Guest Post by Darryl Crum of training provider.

“Information is not knowledge, let’s not confuse the two.” – Deming

cognitive_map Vanessa Fuentes

Years ago, I was in charge of a group of technical writers for a manufacturing company and we were responsible for writing all of the setup and operating procedures for six factories.  What I noticed was that my degreed Technical Writers were writing nonsense as far as many of the workers were concerned. The SOPs met the industry standards, but they did not serve the very people for whom they were intended.  The workers needed training material that they could, in fact, read, understand, and retain.  Since these people generally are not “readers”, but are “lookers” (try to build the Christmas bike from the parts diagram rather than the text instructions) it seemed to me we needed to revise the way we provided information to them.

We can give someone information, but that does not mean that that person has converted that information into useable knowledge.

If they did not, we end up with an employee whose lack of knowledge, despite their training and information,  is destined to make a bad product, break a machine or injure themself or someone else.

Only then do we recognize that our assumption on the level of knowledge that employee had is wrong.

His or her cognitive map was inaccurate or incomplete.

How can we can do better?

  • We can provide information to employees in a form and format that makes it remarkably easy for them to understand.
  • We can reduce the amount of encoding and decoding needed to digest the information provided for the training.
  • We need to make it easier for the employee to understand.

If we do these things, the employee  can form an accurate cognitive map- not just be confused by complicated and misunderstood instructions.

Our experience has shown that to help employees form accurate cognitive maps, we need to reduce the amount of text and maximize the use of visuals and imagery.

If you go to  this page on our website, you can download a .pdf file that demonstrates how management can provide information in a form and format that the employee can more readily convert to knowledge.

It does not take a technical writer to produce this.

  • Once produced, and shared with the employee, we know what his cognitive map looks like because our images helped him construct it- with out decoding.
  • If a quality problem pops up, we can measure the accuracy of that employees work by comparing what he or she does with the illustrated work instruction.
  • Our workforce has changed. We need to change our approach to training, and our cognitive mappiong technique reduces the learning curve and improves worker accomplishment.

What are your strategies to improve employee competency?

How are they working out?

Click this link to get further background on the ViewIt Training System.

Vanessa Fuentes Impressive Graphic Design

These past two years have taught us all some valuable lessons. But, we haven’t yet recognized the change that these lessons have brought with them. I found a brilliant description of the change and the lessons laid out in a book. The book is titled Linchpin, written by Seth Godin.

The only MUST READ book for you this year!

Here are three lessons about our new world of work:
Lesson 1: There are fewer and fewer jobs where you can get paid merely for showing up. (Page 23) Instead progressive shops are looking for people who make a difference and they are shedding everyone else.
Lesson 2: If you want a job where you get to do more than follow instructions, don’t be surprised if you get asked to do things they never taught you to do in school.(Page 30) No one today is looking for people who need to be told what to do. Shops that are busy today are desperate to find talented, courageous, competent people who know what to do.
Lesson 3: For nearly three hundred years…factory owners wanted compliant, low paid replaceable workers to run their machines. (Page 7) We just lived through the last two years of management in our  precision machining shops doing everything they could to keep their most talented, dare I say it, most indispensable people on the payroll.
We have come through an incredible change in business and manufacturing in the past two years. The days of business success being assured by having a high Percentage of Easily Replaced Laborers (PERL) is over. (Page 10)  Low cost labor in Asia and former Eastern Bloc countries win that game hands down. The system of show up, do what they tell you, work hard, keep your head down, fit in, try to be average, stick it out, be part of the system, died an ugly death over these past two years. (By the way, it didn’t work so well in junior high either.)
THE SYSTEM HAS CHANGED. You know it as an employee. You know it as an employer. This book  explains the change. And how you (and your organization) can thrive in this new reality.
This is not just a book for managers. This is not just a book for employees. This is not just a book for people who want the latest thinking. This book  will give you, no matter who you are or what  you do, tools you can use to make sense of today’s new world of work, and your essential part in it.
Without you...

You have brilliance in you. Your contribution is valuable. What you create is precious. (In our industry, often it saves lives!) Only you can do what you do. Bring your best with you to work. We’re counting on you! (Page 3)