Most process improvement practitioners have been a part of in-person learning and many have also participated in online learning. But when it comes to your Lean or Six Sigma program, is one method better than the other? Or would blended learning most benefit your business or organization?

In this interview, you will learn how companies as diverse as Seagate, Monsanto, the Department of Defense and CapitalOne have implemented blended learning for their Lean and Six Sigma programs.

Quick browse:

  • What is one company that has implemented Lean Six Sigma blended learning in the past year, and what results have they achieved? (1:20)
  • What is the best metric for measuring a Lean Six Sigma blended learning program? (3:28)
  • What does learning mean to a corporate leader? (4:23)
  • Most people understand “in-person” learning and “online” learning, but what does “blended” learning mean for Lean Six Sigma practitioners? (5:46)
  • Is there a specific formula for Lean Six Sigma blended learning at every Belt level? (7:44)
  • What are the Lean Six Sigma learning wastes associated with classroom learning? (13:20)
  • Why is Lean Six Sigma online learning not as effective as possible? (17:40)
  • Why not train Lean Six Sigma practitioners online, then run them through a project simulation to apply the lessons learned? (19:28)
  • What are the pitfalls to Lean Six Sigma blended learning? (20:33)
  • Is Lean Six Sigma blended learning less expensive than classroom-only or online-only training? (30:06)
  • How long will it take to recoup a return on investment for a Lean Six Sigma blended learning management system? (31:00)
  • How do you measure and maximize Lean Six Sigma knowledge transfer? (31:27)
  • What do Lean Six Sigma professionals need to know to make a case for blended learning at their organization? (34:24)
  • What is the future of Lean Six Sigma learning, and how can you prepare today? (36:27)

About John Best

John Best, Lean Six Sigma Blended LearningJohn Best is vice president of Lean Six Sigma and managing director of the Master Champion Network at The Quality Group. He is also an adjunct professor at Oklahoma State University and an instructor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Prior to The Quality Group, Best worked at Seagate Technology as Six Sigma program manager in charge of worldwide training and educational development in Lean Sigma, design for Six Sigma, applied statistics, project management and systems thinking.

Best earned his BS in Industrial Engineering from Oklahoma State University.

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John Best Interview Raw (Non-Edited) Transcript

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Michael Cyger: Hey everyone. My name is Michael Cyger, and I’m the Founder and Publisher of – the largest community of Lean and Six Sigma professionals in the world and the resource for learning to drive breakthrough improvement.

Here is what we do here. We bring on successful Lean and Six Sigma business leaders, learn from their past experiences, and share their strategies and tactics with you. Then, when you have a success to share, you can come on the show and give back, as today’s guest is going to do.

We have all learned primarily in face-to-face classroom settings, whether it be in high school or college. We have all heard of online learning, where you do not see anyone in person. Here is today’s big question. What is blended learning and how can it benefit your business or organization?

Joining me today to answer this question is John Best. John is Vice President of Lean Six Sigma at The Quality Group – a learning management system provider that focuses on blended learning and server clients as diverse as Capital One, the Department of Defense and Hesperia.

John, welcome to the show.

John Best: Hi Mike, glad to be here.

Michael: Let’s start with this question, John. What is one company that has implemented blended learning in the past year, and what results have they achieved?

John: Well, that is a good question. We have had several. I think one that comes to mind right off is Monsanto. Of course, being a content provider, we do not always get the numbers as far as the results go, but their enthusiasm is very high. And it is very typical, after their initial experience with blended learning, that they are very excited about it and expanded it to their worldwide network. So, we provided them courses in Spanish and Portuguese to do that; and we have noticed there has been just an awful lot of activity there with them. And we have also worked heavily with the Department of Defense, which is a office of the Secretary of Defense, which is rolling out, really, the first government-wide blended learning program. And they are pulling people in from sites all over the U.S.; in fact, all over the world into their blended courses.

Michael: Great. And so, you do not necessarily have any of the statistics around blended learning. How many more people are trained? How is the effectiveness of their programs, because they are internal and you provide the system for them to use?

