8 Training Wastes You Should Eliminate to Accelerate eLearning, by Todd Hudson

29When most of us think of waste, we think it’s something you throw away, but did you know it also applies to training, and more specifically, to elearning?

“Training waste” is anything that doesn’t directly help learners perform better on the job. By this standard, 80% to 90% of training activities are waste that suck up time, resources and money. It causes learners to disengage and abort courses. It makes executives hack at training budgets and resources in frustration. It causes you to work nights and weekends.

Lean: A Framework to Help You Cut Training Waste

Lean is a philosophy and toolset that eliminates waste to improve speed, effectiveness, and flexibility. Lean started in the car industry, spread to other manufacturing, then jumped to software development, office environments, and, most recently, healthcare. The results have all been the same: lower costs, higher quality, increased speed and happier customers.

Now companies are applying Lean to knowledge transfer to cut the waste out of training and deliver more significant, measurable results. eLearning professionals should be aware of these wastes and know that executives will increasingly be looking to eliminate them. Are your elearning programs and courses as waste-free as you can make them?

Know These 8 Classic Lean Wastes, in the Context of eLearning

  1. Defects – Defects are errors and mistakes that cost the company business, money, time, reputation and more. This is the most costly waste and the one that your elearning courses should be eliminating first and foremost.
  2. Delay – Delay is the time gap between when someone needs to know something and when they actually learn it. How long is it taking you to create and distribute content to the people who need it? Months? Quarters? No matter what it is today, you need to get faster.
  3. Over-Teaching – Overteaching happens when a learner is firehosed with too much content. Everything they don’t retain because their brain is “full” is waste. Reduce content to eliminate specific ‘Defects.’
  4. Unused Talent – Unused talent is when valuable knowledge in the organization goes untapped. Are you taking full advantage of your company’s experts? Are you making it easy for those experts to share their knowledge?
  5. Transportation – Transportation is moving people and things around to make learning happen. An obvious benefit of elearning is that it eliminates transportation, but how are your elearning programs eliminating the other seven wastes as well?
  6. Inventory – Managing online courses, supporting files and websites takes up time and energy that could be used for more valuable activities. Are you cleaning your digital house frequently and thoroughly and keeping it as spare as possible?
  7. Extra Steps – Anything you do, or make your learner do, that’s not absolutely necessary is waste. Do you really need all those logins, signups, quizzes, assessments and reports?
  8. 8.  Motion - Motion takes Extra Steps down to the micro level. Are you minimizing the number of clicks, swipes and taps that learners need to find and access the courses and content they need?

Use these waste categories as a guide to help you identify, avoid and eliminate waste in eLearning technologies and course design. If you can’t eliminate a waste today, then minimize it, spending as little time, resources and money on it as possible.

Lean provides a powerful framework and vocabulary for improving elearning. Start using it right away.


Todd Hudson Todd Hudson hates waste.A long-time Lean practitioner and 6 Sigma Black Belt, he started the Maverick Institute to pioneer the application of Lean principles and methods to training and learning.Throughout his career, he’s seen that effective knowledge transfer and sharing of expertise are critical elements to success. Today, the blistering pace of change, the globalization of business and the explosion of learning technologies require organizations adopt a new learning framework and new methods. Lean has proven its effectiveness across numerous industries and companies.

Maverick clients include Fortune 100 giants as well as fast and furious startups and mid-sized companies around the world. The Maverick Institute offers yellow, green and black belt certification programs in Lean knowledge transfer.

Website: www.maverickinstitute.com

Follow Todd on Twitter @headmaverick and @leanktmav

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