Learning Paths International Blog
How to Get Your Employees Up-to-Speed in Record Time
Comments Off on Quotes for Training
Category: Learning Principles

TwainI always like having a few good quotes when speaking or delivering training.  Mark Twain had a great gift for stating what a lot of us have experienced.  Here are a couple of my favorites that you might like to use.

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”

“All generalizations are false, including this one.”

“Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.”

“It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others–and less trouble.”



Tags: education, expereince, learning, Twain
Comments Off on Is Speed a Good Measure of Learning?
Category: Learning Principles

As learners become more proficient and more confident they will pick-up speed. In this short video, you will see a high performer. He’s moving quickly but he’s not rushing. You also see that speeding up doesn’t mean making more errors. Proficiency really means speed and accuracy.

Speed should be part of your measurement scheme for training as well as how you design and use practice. The question is how to you build in both speed and accuracy? Let’s take a couple of examples. First, if you looked at two assemblers on a production line. The first is assembling 5 parts per hour and another is assembling 8 parts per hour. Both have less than a 1% error rate. So what’s the difference? The faster assembler:

  • Gets everything organized and laid out before starting.
  • Follows a disciplined best practice process
  • Maintains a clean and organized work area
  • Knows what to do when there is a problem
  • Does things right the first time

Second, let’s look at two agents in a call center.  One has an average handle time of 5:15 and the other 3:45. Assuming they have similar customer satisfaction scores, here’s what the faster agent might be doing:

  • Speaking in a confident and fluid manner
  • Asking good questions and listening before taking action
  • Navigating to the right screen in the most efficient manner
  • Using all shortcut keystrokes
  • Knowing when to escalate a call or get help

Once you know what makes one person faster than another, you can measure it and begin to work on it in training. Often the key to speed is getting enough practice repetition. Try pouring a liquid from one paper cup to another.  The first time is slow with a lot of spilling. After 100 tries, it’s faster and more accurate.

Speed is one of those observable things that indicate a higher level of skill.  If someone is fast and still makes a lot of errors, it’s a sign that more training and practice is needed.  The same with someone who is slow but accurate.

Join us for more discussion on Learning in the Linkedin Learning Paths group. http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Learning-Paths-713007?gid=713007&trk=hb_side_g


Tags: assembler, call center, learning, learning paths, proficiency, speed, training
Comments Off on Learning Paths: The “Moneyball” of Training
Category: Learning Paths, Learning Principles

“Moneyball” was recently released as a movie starring Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s Coach Billy Beane.   Moneyball is a story about how to create a true competitive advantage by applying science and statistics, rather than traditional wisdom, to select, train and coach players.  In the movie, the Oakland A’s find success by focusing on the right numbers, the numbers that truly drive performance.  Beyond being a good story, this metric approach was a game changer for sports performance.

Learning Paths takes a similar approach.  We start by defining success in results-oriented and measurable terms.  We create a proficiency definition that is very different from a traditional competency model or needs assessment.  Instead of measuring what employees know or their skill level, we look at what they actually do and produce.  It’s the difference from being able to pass the test and actually doing the work on the job.

Once we have a clear definition of proficiency, we use the next most important measure, “time to proficiency.”  Since every minute employees are less than 100% proficient has financial impact on the organization and on employee performance and engagement, we can quantify the benefits of getting employees up to speed faster.  This is the basic business case for Learning Paths and why it’s the “Moneyball” of training.  Trainers can learn a lot about the importance of Learning Paths to rethink training  from watching Moneyball.





Tags: learning, Moneyball, statistics, training
Comments Off on What Really Makes Training Stick?
Category: Instructional Design, Learning Principles

I was listening to the book Sixkill by Robert Parker.  It’s the final Spencer book.  There was a very useful scene about how to make training stick.  Spencer is teaching his protoge’ Zebulon Sixkill, how to box.  He does a quick demonstration of a new move.  Zebulon says, “That’s a great move, I hope I can remember it.”  Spencer replies, “You don’t try to remember it, you repeat it until it become motor memory.  You won’t have time to think about it when you need it.”

So as you set out to train anything such as making a cold call, leading a team or making a presentation, how many repetitions are needed to eliminate the need to remember.  I don’t think one or two role plays are enough.

Tags: learning, learning paths, Learning Principles, measurement, training
Comments Off on Traditional Selling – A thing of the past?
Category: Learning Principles, Proficiency

I remember back in the early 1980s contrasting a new way of selling to so called “traditional sales.”  In those days, things like consultative selling, strategic selling, counselor selling, SPIN selling and more where all become popular…and they all were a contrast to traditional selling.

So the big question is, I know what traditional selling was in 1980 but what is it now 31 years later?

This might help the discussion.  Below are some of the most popular sales books and their copyright dates.

  1. Counselor Selling – Larry Wilson 1972
  2. How to Sell Anything to Anybody – Joe Girrad 1977
  3. How to Master the Art of Selling – Tom Hopkins 1980
  4. Secrets of Closing the Sale – Zig Ziglar 1986
  5. Spin Selling – Neil Rackman 1988
  6. Strategic Selling – Miller/Heiman 1988
  7. Consultative Sales – Mack Hannan 1988
  8. Conceptual Selling  – Miller/Heiman 1989
  9. Relationship Selling – Jim Cathcard 1990
  10. Non-Manipulative Selling – Anthony Alessandra 1992
  11. Collaborative Selling – Anthony Alessandra 1993
  12. Selling with NLP – Tracy Johnson 1994
  13. Advance Selling Skills – Brian Tracy 1996

Tags: collaborative sales, consultative sales, Sales, sales training, strategic selling
Comments Off on 1000 to 1 Makes a Big Difference
Category: Instructional Design, Learning Principles

A lot of training theories are targeted on training an individual or small group.  That’s often why the conversation comes down to tailoring or customizing the training to the individual.  It’s also why there is a need to have a lot of instructors to keep class size down.

