Training effectiveness, how can you achieve it?

Training effectiveness increases when information is given in small pieces with time to practice between sessions.

For almost every position, a certain degree of education is necessary. Through this, employers teach new hires how to perform their tasks. Training effectiveness is key to avoiding mistakes and frustration. It is also crucial to ensure people understand and follow standard procedures. How can you make sure this education process is successful?

Why do people forget the information they learned?

It happens to all of us, we go to a class, and not long after it, we can’t remember most of it. The Ebbinghaus or Forgetting curve explain that situation. The forgetting curve shows how information is lost over time. Most of it is lost right after the training. If people retention is affected over time, something needs to change in how we train our employees.

What can improve training effectiveness?

There are several things that we can do to improve training effectiveness. While designing the training, factors such as the age composition of the target population and preferred ways to learn will determine the training format and curriculum.

Gen X members prefer a structured environment that includes some lectures and small group activities. They value face-to-face classes and interaction and collaboration. On the other hand, Gen Y feels comfortable learning using digital options. This generation feels good with hybrid training, which combines in-person with digital options.

Similarly, Gen Z employees value some degree of face-to-face training. However, they still prefer electronic self-learning experiences. Millennials are not interested in the in-person training. They prefer mobile device-based training to any other option. This is because the option provides flexibility to learn whenever and wherever they want. In addition, it caters to their visual and auditory needs.

The length also affects training effectiveness.

A few hours of lecture is not the best way to learn, regardless of your preference. The best way is to receive small bits of information at a time. Then, practice or use that information to test your learning. The more you practice, the more you learn.

A test is good for checking knowledge regarding one subject, but nothing is better than hands-on experience. It is better to reinforce training with a refresher course or review before moving on to the next piece of training.

A good learning experience comes with clear, relevant, and concise information. Interactive experiences are better for learning. However, the best training design has the learning goals and the audience’s needs in mind.

Leader Standard Work Challenges, what are and how can you overcome them?

LSW enable leaders to transform the culture, develop the team, and keep them on track to achieve the site goals.  What are and how can you overcome the leader standard work challenges?

Leader standard work is a powerful tool for focusing on those activities and behaviors that transform the culture, develop the team, and keep them on track to achieve the site goals.  Also, it is helpful to drive continuous improvement.  However, creating the LSW is easy, but using it every day is not.  This critical tool for leaders at all levels entails various challenges.  What are and how can you overcome the leader standard work challenges?

Leader Standard Work Challenges

Months after the leader standard work deployment, we used a short survey to learn about the experience. We wanted to know what went well and the challenges.  The top challenge identified was the habit of using the tool daily.

Another challenge mentioned was the lack of noticeable improvements in their daily workload.  For instance, they did not feel they were engaging in less firefighting.  The third challenge indicated is the frustration in identifying what type of behaviors support the site goals.  Moreover, to recognize the difference between behaviors and tasks.

How to overcome those challenges

Leader standard work will not strive unless you use it.  To build the habit of using it, new users should use the following building habit tricks. 

The formation of every habit has three steps, a trigger, the routine, and the reward.  The practice you are pursuing starts with the trigger.  The reward can be a feeling, like the satisfaction of helping others to develop and grow.  The brain needs to know the prize of the new routine.  That piece of information is critical to do something effortlessly, without thinking.    

You need to identify what will trigger the review of the LSW.  Experts say that the best way to form a new habit is to tie it to an existing one.  Look for patterns at the start of your day, and think about how you can use your current routine to create new ones.  For instance, if the first thing you do in the morning is to read your emails, let that be your trigger.  Now when you think about reading emails, you will review your LSW first.

Even though reviewing the standard once a day is not enough, start with this and then add more times later.  Many believe the best way to build a habit is to start small and gradually improve.  To increase your chances of success, you can use electronic reminders on your email, calendar, or cell phone.  

Standard Work and Leader Standard Work Challenges

Leader standard work enables leaders to support the work of others.  Lack of clarity between the value-added activities that support the site objectives, culture transformation, and team development affects its effectiveness.  Therefore, it is critical to understand that LSW needs standard work and vice versa.

While building the LSW, start with listing your site and personal performance goals.  The second step is to list the tasks and behaviors to support their achievement.  Build this list as part of the LSW workshop right before the implementation.  Do we have standard work (SW) for those activities?  For example, do we have SW for Gemba walks, and how to conduct effective 1:1 meetings to support growth?  If the answer is no, it is paramount to create those standards before asking people to do the work.

