When I talk to clients, they usually have a good idea that I can help their organization apply process improvement methods to improve their operations. I primarily teach Lean and Six Sigma methods, along with some topics in sustainability, and how to blend these concepts together (Lean and Green).
The next question is to decide on the logistics of the training, which can open up many possibilities. Since COVID, we’ve seen more opportunity for remote or virtual training, but that might not always be the best approach.
We have solutions for in-person, virtual, self-paced and blended training that can meet your goals and stay within your budget.
Here are the things to consider…
1. Amount of training needed?
- Overview (1-2 hours)
- One tool or topic in-depth (3-4 hours)
- Broad overview of many tools (4-8 hours)
- Details on multiple tools and topics (8-24 hours)
- Details on many different tools and topics (24+ hours)
Here are some typical hours for some topics I teach:
- High level overview (1 hour webinar)
- White Belt or Champion (4-8 hours)
- Yellow Belt (8-24 hours)
- Green Belt (36-100 hours)
- Black Belt (75-200 hours)
- Lean Concepts (8-16 hours)
- Advanced Lean (16-40 hours)
2. In-person or online (virtual)?
- In-person – can be more interactive, and less distractions for the attendees, as it is easier for the instructor to see distractions and gauge how the class is going. There is also a sense that in-person is more tangible and more effective (see live instructor benefits below).
- Online (virtual) – eliminates travel costs and time for the instructor, but attendees can get distracted or run into technical issues (meeting software, internet connnection, etc). Without travel restrictions, the classes can be more flexible.
- Hybrid (both in-person and virtual at same time) – often used when majority of people are in-person, but a few cannot attend physically. The experience isn’t good for the people online, as the focus is on the people in the room. However, it’s an option that is better for those virtually who would otherwise miss the training.
3. Live instructor, self-paced (pre-recorded) or blended (both)?
- Live instructor – Benefits are that you get personalized examples from the instructor, there is an increase in attendance (sessions are deemed more important), and the instructor can adjust the topics and flow of the course based on the attendees. Questions can be asked more easily, and the exercises tend to work more effectively.
- Self-paced (pre-recorded) – can be done whenever the attendee has time during the day, so it is more flexible for their schedule.
- Blended (both live and pre-recorded) – this is becoming the more popular choice. The idea is to move the core training and content to self-paced videos that can be watched on their own schedule, then the team meets with a live instructor on a regular basis to ensure the videos were watched, perform exercises and give personal examples, and to make sure the attendees can apply the concepts to their work. There may be some cost if in-person is requested for the live instructor, but typically these are shorter sessions done weekly, so travel might not be ideal. Some have opted to do most of the course self-paced, then bring everyone together for 1-3 days for exercises and application.
4. Standard or customized content?
Do you want to use a standard agenda and content from an existing course, or do you want to customize part of the course to better align with your company or industry?
- Customization can add more cost upfront, but can improve the learning and make the training more effective in the long term. The downside is that it can delay the start of the course due to development or modification time.
5. Condensed or spread out?
- Condensed – all the training takes place at once (multiple days in a row, all day long). This helps complete the training quickly, but there can be so much content that it overwhelms them. It can also be very disruptive to their work schedule when they are gone for multiple days in a row. This is typically done for in-person training when travel is involved for the instructor.
- Spread out – the training is done 1-3 times per week for no more than 4 hours per session. Attendees do not have to miss more than half a day at a time, and the time between sessions can allow for reflection, digesting of content, catching up from work assignments, time to complete project work for the class, and not feel as overwhelmed with all the content at once.
6. Do you want to offer a certification?
- Certifications can be a nice motivator for attendees to apply what they learned, and give companies some tangible results from the training to payback the training investment. I highly recommend this, as it will pay for the training, and enhance the learning experience. It’s a big difference between learning the concepts and trying to apply them.
- The most common certifications offered are Six Sigma Green Belt, Six Sigma Black Belt, and Lean
7. Do you want coaching support after the training?
If you are serious about having your employees apply what they learn from the class, then I highly recommend including some amount of 1-on-1 or group coaching with me after the class. This will allow them to get back into their work, think about how they can apply the training to their work, and get assistance from me on how to do that. When coaching is not included, the chances of real-life application of the training goes down significantly. We see about 20-30% completion of a real-life project when no coaching is offered, but 80%+ when coaching is included.
8. How many people are attending?
Obviously, the more people, the lower the cost will be per person. But there is a limit, as the class size can be too large that I cannot manage the class as effectively. It will depend on the course. The more hands-on work we’re doing, the smaller the class size.
