Building Bench: Analyze Your Current Level of Expertise Before Hiring and Training

thZHXF49YI   Guest Blogger Robert B. Camp, Getting to Lean

Any sports analyst can tell you that the depth of your bench (the number and skill of your players), determines your ability to play the entire game with intensity. In a business, the depth of your bench determines your ability to take on new projects, even when you are already working on some major contracts. It also determines the skill level of projects you can take on, and to a large degree, determines how quickly you can grow. In short, bench depth is as important in business as it is in sports.

I once worked with a client that wanted to grow 5X in the next two years. That was a tall order, so before we got ahead of ourselves, we base-lined the current state of the business. Although there were some material concerns, this business was largely built around installation labor of a technical product.

To quintuple in size in just two years, the existing labor force had to be at the top of their game. Moreover, the company either needed to hire or train new employees at a rapid pace, all while continuing to execute on their current contracts. That was a tall order and led us to conduct a rapid assessment of their present employees. To do this, we used a 3 steps process.

  1. We asked every leader to develop a list of the job titles that reported to them
  2. Next, we asked them to develop a list of skills required by each job title
  3. Finally, for each skill, we asked them to establish the expected level of competency required by someone in that job title

Where multiple leaders had people with the same job titles, we cross-levelled the skill and competency expectations across the organization.

With this information, we created a blank matrix of Skills and Expected Competency for each employee.  We then asked leaders to assess each worker’s actual competency in performing each skill. By comparing an employee’s actual competency to that expected, we were quickly able to assess the strength of the employee and the department.

What did we learn through this analysis?

  • who in a group needed what training
  • what training needed to be conducted organizationally, and in what order
  • who in the group was most deficient, so we could initially focus on them
  • which skills we needed to concentrate on first and where in the organization those skills were required
  • who in the organization was competent to be a coach/trainer for others deficient in that skill


COACHING: This matrix can become a tool in the ongoing coaching of employees and the establishment of growth goals.

PROMOTION:  We established an expectation that for an employee to be promoted they first need to demonstrate proficiency in the new job.

Our Results?

You’ll recall this employer wanted to quintuple in size and revenue in just two years. After reviewing their employee training matrix, this employer:

  • knew what skills they needed to hire
  • established that all new hires must demonstrate their competency in a skill before being hired
  • began intensive training classes in areas where the organization had scored poorly

In short, this process allowed the employer to recognize that their strengths rested in the skill of their employees and to begin intensively BUILDING BENCH to grow their organization.

How do you think your company would fare in an analysis like this? Are you ready to find out?

Contact Robert to learn more about how to apply this process. He will be happy to review what is needed to implement a similar system within your organization. And, of course, you can engage him to build this comprehensive Bench Strength system for your company.




10 Tips to Develop Best Practices and SOPs

peter-clarkson-240141 By Peggy Salvatore and Terry McGinn

When we are out in the field as trainers and consultants, we see different companies but a lot of the same problems. You may have heard the expression, “When you’ve seen one company, you’ve seen one company.” That is partially true. While each company and industry has their own culture and way of doing things, some issues are common across companies, industries and cultures.

One of the most common and preventable problems we see around training is that after training is over and best practices are instilled, personnel eventually either go back to the way they’ve always done it or find a different way around the new process. It’s not evil intent, it’s just human nature. Over time, people find a shortcut, an easier way or just forget the right way. And if things appear to continue to get done, nobody notices. That is, until you have a problem like a bad batch of product or find you are irredeemably over budget.

With a few best practices applied to development of your standard operating procedures and some vigilance, you can avoid these common and sometimes fatal (if you are making pharmaceutical products or building cars, for example) mistakes.

Call in the Experts to Validate Your Standards

When you are talking about the development of your best practices and standard operating procedures, you can’t leave the development of these documents to just anyone. You want to engage subject matter experts to make sure that the best practices and SOPs that you are capturing are, indeed, what needs to be happening for your organization to be

  • Compliant with regulatory authorities
  • Meeting your corporate targets (think financial goals, think manufacturing yields.)
  • Building products according to specifications
  • Serving customers quickly, efficiently and courteously, and
  • Making sure your standards are met across the organization.

Deviation is Undesirable

Remember high school? The kid who skipped school, cursed in front of your parents and spit on the sidewalk? Deviance. Not acceptable. Outside the bounds of what good looks like. Deviance is undesirable. Same goes for your business.