When the appropriate systems are not in place, LSW turns into frustration.  A process to identify the need, develop, create, and improve SW will enable the power of continuous improvement.  The use of PDCA for this process reduces problems along with RCA will provide the support needed to do more improvements and less firefighting.

Creating capabilities and leadership behaviors

The foundation of a culture of continuous improvement is respect, appreciation for the employees, and clarity.  To build a CI culture, active listening, effective two-way communication, and coaching are necessary.  A leader’s work is to act and coach their direct reports to act in a way that supports the new culture.

Identify those behaviors that support or promote communication, listening, collaboration, caring, and other values identified by the company.  List them and share them as part of the LSW implementation.  Be clear about the relationship between behaviors and company values.  

To change the focus from firefighting to continuous improvement, leaders need to develop their team to do the same.  Coaching and participation in problem-solving are examples of activities to create those capabilities.  While performing those activities, leaders should practice behaviors such as respect, patience, resilience, persistence, and curiosity.  If the boss is not afraid to try new things, learn from failures, and keep trying, the team will do the same.

Leader Standard Work Challenges, every day, all-day

Changing the mindset from command and control to coaching requires practice.  It is imperative to guide people with a clear, inspiring and shared vision of the future.  Talk the talk, but most importantly, walk the talk.  A voice without action does not help gain the trust of your employees. With LSW, leaders have a comprehensive guide to work on daily, focusing on what is critical for the business’s success.   Successful use of it only comes with practice.  Recognize the biggest pitfall of the LSW implementation and avoid them with complete training, follow-up, and further improvements.

Building a causal factor chart

Find the events that caused a problem by building a causal factor chart.

With causal analysis, we uncover the events that caused a problem to find its root cause. A clear understanding of the events leading to an incident helps to find its root cause. A causal effect chart describes the events leading to an incident and the associated conditions. How do you create this chart? Let’s see the steps for building a causal factor chart.

A causal factor chart starts with the result

The first piece to construct a causal factor chart is the end of the story. We work backward to build this chart. Therefore, the starting point of the chart is the loss event or condition.

Starting with the loss event at the left, work backward, adding the events that led to the last one you add. Add these building blocks following time and logic sequence. The sequence of events leading to the incident runs from left to right in the center of the chart. These events are the primary events.

The events and conditions that led to each primary event are the secondary events. They are the reason why the events on the centerline happen. The secondary events are drawn above the main event line. Less significant events go below the main event line. These events provide additional details but do not represent possible causes for the loss event.

Steps to build the Causal Factor Chart

  1. Draw a rectangular block with the loss event, problem, or accident.
  2. The first primary event is what happened right before the incident.
  3. Verify the information you have regarding this event by asking several questions. Use 5W1H (why, who, when, where, and how) to formulate those questions.
  4. Gather data to answer the questions developed in the previous step and use it to find the sequence of occurrences that lead to the primary event. These are the secondary events.
  5. Look for those states or conditions that facilitate the occurrence of an event and them to the chart.
  6. Go to primary event on top of this sequence and repeat steps 2 to 5.
  7. Keep repeating these steps until the sequence is deemed complete.
  8. Review the sequence and ask if it explains why the loss event happened. Collect more information and add or edit blocks if needed.
  9. Identify the causal factors.

Building a causal factor chart is just the first step

Below you can see an example of how the causal factor chart looks. This chart helps identify the causal factors that lead to an incident. However, it is not for simple situations where the timeline is not critical.

Find the events that lead to an accident by building a causal factor chart.
Causal Factor Chart

Knowing the causal factors does not necessarily mean that you learn the root cause. Further analysis using a cause and effect diagram or 5 Why may be necessary.

Best Practices for building a causal factor chart

Following the best practices to build the causal factor chart will ensure effectiveness of the process.

The causal factor chart depicts the events leading to an incident or problem. The components of the chart are the main event or loss incident, preceding events, and conditions. What are the best practices for causal factor chart building?

Collecting data following the Best Practices for building a causal factor chart

Do not wait until you feel that you have all the information on hand to start creating the chart. Instead, start with what is available at the moment. The result will show the gaps between what you know about the incident and what happened. By helping you fill the blanks, the causal factor chart drives the data collection process.