John: Well, I can relate my personal experience when I was at Seagate; and when we rolled out blended learning there, we could cut our classroom time in half and our travel costs in half. And one of the things we noticed is that the people that completed the training were getting through their projects faster with a lot more success. And that is the feedback we got from the Department of Defense – is they are very excited about the fact that the projects are being completed very quickly with very good results. We are also seeing too that the blended learning being available – the courses being available – students can go back and review those at any time. So, if they are down the road a ways and they have completed their training, and now they find themselves on a project, they can go back in and take another look at value stream mapping or basic statistics, or something like that, and get a refresher as part of the job.

Michael: Yeah. So, in a Lean Six Sigma program, the biggest metric that anybody would be interested in measuring is: “Are they completing their projects faster and are they getting better results for the projects?”

John: Sure. And the whole thing is around the results. Any good process improvement program is going to focus on: “What are the key metrics in my organization? What keeps my executives up at night?” If my whole thing, like in consumer electronics, it is time to market. And if I can tie a project into time to market and they say: “I can get this project completed faster with better results,” you are going to have everybody’s attention; and that is the really the key to success here – is tying everything into not how many people you train, not how many projects you work, but are you actually turning the dial on your corporate metrics.

Michael: Right. All right. So let’s put some bounds on this conversation before we get into all the details, John. What does learning mean to you, as a corporate leader?

John: Well, it is a lot of things. It is obviously the live in-person training. You have got that both in the classroom and you have got that virtually as well. And with some of the latest innovations we have seen, just like the Skype call we are on right now, you are seeing a tremendous increase in the number of people taking this approach. You have got online courses, but the important thing here is learning needs to extend past that. To really get a return on an investment, you have got to look at the projects, you have got to look at the post-training activities – the case studies, the hands-on activities – what happens after the classroom as well. So, it really takes on a broader context. And also, along with that, we are really seeing an increase in the social media, which gives us an ability to collaborate and get answers very quickly. I mean who would have thought fifteen years ago, when we started all this Lean Sigma stuff, that we would have people wanting to learn Six Sigma watching their telephone while out on the treadmill. It is that type of thing. And we have collaboration websites. We have wikis in a lot of organizations that allow people to share. And the whole thing here is we are getting organizational knowledge, we are able to expand that knowledge, and then make it available to everybody else.

Michael: Makes sense. So, we talked about in-person training. I think everybody understands what that means. You go to a physical location and you sit there for a day, or five days, or what have you. When I went through my Black Belt training, I had four weeks of a week in duration each, separated by, I think, two to three weeks in between those four or five weeks. I think we might have had some facilitation training as well as the DMAIC training. And so, we understand online training, where I can go and watch some videos and it will walk me through, and maybe there are some quizzes. But what does it mean to do blended learning, John?

John: Blended learning is a combination of all those things. And the idea of the blend is to get everybody together, first of all. It is not all online; it is not all in classroom. But when you get people into class, there is a lot of waste that takes place. In fact, I will share with you here in a little bit the eight wastes of classroom learning. And the idea is to prepare people coming into class. So, first of all, you level-set everybody, and so everybody comes in exposed, at least, to the same amount of material and people a little bit behind in statistics can get themselves caught up. If they say: “Well, I am fairly advanced in this stuff anyway,” which is kind of rare, but you get one once in a while, they can kind of work through that stuff a little bit faster. So, once you get into the classroom then, you do not have to spend a lot of time going over the basics. People have the basics already, but you spend your time saying: “Okay, now here is what you have learned and here is how you actually apply it on the job. Here is what it means to you.” And so, blended learning is using all of these different social media outlets. It can be pre-reading. It can be research on websites. It could be wiki sites. Lots of things. There are lots of possibilities.

Michael: Okay, and we will get into the details, but does The Quality Group recommend a specific formula for blended learning for somebody that is going to go through, say, Green Belt training – where you do some online level set, then you do some in person, then you go back and do more online? Is there some sort of formula?

