Learning Paths International Blog
How to Get Your Employees Up-to-Speed in Record Time
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 The Secret to Rapid Instructional Design
Category: Instructional Design

MatchesI’ve been doing instructional design for more than 30 years, I will tell you with certainty that there is no technology or design model that will speed things up faster than avoiding those things that slow it down. When an executive says, we are going to move that new training program to 2nd quarter next year, that’s a lot of wasted time to make up. While there are a lot of things that slow down development, I want to give you my top 3.

1. Starting at the Bottom

Fast development requires the active support and participation of a high level project champion who can write a check if needed and dedicate people’s time to a project. When a designer asks a subject matter expert to participate in an interview, the SME might not get back for three weeks.  If the president merely makes a suggestion if the SME would be willing to participate, that SME is on your doorstep the next day. This is the difference between development in a few weeks versus development sometime this year.

2. Staring at the Blank Page

Blank page development takes forever. There are a lot of decisions that can be made in advance to get things going in the right direction. Just a few include: selecting and using a design model, developing a template for every deliverable in that model, creating style sheets including those for writing styles, creating libraries of activities that can be reused. For example, if you start every instructor-led training session with a unit called Welcome and Introduction, 90% of that unit is the same. Even if you change up how students introduce themselves, this takes less than 20 minutes. There are standard ways to do role plays, case studies, and team presentation. I know about 6 good ways to do role plays.  I can simply drop one in. If it seems like you’re having the same discussions every time you do a project, you’re probably wasting time.

3. Stuffing the Goose

I didn’t make this term up, but I like it. You have to know how much training you can actually do in an hour, a day and a week. When you overstuff training, you end up having to remove it later, or rework it, or retrain it. If someone gives you 100 PowerPoint slides to make into a two hour webinar, what’s the likelihood that’s going to work. I really doesn’t take a lot of experience to know how long things take.  I mean is it reasonable to do three role plays with a debrief in 20 minutes? That’s an hours worth of training if you do it right. So it’s a lot faster not to do three days of classroom training when you only have a day.

Here’s the challenge for most instructional designers, do you think you can convince others that what they are doing is slowing things down to a crawl?


Tags: design, learning, model, repaid, training
Comments Off on Lessons from Travel Agent Training
Category: Instructional Design

JFK-terminal-mapI’ve spent a lot of the last year building training for new travel agents.  Most people when they start a program like this start to think about an outline what they think travel agents need to know.  They need to know geography, their computer system, airlines, hotels, sales, etc.  Then they arrange them in nice neat little boxes like a typical school curriculum.  Usually there are lots and lot of tests.

We decided that this is totally the wrong approach.  What we looked at was what makes a travel agent valuable to the travel agency owner.  What they really value is for a new travel agent to be able to generate more in commissions and fees than they pay to have the travel agent work for them.  We were then able to define the proficiency statements that lead to this outcome.  For example, most leisure agents book a lot of Disney vacations.  So it makes sense to devote a lot of time to teach and practice how to book and sell Disney.  We identified each of the other destinations or types of travel that make up the vast majority of what travel agents handle.

We also built in a lot of practice in a lot of different ways.  You can’t role play who Disney trip and think you’ve got it mastered.  It’s more like 20 to 50.  Maybe more.  Also the real test is not getting 75% on a multiple choice test.  It’s listening to and observing students to see how they use their skills and knowledge in actual sales situations.  This program is multiple weeks of training and it’s one of the most interesting that I’ve ever worked on.

Tags: instructional design, learning, training, travel
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 What’s the value of paper and pencil tests?
Category: Instructional Design

Some people do well on a test and poorly on the job while others do poorly on a test and out perform others on the job. It may be that we are testing knowledge and not testing performance. I often think we use multiple choice, true and false, fill in the blanks and matching questions because they are easy to score especially for a large group. These types of question is built into a lot of Elearning.  It often matches up with a series of PowerPoint slides.

