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 (www.theleanlibrary.com) and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (www.sme.org) 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:
And remember: quality counts. Having smart, productive discussions around a few books is better than having superficial discussions about a lot of books.
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. (www.beergame.mit.edu/guide.htm)
Arrange VisitsReal 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.
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