John: It absolutely depends on the needs of the client. And we help people develop learning models to fit their business needs. There are a lot of things that have to go into coming up with learning models. You have to consider: do you have people that are remote? Do you have people that are all in class? What is your level of people? Are you going to be mixing accountants and engineers in one class? And then, once you get this, you can come up with a plan that is pretty much you break your class down into doable chunks, and then you say: “Okay, here are your prerequisites for your first class session. So, take these classes. You will have a little post-test; you will have some activities. Then come to class and we will assume, once you get into class, you have had the online learning because the class is going to move pretty fast.” And they appreciate that, so we get through a one-week session in two days, let’s say. Then we give them another assignment and say: “Okay, here is your next batch of elearning; then come back again.” Usually we will repeat that twice with Green Belts and we will go four sessions with the Black Belts, but I have seen all kinds of variations on that as well. People want to do half days or they want to stretch it out over a longer period or condense it. So, there is just a tremendous variety of learning models that are available.

Michael: Yeah. Okay, and you help people figure out what the right learning model for each organization is as well.

John: Absolutely. Sure.

Michael: Great. The funny thing, when I went through my training, the one level setting prerequisite of going to class was to read the book, Statistics Without Tears. It was a short little thin book, but because we had engineers, and we had administrators, and we had project leaders that were not necessarily engineers all coming together to the class, they just wanted to make sure that you were not going to cry when we started to talk about statistics.

John: I think I have got that on my bookshelf right there.

Michael: John, before you joined The Quality Group, you were at Seagate. What was your role there?

John: Well, I was at Seagate as a quality engineer. My background is industrial engineering, and so Six Sigma was a logical fit. And when they started the Six Sigma program, I was actually the first Master Black Belt. They had several of us. When I went through my Black Belt training, it was mostly potential Master Black Belts, and some of us wound up teaching our own Black Belt class – to kind of show you how that went. That was a little bit of the pressure the management put on us. And the last several years, I was their general manager – program manager, you might say – of their worldwide training. So, my responsibility was to roll out the training; to kind of manage the training base among the various sites around the world.

Michael: Yeah, and that is no small feat because Seagate is distributed around the world.

John: Absolutely. And I have conducted classes from Singapore to Ireland; and I have had people in blended classes in both locations, and that makes time zones a real challenge, but it is usually me up at two in the morning doing in the class. That was a real experience. I learned an awful lot working with Seagate; and, through Oklahoma State University, I am on the engineering faculty. I have had a chance to work with companies as kind of an independent consultant as well over the years.

Michael: Great. Well, it is good to see that somebody who was doing this in the corporate environment is now helping others do the same thing and get phenomenal results. And I think that I became familiar with some of your work, John, a year or so ago. For a number of years, iSixSigma produced the Department of Defense annual performance symposiums. They were six hundred to seven hundred people that converged on Washington, D.C. and shared best practices, and became inspired some of the speakers. I believe it was at one of the most recent ones that there was a project competition, where teams pulled together – teams of two or three pulled together – and they solved a simulated project as quickly and correctly as possible. Not all of them got the exact correct answer, but it is an evaluation. And I heard that you wrote that simulation. Is that correct?

John: Actually, it was a team effort. It was based on a simulation I had used in the past, but I had an awful lot of help with it. And we call that our capstone project. And we put together a one-day competition based on a scenario in the Department of Motor Vehicles, which we thought everybody could kind of relate to. We actually visited some DMVs that were having trouble and we benchmarked some that were really very successful in applying Lean principles. And we partnered with ProModel Corporation and developed a simulation of an actual DMV that we worked into the problem. And essentially, we gave the teams a problem at the beginning of the day, and then they had the full day to solve it. And of course, they had report outs like every two hours, and we would stop and play some games and do some fun things in there too. At the end of the day, we had a very clear winner in the group.

Michael: Yeah, and I love that. I was there. I enjoyed the fact that I was not competing with any of the people there because there were some smart people in the room.

John: Really.

Michael: But it was well executed and a great simulation. All right. So let’s chat about classroom learning. You mentioned earlier that there are wastes associated with only classroom learning. So, if you only did it the way that I learned, you had to come to the classroom. What are those wastes?

