A Tale of Three Trainings: The Brick House

CZD Brick HouseThis is part three of our series highlighting strengths and pitfalls of three very distinct training methods, relayed by way of The Three Little Pigs analogy. Every training progresses through the same basic stages, from design through to implementation, but the pedagogy, mode of training and the corresponding retention that results offer very dissimilar results – much like the fate of the three little pigs. The construction of the training is important.

Brick training homes are fairly new, with other new constructions in the unchartered territory this neighborhood fringes upon blanketing the horizon. They’re modern, sporting the latest gadgets but also tried and true standbys – the plumbing is as it always would be, but each home comes standard with smart thermostats and other connected systems.

The rush to be first is strong here, but it doesn’t result in sloppy craftsmanship so much as an overabundance of it. A few homes offer a handful of add-ons no one is ready for, nor fully understand how to adequately operate, like motion sensing bidets, but they exist none-the-less and its owners are glad for them. Informed early adoption is the name of the game here, with some futuristic information sources more credible than others, though all are considered.

It’s a place that most aspire to, but are unsure of where to start. And that’s where a needs assessment comes in.

Thorough needs assessments & other niceties
Needs assessments in this neighborhood are thorough, exceptionally so. Understanding your home’s strengths and weaknesses requires a critical eye, but also a realistic estimation of the process.

Employing the 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, brick house builders know that 20 percent of their resources are responsible for 80 percent of their results. And when applying that principle to training, they explore which areas are experiencing the highest impact to reveal the 20 percent of resources responsible for it.

When deciding what to train for first, the organizations in this neighborhood identify the most pervasive needs and work their way down the list methodically. There are no half-hearted attempts here, no “good enough.” And there are certainly no training dollars squandered on less than exceptional ROI-producing brick houses!

There are also realistic expectations around timing here. Brick house builders know they can’t expect to slap something together quickly and build something that will stand strong. As part of the planning process, a timeline extending many months, even years is the norm. Haste makes waste and brick house trainings are the opposite of hasty constructions!

Many of training already existed in one form or another, quite a few were stick but had brick underpinnings. There were a few that required demolition (never straw, no one remembers straw training here) to make way for these rebuilt brick structures, but little sleep was lost over the loss. Brick house builders understand the cost of creating an exceptional training from scratch offered better financial return than constantly repairing/partially reframing a struggling stick training with little to offer.

Beyond determining what to train for and resolving to rethink and rebuild for that need anew, the question of which skills to focus on – and how – is always front and center when considering a new brick house training. There are many ways to teach a person to build a house, but the steps, and the progression from one to the next, along with how to assess for mastery, will mean the difference between adequacy and proficiency; between stick and brick outcomes. The focus in a brick training is always, ultimately, long-term proficiency. With this end goal in mind, the training should always be interactive, visual and portable.

Long-term retention and ROI of interactive simulations
Performing an action, either live or simulated, offers much greater retention than the (more) passive training found in stick and straw house training. Brick house training developers understand that the required equipment will not always be available anytime, anywhere for its technicians to train/practice skills and develop the desired proficiency, so they’ve developed simulated training to accommodate.

Participants thoroughly enjoy brick house training and attend them willingly, with many arriving early to have extra time working with the simulations. And they consistently score high on mastery tests in both short- and long-term assessments, as they have mobile devices equipped with the latest simulations to run through in the field, when the “real” tests occur.

See a quick example of Norfolk Southern Railroad using this for training and evaluation:

This simulated training offers cost savings around travel time and taking equipment out of production to have available for training, and most beneficially – it offers a level of safety unrivaled in stick and straw neighborhoods, where injuries or damaged equipment from less skilled workers can shut down a production line. The brick house town runs efficiently. The “operator error” line item nearly nonexistent.

And then there’s the cost of repairing the broken equipment on top of it. Brick house builders anticipate zero time devoted to such things, and as a result, they have more budget left to create additional training – and experiment with new technologies.

Technicians trained in brick houses have solid skills, designed to stand the test of time, and with simulated refreshers available whenever and wherever they need them, and new simulated training on the horizon, the long-term ROI outlook is bright. That is all assuming the savings aren’t spent as fast as they’re realized . . .

Moving too fast
There’s lots of energy in a brick neighborhood and that can be a dangerous thing, as there are lots of “extras” out there to catch a builder’s eye. With the needs of the organization under regular scrutiny, it’s a simple thing to keep pushing forward, sometimes ahead of the technological curve. This house will not fall down – ever – but it may grow so large you’ll get lost in it; forget some nifty options exist after shelling out a pretty penny to add them.

Augmented reality is a case in point. Though it’s an interesting concept, it leaves much to be desired. Builders are cautioned to explore low light scenarios (it won’t work well) and run it through the same rigorous needs assessment you’d apply to simulated training scenarios. If the end does not justify the means, sit on those plans for a bit till the carbon fiber houses are being constructed – and then you can happily join their ranks. Being first is not always best – just ask the hare (or the tortoise, for a more accurate estimation).

Evaluating impact is where your concerns mostly live in a brick house. You know your foundation is solid and you’ve created a top-notch training – but is your end game solid? While a brick house doesn’t have a strong wind to worry about nor other external forces, there are internal factors that can demolish a brick house just as neatly as a wolf happening upon one made of straw.

Here are some criteria to consider ahead of that next iteration:

__ How much money are we saving on training (brick vs stick and brick vs straw)?

__ How much of that savings is being reinvested in new training?

__ Which training are we doing well? Which not as well & what is the pattern there?

__ Are we devoting dollars to unnecessary updates or creating new training at an acceptable rate?

__ Are we pushing too hard to create new training and not allowing the proper deployment of existing training?

__ Are we considering augmented reality? Why, specifically? What precise purpose will it serve?

__ Will new technology (any variety) increase our ROI in the long-term?

So if you’re in a brick house training environment, congratulations – but beware becoming a McMansion. It’s unlikely your infrastructure is prepared to support it, nor should it!

Ready to build? Reach out now here.