There are various digital applications on the market to draw this chart. However, I strongly recommend starting to build it using sticky notes or drawing it on a whiteboard. This simple method will make it easier to fill in the blanks without adding more time.

Follow the best practices for building a causal factor chart to ensure it is clear and simple

Just like standard work, this tool needs clarity and simplicity. The starting point is the description of the incident itself. Define what is the situation under study. Describe the incident and each preceding event using complete yet short sentences. For clarity, use the 5W1H to define each block. In other words, name who, what, where, when, and how. Each block should contain only one idea, step, event, or condition.

To maintain the events description short and easy to understand, use one noun and one action verb.  If it fits, use quantitative explanations and timing to define the events.  

Best Practices to ensure the chart is complete and accurate

The construction of the causal chart includes several verification steps. It is a good practice to add the source of the collected data. Knowing from where it came facilitates going back and asking for further information. Sometimes, the data comes from observation or the result of data analysis. If that is the case, note the source as observation, data analysis, or other.

Any complementary information should be a separate block or part of the notes or appendix.  For instance, use acronyms or abbreviations to keep the statements short.  To make clear to everybody what each one means, include an appendix.

Following these best practices while building the causal chart will ensure the clarity of the events leading to the incident or loss. Moreover, it will facilitate understanding of those steps and how they interact to cause the situation. These two things will ensure more accurate corrective and preventive actions to stop recurrence. In addition will provide details of the investigation and analysis process, which is valuable when reviewing the case.

Causal factor chart, what it is and how does it help to solve problems?

Find the causal factors of a problem with a causal factor chart.

When trying to solve a problem, it is critical to grasp the situation first. A causal factor chart is a tool that provides a structure to find the possible causes. After we understand what is happening, we will know where we need to look and what information to collect. This step is critical to finding the root cause of a problem or incident.

What is a causal factor chart?

This chart or map is a graphical description of the sequence of events leading to a loss situation or accident. It describes those events and the conditions associated with them.

Causal factors are elements that, if removed, would prevent the occurrence or reduce its severity. The causal factor charting process provides a structure to organize and analyze the information collected. It is efficient to find the causal factors of safety and environmental incidents, where the timeline of the events is critical.

Components of a causal factor chart

Incident investigation requires identifying the preceding events and conditions that cause the situation under study.  This chart has three components, the main event or incident, preceding events, and conditions.

The starting point of the diagram is the main event or situation under investigation. A loss event or incident is any situation where the outcome and the expected result are not equal. In other words, the result is different from the standard. The preceding events are the sequence of actions that happen before the incident. Accidents rarely result due to one single factor. Instead, it is a group of events such as shortcuts, mistakes, and omissions. All these events lead to the incident or loss event.

The third component, conditions

Those events occurred because a set of conditions facilitates their occurrence. Conditions are those things that create the circumstances or ideal surroundings for the incident to happen. Some examples are the weather, equipment state, or a person’s state of mind.

How do you build a causal factor chart? That is the subject of a future post, but first, let’s discuss the best practices to create them.

New hires, are you making them feel welcome?

New hires should feel welcomed and expected on their first day on the job.

We have all been the new guy or new gal at work.  The first day in a new job is an exciting and sometimes terrifying experience.  As it is, the first day in a new job is overwhelming.  You receive so much information in a short period that you feel that your head will explode.  However, feeling overwhelmed and excited is normal.  Occasionally, new hires people see and experience things during that day that make them think if they should stay or go. 

On the first day in a new job, new hires should feel welcomed

Some companies use welcome gifts to make them feel appreciated.  Things like mugs, shirts, lanyards, squeeze balls, or a bag with the company logo make good welcome gifts.  However, other things are critical to making that feeling last.

There are things that leaders should ensure during the first day of the new member of their team. New hires should feel not only welcomed but expected. The hiring manager and supervisor should be ready to receive them. They show readiness by making time for introductions and providing information. For instance, walking the work area for quick introductions is a way to make them feel welcomed. Moreover, when new hires receive key information like an overview of the role and discussing the job description they feel expected.

Give people direction

People need to receive direction, little things that facilitate their introduction to the company. Anything that helps them to know who is in charge of what can help. For example, an org chart helps to learn that information.

Another handy piece of information is a cheat sheet with the contacts for payroll, benefits, IT services, and others. A different kind of direction comes from the department and personal goals. That communication should happen within the first month of the arrival.

