage with technology and use advanced analytics, and building functional skills for the future. In many cases, companies will need to reskill large portions of the workforce. This, in turn, will require expanding the learning content available to employees and using technology to deliver what is needed to each person. It also will mean building the organizational and institutional muscle to strengthen the skills related to learning how to learn.

I find Tip 5 relevant to ABM training, because when we use ABM to drive growth in accounts, we are forced to adopt a more agile, project and program-centric approach and to ditch the more fixed ‘one size fits many’ campaign mentality. In addition, to be successful, working with cross-functional teams is a must. ABM seems like the strategy to double down on as we need to become more nimble to become more customer centric.

Thinking personally about Tip 8 as I work more closely with the training team at Momentum ITSMA and ABM leaders around the globe, my goal is to embed the essence of Momentum ITSMA’s training into the way our members go to market to enable everyone we work with to unleash the power of their teams to learn, adapt, and impact, and for Momentum ITSMA to continue at the forefront of driving growth through ABM.

I am excited to continue this learning journey with ABM leaders and I encourage you to drop me a line and let me know your thoughts on learning styles.

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Creating next-level growth with our IP, expertise, and proven experience on a global scale.

Momentum has acquired Boston-based research, advisory, and training firm ITSMA to offer unmatched depth of expertise in accelerating growth and adoption of account-based strategies.