Education and training are important means of changing individual perceptions and behaviors. There is a distinction between training and education. Training refers to instruction and practice designed to teach a person how to perform some task. Training focuses on concrete tasks that need to be done. Training will be an integral aspect of instituting any process level change.
Education refers to instruction in how to think. Education focuses on integrating abstract concepts into one’s knowledge of the world. Educated people will view the world differently after being educated than they did before. This is an essential part of the process of change.
When Lean improvement plans are implemented, the nature of the work being done changes. People involved in or impacted by the new approach must receive two different types of training: conceptual and task-based.
Conceptual training involves explanation of the principles driving the change and a shift from an internal, product-based perspective to a customer and process-based focus. Rather than viewing their jobs in isolation, employees must be taught to see all work as a process, connected to other processes in a system.
Conceptual training also involves teaching employees the basics of problem-solving. Data-driven process improvement demands an understanding of the fundamentals of data collection and analysis. Employees are trained in the basic tools of quality which provides a means of understanding the systematic nature of process variation.
Task-based training is necessary to help employees acquire and maintain new skills and proficiencies. Employees are given the responsibility for self-control of process quality. These skills must be acquired through training and experience.
As part of the change initiative, an effective change agent will organize an assessment of the organization to identify its strengths and weaknesses. Change is usually undertaken to either reduce areas of weakness, or exploit areas of strength. Knowing one’s specific strengths and weaknesses is useful in mapping the process for change.
Training and education are a key aspect in initiating change and maintaining the improvements that are deployed.