Learning Paths International Blog
How to Get Your Employees Up-to-Speed in Record Time
Comments Off on Creating & Implementing Learning Paths Webinar
Category: Learning Paths



Date: Wednesday, September 17th

Time: 10:00 to 11:00 am Central Time

Presenter: Steve Rosenbaum, President Learning Paths International

Registration: Learningpaths.com


Learning Paths is the fastest and most effective way to reduce time to performance. Hundreds of companies in more than eight countries have used the Learning Paths approach for onboarding new employees, improving performance of current employees as well as leadership development.


This webinar is presented by Steve Rosenbaum, the author of the book Learning Paths: Increase profits by reducing the time it takes to get employees up-to-speed (Pfeiffer and ASTD Press).  In this webinar, you will how Learning Paths initiatives lead to speeding up design and development, improving measurability and overall results.


In this webinar learn about:


  • How to define and measure proficiency
  • Map, improve and accelerate the learning process
  • Transform the way your organization looks at training


To Register Go To:  Learningpaths.com


Tags: learning, learning paths, performance, proficiency, time to performance, webinar
Comments Off on Reducing Time to Proficiency: Big vs. Small Company?
Category: Instructional Design, Learning Paths

"learn" written on blackboard with apple, books

Reducing time to proficiency is an important and highly effective way to improve results while driving down the cost of training. I’ve done this type of project in companies with more than 500,000 employees and less than 5. Both size companies can benefit greatly, but the projects are different. Large companies have a lot of stuff and a lot of infrastructure. There is often a lot of measurement and historical data to work with. Having enough training is not usually the problem.


These projects are more of a process of getting things in the right order, getting rid of what doesn’t add value and structuring the informal coaching and mentoring. Because there is so much stuff to work with the low hanging fruit is everywhere.


Small companies usually have little or nothing to work with. It’s more of a blank slate. The approach is usually not to start building a lot of training, but rather to look for what might exist in places like colleges, associations or online. This training is then arranged and structured with all the informal on-the-job training and coaching required.


The trick with large companies is to get them to accept a change in focus and approach from curriculums and competencies toward Learning Paths and proficiencies. The trick with small companies is to give them enough support when they lack internal expertise or resources. Keep in mind that these projects are about improvement and not problem solving. This means you can start with a baseline and drive to the next level and then when done drive to a higher level.

Tags: curriculum, design, instruction, learning, learning path, proficiency, training
Comments Off on How to Get Employees Up-to-Speed in Record Time – Webinar
Category: Learning Paths

Date: 2/2/2012

Time: 11:00 to 12:00 CST


Every minute employees aren’t fully productive and up-to-speed has a significant financial effect on any organization. In this webinar, you will learn about the secrets of speeding up  time to full productivity by 30 to 50% or more through the proven Learning Paths methodology.

The Learning Path methodology combines the best of accelerated learning, change management and quality improvement to the learning process to dramatically reduce time, waste, variability and cost.

The Learning Paths methodology  is based on the book Learning  Paths by  Steve Rosenbaum (Pfeiffer and ASTD Press).

In this webinar learn about:

1. How to define and measure proficiency
2. Map, improve and accelerate the learning process
3. Transform the way your organization looks at training

Who Should Attend
This webinar is for any one involved in training, human resources and employee development.  In addition, this webinar will be of special interest to sales and operations managers who want to address issues of improving performance and reducing turnover.  This webinar also provides an overview of Learning Paths for anyone considering attend the Learning Paths Certification Workshop.


Tags: learning, performance, proficiency, steve rosenbaum, training, up-to-speed, webinar
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 Path for Critical Positions
Category: Uncategorized

Learning Paths are designed to quickly improve performance and reduce time to proficiency for critical front line positions. These positions are critical because they have direct contact with customers and are really the public face of any organization.

After developing a measurable proficiency statement, our approach is to create a single Learning Path that goes from day one to proficiency.  This path can then be customized to each employee based on experience level and past performance.  

For new employees the Learning Path provides an in-depth step-by-step process to become fully proficient.  For incumbent employees,  it makes it easier to determine what they are missing and take them from 80 or 90% proficient to 100% proficient.

