I recently received an e-mail from a school safety organization that explained, although the services we were offering seemed very important and addressed critical needs for schools, they only provided free services to schools and therefore they were unable to “look at” our solutions since they were not free.

The response got me thinking…are free solutions really free?

Are free solutions solving the real problems and real challenges organizations face today?

What are free solutions?

The most common free solutions include training, workshops and checklists.  Free training is usually general and workshops can be free (if you don’t count lost productivity) and free checklists are all over the Internet, however most free training, free workshops and free checklists are just  STEP 1 in a multi-step process or comprehensive program to meet mandates, compliance requirements and legal due diligence efforts.  Mandates, compliance and legal due diligence require much more than going through free training or a free workshop….when is the last time an organization won a lawsuit because they attended a free training or a free workshop or showed the judge their free checklist?

Mandates, compliance and legal due diligence require organization specific and customized policies and procedures to be developed and then communicated to all appropriate personnel and then updated on an ongoing basis to mitigate new risks and regulatory updates as well as audit-ready documentation to demonstrate compliance and legal due diligence.

A total/comprehensive program must be implemented across multiple levels, multiple silos, multiple locations, multiple entities and across all appropriate individuals on an ongoing basis. Lessons learned clearly show that most organizations are struggling with implementing and managing total programs.

Free and no cost solutions – especially training, workshops and checklists – have been around for years, but lessons learned clearly show that training, workshops and checklists (free or not free) are nowhere close to being the total solution.  As a matter of fact, complex challenges such as compliance, safety, bullying, cyberbullying, workplace violence, terrorism and lawsuits are escalating rather than decreasing.

What are negative cost solutions?

Negative cost solutions enable organizations to reduce their TOTAL COSTS rather than just reducing STEP 1 costs.  Most organizations are faced with an overwhelming “HAVE TO DO LIST” (or multiple have to do lists) and the majority of items on their HAVE TO DO LIST will not get crossed off with free training, a free workshop or a free checklist.

Stay tuned…more lessons learned to share on these topics and challenges.