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  • The Technology Guy 13:33 on April 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , cost, , , , ,   

    Stop training your staff – or have you already? 

    The Truth- like it or not – measurable income from day-one!

    In times of economic downturn the first budget often to get hit is the training budget.  Of course trainers will say this is short sighted, however the truth is that like it or not, training is a cost. The feeling from the people holding the money strings is, there is no tangible income one can attribute directly to training.

     

    There have been too many promises, especially with eLearning spanning almost 20 years, which have not really delivered. The board is no longer interested in this magical fix and therefore the capital expenditure willing to be made in years gone past, is no longer available. Your budget has just become a part of someone else’s budget.  Time to turn that around, don’t you think?

     

    We can fool ourselves and you can think Kirkpatrick, however Kirkpatrick never wrote a single word about ROI.  What is thought of as Kirkpatrick level 5 was written by Jack Phillips of the ROI Institute and don’t get me wrong, it’s a great set of tools to evaluate training already delivered, with 3000 people having spent good money to get accredited in how to calculate it.

     

    Bob Mosher wrote in CLO Magazine:

     

    … the journey to true ROI is actually divided into two parts:

    • Mastery, or a learner’s ability to demonstrate gained knowledge.

    • Competency, or a learner’s ability to effectively apply what they’ve learned to their job or work environment.

     

     

    I have been pushing the three stages of real learning as ‘Information – Comprehension – Application’ not too dissimilar from my esteemed friend.

     

    Both of these views however are quite clearly after the event. So promising an ROI to your purse string holder, before you start out on the road to delivery, is as far as they are concerned, a bit of a long shot.

     

    Further we have seen huge cuts in staffing levels in some industries.  Public Sector in the UK has reduced by a factor of 10 in some departments.  Let’s face the truth; there is just very little money to spend on new training at the moment.

     

    So how do we convince the stakeholders that there will be a measurable return? That we can offer training that will hit a spot so directly that they will be able to measure the income from day one?

     

    Measurable Return

    Now my title today may seem somewhat controversial.

    Stop training your staff: or have you already?

    Before I explain, I want to be upfront and say the concept I offer does not work across the board, (this won’t work in system training, but for that I have alternative views) but there are real places where it can be invaluable and can turn an intangible training cost into a measurable return. 

     

    Shall I say the heading again a little louder so the boss can hear it? Yes I did say ‘measurable return’ on every penny you put into your new-style training budget.

     

    There will be some pain of course with some not so simple changes, more like sweeping change to be honest. That probably sounds scary, but the time has come that we all need to make big changes and if we are going to do so, then why not just do it once and properly. These changes are easily manageable and should start to show results very quickly.

     

     

    Stop training your staff

     

    Yes you heard me, I am not crazy, why train your staff when you can spend the valuable budget to train your potential clients instead?

     

    The scenario…

     

    Consider what would happen if your clients or potential clients had available to them everything they needed to know about your product or services, really understood them and were willing to apply them to their own businesses? You would make a sale! Would you need to provide anything else to your own staff other than the same material and a backchannel for communication?

     

    For those of you who knee jerked and said, ‘don’t be ridiculous, of course you need to train your staff more fully…’   let me give you a couple of examples of customer training with measurable outcome.

     

    First let’s take a look at Apple Inc. and namely the recent launch of iPad2.

     

    • Apple staff had no sight of the product or any more details than the general public until the day of release.
    • Apple started an educational rumour machine some weeks earlier with what became general knowledge on the release date.
    • The papers, magazines, websites all had details of what the pundits and media commentators thought the new product would contain.
    • On release day Steve Jobs stood up in his black shirt with blue jeans and told the world what it already knew.
    • On the day the product hit the shops, they queued from 2am outside most stores.

     

    Not one of the people in the line was there to ask about the CPU, they all knew it was the A5. (who cared what an A5 was or what it did, but it had one and they knew it)

     

    None of the people in the line were there to ask about resolution, memory, carrier, Smart  Cover  or anything else about the product.

     

    They were in the line to purchase a product (or even two) they had never even seen.  Each and every one was so happy when they found out they were to get one of these products, some jumped for joy.  Three weeks later the lines still continued with arguments outside shops on a daily basis.

     

    Could Apple Inc., measure the success of their client-training program? You bet they could. They did no other form of actual advertising before release.