John: Well, there are several of them here, and we have written a paper on it that is called “Live-Only Learning for Lean Six Sigma is Worse Than You Think.” And just to share with you a couple of ideas in here, I mean take transportation waste. That is a clear one. People have to travel to come to class. But then you have got waiting waste. Not only are you waiting for the class to start, because we are so busy these days we do not have time for a class, so we are going to go out and we are going to Google something; and we may not get the right answer or we may, but you also have people away from their actual job. You have overproduction, where you are putting out vast amounts of information to people, so the drinking out of the firehose, like you have probably experienced in your Black Belt class. And there is another aspect too it too in overproduction – and that is just producing volumes of printed materials that are used in class. Motion waste could be inefficient use of classroom time, for example, where you spend time teaching the basics. Your class is only going to go as fast as your slowest person, assuming they are willing to ask questions; otherwise, they are completely lost. Inventory waste. True transfer of knowledge is not done until the end of the class. And due to this information overload, the inefficiency in the class time, and poor learning accountability, learners leave unprepared. Green Belts who come out of class and then they are in a project, and they say: “Okay, now what do I do?” You have got extra processing waste because you may have to have two Master Black Belts teaching a large class and you have pulled them out key things. You will have the human potential waste. Your learner skills atrophy over time; and a huge barrier to successful projects is people that do not have the knowledge and the ability to do what they are supposed to do. So, weakened skills really hurt their project potential. And then, of course, you have the defects. In several aspects of that, the class material may not be applicable to their actual work because, in a classroom environment, to justify the big class, you pretty much do a one-size-fits-all. And engineers and accountants in the same class, I use that example. That is a tough audience. And you have got to make sure that you have transferred the relevant skills for each group, and you do not have time to work with them individually in a total classroom setting.

Michael: Yeah, definitely. The couple that stuck out to me, as somebody who has been a life-long learner, is the class goes only as fast as the slowest learner. And the slowest learner changes from topic to topic. So, if you talk about the first topic with me and I am the slowest learner at that session, I need you to explain it to me again; it is going to be somebody else the next time that was looking at their phone when you said that critical piece of information, or they were not focused on it, or they just could not comprehend it the way it was explained that one time. And so, suddenly, the timeline is exponentially larger. And the other big thing that is the MBBs being available and only having a certain amount of material whereas, with an online class, if you knew that MBB #1 was phenomenal at statistics and could explain it to everybody, and MBB #2 was great at actually translating information into actionable day-to-day-type environment, you could have them each focus on their own core competencies and pull it all together into a cohesive educational game plan.

John: Exactly. Exactly right. In fact, we did a lot of that at Seagate. We had specialties in our Master Black Belts. But in a classroom environment, you will pull them in to teach specific things; in the blended environment, you can actually make them part of the blended program. You can record them. Lots of opportunities to pull in the expertise of the different people.

Michael: Yeah. So, you talked about a lot of different wastes of classroom learning, and I said I feel the same way. I am sure a lot of people watching this interview have felt all of those same wastes. Why not just go to online learning? Why is online learning only not as effective as possible?

John: Well, that is a good question, and learning comes by doing. And you really have to have an immediate application of the tools and the techniques, or the learning starts to fade. And I have seen Green Belts who were not assigned to their first project until several months after the training was over, and they had to really start over. So, the online learning, I think, really misses that human element. We do not push online only. A component of blended learning that can help you overcome this situation is something we call a capstone project. After the Department of Defense experience, we went ahead, on their request, and expanded this to a three-day project; and it allows their Green Belts to meet their project requirement right in class. And the class is divided into teams. They are given a problem. They have three structured days in order to solve that problem. And we have been told that, with that model, it is just a tremendous learning experience to pull this together. I just did one for a major rental car company, and they brought people in from all over the country. And it was a virtual class, and some of these people never met each other until they actually got into the capstone project, and it turned out to be a real good experience for them. So, we definitely think that there has to be face-to-face component of some sort.

Michael: Now, just to play the devil’s advocate so I can understand a little bit better, why not have individuals go through online training and then online individual problem-solving portions of a capstone project or an entire capstone project that an individual would solve rather than bringing people together and working as a team to solve it?

John: Well, because the major feedback we get is: “Yeah, the tools are not that hard, but wow, getting all these people to agree on which one to do next is tough.” Giving them that experience to work together as a team. Because we try to put them together – people that are strangers or maybe don’t work together every day just to see how they can function. Then we kind of ask them to rotate the leadership of team in each of the sessions, too; and that gets to be a real experience. So, a lot of the feedback we have gotten is that the big part of it was not only how do the tools all fit together, but wow, I did not know this team stuff was so tough.