You establish the way your products need to be built to meet industry regulations, the way you want your customers to be treated so they come back, and the way your billables and receivables need to be handled so you can operate within the law, remain profitable and provide value to society. Somebody has figured all that out in your organization. Those are your experts. They create the standards, write the best practices and standard operating procedures. When everything is new, it is probably done very close to the right way.

Over time, you are likely to encounter “drift”.  Drift occurs when new people come in who don’t know why you did it that way. They may not even have access to your SOPs. They may be trained or mentored by somebody who deviates and gets by with it. Or maybe they just forgot the right way to do it.

That is why, when you are bringing new people in to your business, train them right the first time and then continuously qualify them. Make sure your procedures are documented the way you want them, check them with your experts to make sure they are current, and have them in a form so they are usable – that means available, applicable and understandable – so you can get people up to speed.

10 Tips for Designing Your SOPs

We have developed a list to avert the kinds of problems we see every day. While much of our experience is in the pharmaceutical industry, this list can be applied to many businesses because best practices and common standards make any organization run more smoothly. These are issues we see not just in one company or one industry, but have seen in many companies and industries. We interact with trainers from many companies, and this is what they say, too. Here is our list that you can use for your own SOP development. And while you are at it, see if you can add a few ideas of your own:

  1. Streamline your SOPs. Restructure them to simplify them so you can put your processes to work for you. Make them simple but inclusive enough that you are still meeting standards and regulatory requirements. Eliminate hurdles, extra steps and vague language.
  2. Better educate your personnel. Don’t just throw any training at them to check the box. Actually train them to know what to do and when to do it by developing effective learning plans built by professional adult educators. And you make it easier on yourself when you hire knowledgeable personnel that can hit the ground running.
  3. Use your own staff members to write your SOPs and train your staff. Nobody knows your business like the people in it.
  4. Develop curricula that works. Make sure it is structured to result in the right actions taken at the right time. If it needs a checklist, write one. If it requires a short video demonstration, record one.
  5. Build train-the-trainer programs for your staff so your experts can be better communicators and mentors. Just a few simple tips can make most employees into effective trainers. Also, remember that not all experts make good trainers, so don’t assume your top performers are the right people to be teaching the rest of your staff.
  6. Cut “un-need” time down to only what is needed. Your “un-need” times are those unnecessary tasks and busy work that don’t add anything to productivity or the bottom line.
  7. Keep good talent. Make sure your best people are motivated to stay and perform for you. Some people really are irreplaceable.
  8. Build a future of qualified personnel. Figure out who your future experts are and invest in them.
  9. Reduce CAPA (corrective and preventative action) and rework by building a culture of doing it right the first time. Also, teach people how to investigate issues and problems for corrective action. Always follow the SOP no matter what else is going on. Occasionally re-familiarize personnel with it because the longer they do a task, the more shortcuts and “drift” occur in work. Train on a continuous basis with qualified people and maintain qualifications to make sure they are doing it the right way.
  10. Ensure your training remains current. That refers not only to content but also to style. Your learners are changing and your old training might be correct but ineffective. Update it.

Bonus Item: Train people to begin work right away. When you hire competent people who are ready to do the job, they will want to get up the learning curve quickly and begin to produce, so make sure you give them the knowledge and tools to produce quality work right out of the gate and provide the ongoing training and oversight to maintain the quality of their work.

What is on your wish list for creating SOPs and best practices for your organization? We can help you hire competent personnel, build training that works and streamline your processes so you are doing only what you need. Contact us at

Photo by Peter Clarkson on Unsplash


The Online Course Opportunity and Your Expertise

jazmin-quaynor-392995The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is typically one that is slow or completely non-existent for business. Traditionally, I use that week to do a lot of offline activities to plan for the upcoming year. This year I took two great online courses, and decided to build one of my own in 2018.

First, the plan.

The last few years, I went through Michael Hyatt’s Your Best Year Ever online course and found it very helpful in the way it structures your planning process, challenges your assumptions, pressure tests your goals and is full of logical advice. He has captured the course in a book that launches today, Tuesday January 2, and if you grab it now it comes with some bonuses available until the end of the week, Friday January 5. His bonuses are terrific  and will help you apply what you learn in the book. If you are still in your planning stage for 2018, I recommend it. Here’s a link that will get you the book and bonuses.

