Learning and Quality

On a networking site I belong to there was a great question recently so I thought I’d post the question as well as one of the top answers.


Anyone with experience applying quality principles to the learning process?

Looking for ideas on how quality can be used to reduce time, waste and variability in how people learn.

What I’m looking for are more specific examples such as used Kaizen to reduce classroom time by 20%. Used six sigma to measure learning outcomes. Used lean principles …


First, you might want to get yourself a free copy of the Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award for Education. You can download it directly from the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) at the following web address: http://www.quality.nist.gov/Education_Criteria.htm .

Secondly, ASTD (the American Society for Training and Development) has many resources available regarding measurement and process control for learning and training. You can check it out at: http://www.astd.org/ASTD/aboutus/about_inside.htm

Thirdly, there are two ASQ (American Society for Quality) Divisions which could prove helpful in providing you with specific case studies. I would recommend you contact the member leaders listed on their websites within ASQ. These are the Education Division (http://www.asq.org/edu/) and the Human Development & Leadership Division (http://www.asq.org/hdl/).

Lastly, I would like to mention three tools I’ve used to assure the effectiveness and efficiency of workforce learning.

Tool 1: Obtain and implement an automated training tracking system module for your ERP system if one is available. This way, you can potentially link performance metrics regarding employee training hours to performance metrics for quality costs influenced by each employee. This is always an eye-opening statistic for managers. More training means much lower quality costs on an employee by employee basis. If you can calculate the EBITDA per employee, you should be able to arrive at this factor, as well, to determine profitability for the organization over time as a ratio against training hours. Very startling information for most managers. Training increases, profits go up. Training declines, profits go down. Who would ever have guessed?

Tool 2: Grab a few free OJT procedures and checklists off of the internet. I recommend those in MS Excel format because they often contain metrics you can use to assess the effectiveness of the learning process. To do so, just do this: Open Google (www.google.com). Click on advanced search options (to the right of the Google logo). Select “File Type” as “Microsoft Excel (.xls)”. Enter “OJT checklist” in the search field. Bingo. Instant access to 137 free, editable, downloadable OJT checklists in MS Excel. You can do the same thing for MS Word files, if you like.

Tool 3: Use a pre and post training True/False questionnaire (I recommend 10 questions) to assess “penetration” of key points for any topic covered in training. If you can’t improve employee comprehension by, rule of thumb, at least 20%, then the training either isn’t effective or isn’t necessary. Word to the wise, if you end up with a lower post training score, you need to reassess your trainer, program, job description for employees being trained… or all of the above.

I hope you find something of value in the information I’ve provided.

All the best,

Diane Kulisek