Teams and training


If I provide a lecture or essay associated with a topic or assignment, I like to discuss nuances or angles not apparent in the reading materials. You probably know that in the real world things are almost always more complicated than in a book or in school. What you may not realize is that what you know about the real world is not nearly as complicated as it really is. In providing insights about the complexities of things I am not trying to wow you or bury you trivia. I am trying to prepare you for when things are not, or do not work out, as expected. My favorite Yogi Berra quote is in theory, theory and practice are the same, in practice they are not.


The word team is overused, i.e., saying something is a team doesn’t make it so. A work gang may or may not be a team. A mere collection of persons does not make a team any more than a collection of coins makes a team. A team implies a certain level of necessary interpersonal cooperation and interaction. Sports teams provide very good examples. Note that the players on a basketball team have different talents and roles and all those roles are needed. A team of five centers is not a very good team. The coaches, locker room attendants, etc. associated with a team are really not part of the playing team; they are support (and may or may not be a support team). Five workers stripping shingles of a house are not a team if they are all doing the same job (or if adding or subtracting a couple of workers doesn’t alter what the other workers do). Neither a mere aggregate of rocks nor people are a team. Roles within a team can be repeated but if there are not identifiable roles, there is no team. To be a team, there must be a certain amount of team member autonomy. If you are playing with dolls or toy soldiers, those toys are not a team. If employees only do what they are told, when they are told, how they are told, they are probably not a team. Even when there are various roles and individuals have some autonomy and fulfilling their roles, there is not team without a certain level of shared purpose and action. A team is like a system. Think of the human circulatory system. The heart, lungs (two team members with the same role), and other parts work in concert. The members of the basketball team cannot merely have their individual roles and make individual decisions. Lastly, turn work or piece work is not team work. Let’s assume student A does this bit of a project and student B does that bit of a project, then student C puts the bits together, then student D presents the bits in class. That is not team work.


For the most part, training and education are interchangeable. People make differences between training and education based on the purpose, who is getting trained/educated, and other factors. Usually, training is said to be more specific and of immediate use. Whereas, education has a lifelong focus is applicable to many situations. I think that these are spurious distinctions. For training or education, there is going to be some mix of generalizable theory (that will pretty much stay the same throughout your life and be applicable to different situations) and specific tools (techniques, behaviors) that can be use immediately for a specific task.

Basic problem solving describes the major steps of training. These steps can be stated in dozens of flowcharted nodes or in as little as three.

1. Decide what training needs to be done. This implies some sort of needs assessment and problem statement to identify the gap between what the person knows (or can do, etc.) and what they should know.

2. Deliver the training. This includes designing the training and all the steps of delivering it.

3. Evaluate the training to see if it closed the problem gap, i.e., the person now knows what they need to, can do what they need to.

Kirkpatrick’s Model focuses on the evaluation and includes the following.

· Reaction. The trainee’s change in the affective domain, i.e., their attitude and perceptions.

· Learning. The trainee’s change in cognitive domain, i.e., their knowledge.

· Behavior. The trainee’s change in psychomotor domain, i.e., their behavior.

· Results. The change in organizational output. For me, this is the most important. If the person changed a lot (in a good way, as intended) but the origination didn’t change (quality, efficiency, safety, whatever), the training was a waste of organization resources.

Note that without change, no learning took place. Training/teaching (as an activity by a trainer) may have taken place, but no one was trained/learned. Working backwards, what change was needed? #1 above; the identified problem gap. To not first specify the problem that training hopefully can cure is like deciding everyone needs insulin injections without a diagnosis. All too often, managers jump to the medication (the training) conclusion without a proper diagnosis. Often they are talked into the training by someone selling it (or by peer pressure, or conventional wisdom, e.g., everyone else is doing it). Like any project and plan, there needs to be a problem statement, rationale, needs analysis, cost-benefit analysis, etc. for the training. Then the training needs delivered. If you do not evaluate the results of the training, you cannot know if problem was solved. In case you thought of it, yes, as a problem solving process, training can follow the DMAIC steps.

Initial Post

See the general assignment instructions for information about the quality and quantity expectations and evaluation criteria.

III. Teams and training.

a. Describe a real-life team scenario related to quality. Describe the type of team it was, its purpose, and the team roles. Describe the functioning of the team, the results, and how the functioning and/or results might have been improved.

b. Summarize the Kirkpatrick Model.

c. Identify a real training need related to quality (remember the industrial-technical focus if you can) and outline the training plan to meet that need.

Do not copy anything from the internet or any other source to complete the assignment. Use information from your life and experiences.

If you have never personally been on a team that had something to do with quality you can use a team that you were not personally on but knew about. Note that the team might have had something to do with quality, e.g., a basketball team, but not focused only on quality. Note that the group might not have been labeled a team.

Similar to the preceding paragraph, the training need must be something you have witnessed and experienced. You might or might not be someone who needs the training, e.g., you might have received or witnessed poor service that could be corrected with training.

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