One of my favorite MEME’s that has been floating around the internet says something to the following effect:

CFO asks “what if we invest all this money and time in developing our people and they leave?”
CEO responds “what if we don’t develop our people and they stay?”

Not to knock on CFO’s – every one that I’ve met has been an incredible person – but this conversation is one that happens to some degree on all levels in probably every company. Striking the perfect balance between developing talent and getting performance results can be a challenge. This is especially true in today’s business environment where a significant portion of the workforce (anywhere between 10% – 30%) will be retiring within the next 10 years. To put this in clearer perspective, they’re not just taking a headcount with them, they’re taking up to 50 years of experience, tricks of the trade, and legacy knowledge with them. You’re not just going to backfill them with an 18 year-old and expect everything to run just as smoothly – get real. Somehow you’re going to need to be able to develop that 18 year-old’s capability to pick up where that 68 year-old left off, but in weeks or months instead of decades. You’re going to need to employ techniques of what’s called Lean Talent Development (LTD).

What is Lean Talent Development (LTD)?

Lean Talent Development is the process of building incredible people capability with the least amount of resources consumed. Although every person learns differently, there are some fundamental principles of learning that are generally true for us all. The most powerful form of learning is experiential. We all know the difference that quality experience can make in our ability to perform consistent and reliable work. Here’s a learning pyramid that shows retention rates by learning method:

learning-pyramid - impruver.com

Would you believe that the vast majority of corporate training programs fit snugly within the top triangle of the pyramid – Lecture – which happens to be the least effective method of teaching? In fact, I’d be willing to bet that a significant portion of production, safety, quality and other service failures are a result of people not retaining something they were taught during a lecture. These causes of failure only come second on the Pareto chart to those resulting from people having never been taught at all – yet having been given the responsibility to perform.

LTD shifts the core method of teaching from lecturing (top of the pyramid) to experiencing and then teaching (bottom of the pyramid). A skill can only be mastered through practice and repetition. As Bruce Lee put it “I fear not the man who has practiced 10000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10000 times.” The objective of LTD is to accelerate the rate of opportunities for practicing the right set of skills, often through the process of daily Continuous Improvement and then teaching others what we’ve learned.

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How to Use Rapid Talent Development in Your Organization

Well that’s easy, right? It’s the same way you take an 18 year-old and turn them into a 68 year-old. Seems pretty straight forward 😉 Only if it were as easy as downloading knowledge from one person onto a flash drive and uploading it into the next. This is one thing that computers are much better at than people. However, computers tend to teach using methods on the top half of the pyramid. They can certainly help get the ball rolling and even automatically deliver much of what’s there on the top half. But the rich, deep, and rapid learning comes from what’s happening out there on the production floor where the action is.

So, how can you speed up the rate of experience so that a person can get up to speed most efficiently? How can you most effectively teach a new operator how to keep their equipment in peak operating condition? Sure you’d want to provide some classroom time up front. Some videos would be an excellent resource as well. But these alone won’t get you there. You have to provide them with a experiential learning track. Here’s a few steps to help get you (and them) going:

  1. Define and gain alignment what they need to learn
  2. Provide some preliminary context of these subjects based on historical learning
  3. Issue them an improvement challenge (ie. improve OEE by 10% on your equipment in the next quarter)
  4. Teach them to collect and assess data regarding losses
  5. Have them form hypothesis on what’s causing losses (and perhaps some form of root cause analysis)
  6. Work with them to develop a method to test their hypothesis
  7. Review the results with them and formulate the next plan of attack
  8. Have them teach other affected employees, including their managers, what they have learned

In the process of trying to improve performance, the operator will need to deep dive and discover how the equipment is supposed to run; perhaps even picking up the operating manual which is often provided by the original equipment manufacturer. As a results, they end up learning why its important to keep the equipment cleaned and lubricated. They also learn why other preventative maintenance steps like changing gaskets and tightening bolts are needed. And they learn this through experience instead of being told (or lectured) on what they’re supposed to be doing. This method dramatically increases engagement and job satisfaction for both the coach and the learner. As a result, you can accelerate the development of your most important assets (your people) to achieve dramatically improved performance results in a fraction of the time. Technologies like Impruver.com are designed specifically to facilitate this process in a systematic way for your manufacturing business.