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What is the best way to teach your team about Lean?

What is the best way to teach your team about Lean?

Because our website provides such a wide range of Lean training materials, this is one of the most common questions that I am asked. The flexibility of our training modules means that instructors have to make more decisions about how to put all the materials to use.

I tend to answer this question with a question. In response, I ask, “What are you trying to accomplish?” The style of training should be dependent upon the results you are seeking.

In general, there are two typical purposes of training.

  1. Just in time training to accomplish a specific task. In this situation, the training matches a specific need. A package might be assembled to train a kaizen team immediately before their project. Leaders may also teach targeted individuals as they are assigned work. As an example, an individual may be given 5S training prior to organizing a print area, or they may receive kanban training in order to get the area’s materials in order. This type of training may be delivered to individuals or to teams, and may be taught by a designated instructor or by a leader in a mentor being role.
  2. Workforce development training. This type of training is much more generic in nature. Instruction is provided to team members without a specific task or project in mind. For example, leadership training may be offered to individuals who would like, at some point, to become supervisors or managers. Problem-solving training also falls into this category. It is a good skill for members of a team to possess. This type of training can vary substantially in its formality. Some companies develop a corporate university with detailed programs of instruction. Others might train subjects during brownbag lunch sessions. In some cases, basic skills might even be taught during morning standup meetings.

So, when establishing a training plan, deciding why you want particular individuals trained is a good place to start. The next logical step is to identify a curriculum that matches that need. At that point is important to determine if the trainees’ leaders have the skills to teach the materials themselves, or if an expert needs to be brought in.

Finally, the instructors need to create a schedule and select the methodology of the training. This will depend in large part upon the existing skills of the trainees and how deeply the topic will be covered.

Some key points to keep in mind…

  • Consider whether classes should be arranged by skill levels, or if it makes sense to have a mixture of talent. In the latter case, the more experienced students can act as mentors.
  • Try to use hands-on exercises whenever possible.
  • Poorly done on-the-job training can create poor habits; well-managed on-the-job training in conjunction with an experienced teacher can be highly effective.
  • Check your instructors to make sure your organization is giving a consistent message.
  • Try to use same training materials throughout the organization. This is especially important if there is a lot of internal mobility.
  • For some topics, lectures can be effective. For most Lean materials, though small instructor to student ratios are more effective.
  • Your organization should strive to be self-sufficient in its training efforts. Stay away from external instructors that will not allow you to use their materials down the road.

 

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