What you will study
Being commercially aware means understanding what your organisation exists to do, and the context it operates within. It means having a good understanding of your organisation, how it works, who its customers are, how it adds value to them and what influences your success and the overall performance of the organisation.
Every organisation is subject to internal and external factors that mean reacting to change and developing strategies to respond to them are a key activity for managers. This course will help you to address the ongoing process of adapting and responding to the external environment while adjusting to what happens inside your organisation. You will consider how in today’s complex organisations it is not acceptable to “do your own thing” without understanding the consequences elsewhere. It is not simply a matter of understanding your role, but how you fit into the big picture. Commercial awareness is not simply about acquiring a body of knowledge but rather a continuous dynamic process of recognising what affects your business now, and how it could be affected in the future. This means understanding customers and stakeholders, the work of colleagues, partners and competitors and how your role relates to them.
All organisations need to remain relevant to deliver value to their markets, customers or publics and this means a process of keeping abreast of how to continually deliver products and services that are at least as good as they can get elsewhere, if not better.
Many professionals deliver value by advising, teaching or training individuals, companies and other organisations. They may charge fees in return for relevant and reliable advice and customers expect them to have current, up to date knowledge as well as being able to demonstrate in depth understanding of their clients’ business. Anyone trying to develop effective customer and client relationships should also seek to understand how they are affected by changes in regulation, law, policy and so on to ensure adherence or compliance. Failure to do so could mean damage to reputation or worse. Commercial awareness in this context is therefore a key attribute of being a competent professional.
In this course we encourage you to apply knowledge and information to your workplace. By being curious, asking questions and seeking answers about how your own and other organisations work, knowing more about customers and competitors, what your colleagues do and how your role fits with theirs, you will already be well along the road to becoming more commercially aware. Having developed this mindset, you will learn techniques to ensure that you retain vital commercial awareness in future roles you have and equip yourself to progress in the world of work.
The course features the distinctive strengths of The Open University (OU) from its years of expertise in work-based learning:
- The convenience of accessing its clearly presented and sequenced materials, activities and support whenever suits you and wherever you have access to the dedicated website – if you prefer, you can print key materials to work on them offline.
- The support of an expert learning adviser who can clarify study materials, answer questions and help you relate the course to your specific needs.
- A work-based activity helping you to connect the course to your individual and organisational context and needs. A learning adviser will review your work-based activity and provide personal feedback.
- Certification of completion from the OU for those who complete the course. You can use this to demonstrate your continuing professional development (CPD) activity to your employer and/or professional body. (NB The course does not carry academic credit points.)
You will learn
After completing this course you should be able to:
- articulate the mission and purpose of your organisation and factors that are critical to its success
- understand how the external environment impacts on your organisation and how this may impact on ways of working to remain effective
- describe the value chain through the key activities, resources, responsibilities and relationships in your organisation
- explain how value is created in your own role and how it relates to others throughout the organisation and beyond
- evaluate how you currently relate to customers (internal and external), competitors and stakeholders, and identify what could be done to relate to them more effectively so as to ensure they are getting value
- plan ways to increase the commercial awareness of yourself and others.
Successful completion of the course enables us to recognise your achievement of the course learning by issuing an OU certificate that you can use to document your commitment to continuing professional development in your personal portfolio, or to provide evidence to employers or professional body.
Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser. Other support is available via the course forum, library, StudentHome website and computing helpdesk.
The work-based activity for this course has been designed as an integrated ongoing activity that you submit at the end of your study. It will allow you to reflect on your learning and how to use it in your professional work.