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Posts Tagged ‘six sigma’

DALLAS (September 8, 2009) – Roach Howard Smith & Barton (RHSB), a leading independent insurance brokerage firm and Assurex Global partner, announces the launch of an innovative, highly accelerated development process for Property & Casualty (P&C) Producers. This rapid development process is called a “Learning Path.” It will cut the time it takes new P&C Producers to become fully proficient in their role by at least 30%.  See the entire press release here

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I’m expanding an updating the Learning Paths whitepapers.  To order go to:  http://learningpathsinternational.com/whitepapers.html

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The ultimate goal of new software is to improve the way people work.  All too often is this the forgotten part of IT training because that responsibility is not part of the IT department.  IT wants to teach the features of how an application works.  It’s also because “hard” skills and “soft” skills are taught by different people or different parts of the organization.

Here is just one of many examples I’ve seen.  Company A builds a wonderful customer data base for front line salespeople to use.  The training focuses on how to enter customer’s into the system, access customer information and run reports.  However, company A  has never captured customer information in any detail.  It will take months or years to get all the information into the database.  Salespeople have never used this type of tool for prospecting or account management.  Marketing has never used a database program to do target marketing.

As a result, everyone goes through training and the program is seldom used and everyone forgets how to operate the program.  Does this sound familiar?

The solution is to teach how the job will change.  For example, how do I manage MY accounts using the new program.  This  includes how they salespeople will get the information to put into the program.  Salespeople are then taught only the program features they need for this task.

Photo Uploaded on May 9, 2007 by CellPhoneSusie

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Uploaded on August 13, 2009 by DABlanco69

K-12 is based on a fill up the bucket model.  You start with 13 years and then fill it up with topics or subjects.  If you have an empty space you can fill it up with a home room or study hall.  The same holds true for a 4 year degree in college or even a two-day training program in business.  The calendar is the boundary and filling it up is the goal.

What would happen if you flipped things around and said, “we have a goal and we are going to try and reach it as fast as we can?”  For example, we are going to teach you how to read at 500 words per minute with 90% comprehension as quickly as possible…And when you’re there, you’re done.  We aren’t going to fill up your time with busy work or confuse you by loading another dozen subjects at the same time.

If by this approach, you are able to complete k-12 in 12  years or less, the entire system can literally save billions of dollars.

In business training, you find that after a certain number of days that you reach a saturation point where there’s no more room in anyone’s head.  Staying focuses and accomplishing the goal will end up taking less them without wasting time.

So my slogan for improving public education, is..stop filling the bucket and focus on the goal.

Photo Uploaded on August 13, 2009
by DABlanco69

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One of the goals of most quality improvement efforts is to eliminate waste.  Have you ever gone to a training program or class and that it was a waste of time?  Here is a definition and example of the waste in training.  Taking out waste will save time and money.

Waste is defined as anything that doesn’t add value.  Eliminating waste is one of the easiest and least costly thing to do because it usually means deleting training programs or portions of training programs.  If a learning activity doesn’t improve proficiency or shorten time to proficiency, it’s waste.  Here are some examples of waste.

1. The Forgotten

    We know that the retention rate for lectures is less than 20%.  Everything that is forgotten the next day or next week is waste.  At the end of a four week training program, few participants can remember what happened on the first few days.

    2. Waiting Time

    Companies often wait until they have enough employees to make up a class.  Waiting time is often weeks or months.  If the training is really important, waiting time will have a direct effect on performance.

    3. Old Stuff

    When training programs aren’t frequently updated, they become filled with out-of-date information, processes that have changed or are no longer used and old procedures.  Take a blue pencil to these items or toss them in the trash because they are now waste.

    4. Overstuffing

    When you set a limited amount of time for a training program such as a day or week, there is always an urge to maximize participant time at the expense of what can actually be learned.  Over time, more and more gets stuffed into the program.  Imagine a week of sales training that includes the sales process, listening, communications skills, negotiating, product training, time management, prospecting, proposal writing, and presentation skills.  Very little of this training will end up being used because it’s too much, too soon with too little practice.  Most of it becomes waste.

    5. Tests

    Paper and pencil tests are relatively easy to score and easy to create.  They are almost always about testing knowledge.  However, there is often no correlation between doing well on a test and doing well on the job.  These type of tests are often waste.  Evaluating participants on-the-job is a more useful way of connecting the classroom and work.

    Waste exists in other forms.  Please add your examples of waste.

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    There seems to be a built in resistance to looking at taking the variability out of training, learning or education because people are different and have different learning styles.  Some people are looking a variability as a good or necessary thing.  I think what people are confusing is the difference between variety and variability.

    Here’s an example of the difference.  Let’s go to Baskin Robbins and see the 31 flavors of ice cream.  There’s something for everyone.  That’s variety.  However, if every time you order Chocolate it looks different and tastes different that’s variability which isn’t very desirable.

    To accommodate different learning styles we can teach a sales process in different ways.  However, we need to teach the same sales process.  Variability often comes in when trainers decide to substitute content, processes or models with there own preferences.  As a result, people are trained differently.  This difference leads to work being done differently which makes it harder to manage and leads to more mistakes and lower performance.  It also happens when trainers aren’t up-t0-date on what’s actually happening in the work place.  It’s not uncommon for a process or procedure to change on the job but not in the training.

    It also happens when people assigned to coach and mentor do things differently.  They pass along these differences and one shift does things one way and another shift does them another.  This means that best practices aren’t shared.  So I’d say, variety…good, variability…bad.

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    One of the challenges of measuring effectiveness is trying to build the evaluation as a last step. This is especially true of training.  It actually works really well. It follows the model used in six sigma. We often use a business case that looks at the potential return on investment for reducing time to proficiency. We try to show that every day employees aren’t fully productive has a direct financial impact in terms of productivity, safety, quality, etc. Then the initiative looks at what would be the gains for reducing time to proficiency by say 30%. It’s turns out to be a lot of money

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