Michael: Yeah, that is true. Very true. All right. So let’s talk more about blended learning and getting the right balance. It sounds like there are some pitfalls to in-person learning; there are some pitfalls to online-only learning. Are there any pitfalls to blended learning?

John: Actually, that is a good question. There really are. Blended learning done right can be very beneficial to an organization. Blended learning done wrong can be very detrimental. And if people have a bad online experience, they do not forget that very quickly. So, the elearning component has to be very well done. And I think one of the pitfalls I have seen is there is such an abundance of low cost software and video editing tools out there.

Michael: Hey John, I’m sorry. We had a Skype sort of slow down and catch up. You were just saying that there is such an abundance of learning options and becomes so cheap for people to put together video options that something was happening.

John: What happens is the results are often less than desirable. And you may get the words and the graphics on the page, but you’ve got to remember you are asking your people to step away from the job and spend time watching this stuff. And so, it has to be engaging, it has to be interesting, it has to be relevant, and it has to be very interactive. Poorly done elearning that does not use a professional voice and doesn’t take adult learning into consideration can set you back really.

Michael: Yeah, definitely. And for anybody that does not know what adult learning is and how to develop adult learning, I suggest you go and Google it just so you can learn all of the intricacies involved in doing that. Not that you are going to become an expert in it just by Googling it and reading a couple articles on it, but there is an entire science around adult learning objectives and coming up with content. So, let me ask you this. I do not want to turn this into a pitch for The Quality Group because you do provide learning management systems as well as a host of other companies, but I ask you this because you have expertise in this learning management system and you have implemented it at Seagate in the past. What are the requirements of a company that would make them more successful at implementing a learning management system? In other words, do they need a certain number of employees that need to be trained per year? Do they have to have a curriculum as large as a Lean Six Sigma program? What are some of the specifications around learning at an organization that would lead a company to sort of look at a learning management system as an option?

John: By learning management system, you are talking about the software to control the system and everything like that?

Michael: Correct.

John: That is something always kind of left up to the trained professions in the organization to figure out. A learning management system is something that allows you to get control of your entire population, or at least keep an eye on, and manage who is doing what. It is really nice to know that, as people come into class, they have actually completed the modules they had been assigned. And they know, well, somebody is kind of keeping an eye on that, then there is a little bit of peer pressure that kicks in and they have more of a tendency to want to do that. Learning management systems can tie into things like performance appraisal systems and things like that too, as they get more and more complicated. Our OpusWorks platform is a type of learning management system that allows a lot of flexibility for the user to get in, and structure classes, and put together menus and really run a customized environment, where a corporate learning management system may be very inflexible and require IT intervention. In other words, to get in and maybe restructure menus and things.

Michael: Right. Yeah, if I understand correctly, your system will allow me, if I am at a corporate environment, to use your content if I do not have any, to create my own content if I want to write something about kanban or something and record it and deliver it, organize the curriculum, add people to the learning management system, and assign them to certain curriculum. And the curriculum could change over time, so I can have different versions of it as time progresses and the needs of the business change. I can track them through the system. So, I can say: “They must complete modules one through three before going to an in-person training,” or “Before joining my CEO at an event, they must complete the first three modules and show that they have achieved a certain percentage of knowledge by taking a test that is administered through your system.” All of those things are things that a learning management system can do. Correct?

John: Absolutely. To give you an example of that, we had a client who said, “I want a basic design of experiments class for my engineers. And let’s throw in failure mode and effect analysis while we’re at it.” So we were able to structure together a menu that included not only the FMEA introduction, but all the basic statistics that an engineer would need in order to be successful in designed experiments. They structured the menu together. They tracked their people through that. Sent them reminders: “Hey, the class is a week off. You have not started yet.” And that type of thing. So, when we got together in the class, we were able to cover that whole body of knowledge really in three days.

Michael: Yeah, that is fantastic.

John: Helicopters flying around and catapults and everything imaginable.