As part of my 2018 goals, I am going to build an online course to accompany the launch of my next book due out later this year. The book, Retaining Expert Knowledge: What to Keep in an Age of Information Overload, takes the Working with SMEs series into some new territory. Writing this book met one of my 2017 goals to write a book with a major publisher, and I am very happy about meeting that goal. (More about the upcoming book in later blog posts.) Writing a book is just the first step, however, because it is getting the book and ideas out to the public that is the most important part of the process.

As part of that effort, I am going to build an online course to help readers apply the content of Retaining Expert Knowledge to their areas of expertise and their companies. Which leads me to the second course I took last week.

Executing the Plan

Big plans are accomplished one small step at a time. As Michael Hyatt says in his course (paraphrased), you only need to take the next small step to attain big goals. If your goal is big, hairy and audacious enough, you won’t know exactly how to get there. Hyatt advises that you set goals outside your comfort zone and take the very next small step that you can see, and it will usually appear in the form of resources or some kind of help that you need. That is exactly what happened. I had signed up with an elearning hosting platform, and they offered a course to make the most of your investment.

For three days, I delved into how to use this particular online platform and now I am very excited about building and presenting an online course for Retaining Expert Knowledge.

The course reminded us:

  1. Online learning is mainstream.
  2. Education is now lifelong.
  3. People want bite-sized information.
  4. Information wants to be free.
  5. The size of the online opportunity is about to explode.

Learning from Experts

For those experts who read this blog and the trainers who work with them, that list tells us that we’ve only just begun. As knowledge and information explodes, we have so much to share and people have less time to absorb it. It is a great time to share what you know and do it in a way that you can reach a lot of people.

Massive amounts of information are free or very inexpensive. Because information is free, you have to earn the space you take up in someone’s brain. Keep it short. Keep it relevant. And provide value. Blogs are one of the new “free information” sources, as well as endless streams of webinars, podcasts and more.

That is why when building a course for sale, experts need to build premium courses.  Your Expertise 101 is free, and Your Expertise 301 premium course has some price attached to it as well as support that helps your learners apply the information.

Today is the first workday of 2018. It is exciting to do what we love. And it is equally exciting to share what we love. If you are an expert in some area and have something to share or teach, think about the fact that adult learning is all-the-time, online, bite-sized and much of it is free.

You don’t have to wait to be asked. Get out there and share what you’ve got. People want to know. You can be part of the knowledge explosion.


Make 2018 Your Best Year Ever!

. Lost305656_YourBestYearEverHyatt_posts12  No matter how good your life is, isn’t there one thing you want to  achieve that has exceeded your grasp until now? Time to saddle up. With two more weeks to 2017 on the calendar, it’s time to come up with a plan to reach your next highest level.

Let me recommend Michael Hyatt’s Your Best Year Ever online course and the new Your Best Year Ever book for goal-setting and goal-achieving.

Many of my readers are experts, executives and people who like to excel. Because I know that you like to make the most of life, that is why I call this to your attention to this program.

Last December, I jumped into the Best Year Ever online course through one of the Best Year Ever affiliate partners, Ray Edwards, top-drawer copywriter for people like Tony Robbins, Jeff Walker and Hyatt. Those of us who took the online course with Ray benefitted from his support, wisdom and humor all year with online support groups in real time. It was fun and provided a level of interaction with others that was truly helpful in moving some of the mountains in my life and getting me unstuck when things got tough.

[To take the course with Ray, here’s a link that will get you support through Ray Edwards International.]

Working through the online Best Year Ever course over five days for an hour each morning between last Christmas and New Year’s Day, I looked at all areas of my life, saw where I was already living large and places where I wasn’t living very well at all. I made some adjustments, I worked hard during 2017 and had a lot of support from Ray’s team. I moved a few mountains…well, at least, got a few scoops of dirt in my shovel…in some important areas.

The 20 pounds I wanted to lose? They went to the Lost and Found. I lost some and most of them found me again.

The book I wanted to write? Check. My first professionally published book combining much of my work is slated to come out early in 2018. More on that as we get closer.

My finances? Meh.

I learned a few things. One is that you can really make massive progress in a few areas of your life and check off a few important boxes. In other areas, you can continue to plan, line things up, course correct and continue.