     

    Apple Inc., sold 1.7 million iPhone 4’s in the first 3 days and 3 million iPad 2’s in the first month. (They would have sold twice that number if they could have made them)

     

    Compare this to Motorola’s Xoom Android tablet, hoping to topple iPad’s supremacy, advertised with normal old fashioned techniques, which was outsold some say by 260:1 in the first 3 days.  Not heard of a Xoom?  Think I may have proved a point!

     

    Second, let’s take a look at Toyota in the USA.

     

    Their site is very clever. It is based on a good old CMS and some cleverly designed learning material.

     

    When you go to the ‘build a car’ part of the site, you are first asked for your zip code. Then you choose your course…  sorry car type…

     

    You then follow through the material and make some choices. Engine type, Colour, Trim, Extras…  The whole time the car is being graphically built, you are given information and explanations of the benefits of each area and the price is being shown.  You learn all about hybrid, and other technical terms and all of this from your armchair at home.

     

    At the end of the course, sorry sales pitch, you are given a quote for your car, and asked for your personal details. You then choose your nearest dealer and book the experiential test drive at your selection from given times and dates.

     

    Sounds like a fun interactive site? Yes it is, I learned loads about a Toyota.

     

    Well there is more to it than you see on the surface. The salesman is ready for you when you arrive.  He knows from the reporting of the CMS, or was it a LMS?, exactly what you looked at, engine type, trim, colour etc..  Bet your bottom dollar that exact vehicle is sitting outside the showroom, engine warmed up ready for your experience. The print out he has from your visit to the LMS shows the dealer everything they already taught you. What you looked at , the decisions you made, how you reduced the cost by taking out the things you may have wanted but could not afford. All he has to do is let you drive it and talk about finance options. While showing you all those lovely extras you already removed for the upsell.

     

    How did the dealer learn about the car? Using the very same software you did online.  How do I know? I was involved in the building of very similar software for another Japanese carmaker.

     

    Two different scenarios of learning, and both very measurable in sales, profit to the bottom line of the company. This is what the CFO is after when you want a slice of the budget. Some have forgotten, we go to work – to work, not just to do eLearning and become more efficient!

     

    So what’s the change? Seven steps to success…

     

    Time to be a little controversial for some, for others this may be the breath of fresh air you have been waiting for.

     

     

    1. Resource Identification. The people in your organisation best suited to creating materials for customers, from which they learn about your products and services, are not the marketing or sales department. It is the training department. This department spends all day creating learning so others are better informed, have comprehension and can apply what they have learned. Typically today the sales and marketing is conducted by people with no knowledge of how to transfer learning in this way. Identify those who will make the best team.
    2. Move your trainers. Move this team from your training department now under the control of HR to be under the control of MarCom. This is the area where customer-facing material is made and they will have a very different input and budget to HR.
    3. Decide your assessment tool. The methods you are going to assess results of your new customer training are very important. Consider at this early stage the methods you will use to prove success of your material. This type of training is measure in real results not numbers completing courses.
    4. New techniques require new methodology. Delivering material to the end user or potential customer requires a slight change in mindset for the trainer. New instructional design techniques and knowledge will be required. Give your team the education they need.
    5. Understand the user. The expectation of the user is going to be different to that of a staff member and you need to understand the user from a sales and marketing place. So spend some time to identify who the user is. Working under MarCom will give you a wealth of information in this area that already exists and was never used by the training department before. However remember, the end user will learn in exactly the same way.
    6. Make your LMS friendly and exciting. Your LMS was probably designed for internal staff, it looks and feels like a learning space. The front end and delivery needs to reflect who is receiving the content. Go look at Toyota’s site, you would never believe you were on the front edge of a LMS.
    7. Don’t forget your staff. Your staff still needs to learn from the same material, they need to know what the client or potential customer is finding out. Use their questions to tailor a backchannel and offer them the social links required to discuss the content and clients methods of using the content, without too much restriction.

     

     

     

    Conclusions

     

     

    The truth is already out there, however we can continue to bury our heads in the sand or we can become proactive to make change. We are all aware that there is a vast difference between training and learning and not everything can be delivered so the user self learns. We still need to deliver training, many are returning to what I heard referred to as ‘old fashioned’ training. How funny they were considering reusing the classroom. Some of us never stopped!