Michael: And I am sure the MBBs want to know that everybody that shows up for class has completed all the prerequisites; and your system determines if they have attended the sessions, and if they have taken the test, and if they passed the test with a certain percentage. Otherwise, they have to go back and retake the course again – the course module.

John: Sure, yeah. The people are going to be put together in a class, and then you can actually get a matrix that shows the class and the modules. And you can look at time spent in the modules, the scores they got on the exams, and lots of different things. So, there is a real strong reporting feature there.

Michael: Yeah. So, back to my question just before we laid out what could go into a learning management system. Clearly, if I only had five people in my organization that needed training and they were all in the same geographic area, probably a learning management system might be overkill because it has a certain cost associated with it. But if I have twenty thousand people over a multiple geographic area with multiple waves of training going, that might be a great scenario for a learning management system. Do you agree that those bounds sound reasonable?

John: Absolutely. In fact, if people come together and say: “Hey, we have got four or five people we need to train; what is the best way to do it,” we will refer them to one of our academic partners who is doing these classes on an ongoing basis. I teach classes now through the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And we are pulling people in all the time. They have got five people in their company that need to be trained and it is really not worth to get in and make that investment, so they will go and they will have all the benefits through the university of having their own elearning portal. They will have access to it for a year after class, and all the materials. They just won’t have to make that big upfront investment. You get up to a certain size in the company and they need that level of flexibility and size, then it makes sense for them to go ahead and get their own branded portal.

Michael: Yeah. And any idea what that number is for an organization?

John: Not really.

Michael: No?

John: It varies. It is a lot in the amount of flexibility that they need and they have a lot of people to train. I do not have a hard, fast number.

Michael: All right, I won’t put you on the spot anymore then with the numbers.

John: Thank you.

Michael: And once a company implements a learning management system, like the one you offer at The Quality Group, is that a system that requires a full team to administer? Or does it only take one person to administer, or one part time person? Any idea?

John: Again, it depends on the size of the organization, but no, it really is very simple. It is very intuitive to use. There is online training available for the online training network, so (Unclear 29:29.4). It is very simple to run. I pretty much did it at Seagate. I had an administrator help me on occasion, but as a Master Black Belt, it took very little of my time to actually set all this up and administer it.

Michael: All right. I just want to point out to the audience we are having some small video/audio delays. I apologize for that. John has a storm going on over there. It is always stormy here, in Seattle. So, between the two of us, we are fighting against the Internet gnomes. I did catch everything there, but if the audience that is watching this video notices a lag between the video and the audio, I just wanted to acknowledge that for them. Is blended learning less expensive than classroom only or online only training?

John: In the long run, absolutely, because you make that initial investment and we look at the ROI on this; and that is another we do when we help an organization setup. We can help them with a return on investment model for their program. It is pretty quick really. You are saving not only the obvious travel time and expenses and classroom time, but it is the time to knowledge – the time to your performance proficiency – that is the important metric there I think. So, in the long run, they are not only seeing those types of reductions, but they are seeing faster return on their projects as well, because their projects are getting completed faster; and that is the bottom line of all of this.

Michael: Yeah, that is the most important. If somebody has to look at just the expense that they have in implementing a learning management system, John, can they expect a return on investment in 12 months or 24 months? Clearly it is going to vary by different program, but what have you seen generally in the past.

John: I have seen 8 to 12 months in medium-sized companies pretty much.

Michael: All right. So we talked about projects being one of the most important metrics. Let me ask you this. Since the whole point of learning online/in-person blended is the learning – the knowledge transfer – how do you measure that in your system to make sure that you are maximizing that knowledge transfer?

