Friday, May 25, 2012

Reduce waste in Training & Development

Learning & development often costs quite a lot of money. It is normal that CEO's ask for a return on investment when they spent money on learning & development initiatives. In one of my previous blogposts, I described the New World Kirkpatrick Model. This model already gives great ideas to better align the business expectations and training plans and puts focus on Return on Expectations.

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 :
  1. Overproduction : manufacture an item before it is actually required. The answer to this is Just in Time Production. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. Inappropriate Processing : use a sledgehammer to crack a nut. If you use too complex, too expensive tools to get the job done. 
  5. Unnecessary Inventory : excess inventory increases lead time, consumes productive floor space, delays the identification of problems and inhibits communication. 
  6. Unnecessary / Excess Motion : this waste is related to ergonomics and is seen in all instances of bending, stretching, walking, lifting, and reaching. 
  7. 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. 
  1. 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. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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, ...)
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 
  6. Unnecessary / Excess Motion : make sure training facility is nice. Don't put people for a training somewhere in a back room without daylight. 
  7. 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. 
Conclusion :
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 !

Thursday, May 10, 2012

ASTD session on Talent Management by David Wee

On Tuesday I attended a session by David Wee (Signapore) on Talent Management. I was triggered, the moment I read the title of his session "Getting 90% of your people to perform like the top 10%". And he accomplished to live up to these expectations. It was a great session, brought with enthusiasm and a lot of passion. I would like to share some of the highlights, but first you can watch a short video of David Wee explaining about talent

About the talent zone & talent ecosystem :
A talent ecosystem is a set of conditions that create room and possibilities to grow talent. As David Wee explains in the above video, both Beethoven and Tiger Woods lived in excellent ecosystems to grow their talent. 

But to create a talent ecosystem, you need to know your talent zone. There are 2 important elements that define the talent zone : Passion (love what you do) & Ability (doing what you are great at).
If we put these two on a diagram, we get the following overview :
  1. If you have to do things and you are really not passionated at all about it and you are not good at it, then you are in the prison. In that situation there is only one thing you should do : STOP !
  2. If you are highly competent, but not passionated, then you are in a situation of Unfulfilled dream
  3. If you are very passionated at something, but you are not good at it, you have unfulfilled potential. In that situation, you'd better find yourself a good coach, read books, attend seminars, ... and practice to grow your ability. Only by doing this, you can get into the talent zone. 
  4. People who are very capable at what they are doing and who are very passionated about it, they live in the talent zone. 
Try to find out where you are on this matrix and define your strategy for the future so you get into the talent zone. Jim Collins already stated in his session that great companies have belief that all people have talents. It is everybody's responsibility to grow towards the talent zone. Employees need to take initiatives to grow, but also the organization, HR, direct management can support the associate to develop a passion and grow the ability to get into the talent zone. 

Building Talent ecosystems
There are 6 important elements for organizations to create sustainable talent ecosystems :
  1. Share deeply belief that everyone has talent
  2. Make the business case for talent : bring stories about people's talent. Leaders should lead by example and invest in talent, they should drive talent management. 
  3. Create conditions that demand the best from people. you can do this by working supporting people to practice their talent, give them self belief and intrinsic motivate them (e.g. give compliments, tap on the shoulder, ...).
  4. Develop people to be the best they can be 
  5. Hold people accountable for results
  6. Give people a purpose to grow others.  
As you see in the list above managers have an impact on growth of talent management of their associates. They need to develop associates and belief the associate will succeed.  This brings us to the virtuous and the vicious circle of talent management. 

Impact of management belief on talent development
In the virtuous circle there is a positive atmosphere. The manager has belief in his people, which makes associates feel energized which leads to great results. 

In the vicious circle, the manager has few or no belief in his people. He sometimes don't want to invest time in them. All of these kind of excuses make people feel disengaged, which lead to poor results. 

It is in other words important that managers create a positive climate where the ecosystem for talent management arises and people feel engaged. Only this attitude can create the positive talent ecosystem to grow organizations through their people. 

