Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lessons Learned

After a long blogging break this past month, I am back to the blogging world. Thank you for all the emails asking if I am still here and I apologize for my lack of posts. Over the past few weeks, I have plunged into the lean consulting world full time after 24 years of corporate life. My initial reaction, to quote Neo in The Matrix, "Whoa!"

This week, I am wrapping up a six sigma green belt course attended by individuals from four companies in Indianapolis. The students are excellent and highly motivated, ready to apply their newly acquired skills to reduce variation in their processes. This brings me to my topic of lessons learned.

Many times I have seen the eyes of motivation following a training session like this one, regardless if the training is six sigma, lean, from a kaizen event or any other management training session. But soon, this motivation wears out, lessons forgotten and the problems remain unsolved. Why?

I do not profess to hold the key to all the answers to this long standing problem. If I did, I guess I would not have a shortage of future consulting work would I. But I do have some initial thoughts on this barrier to success in training.

My first thought is that maybe we have not taught the lessons well enough in the first place. Just by attending a high energy, content rich course like a six sigma green belt course does not mean that this knowledge has been passed on. Sure, the students nod their heads in a display of understanding or they ask pointed questions as if they are fine tuning their brains on this information. It's not enough!

My course was heavily laced with "learning by doing". I did not accept the nod of the head as my signal of acquired knowledge. I made my students try it out, give it a test drive and figure out how it really works by doing. Although the practice of learning by doing has been a part of my training style for years, I am always amazed by how little I see this approach used in corporate training. What seemed so easy to grasp in lecture proves not so easy in practice. More questions were generated through each learning by doing activity than the previous "lecture" portion and my students connected the dots.

Examine your training practices for the amount of hands on time your students receive then double it. Find creative ways to allow your students to explore and discover this new knowledge along with practice time. This learning by doing eliminates the initial frustration of trying it out back at their own companies. Maybe this is one way to keep the motivation fires burning. More on this topic will follow.

1 comment:

Mark Graban said...

Welcome back! Good luck with the new venture. Are you doing independent consulting?