Or, How Sheep Are Also Not As Complicated As Spreadsheets.
A colleague who read our previous blog post made an interesting point about traditional training using hypothetical scenarios such as sheep farming: not only is the scenario likely to be too far away from our personal experience for us to properly connect with and learn from, the trainer will almost certainly need to streamline the example.
Whether because of time constraints or for ease of understanding, the hypothetical scenario a trainer comes up with is likely to be as simplified as possible, and that poses another important problem: how do we then translate this new way of working from a simple, classroom example to our complicated, interwoven, ever-changing working lives?
Applying What You’ve Learned
The key to taking theoretical knowledge and making it useful in your context is to find ways to apply what you’ve learned as soon as possible to your real world environment. Most of what we, and a lot of other trainers, teach people about can sound very simplistic at first, causing people to think, “Oh, yeah, that’ll be easy to do.” That same simplistic appearance might conversely make people think, “That’s all fine and good in this simple scenario, but it’ll never work in my complex environment.”
Both sentiments are born of trying to understand how the new knowledge applies by thinking about it instead of doing it. The best way to understand these new ideas and develop the associated new skills is by applying them to your work.
Going back to the sheep farming example we used in our previous post: let’s say a trainer did decide to use this scenario in a training session to introduce a new idea. If it were us, we might be using it to talk to you about One Piece Flow, and the example would be intended to show you how shearing one sheep at a time, then processing its wool, then sending it to be dyed and then turned into yarn means you’ve got balls of wool available in your farm shop much more quickly, and you can then go ahead and decide from the reaction of your customers whether the next sheep’s wool ought to be used to make more blue yarn, or some red yarn instead.
It illustrates the concept nicely (largely because almost every task we can think of can be improved using One Piece Flow!), but it has nothing to do with the job role you perform today, if you’re not a sheep farmer. Some people might respond to the simplicity of it by assuming it will be easy to apply to their own work, while others will think it’s far too simple to ever be of use to them. It won’t be until we then show you how One Piece Flow applies to you, personally, and the work that you’re doing right now, that it will click into place for you.
Learning By Doing
Because we strongly believe that learning by doing is the key to successful cultural change, our approach embraces this: we developed the Value-add Applied Learning method to teach the theory and use simple examples – maybe even the sheep farming! – to get the point across. The difference is, we then quickly move on to applying the new idea, new technique or new way of working to your own work environment, and we believe that it’s not until this third and final stage that it will evolve from a vague, somewhat alien concept to a newly embraced way of thinking and working.
Of course, learning by doing isn’t a new approach, though it seems to elude many corporate training and cultural change initiatives. When you’re seeking cultural change and the associated shifts of mindset, applying new ways of working one at a time, with the support and guidance of an expert, is what helps make those changes stick. Doing things, one at a time, to improve your work experience and lighten your workload makes training a rewarding experience from start to finish.