However, the game changes significantly when you need to train large numbers.  It’s not uncommon to train 500, 1000 or even more employees or students, often at the same time…. and there’s never an unlimited budget.

In a school setting the answer is always more and more teachers, more and more classrooms and more and more school buildings.  Even with all the new technology, that’s still the basic formula.  In a business setting, that’s usually cost prohibitive.

So what’s the answer.  I think you need to start by looking at what needs to be trained and determine what part of it doesn’t require individual attention or one-on-one coaching.  You could also look at what part of the training needs to be the same for everyone.  Most content delivery fits this category.  Here’s an example:

I was thinking about teaching history the other day.  I actually have a degree in history.  I can’t think of any lecture by any teacher that I can remember anything about.  I can however, remember the details of the dozens of history channel shows I’ve watched.  There’s something to be said for professional talent and production values.  So instead of having thousands of history lectures delivered every day, (all different) they could be done better and cheaper with programming like the history channel.  Now the teachers could do follow-up discussions and analysis instead or assign and follow-up on projects.

So how would you handle 1000 students without an unlimited budget?

Tags: education, history, learning, schools, steve rosenbaum, training
Comments Off on Ah..If We Could Only Train Customers Instead
Category: Instructional Design, Learning Principles

One of the problems with sales and customer service training is that we can only have control over one side of the conversation.  You can craft the best opening lines, set of questions or answers to objections only to find that customers can react wildly different.  Take something as simple as starting a cold call by asking the customer, “how are you?”

One customer might respond with a friendly, “Thank you for asking.  I’m great how are you!”  While another customer might answer, “Why do you want to know?” or “what are you selling?”  Appearantly one of these customers didn’t go through training.

On the other hand, some customers have been through training and know what you’re trying to do.  Ever hear a customer say, “Nice trial close. Why don’t you answer my question instead?”

One thing that happens a lot is that salespeople learn something new in class and then they try it out with their first customer.  If it goes well, they might try it again.  If it goes badly, they often say, “Well, that doesn’t work, I’m never going to do that again.”

Take a popular model like SPIN selling, really a pretty good question asking model.  Now try it on a customer who doesn’t understand some of the words your using, or isn’t listening or is mad about something else and it doesn’t work well at all.  What do you do when you ask your best closing question and the customer says, “What..oh..I was thinking about something else.  So what are we talking about.”

So in desiging sales training, it’s important to account for a wider range of situations with a lot more practice.  Or..you can just put your customers through training.

Tags: closing, learning, obections, Sales, sales training
Comments Off on Healthcare Reform
Category: Learning Paths, Learning Principles

In recent weeks I’ve spoken with people in several healthcare or health insurance organizations. Each of them has mentioned Healthcare Reform and all of the number of changes large and small it will mean for their respective businesses. Sounds like a tremendous amount of learning or relearning will need to take place.  So..here’s the big questions of the day.

What are healthcare organizations doing to prepare to meet this need quickly, effectively, and at the lowest possible cost?

Tags: health, health care, learning, learning paths, training
Comments Off on The Ups and Downs of Learning Styles
Category: Instructional Design, Learning Principles

While you can find research on both sides about the value of learning styles, I find that it can have both an upside and downside in designing and delivering training.  One the upside they encourage you to use a wider range of training delivery which results in more interesting training that holds participant’s attention better.  If you looked at all your training and it was all done in the same way, it’s probably not as effective as it could be.

On the downside, it’s easy to go overboard.  If you take the position that everyone is unique and different so everything has to be customized to the individual, it can be difficult to get anything done.  Often it eliminates the sharing of best practices which tend to be for everyone.

I always like to underline that these are PREFERRED learning styles and not absolutes.  A visual learner can learn something from listening to the radio.  An auditory learner doesn’t look at a picture without reaction or interest.

There are also things that apply to everyone no matter how they learn.  For example, to master a skill, everyone and every style needs practice…and usually a lot of it.  Take something as simple as learning how to make a presentation.  You really don’t get good at it until you’ve made a lot of presentations.

Tags: learning, learning paths, learning priniciples, learning styles, training
Comments Off on Easy to Teach Vs. Easy to Learn
Category: Instructional Design, Learning Principles

I think there are a lot of things we do that make it easier to design and deliver training that actually make it more difficult for students and participants to learn.  Here’s an example.  When you separate soft skills and technical skill, it allows you to assign design and development to specialists.  They know their area well but often not the other area.   The problem is that students don’t use soft skills and technical skills separately.  They use them together.  Therefore, learning them separately not only takes longer but that integration may never happen.

Looks at this in sales training.  You often see learning sales automation taught separately from prospecting.  You might also see things like networking, social media, industry knowledge and others as separate topics.  What’s easier to learn is if you teach salespeople to build their prospect list in the sales automation tool and use it to generate the prospecting campaigns and planning that will use things like social media.  It’s a matter of teaching to an more robust outcome rather than breaking things down into pieces.

School curriculums are great examples.  They are set up in a way that is easy to teach and administer.  Everything is neatly put into small boxes (years, semisters, courses).  What’s hard on students is figuring out what to do with all these pieces when they are done.

Tags: acquisiton, Certification, learning, learning paths, merger, organization, training, workshop

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