ONE GOOD IDEA
Train With an EDGE
Four steps for teaching a skill more effectively
by Peter J. Sherman
How do you keep a group of adult learners engaged for a full day of training? Especially with a highly technical subject such as lean Six Sigma?
Look to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The BSA understands a key principle of training: Teaching is not effective unless learning takes place. To do this, the BSA uses the Training EDGE model-- a four-step training method for teaching a skill (see Figure 1). The following describes each step.
Explain: Explain what you are going to teach and why. The why is important because it provides participants with the context around a particular concept. Tell them the steps involved. Visual aids might be helpful for this step. Use questions to gauge their understanding.
Demonstrate: Demonstrate the steps using an example or actual materials. Describe what you are doing. Go at a slow pace so each step in the process is clearly demonstrated.
Guide: Guide learners as they go through the exercise for the first time. Provide the materials and tools needed to complete the exercise. A learner must do a new activity at least twice. That’s how real learning takes place. Repetition is essential. Let them practice the skills.
Enable: Enable learners by letting them perform the skill themselves without intervention. Evaluate the effort. Encourage the learners to keep trying until they master the skill. Recognize and celebrate success. Only then have you enabled learners to go off on their own and use that skill.
EDGE in action
The following example describes how I use the EDGE model with process mapping.
Explain: In most businesses, so much of what occurs is invisible. Process maps help make processes visible. The process map is fundamental in achieving consistency and repeatable results in business. From my experience, the most effective explanations incorporate stories, and the most effective stories are personal. My own personal story describes my father’s experience in the emergency room a few years ago. During his stay, I observed several process breakdowns and captured them on a process map. I used the map to effectively start a constructive dialogue with hospital executives.
Demonstrate: I demonstrate how to build a simple process map by walking everyone through the step-by-step process. The animation feature in PowerPoint is powerful to demonstrate the steps.
Guide: Now we’re ready to start learning by doing. Our exercise contains a short narrative and objectives to build a current-state map. A time limit is provided with expectations for a read-out. Each team is given Post-Its, markers and flip charts to complete the exercise. Learning during this stage is discovery driven. Ideas are shared and knowledge transfer occurs.
As the trainer, I walk around the room listening to and observing each team. I answer questions, and offer guidance and direction when I see teams are stuck. My role is coach and mentor.
Enable: After 20 minutes, I ask for volunteers to give a read-out. There is always some anxiety when presenting to a class. It is critical, however, that I give the presenter and his or her team some breathing room. The presenter must feel empowered without any intervention.
I facilitate the discussion by asking questions and encouraging other teams for their perspective. At the end of each read-out, we recognize each team’s efforts with a round of applause. Taking the time to recognize a team and celebrate it in a public way more effectively communicates your goal than any other method.
Using the EDGE model in your training can give you an edge and ensure learning really takes place.
Peter J. Sherman is managing partner at Riverwood Associates in Atlanta. He earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and an MBA from Georgia State University in Atlanta. A senior member of ASQ, Sherman is a certified lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt from Smarter Solutions Inc. in Austin, TX, an ASQ-certified quality engineer, and a certified supply chain professional from the American Production and Inventory Control Society.