This morning’s meeting went well. It was a telecon/WebEx which makes it even more challenging. Participants were scientists and engineers from across the industry who’re interested in developing a “green” metric for our manufacturing process. It was the meeting I was helping K plan for last night. We had a nice combination of technical rigor and maintaining momentum: “No, don’t worry about that detail- get to it later. You have to start somewhere,” one of the more seasoned members chimed in. I was really pleased with how it went, and K seemed relieved it went much better than she’d feared. I think it’s so important for these to go well, because this is truly a volunteer effort. If it’s disorganized or not accomplishing anything, people start dropping away, and it spirals into ineffectiveness.
Later, I took one of our B-cycle bikes to another part of campus where I had to give a training. I took the Bay Trail along the water with my laptop in the basket in front (see photo above). I was trying to be clever by printing out my 80 or so handouts using our follow-me-print technology: you print from your computer to the cloud, then walk over to any printer on campus, wave your badge and it executes the print job right there for you. Of course, technology’s never perfect, but it got the job done eventually. The training I give is on hazardous waste management. It’s required for any lab, manufacturing or maintenance employee. I give it monthly, and today I had about 60 students, unusually large. Let’s face it: hazardous waste training isn’t the most exciting thing to present. But I take that as a challenge. I think the training is better than it was a few years ago: I’ve spent a lot of time trying to frame the content in ways that are relevant to my learners. Too often training coming out of our dept seems to be geared to others in the EHS profession. I think it’s much better to discover the mental models of your audience, and build and frame your training around them. For instance, I don’t expect learners to know all the myriad EPA regulations there are. Rather, they know that, regardless of the type of waste they generate, there are certain reasonably intuitive steps they must take in order to meet the spirit and letter of the regulations. In addition, good training needs to be explicit about what’s important, and what isn’t.
Many years ago I came across the “IKS” model of training. I = information, K = knowledge, S = skills. The point is to organize the content according to this model.
- Information: be aware of something (“There are hazardous waste laws to protect the environment and people.”)
- Knowledge: concepts and relationships that allow the learner to draw inferences and begin to solve problems (“Storm drains found throughout campus drain into the Bay. ” Therefore, something spilled into a storm drain will end up in the Bay.)
- Skills: how to do something specific (“This is how you do clean up a spill.”)
I haven’t implemented it into my training (no time!) but I think it would be great. I think that learners need to understand content from their perspectives (mental models), and for that knowledge to be contextualized (prioritized).
This session had lots of questions from the audience- I have to get back to them later- I didn’t have all the answers. And so I was late to see my VP friend for lunch.
Who told me about GRPI. Goals, Roles, Processes, Interpersonal. As far as I can tell so far, it can serve two purposes: a framework for building a team and a way to diffuse conflict. For the latter, start with goals: if our goals don’t match, that might be the simplest explanation for why things aren’t working. If we do share goals, maybe the issue arises from a lack of clarity in our roles. If not, maybe it’s in our processes. And lastly, maybe it’s interpersonal: maybe the other person really is simply evil incarnate. The point is, often we look at conflict too quickly in the lens of the interpersonal. Start higher up, and you might get to a solution that makes a lot of sense, without riling everyone up unnecessarily.
Anyhow, another thing to learn about, and something that I think would be really helpful for my department. Earlier I mentioned that the crux of what we do is organizational development. But our toolset is very limited: it’s just influencing without authority, especially true in a matrixed organization as our company tends to be. I think GRPI might really help us with our partners across campus.
I have some other follow up with the VP: choosing an executive coach, and figuring out how to to fund it internally; such is usually reserved for higher ups in the company.
Later, I had a discussion with a colleague on how to reinvent the reputation of the role of the Safety Team Member so that it’s valued and viewed as a stepping stone to promotions. Throughout campus we have employee safety teams, and people are “volunteered” to be on them. I want being on a Safety Team to be viewed as a way to demonstrate and develop skills that will make you more likely to be promoted. I want there to be a line of people wanting to join a Safety Team. Imagine that!
No time to get a haircut for tomorrow’s shoot. Oh well. At least I’ll choose which non-patterned shirt to wear.