What did I learn form this ? 
The matrix is a good instrument to detect what action should be taken to get somebody in his talent zone. Once we have a good picture on where the person is, we can further develop the talent. 
There are different aspects that have an impact on the development of people's talent. I like the concept of a talent ecosystem. It makes us aware there are many aspects that influence the talent development of our associates. All aspects should be respected, to grow talent. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ASTD session Growing by using what you already know by Alan Fine

What made me attend this session ?
There are quite a lot of people who attended classes, read books, went to seminars, perhaps they even have an MBA of some big university or they have 30 years experience, but when you look at what they do with this gigantic pile of knowledge, they only use very few or none of it, although it might just help them to move forward. Therefore I was triggered by the title of this session "getting employees to use what they already know".
So I went to this session and hoped I would get some answers.

Alan Fine is author of the book "You already know how to be great" and a great performer.

How do we stop kids from learning ? 
If you ask a class of 5 year old kids "who is an artist ?" They'll probably all say they are. If you ask them the same question 4 years later, there might be a few artists left and by the time they are 12, there'll probably maximum 1 artist left.
How comes ? In the first years of our lives we discover, we develop our creative skills and we encourage children in their creativeness (all parents cheer when their kid makes a drawing, although we can't figure out what they drew :-) ). This is important and stimulates the kid to do more.

When they go to school at the age of 6, we shift the focus more towards knowledge absorption (how much is 3+5, what are the letters of the alphabet, ...). At this time, the rationale comes in and we shift from creativity towards rationality.

At that moment we start training our kids Outside in.

This is a funny movie how we break down a creative santa on his HO-HO-HO skills

This is what we do with kids. They do something and we train them to do it else wise, because we believe it should be done else wise.

What we do at that moment is break the kids confidence and replace it with (our) knowledge. This is what Alan Fine calls INTERFEARANCE.

We can compare this in sports as well. If you are a tennis player and you struggle with your backhand, and you start focussing on how bad he is and you try and try to improve it, but you get frustrated. You read books, watch a movie, watch somebody else with a great backhand and try to imitate him, you get frustrated and your backhand will get worse.

This brings us to the equation of


How does this bring us to the key question ? 
How comes people learn, but they don't do apply their knowledge ?

The answer is "We focus too much on knowledge" and there is more than that...
Knowledge is important - no doubt about that. But if we want people to apply their knowledge and to perform, we also need to focus on

  • building their faith
  • helping them to focus
  • light up the fire in them
This is what Alan Fine the Performance Wheel 
Say what you do and do what you say
most people will say that they do what they say and say what they do. But, if you ask others to judge them, they might say something else. 

Why ? Because we are not out own best judges (this can be compared with the blind spot)

So, to improve and to perform better, we need somebody to help us. 

GROW & the performance wheel
The principles of GROW have been used during the week by many other speakers in many forms and applied in many situations. GROW is an acronym for Goal - Reality - Options - Way Forward.

Alan Fine integrates both in the model below and correctly states that to get to the point of moving forward, we need the knowledge, faith, focus and fire. All go hand in hand and we need to pay attention to all of them. 

The performance wheel and the Inside out approach
The inside out approach aims to bring people in what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes as "FLOW". Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Everything you do feels natural. 

When we learn we'd better be in a state of flow. We need a healthy balance between perceived skills and perceived challenges. If there is too much perceived challenge, but no perceived skills, we will feel anxiety an worry. If on the opposite, we feel ourselves very skilled, but not challenged, we will be bored.
If we are learning or if we training others, we should pay attention to different elements. The learner should feel a healthy balance between skills and challenge. This means he should grow step by step. As a trainer or facilitator, we need to encourage learners, give them faith, light up the fire & passion and give them focus. 
As a trainer or teamleader/manager, you can grow people, by helping go through this process. But this means also that you'll have to tell them about blind spots they might have, give them direction, encourage them. 
Today we train children at school and employees at work by giving them knowledge. To get more results, we should be focussing on all elements and help learners to grow through their state of flow. 