That’s what I am doing for 2018. Because I took the journey in 2017, I can recommend enthusiastically that if you still have a few mountains to move, this is a great way to do it. You’ll go through a self-assessment and goal-setting process that will reveal some things to you and show you the way forward. And you’ll get year ’round support from people who have done it before. The course has a few options, some with online support and some with a live conference option.

Your Best Year Ever program has been a bright light in 2017 for me. Therefore, it has  been an honor to be part of Michael Hyatt’s launch team of 500 believers who are promoting the book version of Your Best Year Ever. No, I don’t get paid to say this. I do, however, get the satisfaction of being part of something valuable and being an evangelist for something worthwhile.

For those of you who don’t know about Michael…

Michael Hyatt is the grand-daddy of online leadership mentors and a role model for entrepreneurs. Among the recent proliferation of online businesses owners and self-published book authors, Hyatt stands out as the one who cut the trail, the one who went first and showed others the way. He built a very successful online business with a lot of self-discipline, planning and focus. He has broken down his methods in a series of online courses, books and live programs.

Hyatt first came to my attention as the CEO of Thomas Nelson publishing, the company I knew as the publishers of John Maxwell’s leadership books. Maxwell is iconic in the leadership industry. If Hyatt led that company, I figured he is the real deal. He is.

To get started making 2018 Your Best Year Ever, click here to take the Best Year Ever online LifeScore survey find out where you stand now in all domains of your life. Then decide which mountains you will move in 2018.

For those who would rather read the book, it will be available January 2, 2018. Here’s a link to pre-order Your Best Year Ever the book.

NOTE: There are several different links that will lead you to the Best Year Ever online course directly through Michael Hyatt, one that will lead you to the online course with support from Ray Edwards International, one that will take you to a page to pre-order the book and one that leads you to a free online LifeScore to get you started.



Can Experts Teach? Well, Sometimes…

aaron-ang-61849   Yesterday I met for coffee with an expert in operational efficiency. He runs workshops, and he observed that the experts he has met have trouble teaching what they know. He said the best teachers are people who are middling performers – people he described as performing at 60 to 80 percent of someone who is excellent.

Because middling performers have had to work so hard to be good enough, they understand how to acquire their craft, skill or knowledge. They know the steps so well because they figured them out so they could attempt to replicate greatness.

Greatness, on the other hand, just is. And people who are great, just are. They can’t tell you how they do what they do because it is instinctual and innate. Therefore, my coffee companion concluded, it is pretty hard to get a great person to teach a class or teach anyone anything effectively.

This observation is the basis for the Working with SMEs book in which I describe the innately great person as an unconscious competent, they don’t even know what they know, so they have trouble telling others. The book explains why the conscious competent –  the person who knows what they know and how they learned it – is the best teacher of a craft, skill or knowledge. In their struggles, the conscious competent has put the building blocks in place to acquire something valuable.

We can probably all think of exceptions to this situation, but for the most part, he was correct.

Mel Torme – arguably one of the greatest jazz singers of all time – recorded a master class for PBS in the early 1960s where he described some of his technique. On the other hand, when you observe his face and mouth, and listen to his tone, you know how much of what he did was purely instinctive and based somewhere in his soul.

Imagine Picasso teaching someone how to paint. Then look at Guernica and imagine the mind that conceived those images. That greatness came deep from within his soul, and went far beyond paint, brush and canvas to the very meaning of existence.

For a genius in the world of science, read Ray Kurzweil who imagined artificial intelligence and leads humanity to the next level of possibility through technology.

Hard to teach that kind of inspiration.

To find a teacher, look for someone who has broken down the components of a piece of greatness into replicable chunks.

To find your own greatness, look deep inside yourself and find your truth. Everyone is a great something, and your soul knows what that is.

Photo by Aaron Ang on Unsplash






Lean Leadership and Knowledge Management: Perfect Together

In this blog, we sometimes talk about the fact that vital, growing organizations are learning organizations. The lifeblood of a learning organization is knowledge management. For learning to sit at the heart of your organization, leadership needs to recognize and promote knowledge management at all levels. Our guest blogger today is Lean practitioner  and author Robert Camp who talks about the qualities of Lean Leadership and how they support a learning organization.

