Tips for Changing Sheep into Spreadsheets.
Seems we struck a nerve with our thoughts on how traditional training uses hypothetical examples that can’t be transferred to real working lives, such as sheep farming. A reader told us that, for her, it’s already too late. “You’re right,” she said, “I’ve had training like that and I’ve already forgotten everything I was taught, because it didn’t work for me when I went back to my desk. I took down pages of notes, but I don’t know how to translate them to my working life. Any tips?”
Actually, yes. It’s never too late to make use of the training you’ve already had, even if you couldn’t see how to make it work in your own context at the time. We strongly recommend applying the principle of “one thing at a time”:
Step 1: Go back to your notes.
Identify something you remember from the training that you think has potential to address one of the issues or problems you’re facing right now, or could improve the way you do a certain element of your work.
For example: Look back to our previous post about the over-simplification of training scenarios and you’ll see we talked about how we’d use the sheep farming example to teach One Piece Flow. Let’s say you think you could use One Piece Flow to streamline the process of adding inventory to your shop.
Step 2: Come up with some criteria you feel would indicate an improvement in that problem area after using the new technique or idea.
For example: Adding inventory is a confusing process because it involves applying number codes to every item you want to set out for sale. By the time you get to the final stage, where you enter those codes into your database, you’ve invariably forgotten which code applies to which item and have to keep going back and forth to check. By using One Piece Flow, you could give the item a code, tag it, place it in the store and then enter it into the database and you would, by doing so, get rid of the problem of forgetting codes, because you wouldn’t have to keep more than one in your head at a time.
Step 3: Start applying that technique to your work.
Periodically check against the criteria you decided on to see how well your new technique is doing to make the improvements you wanted. Make adjustments as necessary.
For example: You’re finding that you’re still, by the time you get to the database stage, forgetting the code, so you decide to switch up the order you do things in: apply the code, add the tag, then enter it into the database before placing the item on the shop floor. That way, the item is right next to you when you’re working in the database, code and all. Checking back later, you realise that you have finally managed to get rid of the forgetting problem – hurray!
Step 4: Go back to your notes and move on to the next piece of learning that you think will help you out.
Now, of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be only a single thing at a time that you implement – that may not be practical – but the point of the principle is to not take on too much change at once. The one-thing-at-time approach keeps you focused and gives you time for the new technique you’re adopting to sink in. You should find that, the next time you spot a problem, you’ll find it easier to also spot how that new technique might help you solve it.
It might not be as easy to make use of new techniques if you weren’t shown how during the training session, as we do with Value-add Applied Learning™, but don’t let that stop you. Improving the way you work is worth the effort if, in the end, it’s going to make your life easier!