Many functions such as sales have a common core of proficiencies and learning activities.  When we work with these functions,  we are able to speed up development by starting with the common core and then  incorporating each client’s specific job requirements and information.  

Tags: book, competency, learning, learning paths, proficiency, training

There is always a lot of criticism about teaching to the test.  So is it a good idea or a bad idea?  I’d say there is absolutely nothing wrong with it if… and it’s a big if, the test is right and meaningful.  unfortunately, standardize multiple choice tests really aren’t the right tests.  When you test on what students know, you’re really not testing on what they can do with that knowledge. 

Here’s maybe a better example of what I mean.  Let’s say the test is to read at a 12th grade level at 650 word per minute with 95% comprehension.  Now, how would you teach to that test?  You’d probably arrange for a lot of practice, testing speed and comprehension as you go.  You would have to teach a lot of reading techniques beyond just the basics.  At then end if someone passed the test, you would have a very valuable outcome that wouldn’t stop the next day after the test.

Here are some examples of tests you can teach to in a business environment.  Test #1: Operating for 60 days accident free while meeting all safety standards.  Test #2: Selling 2 new accounts per month at a predefined dollar amount   Test #3: Landing the plane 50 consecutive times without mishap.

So if teachers are teaching to the test and your not getting the results you want, you’ve got to change the test so the only passing grade is to get those results.

Tags: instruction, learning, learning paths, proficiency, testing, training
Comments Off on Safety and Learning Paths
Category: Uncategorized

We’ve worked in a lot of manufacturing plants. Safety is always a critical issue. Consider that when new employees start they really aren’t safe. They can be a hazard to themselves and others. Over time they learn to be safe. However, the longer this takes the greater the risk. So part of every proficiency definition should be several statements about safety or they should be embedded in the other proficiency statements. There are both general rules of safety but also specific safety standards for each task or set of tasks. This needs to be reflected.

Tags: learning, learning paths, manufacturing, proficiency, safety
Comments Off on What I Learned from Mike Tyson about Training!
Category: Learning Paths, Learning Principles

Mike Tyson said, “Everyone’s got a plan until they get hit.” This is a very important concept for training and explains why a lot of training doesn’t stick or transfer to the job. Consider what happens to customer service training when an employee fresh out of training picks up the phone and gets an irate customer. Everything they learn tends to go out the window. They will tend to question their training and say it doesn’t work and go back to the old ways. Usually training isn’t intensive enough to really master a skill in all the critical situations. One or two role plays in a sales class isn’t enough to do more than just get a feel for how to use a new sales process. It may take 50 to 100 real calls with real customers. So I’d look at any training program and ask the question, “Is there enough real practice (getting hit in the face), to make training stick.

Tags: learning path, Learning Principles, proficiency, training
Comments Off on When Good Isn’t Good Enough
Category: Instructional Design, Proficiency, Quality
“Welcome aboard ladies and gentleman, this is your captain Bill Johnson. We have clear skies all the way to Miami. Just to let you know, this is my first time flying the Boeing 757. Not to worry, I’ve been fully checkout including passing the landing test with a near perfect 95%.”

95% is a great score. You can get a 4.0 at Harvard and graduate with honors scoring 95% on all your test. However, anything less than 100% on landing a plane is considered failure. I’ve built a small mountain of training over the years and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “What should be setting as a passing score for this class?” Most of the time everyone is so concerned about what happens if someone fails the test, that they want to set the bar as low as possible.
While you might think that the pilot example is a little extreme, let me build the case for 100% and then show you how raising the passing score begins to change everything. Teaching to 100% is very different than teaching to 75%.

Let’s take something as simple as learning to add, subtract, multiple and divide. On a 50 question test if you only got five wrong, that’s 90% right. The teacher might give you a gold star or write GOOD WORK across the top. Later on your first job, you’re running a cash register. Using you’re A+ math skills, you give out correct change 90% of the time, not bad. Well maybe not, you eventually get fired because the register never balances at the end of the day.

Consider other common jobs and situations. A large part of the work in call centers involves giving out product information, taking orders and answering questions. If every agent, scored 75% or better on all their training this means that as much as 25% of the time they are giving out wrong information or making errors on your order. If you were president of the company, would this be okay with you? Before you answer, consider how much these errors cost you in terms of lost customers and lost sales.
Safety is a big deal in every manufacturing plant. If you get 75% right on all the safety tests, it’s a little like only losing a couple of fingers, if you’re lucky. Safety is something that requires 100%. Good simply isn’t good enough.

