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Review: Learning Paths


Title: Learning paths: Increase profits by reducing the time it takes employees to get up-to-speed
Author: Steve Rosenbaum, Jim Williams
ISBN: 0-7879-7444-7
Publisher: Pfeiffer
Price: £27.95
Reviewer: Tanya Cowin

Learning paths is an easy to read book full of practical tips and templates (provided on CD) divided into three sections:

  • The learning path methodology

  • Doing the right training

  • Do the training right

The authors have a wealth of experience in the training and development field and have been collaborating since 1996.

The book is written in a narrative style, well laid out and each section has a summary of the content of the chapters to follow. There is a frequently asked questions section, which enables the reader to clarify certain points without searching through the whole book.

Nearly half the book is devoted to the methodology. A key component of Learning paths is to reduce the time taken for a new employee to a job to be independently productive – able to do the job without asking questions or making mistakes.

The methodology has six steps:

  • Select a function

  • Determine time to proficiency

  • Map out the current path

  • Accelerate the learning path

  • Implement the plan

  • Measure and report

The initial part of the methodology is the 30/30 plan – achieving 30 per cent improvement in the first 30 days. In the first pass through the stages ‘quick hits’ are identified at stage 4 and these are subsequently built into the plan to achieve the 30 per cent reduction in the time taken to achieve proficiency. The 30/30 Plan is expanded and reinforced on the accompanying CD, which contains all the forms and templates presented in the book. There is even a PowerPoint presentation that you can customise to use in your own organisation.

The authors highlight that people learn by practice and experience and compare this with the outcomes of traditional classroom learning. There does seem to be an assumption throughout the book that current training is classroom based and that there is currently a lack of directed self-study.

Part two compares the traditional competency model with the proficiency model and discusses using the methodology to enable identification and development of top performers.

The final part includes some useful pointers on selecting training methods, coaching the coaches; building directed self-study and creating the new classroom experience.

If you are in an environment where you need to get employees up to speed as quickly as possible, I would suggest you read this book.

Reviewed by Tanya Cowin – HR Systems Consultant

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