Training Article

Tara García Mathewson’s picture

By: Tara García Mathewson

Some of the most celebrated education reform efforts today serve to make instruction more difficult. Personalized learning, project-based learning, mastery-based learning—they all require more work of teachers and more work of students.

But several speakers at the LearnLaunch Across Boundaries conference on education technology and innovation, recently held in Boston, argued that these reforms are not simply trends that will come and go, but the evolution of an education system that, in the scope of human history, is still quite young.

Devin Vodicka, chief impact officer at AltSchool and a former superintendent of California’s Vista Unified School District, pointed out that the last transformation of the education system occurred during the Industrial Revolution. Education went from being localized—think one-room schoolhouses—to mass produced. Flexibility decreased over what would be taught and when, but quality went up and access went up. The number of students graduating from high school skyrocketed during the years between 1900 and about 1970.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Although automation has been successful in replacing repetitive, simple tasks, the human workforce still plays a critical role in manufacturing. Even the most sophisticated and automated manufacturing operations rely on human operators to configure, run, and properly maintain production equipment.

However, with low unemployment, talent retention in the manufacturing industry is particularly difficult, meaning manufacturers often spend a lot of time and money training employees, only to have them quit. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, 38 million people quit their jobs voluntarily. About 77 percent of those individuals quit for preventable reasons—like more structure around career development, better work/life balance, and manager behavior.

When a new employee gets hired at a manufacturing plant they often get little to no onboarding, or are treated poorly by a manager. Perhaps worst of all, more than half of all manufacturing employees report not having proper safety mechanisms in place to prevent an accident. With so many job openings currently unfilled, it is easy for an employee to find a new job where she can get a better experience from day one.

Aiman Sakr’s picture

By: Aiman Sakr

Does your organization benefit from lessons learned? Does it learn from previous quality issues? A vast amount of learning takes place every day in every manufacturing facility. Do global manufacturing companies share experiences gained from resolving quality issues between overseas plants? And what will they gain if they do?

What is lessons learned?

In project management nomenclature: Lessons learned is the learning gained from the process of performing the project. We learn from our own project experiences as well as the experiences of others. Sharing lessons learned among project team members prevents an organization from repeating the same mistakes and also allows it to take advantage of organizational best practices. Learning should be deliberate. Organizations should be prepared to take advantage of the key learning opportunities that projects provide. Unfortunately, capturing lessons learned too often is seen as optional… if time permits.

Multiple Authors
By: Chris Jones, Jake Herway

Studies show that decisions made during the first few months of a CEO’s tenure are disproportionately important in determining his success. However, several issues—unique to CEOs and often overlooked—complicate or even cloud good decision making.

First, new CEOs often spread themselves thin in an attempt to understand every stakeholder and nuance of the business. Second, they are heavily shaped by current employees’ perspectives. These factors can lead to a superficial, biased, or insufficient understanding of the organization’s strengths and weaknesses.

What you need to know to avoid mishaps new CEOs make

If you’re a chief exec or even an executive leader:
• Do you have a comprehensive understanding of the groups that most affect the organization’s ability to reach its goals?
• Do you know who your top customers and most critical employees are?

Once you’ve identified them, ask yourself:
• Why do those customers and employees choose your company?
• Why do they stay?
• What is the likelihood of their future loyalty?

One Gallup client learned her best customers were leaving not because they had problems, but because too many people were involved in fixing them.

Amanda Hunt’s picture

By: Amanda Hunt

Tensile testing of materials is critical to a wide array of industries, which means preparing specimens for testing is equally important. If a specimen is not prepared correctly, the test results will be inaccurate; this is costly if a material fails a test that it should have passed, and potentially catastrophic if it passes a test it should have failed.

The basics of specimen preparation

The specimen’s cut is critical to the quality and accuracy of its test results. The sample must not have any jagged edges or nicks. Even the slightest such deformity can impact its tensile strength, affect the ability to receive consistent tensile results from the specimen, and render its test results out of line with other similar specimens.

Once a specimen is correctly cut, it must also be handled with care. Dropping, bumping, or otherwise mishandling the specimen may result in nicks, with the same effect on testing as a bad cut.

Jennifer Sillars’s picture

By: Jennifer Sillars

Policies define expectations and boundaries for behavior, but these expectations frequently go unmet.

There are three major triggers for new policy creation or policy amendment:
• An adverse event highlights an operational risk that is not effectively controlled. A policy is required to address this risk and how this adverse event can be avoided in the future.
• A strategic objective: when an organization wants to achieve something important and commits to this in writing. The policy acts as the action plan and guidance for staff, making success more likely.
• A new regulation or law comes into force

All organizations are subject to numerous compliance requirements. Some are common to all—human resources policies, for example. Some are industry specific. Either type requires strict compliance with documented evidence. Policy management provides a formal process for acknowledging a regulatory requirement and translating this to action.

In some ways compliance-based policy management is straightforward:
• The policy objective is clear.
• The need for the policy is compelling.

Sharon Lurye’s picture

By: Sharon Lurye

Schools are always trying to get their kids interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). But that’s hard to do when the students don’t have a solid idea of what having a STEM-related job really means.

“I don’t think there’s a good connection between the classroom and what people actually do in their jobs,” says Beth Bryan, a middle-school enrichment teacher in Edmond, Oklahoma.

So Bryan was happy to be one of five teachers selected in summer 2017 for a pilot program in her state that gives teachers real-life experience in STEM fields. The program, run by Oklahoma’s department of education, aimed to give teachers a more concrete understanding of the applications of science and technology—by getting their hands on some actual concrete.

The five teachers participated in a paid, two-week externship at Terracon, an engineering firm in Oklahoma City. The goal was to help teachers learn more about the practical applications of what they teach, in fields like construction and environmental testing. A typical day might involve touring a concrete-making lab, testing soil samples, or visiting a construction site.

Jason Furness’s picture

By: Jason Furness

I would like to share with you a tale from the real world. It’s an extract from the book Michael McLean and I wrote, Manufacturing Money (Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2015). It offers an example of the “Five Focusing Steps” to improvement, especially “Step 1: Identify the constraint,” and “Step 2: Maximizing the constraint’s output.” This was a situation where I looked at a problem for months before I finally figured out where the constraint was.

Megan Ray Nichols’s picture

By: Megan Ray Nichols

Manufacturing is in the middle of a new industrial revolution that requires skilled laborers. However, by most reports, many manufacturers lack enough of these well-trained employees, creating a worker shortage due to the skills gap—the difference between the skills manufacturers need and the skills job applicants have.

Companies are responding to the skills gap in numerous ways, seeking novel approaches to bridge the divide between the knowledge the workforce has and the knowledge they need.

Technology automates formerly routine processes, decreasing the need for workers who once did these jobs. Although manufacturers no longer need as large a workforce, they still need to find skilled laborers, ones who understand how to program and run a CNC or industrial robot. Although some work has been done toward addressing the skills gap, two out of every three companies don’t have a plan for remedying the problem.

Naphtali Hoff’s picture

By: Naphtali Hoff

A story is told about a reporter who was interviewing a successful bank president. He wanted to know the secret of the man’s success. “Two words: right decisions,” the banker told him.

“And how do you make right decisions?” asked the reporter.

“One word: experience,” was the banker’s reply.

The reporter pressed on. “And how do you get experience?”

“Two words: wrong decisions,” answered the banker.

We all recognize the importance of job and life experience, especially for leaders. Experience gives leaders context for important decisions that they must make and insight into how best to lead, motivate, and respond to their people. Experienced leaders have been through the wringer before and can use their past learning and decisions to guide them moving forward.

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