Remember 10th grade history? History is filled with dates, names, places and events. How much history is it okay to get wrong or mixed up? Does it matter that the treaty of Versailles ended World War I and not World War II? Anyway, over the years, most people forget most of what they learned in 10th grade so it may not be that serious.
In business most jobs require getting things right. Often this doesn’t happen right out of training but as a result of a lot of practice on the job. From doctors to engineers to carpenters to pharmacists, there are severe consequences for getting things wrong, even little things. When a pharmacist makes one mistake in a 1000 when filling prescriptions, it’s a disaster.

Setting the bar high is only part of the equation. There is also a cumulative effect that happens over time. It’s easiest to see in a school setting. If from first to twelfth grade you get 90% right on all your tests, that means that the remaining 10% is a growing body of knowledge that’s wrong. It doesn’t seem like a lot on one test, but on several hundred is massive. That’s for a top student. For a C student getting 70%, that’s the same as getting everything for 3 ½ years wrong.

Tags: learning, learning path, proficiency, training

The real starting point for providing the best training and managing costs is your set of learning principles. Learning principles are your core beliefs about how people really learn. For most learning leaders, learning principles are things they know well but are never written down for everyone to see and follow.  Let’s start with a learning principles and see how it carries through designing and delivering training. Here’s a principle that I like, “People learn best by doing.” In other words, learning happens and sticks when students practice and use new knowledge and skills in real situations. This of course, is a principle of action learning.

Now if you are going to design or buy a new training program, you or your staff would make sure it fit this principle. There would always be a lot of practice and follow-up on the job. There would probably be less classroom time and more on-the-job training. I recommend that learning leaders post and write a description with examples of 5 to 10 learning principles. If down the road you decide to add, change or modify these principles, you need to make these changes in your list and republish them. I always find that it’s hard for people to work from a blank piece of paper so here are a few suggested learning principles to help you get started. Cross out the one’s you don’t like and rewrite and expand the one’s you do. Then add your own.

Suggested Learning Principles:

1. Mastery only comes from practice
2. Change in performance is the best measure of training effectiveness
3. Classroom time is best used for practice, application, and discussion
4. Training needs to account for the different learning styles of participants
5. Training should be sequenced in the way it’s done on the job
6. Completing training should require mastery and not just participation
7. Training is only effective if it’s supported by management
8. The design of training should always start with a clear set of learning objectives

There are a lot of good models, theories and paradigms about learning that serve as idea starters for developing a set of learning principles. Just a word of caution, a lot of those models are focused on knowledge acquisition. Knowing and doing are two different things. In a work setting, principles should focus on improve the way people do their jobs. It’s not enough just to pass the test performance needs to improve. Once you’ve published these principles, the next step is to establish them as the way training is done for the organization. Not everyone will quickly understand these principles, agree with them or know how to apply them. However, you were hired as the learning expert and you need to have others in the organization look to you as the expert.

Start by getting your team on board. You can engage your team to help you build these principles including a strategy for implementing and advocating these principles. Your staff should be trained on how to talk about these principles as they go from project to project. When you review design documents and other work product of your staff, ask the question, “How does this fit with our learning principles?”

Good vendors are an extension of your staff. While they bring in expertise to enhance your capabilities, they need to fit in as well. Good vendors should have their own set of learning principles and hopefully they will be in alignment with yours. However, they need to know your set of learning principles and that they are the final word.
Finally, it’s worth spending time with line managers and executives sharing these learning principles. Don’t wait until they come to you with a request for a team building, communications or sales course. That’s often too late. Explain that for you to manage costs and really get the best training, it’s critical to follow these principles.

Ultimately you cut costs when everyone moves in the same direction without having to start from ground zero on every project. For example, when a company starts on quality improvement they might pick something like six sigma as an approach. When a department begins to work on quality, they don’t revisit this decision but work with the methodology in place. In many cases, it’s more important to have an agreed upon way of work than exactly what the method is

Tags: lean, learning, learning path, Learning Principles, proficiency

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