Along with this, there is always the question about what is a passing score.  Is it 70%, 80%, 90%?  I’d ask the question a little different way. What percentage of what your testing isn’t important to get right?  When a customer calls with a question and they get someone who got 85% right on the test, what happens?  Is it okay to give the customer a wrong answer 15% of the time.  Hopefully customers will only call about the 85%.

Tags: learning, learning paths, percentages, questions, testing, training
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 Mastering On-the-Job Training
Category: Instructional Design

I’ve been working this week on building an exercise or demonstration of how to do on-the-job training.  What I came up with, is using the example of how to teach someone to make the perfect fried egg.  There are a number of reasons why I think this example works well. First, there actually is a standard for how to fry an egg.  If you went to any Michelin star restaurant, they all would describe the standard in the same way.  There is a certain way a perfect fried egg looks, tastes and feels.  There is also an absolute safety standard for a fried egg.  You can’t serve raw or partially cooked eggs.

Second, this is something that has a lot of technique and takes practice.  Learning how to properly crack and drop an egg, getting the temperature of the pan right, gas versus electric stoves, etc. are all things that take practice.  For example, if the temperature in the pan isn’t right the egg will burn or cook unevenly.

With this background, you have a lot of choices of how you are going to teach cooking the perfect fried egg.  I don’t think giving out a written description or an SOP is going to be enough.  Let’s test this assumption.  Here are the directions for 1 fried egg sunny side up.

  1. Use an 8″ Tephlon or cast iron pan.
  2. Heat the pan on a medium heat.
  3. Heat 1/3 tsp of butter or oil until it just starts to bubble.
  4. Crack one egg into the center of the pan.
  5. Reduce heat to low.
  6. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the white is fully cooked.
  7. Season to taste.
  8. Remove with a spatula and put on a plate.

Okay, now go try that and see how you’ve done.  I would bet on anyone’s first try, we are going to get a lot of broken yokes, burnt edges, and uncooked whites.  Some will have given up and made their eggs over easy. (flip them over to cook the whites).

What’s missing is being able to see what a perfect egg looks like, watching how it’s done and getting practice with coaching.  It’s even missing a demonstration of what a perfect egg should taste like a feel like.  I’m not sure how many times you need to practice frying an egg to get it right, but I’m sure it’s more than 1.

I’ve assessed a lot of classroom training over the years for things like sales training.  It’s rather common for someone to teach a sales skill and then practice it with one or two role plays.  Then they wonder why no one can use that skill on the job.

How about a nice video.  Now that you’re hungry.  Let’s cook a steak.  After watching Gordon Ramsay show you how, do you think you can duplicate what he’s showing you?

Easy right?

Well I think this can make an interesting demo and get the point across about on-the-job training.



Tags: demo, fried eggs, learning, learning path, on-the-job, training
Comments Off on Busy Learning Paths Booth
Category: Learning Paths








While many of the other booths had little traffic, the Learning Paths booth was jammed.  The book you can see is the Chinese version of the Learning Paths book.









Tags: China, CSTD, development, learning, learning paths, steve rosenbaum, training
Comments Off on Pictures and Autographs
Category: Learning Paths






I spent most of a day signing Learning Paths books and taking pictures with attendees.  I signed several hundred books and posed for countless pictures.  Everywhere I went someone wanted to get there picture taken with me.  I felt like Santa at the mall the day before Christmas.  I guess we have a lot of fans in China.

Tags: China, CSTD, development, learning, learning paths, steve rosenbaum, training
Comments Off on Learning Paths Leading the Way in China
Category: Learning Paths

The first thing I was asked to do was to present the award for the top 10 CLOs in China.  I was  told by Raymond that they all know us very well.

I took this picture during the rehearsal for the speech.  This is what a room with a 1000 chairs looks like.

Here’s the LPI booth before the crowd enters the exhibit area.  The booth is being staffed by college interns who did a wonderful job talking about Learning Paths to the crowd.


Tags: China, CSTD, development, learning, learning paths, training

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