Clarifying the extension

Extended Enterprise Training (EET) is a term that was introduced to me by Don Presant in response to my previous blog post Educate everyone.

EET is poised to become the “next big thing” in corporate L&D, but what is it exactly? Most sources I’ve looked up agree with Webanywhere’s definition of the term:

Extended Enterprise Learning is any training that is provided to learners outside of your organization. The training could be targeted at dealers, channel distribution partners, suppliers, resellers, franchisees, and even your customers.

I don’t disagree with this definition, but I do wish to provoke deeper thinking by challenging it.

You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

Take franchisees as the first talking point. I consider it a stretch to think of them as being outside of your organisation. Sure, they might not be on your payroll, but my local McDonalds is a part of the universal Golden Arches empire. I bet my Big Mac that Ronald says so too.

I put dealers in the same basket. Indeed, the folks in Aichi Prefecture don’t pay the sales guy at my local Toyota dealership out of their own pockets, but they’d choke on their saké at the suggestion he didn’t belong to the Toyota family. And rightly so.

Partners, suppliers, resellers… these make much more sense to me. And I would replace “even your customers” with “especially your customers” – as that’s where I believe the untapped upside of EET lay.

So I guess my argument relies on the concept of brand. To me, anyone doing business wearing your logo is a part of your organisation, whether you pay them or not. Anyone doing business with you or for you, without wearing your logo, is not a part of your organisation.

I hereby propose EET applies to the latter.

7 thoughts on “Clarifying the extension

  1. HI Ryan:

    Thanks for the mention and for stimulating my thinking.. I agree with you to the extend that the franchisees have no option. In a later post related to Associations as Extended Enterprises (, I embellished John Leh’s 4 characteristics of EET:

    1. A “partner cluster” approach to delivery and reception of learning
    2. Voluntary enrolment, often paid, so the learning experience must be engaging
    3. A mix of marketing and education, with layering of commitment
    4. A focus on measurement and impact analysis

    Is it important that the franchisees are bound to the employer? I guess that makes the training less voluntary, number 2 in the list.

    As far as taxonomies go, I’m more of a lumper than a splitter, more inclined to see similarities than differences between groups. I find the EE lens interesting because the ROI focus (sales, reduced support, etc.) gets management interested in the outcomes and benefits of learning. This may be an entry point to get them to think more about training the core internal workforce, especially if external metrics can be tweaked for internal realities. That may be more of a slog in some cases than others, though.

    The list above mentions layering (or laddering) of commitment, which relates to brand as you say. Maybe we can think of another form of layering, the layering of control and/or linkage to bottom line performance of the company.

    Here’s a rough attempt:
    – service units
    – core production units
    – sales units
    – freelance (various roles)..a bit of a wild card
    – franchisees
    – suppliers
    – distributors
    – customers
    (…also not sure where to put management – maybe after sales?)

    The idea here is that the case for training is easier further down the list. And maybe trainers can work their way in from the outside more easily than the other way round.

    What do you think?

  2. I think there may be value in leaving the definition of “outside of your organisation” open (let’s just drop the second sentence), as part of the developing dialogue around EET is around organisations considering what they offer in-house and whether or not it would be of value beyond it’s current audience (be they within and/or beyond their organisation).

    Interesting post I just read too about the use of digital badges in EET for member based organisations:

  3. Hmm… you’ve got me thinking, Don.

    I agree the ROI of training would be easier to infer with those further down the ladder of commitment, but I wonder whether the case to invest in it would be any easier. Paradoxically, the C-suite may be reluctant to spend their budget on outsiders. A false economy, certainly, but nonetheless the business reality which I suspect is a major reason why we don’t see more EET.

  4. Indeed Neil, the phrase “outside of your organisation” may mean different things to different people, as so many dimensions of L&D do. A rose by any other name.

    Thank you for sharing that excellent post about the use of digital badges in EET. It was written by Don, your fellow commenter :)

  5. Hey there, EET could be a nice idea but it needs strategy and planning. Everiday I keep meeting companies where L&D, HR and marketing barely speak to each other… collaborating and sharing an EET plan is often pure science-fiction! Is it just me being unlucky? :)

    To me the first thing will be to extend training INSIDE organizations, with a broader collaboration in the design of training processes of all the organization function… just my two cents!

  6. Alberto I think you talk a lot of sense. Companies whose L&D/HR and marketing people barely speak to each other are not unusual, in my experience. Getting the inside right before venturing outside is good advice!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.