Do you practice what you learn?

Another way of looking at the old saying ‘Practice what you preach’ is ‘Practice what you learn.’ Far too often, we sit down in a classroom type training learning something new. However, we seldom put the new-found knowledge into practice. This is such a waste of time, money, resource and opportunity to improve.

After returning to the Philippines five years ago, one glaring practice I noticed about training companies is that they have this ‘training hit & run’ approach. These training companies provide classroom trainings but fail to consider the sustainability of the lesson in real life. Such training companies do this either in a public workshop or in a more contained corporate training setting. Knowledge retention with such approach is very low. People usually go back to business as usual and gradually forget what they learned.

AGMC, the company we set-up, has a different approach. After we conduct our ‘classroom training’ the learning process does not end there. Participants have an assignment to use what they learn in their day-to-day work. Three or four weeks after the classroom training, we reconvene and the participants share their experience using their new competencies.

Participants report on the work situation where the skill was used. They are also required to analyze the situation and report on their insights. It is only now, after the discussions, that they receive their certifications.

This is not a new approach to sustainable learning. It has been used abroad for some time now. Locally, when you take up a Lean Six Sigma program, the participant is required to have an actual work project proving the use of the lessons learned. They identify a challenging problem at work and use the tools and lessons they learned to fix the problem. The participant then proceeds and analyzes the financial benefits of the project and present/defend it to a panel. Only when they prove that they effectively used their newly acquired competency will they get their Lean Six Sigma Certification.

To all training companies back here. Let us design our programs as sustainable competency development programs and not as a one-shot deal. When a customer calls us again for a development program, it should be for a new competency. Getting a call to come back and re-train people for a competency that did not stick simply means we failed.

Is your company obsessed with your customers?

Let me take a few minutes to share lessons from an interesting interview with the founder of A few minutes into the discussion at the Internet Association Gala 2017, Jeff Bezos, shares the secrets of Amazon’s success. The beauty behind the success of most great companies is that the reasons are so simple. The secrets are so obvious, you can hardly consider them secrets. Amazons secret sauce is the same.

Jeff outlined a few very simple principles behind Amazon’s success. These principles earned him the title of the richest man in America for the first-time.

1) Amazons culture does not simply focus on customer experience. They turn this statement into a passion with a focus on ‘Customer Obsession.’ There are different models that different companies use instead like; competitor obsession, product obsession, industry obsession and so on.

2) Even if customers are happy, they still want something better. It is Amazon’s job to constantly invent new things that provide an even better customer experience.

3) Don’t focus on the short term, have a long-term view. Have a five-year view. Don’t just look at having a good next Quarter. He mentioned that quarter results are already baked. Quarter results are based on management decisions years ago. Focusing on the future changes the way you plan and focus your energy.

4) Experimentation and failing is supported in Amazon. Innovation goes together with customer obsession.

5) Identify 2-3 big ideas and force great execution. For Amazon, it’s low prices, fast delivery, and vast selection. Ten years from today no customer in his right mind would go to Amazon and request a slower delivery. No customer will request for higher prices and less selection. These are obvious things. Big ideas are often so obvious that we don’t see them.

6) Most overnight success takes about ten years. Hard work and perseverance is needed to create an ‘overnight’ success.

Companies cannot claim that their Invention is disruptive. New products and services are not and cannot be disruptive. Only customer acceptance is disruptive. Why are customers going to like it? Why would customers buy your product or service?

Lots of people dispense advise and tips. However, when the tip comes from someone valued at $109 Billion running a 22-year-old company valued at $702.5 Billion then one thing is for certain. The tip may be worth thinking about from the perspective of our own companies.