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The 7 basic quality tools help diagnose and measure most quality issues without using more advanced statistical techniques.  However, they are much more rigorous than they way most training is measured.  Here they are and how they relate to learning:

1. Histogram

A histogram is used to graphically represent the frequency and extent of two variables.  For example, you can use it to show the types and frequency of inbound calls in a call center.  This gives you a rationale for focusing on one type of call versus another, or determine how much live practice might be needed to experience all call types.  For more on histograms go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histogram

2. Flow Charts

Flow charts are used to map out a sequence of events.  Flow charts can be used to map out the sequence of formal and informal training that leads to the desired outcome of the training.  Flow charting is a great team activity to determine how to develop salespeople or even how to develop leaders.  More on flow charts: http://class.et.byu.edu/mfg340/lessons/seventools/flowcharts.html

3. Cause/Effect Diagram

A Cause/Effect diagram is mostly commonly used to determine the root causes of a problem.  They can be used to determine the cause of declining performance and whether it’s a training problem.  Then the right training solution can be developed to address a root cause rather than an effect.  More on Cause/Effect Diagrams:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishikawa_diagram

4. Check Sheet

A Check Sheet is a simple tool for collecting data.  It’s a quick way to collect data by hand when it can’t be done electronically.  For example to determine closing rate, key to sales training, you can track each person who comes into the store and how many purchase something.  You can also track something like number and type of errors.  More on Check Sheets:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Check_sheet

5. Control Chart

Control charts are used to track and identify variability.  They track results and through setting control limits, they determine what falls outside the normal range of variability.  For example, if you’re in a call center you can track call time by agent.  This will show you which agents are taking a lot more or a lot less time with customers.  Since both are outside the normal range of variability, they may need additional coaching or instruction.  Those going to fast might be skipping parts of the process or rushing to get off the phone.  Those who are slower might be struggling with taking on the phone and using the computer at the same time.  More on Control Charts:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_chart

6. Scattergrams

Scatter Grams are used to determine if there is a relationship between two variables.  For example, you can use it to look at differences between new and experienced leaders.  For more on Scattergrams go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scatter_diagram

7. Pareto Chart

Pareto Charts are used to identify and set priorities.  If you chart all the safety issues, you can quickly see which ones happen most frequently or have the most serious effects.  This helps you focus training on where you can get the most bang for the buck.  For more on Pareto Charts go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_chart

As you test out each of these tools, try using them to present data when you report the results of needs assessments, evaluation of training or training results.  This helps build the case that you are focusing on the right things at the right time.  In additional these charts are relatively easy to create using Excel.  Here’s a quick demo http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/excel/ha102004991033.aspx

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