Rethinking Training

Over the past few weeks, I read a few articles that really impacted how I think about training for VDC, or for any transfomative technology and process.

Habit Loop
A few weeks ago, I discussed how the "habit loop" could impact BIM adoption. It's continued to take up brain space as we intensify internal training efforts.

It isn't enough to consider "traditional practices" as the habit to change; we need to break it down further. For example: referring drawings, doing a hand takeoff or issuing an RFI. I'm still thinking through the cue, reward and routine for each of those things - trust me, I'll let you know when I figure it out.

However, we did make one change to our monthly training program based on the concept of changing a habit. Rather than having a 'Navisworks training' session, for example, we're training based on problem-solving. We start by presenting an example of a small, but frequent issue that comes up on jobsites (i.e. needing a dimension). We then walk through the technical steps (regardless of software) needed to resolve the issue.

Besides monthly training sessions, we are scheduling 20 hour boot camps for our operations team, spread over a period of a work week. Each boot camp has a specific focus: digital mock-ups, data extraction, coordination, etc.

An improvement. But then...I read this post on daily practice, by Jeff Goins which led me to Jack Cheng's 30 minutes a day.

Daily Practice
Basically, brief daily practice is better than weekly (or monthly) intensives. Cheng backs it up with Pimsleur's 1967 "A Memory Schedule" which I opted not to read. (afterall, Cheng summarizes the paper in the graphic below).
Source: Jack Cheng (jackcheng.com/30-minutes-a-day)

At first I was thinking about daily training for our team (supers, PMs and modelers alike). Should we (and could we) email out a quick daily training exercise, one that could be completed anywhere? Maybe. But, it seems that Cheng and Pimsleur suggest a schedule that requires less frequency - as long as it is spaced properly. (So maybe I do need to read the full Pimsleur paper for proper timing?)

Cost of Training (An Aside)
Training is an investment. We do all of our VDC training internally, so there is prep time (combination of IT and VDC), class time (trainer & attendees), and then follow up (VDC and attendees). Although I don't get push back on setting up trainings, it is nice to know that science backs up the value of training. According to "The Shadow Value of Employer-Provided Training" (which I found via HBS), "employer-provided training has the same effect on job satisfaction as a 17.7% net wage increase".

Regardless, it seems like the Pimsleur training method would cost less to implement than a daily, weekly or even monthly training program.

A New Approach to Training 
I am still a little fuzzy on combining these concepts, but right now, I'm picturing something like this:

  • Organize training based on tasks, similar to our monthly sessions and bootcamps
  • Set a training schedule that mimics Pimsleur's methods. Assuming the initial interval is likely less than day, 12 week training for a task could look like this: 
    • Week 1: 4 hour session on Monday; 2 hours Tuesday and 4 hours on Friday
    • Week 2: 2 hour session on Tuesday
    • Week 3: 2 hour session on Tuesday
    • Week 4: 2 hour session on Thursday
    • Week 5: no training
    • Week 6: 2 hour session on Tuesday
    • Week 7: no training
    • Week 8: 2 hour session on Tuesday
    • Week 9 : no training
    • Week 10: 2 hour session on Tuesday
    • Week 11: no training
    • Week 12: 2 hour training session on Friday

At this point, another training session wouldn't be necessary until Week 15.

I still have a lot to think about with training, but as always, would appreciate any feedback on my thoughts and this approach various thoughts on this. How do you train now? Is it effective? Really? (How do you measure effectiveness?) If you could start over, how would you train?


Erik said...

Great post. I has me wondering if the training I've put in place is effective.

Quite a bit of what I have been involved in has been on-demand and self study. (i.e tutorial format)

It relies heavily on the users to take the initiative and that probably isn't as effective as other methods.

Bill said...

Hi Laura - Hope all is well…

We must be running in the same circles, as we have been re-thinking training and how to be a better learning organization.

Great links to Cheng, Pimsleur, etc!

I would suggest any “lecture based” or “one-on-one” training be scheduled in 90 minute cycles as we (our brains) can't hold much more in our short term memory. Another common memory issue is that most of us can only handle 5 to 7 new topics in one session (Jonah Lehrer – “How we decide”). Once digested and meaning is made (placed in long term memory) then it’s okay to expand.

Personally I like to throw topics out during an informal meeting or through a survey and grow training sessions from those topics. I do like to follow the ADDIE model when developing training.

Take care,

Laura Handler said...

Bill, These are all great points.

I finished 'How We Decide' a few months ago, but didn't think about to apply that thought to training. (Although I have been thinking about how it applies to the decision to 'to BIM' - another post for another time!)

Similar to your informal meeting discussions, I'm using some of our 'atomized' staff - who are now APM, ASupers & Cost Engineers - to brainstorm topics. It's been quite helpful.

Just googled ADDIE. Hadn't heard of it, but I'm hooked now. I feel like I'm doing a dissertation, just to develop a training program! Hmm, wonder if I can get credit?