9. Any extra features or requests?
- For all classes:
- Are we using any software programs, like Minitab, JMP, SigmaXL, eVSM, Visio that require a license? Do they have a current license, or will we need to fit the training within a 30-day free trial period.
- Do you want physical booklets printed and shipped to you, or provide digital files to attendees?
- Physical books are good for taking notes, but many people are trying to minimize clutter and “things” so they prefer to have digital files instead. We don’t mind sharing our content electronically as long as it’s not copied without permission.
- Do you want the sessions recorded and made available to attendees to review or watch (if they could not attend live)?
- I prefer to record our sessions to allow attendees to re-listen or watch, especially as the content gets more advanced andechnical.
- For in-person training, I ask that you provide someone to videotape the class, or provide your own camera that I can turn on and off.
- For in-person training:
- If software will be used in the class, and it is in-person, does everyone have access to a laptop to bring to class to work on exercises? If not, can they borrow a laptop during the class?
- Will you be having the training on-site at your facility or renting a space off-site?
- Off-site can add cost and travel time, but can reduce distractions for your employees so they can focus
- Will you providing breakfast, lunch and/or snacks?
- Attendees can get pulled away from their training on longer breaks, and fail to return, or come back late, which is another distraction. Providing food allows for more networking and less disruption and shorter lunch breaks (more time to learn)
Here are some examples of training solutions I’ve developed with my clients
- Created a virtual instructor Green Belt course for a food manufacturer that used their data sets and was focused on the Minitab analytical tools (not all the Six Sigma content). They invested $10,000, and one project yielded $74,000 with more projects being worked on. Read more in the case study >>>
- Created an online Lean Six Sigma White Belt and Yellow Belt program. I used most of my existing content, incorporated some of their slides and templates, and recorded the course into a video series. They uploaded the White Belt videos into their LMS for employees to take anytime. We also have an option where they sign up for the Yellow Belt program, but it’s an 8-10 week program and we have them watch the videos as homework, then we quiz them and coach them through their project during weekly coaching calls.
- Created a standard Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt course that was taught to clients in Southeast Asia during overnight hours (12 hour time zone difference). The course was taught virtually for 5 hours per session for 2 days in a row. Virtual exercises and discussions were designed into the course. I’ve also customized and developed some courses based on their needs and targeted audiences and industries.
- Taught a standard Lean course and Six Sigma course to a large company that had two production shifts. For each shift, I taught 6 hours a day and two classes per day (12 hours total) over 4-5 days in a row. This allowed both day and night shifts to stay on their regular schedules while receiving the training. It is a lot more training per day than usual, but it worked best for the client. Often times, the night shifts have to adjust to the day shift times, and that’s not fair. They receive a lot of content at once, so it can be a little overwhelming for them, and there was not any follow-up after the class, so not many completed projects.
- Developed a blended training program where employees from different companies take online training (pre-recorded) each week, and we meet for 12-16 weeks in a row (2 hours per week) to go over the topics that week, and decide how to apply it to real-life project at their work. The content is spread out, so it’s not all at once. Each week I also coach them on their project, and they get further on their project than other formats we’ve used. This is becoming my favorite format for teaching, as it is more spread out for me, and I spend more time coaching and less time teaching the same material over and over again. It’s also more affordable for the client, and the accountability each week is effective to keeping them on track and applying what they learned. One lean project is complete with over $50K in cost avoidance by redeploying a resource.
- A team of employees completed online Lean training, and I met with the team to review the modules, answer questions, and help them through their improvement projects with a monthly coaching program. They wanted to reduce wood waste going to the landfill, and use the scrap pieces in their assembly process. The team implemented 5S, visual controls, spaghetti diagrams and data analysis. The project they completed resulted in 165 hours saved and $290K USD in savings! Read more in the case study >>>
- Developed a customized course to help employees study for a Black Belt exam. Each week, we spend 2 hours virtually going through a different section in the review materials. This lasted for 16 weeks until we covered most of the content in the Black Belt body of knowledge. I cover the highlights of the content, and go through some of the difficult practice questions with everyone. For the rest of the session, I give them time to read through the content and work on practice questions, and help them understand the questions they couldn’t get correct. As of early 2024, one person has taken the exam and passed.
There is a lot to consider in order to provide effective and engaging training. However, we can help you figure it out!
Want to learn more about Lean and Six Sigma tools, and apply them to an improvement projects? Check out these low-cost online courses and certification programs
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