Amplify outside effects may work better than isolating them

We deliver training developed in house for suppliers. The measured results of the training can be attributed to many factors outside of the instruction.

The training is for a manufacturing quality chart. The objectives are:

  1. Level 2: Recognize the layout of the form

Apply the best practices taught in the course to complete a case study.

Measure of learning: A critique of the completed case study.

  1. Level 5: Have confidence filling out the form.

Measure of confidence: Likert scale survey at the end of the course.

Ideally, follow up interviews 2-3 months after the class could be performed to measure the learning and attitude. This could be questionnaire of the attendee and their supervisor. It could also be interviews with a sample group. In addition, historical data of the individual supplier’s compliance can be used to measure application.

To isolate the effects of instruction other attributive factors would have to be isolated. These would be:

Supplier company culture

  1. To what extent is quality chart compliance encouraged.
  2. Who the suppliers other customers are.
  3. The complexity of their manufacturing process.

Our company

  1. Inconsistencies between plants enforcement of quality chart rules.
  2. Relationship between supplier and plant quality engineers.
  3. Quality chart audit schedule is based on supplier grade.
  4. The safety and critical characteristics of the part made by the suppliers.

Individual students

  1. Role in the company and responsibility for quality chart development.
  2. Time available for quality chart development.

Because of the large number, variety and strength of these influences, it would be very difficult to isolate these. Furthermore, conducting control group would be impossible because the learners are from different organizations.  However, using stakeholder estimates and forecasting trends could help isolate the effects of training.

As for stakeholder estimates, participants and their supervisors could be asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire that estimates the effect of the instruction. As for trends, the historical trend of successfully completed quality charts submitted to the plants could show general and supplier specific trends.

Surely we are more credible when we can isolate the effects of instruction. However, this often is a costly and time intensive effort. Furthermore, these efforts might strain the relationship of the companies that receive the outside training. Perhaps a more rewarding endeavor would be amplifying and focusing the positive effects of organizational and management factors and Hawthorn or Pygmalion effects on the training.

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