John: Well, that is an excellent question, and we go back to the Kirkpatrick Model, which presents you a four-level assessment of training effectiveness. And the first two levels that you have – the reaction and the learning – are to understand the extent to which the participants had grasped the material and how it improves their skills. You can do that at the end of the learning event. You can do that as part of the training class. And we found that people going through the blended program, that is very good. There is a very rapid knowledge transfer. And we have seen the exams results and things like that improve pretty drastically over the classroom model. The other part of that – levels three and four – look at behavior and results to see to what extent the participants have actually changed their behavior and how they are impacting the workplace. That is a little trickier to measure and that is where your whole educational process needs to extend beyond the end of the learning event. I will give you an example. I worked with a company that put in a new project tracking system. And everybody in the organization went off and go their training like they were supposed to, and sat in class a couple of days and absorbed it all. And then, after about a month or so, the director noticed that only about one out of ten people were actually using the system; and the few that were using it, were not really using it right. And they thought the training was the problem. The training said, “No, application is the problem.” So, a typical issue – how do you resolve this? Now, if you looked at this with a blended model, you could put together an online portion of this that could serve as a permanent ongoing reference. So, as people came into class, then the whole thing could be revolved around practice and actually picking up and learning those skills. And then, setting expectations at the end of class that: “Okay. Yeah, class is over. However, this learning event is going to continue on until we have assessed your effectiveness; and here is how we are going to do that.” And once you have done that, then you can start to get a pretty good start on the levels three and four. Most companies never go beyond levels one and two in their training assessment.

Michael: All right. Kirkpatrick Model. I am going to have to do a little more research on that one. So we talked about the wastes of classroom training and we talked about some of the pitfalls of online-only learning, where you do not get the person-to-person interaction; and Lean and Six Sigma events are all about changing the way people operate, so, clearly, working together with people is important. Anything else that professionals at organizations need to know to make a case for blended learning at their organization?

John: Well, I think it goes down to your return on investment. You need that to be very fast and very measurable. And I think the Department of Defense is a real good example. They had a measurable increase in the speed and the impact of their Green Belt training in the projects that were completed and in how well those projects were coming together. I had the opportunity to conduct a Black Belt-level class for a marketing organization; and they sent sixteen people to class that were divided into four teams. And they came in with actual projects that were predefined by their manager. And we were able to customize the class to meet their specific needs as marketing people – a little heavier on the Lean; a little less on the statistics. And we did the class in about half the classroom hours; and I think the significant thing there is they actually used the projects as their classroom activities. And so, by the time we got to the end of the class, one of the projects was almost completed; the others were very close behind. And it was probably one of the most successful classes I had done because everybody came in at the same level, everybody had a very clear project to work on, and we were able to work on those actual projects right there in class. We had another real good experience with a casino, where we taught the class right on the casino floor. And we worked on maintenance problems that they were running into there. And so, everybody got out there. We had some people that had statistics in college. We heard people that could not even pronounce the ‘s’ word. And so, once they got out there, though, they at least were at the same level and were able to participate very quickly. So, blended learning works. Done right, it works very well.

Michael: Yeah. Let me know the next time you are going to the casino to run that project, John. I will be there as well. I love hitting the casinos in Vegas.

John: All right.

Michael: All right. The final question is this, John. What do you see in the future of corporate learning that the iSixSigma audience should start to think about now?

John: You are going to see rapid increase in the use of the social media tools. And things are moving so fast now. You are getting what I call kind of the “iPod generation.” These people come into the workplace expecting to be able to get their questions answered very quickly. Not patient with sitting in class. You have got the challenge of the baby boomers, like myself, who would rather sit in a class all kind of mixed together. But I think in the future, here, we are going to see a tremendous increase in the technology and the availability of these types of courses.

Michael: Yeah, and so corporations better get ready because this is the workforce of the future.

John: Absolutely.

Michael: All right. If you have a follow-up question for John, please post it in the comments below this video, and we will ask him to come back and answer as many as he can. If you would like to follow John at The Quality Group on their Twitter account, they are @TheQualityGroup. And John, this is the portion of the video where I urge the audience, right now, if you received value out of this interview – and I know I did because John has done a fantastic job explaining the process of learning and differentiating between in-person, and online, and blended, and all the different options – please take a moment and say thank you. It is as easy as posting a comment below this show, following The Quality Group on Twitter, or even sending John an email just to say thank you. John, if somebody wants to send you an email to ask you a follow-up question and say thanks for doing the video, is there a better email address that they can use?

John: [email protected].

Michael: Excellent. [email protected].

John Best, Vice President of Lean Six Sigma for The Quality Group. Thank you for coming on the iSixSigma show, sharing your knowledge of elearning, and helping others become more successful change agents and business leaders.

John: Mike, it was a pleasure. Thank you very much.

Michael: Thank you all for watching. We’ll see you next time.

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