     

    We must be willing to accept that we have all made mistakes by trying to cut costs and create cheaper delivery. It has been one of the biggest selling points over the last 10 years.

     

    We have to accept that lower budgets should not mean poorer content. The statistics available from end users is quite clear as to what they like and what they do not. What they will spend time doing and what they consider is a waste of time. Look at this information and make great decisions for the future.

     

    Understand how your clever competition will make use of tools you have already in your procession and turn these tools to work for you to create a measurable return on your investment in your business, be it by starting with those who bring the money in or not.

     

    Have you stopped training your staff? Are you ready to start now?

     

     

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  • The Technology Guy 14:34 on October 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cost, , , love triangle, Machine, speed   

    Dr. Woods and his wailing machine 

    Some years ago I attended a specialist medical practitioner’s office in London. His speciality was identifying allergies and he did this with the most interesting item of test equipment I had ever seen.

    He evaluated my sensitivity by connecting a stainless steel tube to my big toe and another similar tube to my thumb, both connected with a wiring harness to a machine with flashing lights and a big dial. Then he placed a small quantity of the material he believed I might be sensitive to in a glass vial and dropped it into a small receptacle in the machine. Pushing buttons and turning knobs, the machine began to wail and the needle on the dial danced madly up and down the scale. I could not tell the difference in the wailing between water and whisky.

     

    We laughed all the way home and have dined out many times on the story of the allergy clinic. While I found out I was sensitive to an excess of alcohol, I would have paid twice the amount to see someone else’s report to compare the findings, or see if it was generic.

     

    I often wonder about Dr Wood’s machine ( I now know it was an early version of the Vega test machine) could be used, in today’s turbulent world, to measure other things – like performance, for instance? How great would it be to hook a delegate to some machine, place the intervention (either in note form, maybe a video or on a disk) into a machine and measure the outcome before spending any money trying to deliver it. The more the machine wails the better the result…

    Evaluation of performance has become one of those subjects that every conference discusses. Both HR and L&D people have differing views on the importance of performance and methodology of the evaluation. In many of the conferences I have attended in the last six months, the discussion ends up trying to define what performance is and how you recognise it. Some even try to assess the best way to deliver it, as if it was a commodity.

    I believe that performance is best improved through the training department, using every available technique we have in the box: coaching, mentoring, training and learning.

    The rapid development of e-learning has become one of the latest ‘fads’ to try to deliver learning (not training) in a quicker manner, where speed to the end user and price per moment of learning has pushed aside the importance of quality and instructional design.

    Speed

    The age of speed has been with us for some time. We have far less patience than the generation that preceded us.  Look at the differences between generations X and Y. Look at their expectations, tolerance levels and patience towards speed of technologically delivered services and you will see how fast we expect results in everything and how much it has speeded up as the generations evolve.

    Price

    There are two guaranteed sales in the world today: the cheapest on the market, and the most expensive. Everything in the middle has to make excuses for why it is cheaper than the competition but still worth buying, or, why it is more expensive than the competition and the reasons why it is worth paying more.

    The bottom end of the market is the one that will have most long-term affect on training. To make it ‘cheap’ and ‘quick’ you have to cut out something. The old love triangle still is in play:

     

    You can only have two of the points of the triangle.

     

    ·      If you want it quick and cheap, you can’t expect high quality.

    ·      If you want it fast and in high quality, it will cost more.

    ·      If you want quality but want it cheap, don’t expect it quickly.

     

    Rapid Development tools are trying to break this triangle that has been accepted for so many years: offering cheap, quick e-learning and purporting to be high quality. How would these courses score on the ‘Dr Wood wail test’?

    We want to reduce the time to market and we want to maintain the high quality and efficiency of the courseware we are delivering and, of course, we claim to have no budget. 

    If you, like me, are not sure if there are answers, you could always buy one of the machines I may be offering early next year that wails when you have a good intervention – or maybe the more the delegate wails, the better the result!

     
    • ThaNorwegianDude 18:10 on February 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      “@Thrill98
      You are correct.”

    • ShadowwDaniel 01:06 on February 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Yup. This scope lets you measure lots of different types of things, such as mean voltage, peak to peak voltage, frequency etc. and it lets you do it on both channels at once.

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