But, there is more to improve the quality of trainings. I believe there is too much "waste" in learning & development. In this blogpost I give an overview of possible wastes and provide alternatives to improve the quality of your service.
For this blogpost I was inspired by an article by Bradley Staats and David Upton. It was a case study on how Wipro implemented the lean principles to improve their administrative an knowledge work. (Holland/Belgium Management Review – Nummer 141 – 2012 – p 56-65 – Bradley Staats and David Upton)
The 7 wastes according to Toyota
Toyota Lean Specialist Taiichi Ohno defines 7 important forms of waste in organizations :
- Overproduction : manufacture an item before it is actually required. The answer to this is Just in Time Production.
- Waiting : Whenever goods are not moving or being processed, the wast of waiting occurs. This means that much of a products lead time is tied up in waiting for the next operation.
- Transporting : transporting product between processes is a cost incursion which adds no value to the product. Excessive movement and handling cause damage and are an opportunity for quality to deteriorate.
- Inappropriate Processing : use a sledgehammer to crack a nut. If you use too complex, too expensive tools to get the job done.
- Unnecessary Inventory : excess inventory increases lead time, consumes productive floor space, delays the identification of problems and inhibits communication.
- Unnecessary / Excess Motion : this waste is related to ergonomics and is seen in all instances of bending, stretching, walking, lifting, and reaching.
- Defects : Quality defects resulting in rework or scrap are a tremendous cost to organizations.
These principles are holy rules in production factories all over the world. Production always seeks ways to lower costs and improve efficiency. So why are these rules not applied on learning & development ?
How can we reduce waste in Learning & Development ?
If you look at the above list, you can easily detect waste in learning and development.
- Overproduction : why do we send people to a 2 day course, if they only need 10% of the content of this course. This is often the case when companies send employees to e.g. a course "Advanced Excel", while the employee only needs to know how to create & use a pivot table. There are good tools & providers who supply individual, tailored trainings at a low cost (e.g. www.givi.be where you can say which specific module in excel should be trained). My advise : be creative and only produce what is really necessary to the business. Maybe you might find the course useful, but it is of no use for your customers in the business.
- Waiting : don't wait for the annual appraisal to add training needs to you individual training plan. If an employee has a specific training need at a certain moment, deliver an appropriate solution at that moment, so he can proceed on his work with the new knowledge.
- Transporting : The biggest chunck of trainings are still classroom trainings. I believe we should analyze the training material and check what can already send before the training. People don't need to go to a classroom if they can get a part of the training by e-learning (e.g. theoretical information, concepts, ...)
- Inappropriate processing : make requests for training as easy as possible. Don't use 24-step procedures with approvals by team leader, manager, HR, VP and CEO. Believe that if people request for a training they really need it for their job. They won't enroll for a training they don't need. So make it as easy as possible to enroll for trainings.
- Unnecessary Inventory : In the past I've seen organizations with fantastic Learning Management Systems (LMS), with gigantic training catalogues. There were even sooooooo many trainings in this catalogue that nobody could find an appropriate training any more. Some of the trainings were even out-dated. My advise : Make a clear overview of trainings you provide, easy searchable and frequently updated.
- Unnecessary / Excess Motion : make sure training facility is nice. Don't put people for a training somewhere in a back room without daylight.
- Defects : If you provide a technical training, make sure all the equipment is state of the art and works well. If possible have a back up plan at hand, because waiting because of a defect tool during a training, reduces the success of the training initiative dramatically.
Above I only mentioned a few suggestions to reduce waste in learning & development activities. Go search actively for waste reduction. Dare to ask why you do things in a certain way for years and dare to change the procedure if necessary.
If you do reduce waste, your customers will appreciate the learning & development activity more and will be more eager to learn more and faster.
Good luck !