What did I learn from this ?
  1. Learning is more than gathering knowledge (=teaching). Learning is growing through gathering knowledge + getting inspired/passionated + getting more faith + keeping focus. 
  2. We should be aware that our perception of what we say = what we do is not always correct. Ask people around you what they think about you and how they perceive you. This gives you a better view on your idea about yourself. 
  3. Alan Fine is a great speaker who inspires many others and I can recommend you to attend one of his seminars or read his books. (thank you Allan !)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

ASTD session Ken Blanchard on Great Leaders GROW

I am a huge fan of Ken Blanchard books. He always manages to bring a clear story, easy reading and with a strong message. So I had to take the opportunity to attend his session at 2012 ASTD. It was amazing to see this 75 year old man talking for more than an hour with so much passion, so much enthusiasm.

What is GROW about ? 
GROW is an acronym which stand for

  • Gain knowledge 
  • Reach out for others
  • Open your world
  • Walk toward wisdom
Ken Blanchard gave us 4 questionnair to evaluate ourselves on these four levels. The results can feed discussions you can do with groups. 

How do you do the questionair ? On each statement you give give yourself a score between 1 and 5. 1 means completely disagree - 5 means completely agree.

Questionair one : Gain knowledge
  • I know my own strengths and weaknesses
  • I know the people I lead on a deep level
  • I know my industry extremely well
  • I have a high level of mastery of the principles and practices of leadership
  • I have a detailed written personal development plan
Questionnair two : Reach out to Others
  • I am always looking for ways to invest in the growth of others
  • I have ongoing mentoring relationships with emerging leaders
  • I frequently see and seize teachable moments
  • I frequently share what I'm learning with others
  • I have developed a high level of mastery communicating my point of view on leadership
Questionnair three : Open your world
  • I constantly look for opportunities to grow at work
  • I constantly seek new experiences outside the workplace
  • I have a mentor(s) who helps me grow
  • I am always looking for additional opportunities to lead
  • I see every day as an opportunity to learn and grow
Questionnair four : Walk towards wisdom
  • I consistently tell myself the truth regarding my leadership
  • I actively seek feedback from those I know to be thruthtellers
  • I have a group op people I trust to give me counsel on important questions
  • I have mastered th art and discipline of asking profound questions
  • I am fully committed to a lifelong pursuit of wisdom
What did I learn from this session ? 
I was very happy to hear what he said. I truly believe in the GROW principle. Yes it is important to constantly gain knowledge and reach out for others. People should open their world and and find a good personal coach who helps them to walk towards wisdom. 

Too often I see people stay at their desk all day long developing policies and strategies without having any connection with others in their organization. They don't want help from others, because the know what they are doing - or at least they think they know it. 

SO what should we remember ? 
  1. Constantly seek for new knowledge
  2. Reach out for others, try to teach and share your knowledge with others
  3. Open your world, discover new opportunities
  4. FInd yourself a good mentor, somebody who gives you advise to further develop. 
If you do so, you'll grow as a leader and as a human being. 

ASTD Session From good to great by Jim Collins

This morning I attended Jim Collins ASTD session, based on his famous book "From good to great". I was a great experience to hear Jim bring the story.
In this blogpost I give you a resume of the session and a little extra.

What did Jim Collins say ?  
The key question in his book is "What makes the difference between a good and a great company, what makes the difference between a good and a great leader ? "
Great leadership is more than personality and charism. Offcourse, many great leaders have these abilities, but they are not great just because of that. There are quite a lot of leaders who have these skills and how fail constantly.

An important key characteristic of great leaders is modesty. Modesty in combination with an enormous will to serve and to achieve goals. Today's crisis is a first crisis. If we don't start to act, another crisis will come. And that crisis will be caused because of a lack of level 5 leaders (see below).

But what makes leaders GREAT leaders ? Modesty and an enormous will are not enough. We need more that this.