New hires should not feel excluded 

Not feeling excluded or lost is critical to feeling like part of the team. Each industry has its jargon, and many companies use acronyms. There is nothing like not knowing those terms or understanding the conversation to feel confused. A glossary of the industry and company terms and acronyms should be part of the welcome package.

Arriving at your new job to find that your workspace and equipment are ready for you is another way to make you feel expected. People knew that you were coming and took the time to prepare your space, computer, and other details.

Leaders who ensure the preparation and execution of those details make new hires feel part of the team. Also, they show respect, a good sign that will make your new team member feel relieved and confident about accepting being part of the company.

Gratitude and leadership

I often remember my grandparents because they were my inspiration and role models. Through their actions and their stories, I learned about gratitude.   Even when money was often in short supply, food on the table was never a problem.  Therefore, saying thanks for whatever we had to eat that day was a meaningful part of our mealtime.  When I complained or said I did not like it, my grandma’s answer was always the same.  She will say that we must be grateful for what we receive and what we have.

Gratitude is being thankful for something you received or have.  This positive emotion occurs after acknowledging the subject’s value, what it means to you, and appreciating the people that make it happen.  One way to show respect to your team is by validating their accomplishments and showing gratitude.    

Show gratitude to be a good leader

Your team is critical to accomplishing the business goals.  This statement is true regardless of how much you know or how effective you are.

The boss does not need to know everything.  Humble leaders know that and do not care to ask for help when facing a problem.  Moreover, they are good at acknowledging the support and appreciating those who provide it.  Acting upon gratitude by saying it aloud is a way to show respect.  Also, it is a way to admit that you could not have done on your own, which only a humble leader will do.

Reflection and gratitude

One thing that does not come easy for a leader or anybody else is to stop and think.  It is far more common to keep going making decisions and moving forward.  Sometimes, this happens even when we are not sure if we are going in the right direction.  However, as with most things, you can build the habit of practicing gratitude.  

Good leaders keep a space on their leader standard work for reflection.  A continuous improvement culture is about learning, experimenting, and reflection on the results to keep learning and improving.  Gratitude and reflection go hand in hand.  While we reflect on the outcome of our actions, we realize the contribution of each team member and how it affects the result.  In continuous improvement, we win, or we learn.  For that reason, every contribution matters.  For instance, every team action led to accomplishing the goal or learning how to do it better next time.

But you need to act upon it

If we pause and reflect each day, that moment will impact our success in the long run.  As leaders, we cannot take our employees for granted.  Being thankful for their contributions, for supporting the business, and for being team members.  Appreciate their commitment to improving processes and creating value for the company customers. More importantly, express your gratitude, let them know that you recognize the value of their actions, and appreciate them.  As Gertrude Stein said, silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.

Planning the value-stream map event

Planning the value stream map event is critical for success, do not take shortcuts.

Lack of visibility and clarity are common mistakes while planning all kinds of events.  Most of the time, the reason is not enough time spent on planning.  Given that it is a strategic tool, planning the value stream map event is crucial for success.  For that reason, you should ensure to complete this step without shortcuts.  This is the second post from a series dedicated to VSM. You can read the first part here.

Aim to provide clarity while planning the value stream mapping event

Ensure clarity about what is the subject by stating the scope of the event.  Describe what triggers the process, where it starts, and where it finishes.  Also, think about regulations, policies, or critical procedures that cannot change.  Those are the limitations or boundaries that cannot be crossed or change during the exercise.  In addition, indicate the specific conditions for the process map.  Does the map is for one product or service or a family of products or services?  Are you mapping the process for new customers or existing customers?

Based on the objective of the event and the process itself, determine how you will measure success. What metrics will you use to measure progress?  Learn the process’s actual and forecasted volumes.  Furthermore, the types of tasks manual or automatic, machines, or technology used.  That information supports the mapping discussion where capacity, inventory volumes, and staff are conversation points.  Besides, you should gather relevant data to accelerate those conversations.

The VSM team for the event

During planning, you also choose your mapping team.  The team should be a multi-disciplinary group representing all the functions along the value stream.  Because the VSM is a high-level map for strategic purposes, team members are managers and above.  In other words, people who have the authority to approve changes, assign resources and change current strategies.  To facilitate effectiveness, limit the number of team members to 5-10 people.