Guest Blogger: Robert Camp

The longer I practice Lean the more I appreciate how great a role good leadership plays in an organization’s transformation.

LEADERSHIP: Honestly, I can think of no other single factor that makes or breaks a transformation so readily.



By that I mean they make the time to learn about Lean themselves and make the decision to proceed. No successful transformation can be approached with a “do as I say” attitude. You’re asking people to change, and leading from the front means you have to change first and demonstrate your personal commitment.


Lean can’t succeed without a personal commitment from all leaders. That commitment can’t be provisional or halfhearted.  Once subordinates have learned what Lean is all about, they need to commit to personally practice and support it. If they can’t or won’t, they’ll need to leave. PERIOD.


You can demand people to change and they will do exactly what’s required, but no more. You’ve won their hands, but not their hearts. Only by creating an environment in which subordinates are led to embrace lean can real change take place. That brings us back to leaders lead by example and coach good performance.


Most organizations are in a rush to save/make money, so they begin Lean at the bottom of the organization, where money is made. That won’t work.


For Lean to work, employees at each level need to see their leaders demonstrating it first. That means Lean behavior has to cascade down from the top. Anyone who tells you that Lean can work from the bottom up, or the middle out, has never seen a transformation to the end. There’s only one way. Top down!


Because the tools save money, everyone’s in a rush to start with the tools first, but tools only support the philosophies. If practitioners don’t understand how Lean works, any gains made with the tools will be short lived.

It doesn’t take years to learn the philosophies. It takes a lifetime, but you can begin your use of a tool as soon as the connection has been made between the tool and the philosophy it supports. Those connections are well covered in “The Toyota Way.”

Lean becomes the WAY you manage, HOW you manage and ultimately, WHY you do everything.


Lean isn’t something you do in addition to managing your company. It becomes the way you manage. Lean isn’t something you layer on top of everything else you do. It becomes how you do everything. In time Lean becomes why you do everything.

One would think profit or revenue would suffer, but the opposite is true. Lean management leads to a state, a mindset, of continuous improvement; not only reducing the cost of today’s product, but becoming more aware of your customer’s needs and creating products and services to meet or exceed those needs.


Like all great leaders the Lean leader’s focus is often on the horizon. They are scanning for new ideas, new technologies, new products, etc. Lean leaders don’t spend their time perfecting today, they are constantly on the lookout for things that will enhance their future position in the market.


Fanatical Fans return to do more business and bring others with them. Lean leaders understand that neither money, nor machines, nor technology, nor anything else makes fanatical fans of their customers. They know that only people do that. Whether it’s their suppliers, their employees, or their customers, Lean Leaders recognize the dignity of the people they lead and serve in all they do.

That doesn’t mean Lean leaders are soft. Part of recognizing the dignity of people is to continue to challenge them, to continue to hold them to high expectations. Lean leaders don’t just arbitrarily set new challenges. They collaborate with their suppliers, with their employees, with their customers, always looking to improve. Because the leaders set the standard by embracing change first, others are more open to accepting new challenges and even recommending them.


Lean leaders don’t end their growth once they’ve embraced Lean. They continue to learn and grow. Moreover, they create an environment in which everyone continues to learn & grow. That is why Lean organizations are frequently referred to as learning organizations.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost

If you have recently embarked, or are thinking about embarking, on the road of Lean, ponder these words, as they will have profound impact on your life.


To learn more, visit Getting to Lean or contact Robert Camp at

Are You Thinking of Writing a Book? Let’s Talk About Your Idea!


Mark Twain is credited with saying, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.”

Here is one of those statistics.

In 2002, the New York Times published an article that stated “81 percent of Americans feel they have a book in them.”

Having written or assisted at least 10 books into being – some under my own name, some ghostwritten, some as a coach – I’d say it’s more like 100%. Every time I mention that I write books, the other person says, “I’ve always wanted to do that. People tell me I should write a book about (choose one) my business or personal or exceptional or funny experience.”

And then they tell me something fascinating.

Which leads me to believe that most, if not all, people have at least one book in them. Our lives are great stories. Every one of them, no exceptions. For many people who follow the Working with SMEs blog, your book is probably about your business or your profession.

Just this week, a high school friend who has been contemplating writing her memoirs since we graduated many moons ago called to say she is ready to put fingers to keyboard.  I am glad she waited because she has so much more to say today and a grander perspective. Her undergraduate degree was in journalism, and she is an excellent writer who will need very little editing or direction.