There are 3 important elements that all level 5 leaders (great leaders) have :

  1. fanatic discipline : they work every day to reach their goals. They do - what Jim Collins calls - their 20 miles march every day. They don't make 40 miles marches when conditions are good, but the work constantly and build their dreams. 
  2. empirical creativity : they try new things and look for better ways, but they do this based on empirical study. They don't guess, they don't put all their chips on one number on the roulette table. They investigate and look for empirical data before they decide. 
  3. productive paranoia : Productive paranoiacs understand that the only mistakes we can learn from are the mistakes we survive. Therefore, they build cash reserves and buffers for worse time. 
How comes there are so few great leaders ? As a little kid, we were creative and later on we were trained to be fanatically disciplined. But while we were trained to become fanatically disciplined, they stopped our creativity. To be great, you need both !

What is the role of luck in all of this ? Isn't success and greatness at least partly because of luck ? NO ! It is a result of WHAT YOU DO WITH YOUR LUCK !

A little extra 
A while ago I saw a movie on youtube about the best sushi maker in the world. It is an old Japanese man who owns a restaurant in a metro station. His restaurant has 3 michelin stars and the man must be 80 years old. Look at the movie. To me, this man has all the characteristics Jim Collins talked about. He is modest, walks his 20 mile march every day and is a pure empirical creative person. WOW ! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Defining Return On Expectations

This morning I attended a session by Jim Kirkpatrick at the ASTD congress in Denver Co. Jim's father - Donald Kirkpatrick - published a series of articles in the 1950's about the 4 levels of course evaluation.
The four levels of the Kirkpatrick model are

  • Level 1 : reaction - to what degree participants react favorably to the learning event
  • Level 2 : learning - to what degree participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills and attitudes based on their participation in the learning event
  • Level 3 : behavior - to what degree participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job
  • Level 4 : results - to what degree targeted outcomes occur, as a result of learning event(s) and subsequent reinforcement
Today Jim Kirkpatrick presented the New World Kirkpatrick Model. I would like to share with you my minutes of the session (which was excellent)

Why did I attend this session ? 
I work for many years with the Kirkpatrick model and strongly believe in it. Many organizations stick on level 1 evaluation (measure the quality of a training with a questionnaire at the end - I find this a check on the quality of the sandwiches). If you want to deliver results, you'll have to do better. I hoped Kirkpatrick would give me ideas on how he does this.

ROE versus ROI
When organizations develop training plans they often talk about ROI (Return on Investment). Kirkpatrick pleads for ROE (Return on Expectations). Senior leaders should focus on Return on Expectations, because this leads to a result (what do they want to change in their organization, how should the result look like, ...). This approach leads to lasting results. If they would only talk about Return on Investment, they focus only on money. Will I get the money I invested back out ? This is limited and thus a wrong approach. 

Return on Expectations means "What a successful training initiative delivers to key business stakeholders demonstrating the degree to which their expectations have been satisfied." 
Training should not be an island, isolated from the business. It should be linked or even integrated in the business. So it can meet up the expectations of the business. 

How do we do this ? 
Kirkpatrick discribes 3 steps to get to training effectiveness (which is different from effective trainings)

Where do you want to end up ? How should your organization look like after the training ? 

This means that you need to dialogue with senior management to set a clear definition of what they perceive as VALUE. Not something flurry like we want customer oriented, but what do we mean when we talk about being customer oriented. How should this behavior look like ? What does this bring into value for our organization ? 

Get out of you training & development office. Go to the business! Talk to people in the business ! Involve business people in your training development ! Share data, reporting and accountability !

We organize training, but learning should stop there. The training activity is just a first step. We should go out and check what people do with what they learned. How do they apply the acquired skills. Make sure people keep on learning. You give them a backpack, allow them to check out what's in it and let them use the tools in the backpack. This will create value. And ACT, INTERVENE if you notice more support is required or you need to adapt the training initiative to get to the result. (If you get in a traffic jam, despite you used a GPS, then you adapt your route as well)

And this leads to the New World Kirkpatrick Model which is shown below :
My conclusion on this session :
This new model was not that new to me. The strong link to the business is indeed important. And yes, we should have a solid discussion with senior management about the value they want to create after the training. 

Lesson learned :
So next time you develop a training plan for your organization, don't just jump on the job and organize a training, but start a dialogue with senior management, business, other stakeholders, to get the clear picture of the value they want to generate with the training plan and measure these expectations.