The focus of the preparation stage is to get clarity and information.  However, that is not the only objective.  Like with any kaizen event, you need to communicate its purpose.  Gaining support from leadership before the event starts is convenient for success.  For that reason, ensure that all leaders know what you want to accomplish and why.

The facilitator must ensure that all team members have a basic understanding of value stream mapping. Also, they need to know the basics of lean manufacturing principles.  For instance, knowing what waste is, is critical to achieving the mapping objective.  If there is a knowledge gap, then it should be closed before the event.

There is more regarding the planning the value stream map event

Another activity for this stage is to determine who is the owner or champion of the value stream.  That is the person accountable for the performance of the value stream that is the subject of the mapping activity.

Other planning actions are choosing the date(s) of the event and location.  For instance, to ensure that all necessary equipment and materials are available.  In addition, to coordinate break times and snacks or lunch. 

Once the plan is complete, it is time to share it with the event sponsor and the champion.  If all agree, the next step is the event itself.  In part 3 of this series, we will address the first step of the value stream mapping event, draw, and understand the current state.

What are the steps to create a value stream map?

Value stream mapping is a high-level tool where we can see the process from request to delivery.  It is used to create strategy.

Value Stream Map (VSM) is a high-level tool used by leadership for strategic planning. It represents the flow of material and information through the value stream. It is a tool that allows you to see waste.  In addition, you can create your plan to eliminate it.  However, this is not a one-person tool.  For best results, organize a kaizen event to create the value stream map with a multi-disciplinary team.

Things to do prior to create a value stream map 

Like any other kaizen event or improvement activity, planning is critical for success.  During the planning stage, the facilitator will guide the team to prepare for the VSM event.  The preparation includes details such as team composition, scope, and limitations.  

Steps to create the value stream map

At the kaizen event, the team must complete three critical steps.

  1. Draw and understand the current state map.
  2. Design and draw the future state map.
  3. Develop the plan to arrive at the future state.

Understand what you want to accomplish before start drawing

What is the motivation or reason for wanting to do a value stream map?  Do you want to understand how the organization works from order requests to product or service delivery?  Or is there a need to learn how to serve your customers better?  The objective of the event must be clear before executing the planning phase.  

Knowing what you want to learn from the VSM facilitates the process of forming the team.  You want to have a cross-functional team of managers and decision-makers from all the areas that cover the process under study.  Remember, this process map is a high-level study of the process; the purpose is to make tactical decisions.

Planning is so crucial that I will dedicate an entire post to talk about it in detail.  More posts will follow with the different steps of the value stream mapping process.

How do you identify all the steps in the value stream?

Drawing a value stream map enables the process of identifying the steps in the value stream.

The value stream is all the steps required to bring a product or service from order to delivery.  The first lean principle is to define value from the customer’s point of view.  The second is to identify all the steps in the value stream and eliminate waste.  How do you determine those steps?

Identifying the steps in the value stream

A value stream map (VSM) represents the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service from order to delivery.  You identify value-add activities using the customer’s lenses as a reference.  This visual representation helps to accomplish the goal of eliminating waste within and between processes.  

The first step is to determine the scope and form the team to draw the map.  You need to decide the boundaries of the VSM event to be clear about what process you will be working on.  A process can start with the suppliers or the customer’s request.  Similarly, it can end with the end of the process at the site or the delivery to the customer.

In general, during the VSM event the team will complete the following steps.

  1. Determine the process family.
  2. Draw the current state map.
  3. Determine and draw the future state map.
  4. Draft a plan to arrive at the future state.

Benefits of the value stream map

Drawing a VSM enables a high-level view of the process, which uncovers where the stream stops.  Many times this map is the first time that people see the entire process from start to finish.  Therefore, it brings clarity to what happens between departments and the challenges associated.  For instance, it helps to see the materials flow and the information management as well.

The conversation around the drawing activity promotes discussions regarding efficiency, resources, and individual processes themselves.  The depiction of the process crosses departmental lines, which breaks silo thinking.  As a result, teamwork and collaboration drive the brainstorming process seeking improvement ideas.  Furthermore, it conveys the flow of action plans to execute those ideas.  

Another word about identifying the steps

Drawing the map is not the objective or the most meaningful thing of the VSM.  What matters is the thinking process to identify the process steps and identify the value of each one.  Moreover, the conversations around the subject, the collaboration within departments, and the clarity to see the opportunities for improvements.

In the next post, I will write more about the steps to draw the value stream map.