Not all people with great ideas, great stories and interesting lives – who are all of you reading this, by the way – are writers first and foremost. Often, great books and great lives lie inside non-writers. If you are one of those non-writers who know you have a book inside you, don’t despair. There are ways to get that book out of you and into print, and those ways can be fun, too.

In the New York Times article referenced above, the writer Joseph Epstein warns people away from writing a book. He emphasizes the difficulty of the process. Yes, it is hard work. But it can be joyful hard work. The Working With Subject Matter Experts tribe knows about the joy of hard work and a job well done. That is how you became experts.

Which brings me to an offer:

I just finished a manuscript on October 1 and am putting together my next book proposal. So, while I’m in the gap between books, I would love to talk to you about your book idea and help you figure out if this is the time for you to pull the trigger on that idea, and how you can make it happen. I’ve helped people birth business books and personal memoirs. It’s all fun, and the best part is the look on someone’s face when they have a book in their hands with their name on it.

The process can be painless, and works a few different ways depending on your needs and preferences:

  1. I coach you through it and you do the writing
  2. I write your drafts with you
  3. I write it for you

If you want to talk about your book idea, let’s schedule a free, no obligation 30 minute consultation. I am taking appointments the week of November 6 through 10. Here’s my calendar link , just click on Book Consult and pick a time slot.

I strongly disagree with New York Times author Joseph Epstein who encourages readers to “Don’t write that book…don’t even think about it. Keep it inside you, where it belongs.”

Nope. People have far too many wonderful stories that have turned into valuable books.

Can’t wait to hear your story!


Until Robots Make Humans Obsolete, What’s Your Plan?


According to futurist Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns, he estimated back in 2001 that knowledge will double every 12 months in this century. With such rapid proliferation of knowledge, it begs the question how long experts remain so and what bits of information are important, essential, need to be captured and carried on – or really have any value at all – in light of the rapid progress in robots and artificial intelligence.

For those of us who follow developments in the training world, you know that we are learning how to train robots.  Research is making the leap so that robots can now acquire learning that builds on prior knowledge – you know, the same way we silly old humans learn.

If you believe the future is here, you are right. However, if you believe you still have to operate in the present, you are also right.

For those of us still living in the pre-AI world, we need to continue to contend with the issues of human knowledge capture, retention and transfer between generations of workers for the ongoing success of your enterprise. What and how you capture, preserve and transfer information will change over time, which is a different discussion. For now, consider that you have knowledge under your roof that is the lifeblood of your organization today and preserving it against an imminent loss of expertise remains crucial.

Making a Plan to Retain Human Knowledge Until the Robots Take Over

If your experts flee to retirement or leave your organization for any other reason, you are still vulnerable to losing their valuable knowledge, skills and attitudes to fulfill your mission effectively, efficiently and in a cost-responsible way today.

What are you doing right now to make sure you keep your expertise under your roof even if your experts leave?

Here’s what you can do about these issues in your organization today:

  • Raise awareness. Speak to your organization’s decision makers to help them analyze their risk of losing valuable expertise
  • Get a plan. Explore methods to help you dissect your organization for areas where you are vulnerable to losing your critical experts
  • Work your plan. Identify and capture intelligence from individual experts in your organization

Think about it. Until the robots take over, you still need to rely on the humans that got you where you are.

In my book Finding Your SMEs: Capturing Knowledge From Retiring Subject Matter Experts in Your Organization Before They Leave, I lay out a pathway to dissect your organization, find your experts, decide where to spend your finite resources to preserve knowledge and explore options for preserving and transferring knowledge in an age of rapid change in technology and the way we learn.

Contact us at to schedule a call to discuss capturing expertise as part of your knowledge management plan.

Photo courtesy of Davide Ragusa on Unsplash.


The World’s Oldest Profession


The world’s oldest profession is not what you think! Training is actually the world’s oldest profession. When the first human babies popped out of the first human mamas, the mamas immediately ramped up knowledge, skills and attitudes transfer. I wasn’t there and haven’t actually seen this documented, but it is a fairly safe bet. If mama didn’t transfer her acquired wisdom to her child, the species would not have survived. And therein lies the foundation for my assumption.

