Practical learning is the cornerstone of effective professional development, transforming static theoretical knowledge into dynamic real-world skills and solutions.
The Shift Toward Experiential Learning: A Paradigm Change in Corporate Training
In the rapidly evolving business landscape, traditional classroom-based training is increasingly proving insufficient in equipping employees with the skills necessary to tackle complex, real-world challenges. This piece delves into the paradigm shift towards experiential learning in the corporate world. It underscores the value of hands-on learning experiences and their role in fostering a dynamic, problem-solving workforce that can adapt to various challenges and continuously drive business growth. We explore why many companies are now pivoting away from traditional training methods and instead placing the spotlight on practical approaches to learning and development.
So What is Changing with Corporate Training?
A look at some of the most common issues in training programs provides some insight. According to a 2023 Whatfix study, some critical challenges include adapting to remote learning, dealing with complex enterprise software, and reskilling and upskilling for a digital workplace. Other common issues include geographic limitations, increased costs, language barriers, translation issues, and virtual training.
These challenges highlight a significant disconnect between training and implementation. Traditional training focuses on imparting knowledge and skills, but what happens afterwards? Employees return to work, often overwhelmed by their daily tasks, and the newly acquired knowledge gets pushed back. The result? A lack of effective implementation and problem-solving in the workplace.
Also, according to a Forrester report, about 40% of employees and managers are unsatisfied with on-the-job training. This dissatisfaction stems from many factors, including the limited practical relevance of training content, the lack of immediate applicability to daily tasks, and the absence of support in applying the newly learned skills once back on the job. Consequently, while employees might be able to conceptualise learned theories or strategies, they often struggle to apply this knowledge practically in their roles, leading to a gap between training and performance. This gap underscores the need for a paradigm shift from traditional training methods to more hands-on, practical learning approaches.
The Power of Practical Learning
To bridge this gap, we need to shift our focus from mere training to practical learning and self-directed learning — an approach that imparts knowledge and ensures its application in real-world scenarios. One of the best examples of this is must way candidates solve real-world problems as part of their Lean Six Sigma training.
Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that helps improve business processes using a team-focused approach to eliminate waste and reduce variation. It’s not just about learning the theory but about applying it to solve real problems.
As part of Lean Six Sigma training, participants must work on actual projects, where they identify a problem, analyze it, and develop solutions. They’re not just learning; they’re doing. This hands-on approach ensures that the training is not just an academic exercise but a practical tool for improving business performance.
The Importance of Self Directed Projects
Self-directed projects offer numerous benefits, serving as a critical part of the practical learning approach. They empower employees to take ownership of their learning journey, fostering autonomy, boosting confidence, and encouraging creativity. When employees are allowed to choose their projects, they are more likely to be invested in the outcomes, enhancing their engagement and resulting in better problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
Furthermore, self-directed projects provide a platform for employees to apply their theoretical knowledge in real-time situations, thereby bridging the gap between training and implementation. These projects also allow for immediate feedback and adjustment, leading to continuous improvement and growth.
In essence, self-directed projects are instrumental in cultivating a culture of lifelong learning within organisations, thereby contributing significantly to their overall success and evolution.
The Impact of Lean Six Sigma on Corporate Training Programs
Companies implementing Lean Six Sigma have seen significant improvements in their operations. For instance, General Electric, one of the pioneers of Lean Six Sigma, reported savings of over $2 billion during the first five years of its implementation.
Image investing $200 and getting $2000 in return 4 months later. Or investing $900 and getting $50,0000 in return within 6 months. Imagine investing $250,000 and getting $4,500,000 in return 18 months later. These are the sorts of returns companies can get by investing in the right skills, in the right way.
These real-world success stories underscore the importance of practical learning and its potential to drive meaningful change in businesses. It’s not about how much training we provide, but how effectively we can help learners put their knowledge into practice.
Training should be strategic, and aligned to business goals
Training should indeed be strategic, crafted with the intent of closing gaps, rectifying issues, and building missing capabilities within the organisation. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, training should be a tailored solution, engineered to address specific areas of weakness and to harness unique organisational strengths. This requires a thorough understanding of the company’s present state, its desired future state, and the gaps in between. It also requires identifying capabilities that the organisation needs but doesn’t currently possess.
This strategic view of training allows for the design and implementation of initiatives that are not just informative, but transformative, enabling companies to adapt, innovate, and excel in their respective sectors. Training should be a strategic tool, wielded with precision to sculpt an organisation into a more resilient, effective, and competitive entity.
Building a Project Portfolio
The process of creating a project portfolio commences with project identification. Organisations should identify potential projects that align with their strategic objectives and have the potential to deliver significant value. The projects can range from process improvements to product innovations and expansions in new markets. Once identified, these projects should be documented, including their objectives, expected outcomes, required resources, and potential risks.
Following documentation, organisations should carry out a comprehensive project analysis. This involves evaluating the feasibility, cost, benefits, and risk of each project. Based on this analysis, projects should be prioritised, taking into account their potential impact on the organisation’s goals and the available resources.
Training the Right People
Training the right people is as crucial as identifying the right projects. Organisations should identify individuals with the requisite skills and potential to drive these projects. These individuals should then undertake comprehensive training programmes that equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to handle these projects.
For instance, if a project involves Lean Six Sigma, the project team should undergo Lean Six Sigma training. The training should be comprehensive, covering the theoretical aspects of Lean Six Sigma, as well as practical aspects through real-world projects. This approach ensures that the individuals not only understand the methodology but are also capable of applying it effectively.
After the completion of training, it’s essential to provide continual support and opportunities for learning. This includes regular feedback sessions, additional training where necessary, and opportunities to apply the acquired knowledge and skills in a practical setting. Such continual learning and application foster a culture of continuous improvement, ensuring the successful execution of projects and the achievement of organisational objectives.
Developing your Corproate Training to Make Change Happen
In conclusion, while training is essential, it’s not the panacea for all corporate problems. Companies need to focus on practical learning and encourage employees to apply their newly acquired skills in real-world scenarios to reap the benefits of training truly. By doing so, they can transform their training programs from mere knowledge-imparting sessions to powerful tools for problem-solving and performance improvement.
Get in touch with us to learn how we can help build Lean Programs that leverage the right training and learning to upskill your employees and drive real-world business results
9 Critical Employee Training Challenges to Overcome (2023). Whatfix. https://whatfix.com/blog/employee-training-challenges/ ↩
10 Challenges of Training & Development of Professionals. CMOE. https://cmoe.com/blog/learning-development-challenges/ ↩
General Electric: A Legacy of Lean Six Sigma. iSixSigma. https://www.isixsigma.com/new-to-six-sigma/getting-started/a-legacy-of-success/ ↩