Small Business
Business INSIGHTS e-News for Manufacturers
When SBA or other Government-sponsored business loan programs are the way to go, see why PNC Bank is the best choice. more >
SBA Financing Made Easy
Cash flow advantages designed especially for the needs of retail businesses. more >
PNC Advantage for Retail Businesses
Training on a Budget

From discussion groups to games, staff improvement doesn't have to have a high price tag.

Finding the money to pay for training is not always easy. But that shouldn't stop you and your staff from learning. Fortunately, there are a number of inexpensive ways to foster education and improvement among your staff members.

Book Discussion Groups

The right book can encourage conversation. Places like The Lean Library ( and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers ( are trusted sources of books for your list. The U.S. Marine Corps advocates book discussion groups for professional development, and provides guidelines such as these to make them effective:

  • Ask one member to record and summarize the discussion.
  • Ask what the author's purpose was in writing the book.
  • Ask what is most relevant to what you, your team or your company does.
  • End each discussion by asking what your group accomplished, what lessons were learned and how you performed as the discussion leader.

And remember: quality counts. Having smart, productive discussions around a few books is better than having superficial discussions about a lot of books.

Go Online

Not everyone is a reader. While YouTube videos may be non-curated snippets, they can be good meeting-starters and sources of ideas. There are a wealth of video plant tours and instructional videos on manufacturing and management. You can also find free webinars online. And occasionally, you'll even find free interactive training. For example, the MIT Forum for Supply Chain Innovation website offers a version of the role-playing "Beer Game," which shows the advantages of an integrated approach to managing a supply chain. (

Arrange Visits

Real plant tours are ideal for learning, because you can ask questions and see for yourself how your peers solve problems. Consider how many people you can bring, any confidentiality issues and what you'd like to learn. Have a plan for the visit, and discuss it with your team before and after the trip. Look for plants that have won excellence awards, and offer to host reciprocal tours. Even if you're not award-ready yet, your visitors will often offer you ideas for improvement.


The article you read was prepared for general information purposes by McMurry. These articles are for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. PNC urges its customers to do independent research and to consult with financial and legal professionals before making any financial decisions.These articles may provide reference to Internet sites as a convenience to our readers. While PNC endeavors to provide resources that are reputable and safe, we cannot be held responsible for the information, products, or services obtained on such sites and will not be liable for any damages arising from your access to such sites. The content, accuracy, opinions expressed, and links provided by these resources are not investigated, verified, monitored or endorsed by PNC.