You can eat this, it’s safe.

Stay away from that animal, it’s dangerous.

Put one foot in front of the other like this.

And don’t forget to put your napkin in your lap and start with the silverware on the outside of your place setting.

Mamas have been keeping babies safe and viable in their environment by imparting acquired wisdom from the beginning of time. So I rest my case. Training is the world’s oldest profession.

Extending this example, critical just-in-time information is the heart of training.

Early childhood learning is all about see one-do one: Tie your shoes by bringing this loop around.

Early childhood learning is about immediate feedback: I told you not to touch the stove!

Early childhood learning is about mentoring: Next time she teases you, tell her how she makes you feel.

Just-in-Time Learning Works

Early childhood learning relies on these strategies in the moment because they work. Those same methods have served industrial and business knowledge, skills and attitudes transfer since we hammered out the second wheel. Again, I wasn’t there but it is a safe assumption that the human who smoothed out the rough edges on the first wheel figured out a plan for replicating the process and told the next person. And it became the way it was done.

Early childhood education from mother to child is about the value of short, demonstrative, and immediate learning opportunities.

In the fashion of the watchful caregiver, the uptake of just-in-time educational videos and smartphone reminders allows employees to have tutors and mentors at their fingertips all day long. The training industry is learning how to take advantage of this development in on-demand learning. Short video and electronic smartphone snippets of on-the-job training and reminders are sophisticated extensions of the old fashioned paper job aid posted in a work station.

These electronic job aids provide heretofore impossible access to experts. No matter what your experts do for you, whether she is the best assembler on the floor or he is the best accountant in your department, make sure they are documenting their actions using short, transferable snippets because all the pieces of their aggregated wisdom becomes the bedrock of knowledge transfer.

You can build larger and more intensive learnings from these pieces, but it is important to collect these learning components in situ.

Humans learn best in the moment, when they need it. Capturing and preserving information from experts to be accessed on an as-needed basis is the foundation of knowledge transfer for your organization.

What is your experience of using JIT learning? We welcome comments below.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Janko Ferlic, Koper, Slovenia


Are Traditional Experts and NextGen Experts Different?

 john-mark-kuznietsov-174918 1950s: The astrophysicist of yesteryear studied in relative isolation, probably in an exclusive school gleaning formulae from weighty tomes speaking almost exclusively among (usually) his limited universe of peers. Very few understood or related to his comprehension of relativity.

Today: The astrophysicist delivers online classes from MIT widely available on MOOC platforms watched by your curious and precocious 12-year-old. Your son or daughter jumps on social media to post a cool link to the lecture.  Friends “like” it or comment that s/he is a nerd or a rocket scientist or give your child some other widely acknowledged nod of approval. The NextGen astrophysicist is in the flow of like minds.

Two radically different cultural and educational milieu are going to produce two very different individuals. An experience of isolation and exception versus an experience of community and commonality will affect the human personality, both how they see themselves and how they see their place in the world.

A Traditional Expert will carry the experience all his life of being exceptional, being misunderstood and being isolated from the mainstream. A NextGen expert swims in the social flow connecting easily with peers from the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and Germany.

Not All Experts are Astrophysicists

The above example is extreme. Your experts will come from all backgrounds and fields of study. Your Traditional Expert may be the nurse who has been there for 30 years, the machinist who has run that lathe since he graduated from high school or the chemist in your lab who hasn’t looked up from his beaker since Reagan left office. All of them grew up in the same environment of relative isolation and exclusivity in their domain. That is, relative to the widely available, global and instantaneous communication and education of the NextGen of experts who will carry the torch of knowledge forward.

Due to the instantaneous communication and rapid proliferation of ideas, it is estimated that knowledge now doubles about every two years. That, too, changes the nature of experts because no expert remains one for very long.  

These changes have implications for learning, teaching and working styles that impact the way you collect and transfer expertise in your own organization.

Expect a few things from  NextGen Experts:

·         knowledge is widely dispersed and they are open and generous with their knowledge

·         experts commonly explain what they know openly and share it widely

·         expertise is not exclusive

·         knowledge not widely shared is not valuable

·         transfer of knowledge is open sourced and curated

·         learning is tailored to the task, the learner and the environment in which they apply it

What are differences you see between the Traditional Expert and the NextGen Expert? Please comment below.