Lean Training: The Start of a Journey

leantrainingAs an approved centre to provide NVQ in Business Improvement Techniques (BIT), we constantly debate among ourselves, how one measures the effectiveness of lean training we provide?

One common debate surrounds whether, through the “learning by doing” method, do we try to achieve a good output on a project that learners take on and out falls an NVQ? Or do we concentrate on delivering a skilled learner regardless of current project outputs?

The majority of our customer organisations want to put their staff through lean training with the objective of increasing productivity and improving project performance, with a reasonable expectation that real improvements will be realised on the current, on going project the candidates are working on.  This expectation can on occasion conflict with the timetable and the rigour of the training programme and requires the consultant to carefully balance training with project related work.  The danger of focusing on purely the project work is that the candidate has no theoretical context to relate his actions to. An important point to bear in mind however is that management development and training can be broken into two general categories: skill enhancement and behaviour change.

Lean skills and knowledge can be improved via training workshops and easily measured but behaviour change will take time to embed and presents some challenges to the candidates’ organisation post programme delivery. Training (short-term) is only a tool to achieve management development but should act as the catalyst for long term behavioural change, provided the environment persists to nurture that change after training is complete.

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Measuring management development is a multifaceted task, not only because of the number of management skills and behaviours to be enhanced, but also because skill and behavioural enhancement are different. It’s important to take into consideration that behavior can only change if conditions are favorable. For example, if work conditions do not allow or make it difficult for learners to apply new knowledge, this may stifle initial enthusiasm to improve and change behaviour. Or, learners may have taken in the teachings but have no desire to apply the knowledge themselves as they perceive current status to be too daunting to proceed alone.

For a lean training and development programme to succeed, top management, who put their staff through the training, must play a large role in paving the way for the application of new skills learnt. Then, we can start measuring the effectiveness of lean training through ROI for the organisation instead of just individual projects.