"Ideas on troubleshooting and training"

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Do it yourself training course teaches how to troubleshoot machines and processes
and includes a real machine for hands-on practice.

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IDEAS on Training and Troubleshooting An informal discussion with the course author

This space is where I write down things I've been thinking about. There's also some stuff about the ideas on which this course is based. Perhaps you'll find something useful.

STS Meets Silicon Valley

The MIMIC hands-on practice machine

The Learning Shop recently conducted the STS workshop for all maintenance technicians in a microchip fabrication facility in California. All participants had some electronics or electrical experience or training. Some had experience as military trainers.

Some had years of experience in chip fabrication or experience with the manufacturers of the equipment. These people became valuable experts in specific machines or processes.

Many of the technicians had excellent mental skills in problem-solving.

The TSAG (which some had problems understanding) proved to be valuable especially in a group setting where wide knowledge was brought together and the strong points of various individuals could be applied. The concentrated undistracted and focused efforts proved effective.

Results at this company were impressive. At the end of each workshop, participants were asked to select problems on thier own equipment that they had been unable to solve. These were persistent, recurring and costly problems. In one group, one technician, on his own, stepped to the whiteboard in the classroom, took over leadership role and led them in making a color-coded sketch of the equipment with the problem. Then he led the group in using the TSAG to find the probable cause. Other groups (there were four) were also sucessful in applying the course principles to solving current problems.

The workshops proved that the methods work for troubleshooting high-technology applications with experienced, knowledgeable people.

"Demystifying Six Sigma" does just that

Alan Larson, the author of Demystifying Six Sigma, was a Qualtiy Director at Motorola, one of the first companies to use the six sigma method. He was also a Navy submariner. This unique background gives him credence in the subject and lends his writing a pragmatic viewpoint.

Lean Manufacturing, Kaizen, Six Sigma and ISO 9000 are all wide-ranging programs whose goal is to make our companies more competitive in today's world economy. All these methods require hard work, commitment and knowledge. And if you look beneath the surface, you'll find they all tap the mental resources of everyone in the organization. They don't rely on just a few people who command from the top down through an inflexible chain of command.

If you've said to yourself, "What the heck is Six Sigma?" this book will give you all the answers in an easy-to-read format. If you know the program, you already understand that Six Sigma is a blueprint for making any company competitive in today's global economy. But this book will explain WHY it works. It will show you what you need to do to make these changes happen in your company.

This book is crammed with information. In reading it, I must admit I was like a person looking for a certain face in a crowd. I was looking for an underlying phenomenon that explained the success of the program. I was also looking for evidence to support my feeling that the most important resource of any company is the brain power of their entire work force. I was gratified to find this principle repeated throughout the book, although I felt that it could have been emphasized more strongly.

Alan Larson, the author, is a former quality director at Motorola (where I worked as a contract training developer) and a Navy submariner. He opens the book with a dramatic account of and emergency at sea. All the sailors knew that they could only survive by drawing on the diverse knowledge of everyone on the boat, communication and teamwork.

The book was published in 2003 by the American Management Association.

Plant Saved. Credit Systematic Troubleshooting

Paint a picture of an old manufacturing plant with employees that just don't care, low production, continual breakdowns, poor product quality and the "guess I'll take this apart" method of troubleshooting. These days no company can afford that. The plant was scheduled to close.

Enter a dynamic new manager who believes in troubleshooting.

He says to his key people, "We're going to turn this plant around. And one of the ways we're going to do it is with a good troubleshooting course. Choose one you like and I'll back you all the way."

They chose Systematic Troubleshooting because it taught what their people needed to know in the way that they learn best, by working with a real machine.

They started with the people that run the plant including the production, quality control, HRD, accounting, maintenance and so on. All went through 16 hours of Systematic Troubleshooting, which they call STS. The rest of the people in the plant, including production, are also taking the training.

As you know, the course teaches people how to make sketches and tables of the equipment for which they are responsible. Everyone is then given assignments to create these sketches and tables for machines or processes in their area. Non-production people in departments such as accounting, purchasing or human relations develop tables or flow charts on processes they use. Experts on a particular process or machine are assigned the task of developing sketches and tables for them. These are entered in a computerized file management program that makes the information needed for troubleshooting available to everyone.

People learn to use the TSAG and then are EXPECTED to be able to support, with solid equipment knowledge and reasoning methods, any action they plan to take to correct a problem. Completed TSAGs are entered in the document system. Terminals on the plant floor make these TSAG's available to the troubleshooter. If the problem has happened before, people can see the analysis and solution. As a result, problems don't need to be solved twice.

Now, people feel involved. The whole attitude in the plant has changed. And yes, production and quality have greatly improved. And now, after only a few months, instead of closing the plant, plans are under way for building a new plant. And not in the Pacific rim or Mexico, it will be built for the same people that made all this happen.

Hopefully conditions at your plant are not as critical as this. But this example demonstrates what is possible with this powerful course. The methods used in this plant are now fully explained in the Executive Support - Organization Renewal Kit, which is included with the Presenter's Package.
Executive Support-Organization Renewal Kit

Two thoughts for trainers

Whether you are about to teach your first class or are an old hand at instructing, perhaps you will find some of these suggestions helpful.

Be prepared

Probably the best advice for any trainer is the old boy scout motto, "Be Prepared". This does a lot for you as well as for the people you are training.
  • Doing your homework makes you less nervous, because you will have confidence in what you will say and how you will say it.
  • Good preparation makes you sound like an authority, which is important in winning the confidence of the people in the class.
  • You will be more likely to produce learning, because you will be able to present all the important points, conduct the activities, answer questions and stimulate meaningful discussions.

In the Systematic Troubleshooting course, the best way to prepare is to first read through the Text-Workbook and do all the activities yourself. Then get ready for your class by using the scripts in the Instructor's Guide or the outline in the Presenter's Notebook.

If you are using Instructor-On-A-Disk, go through the whole program and do all the activities. Add your own notes to the Leader's Guide about things you want to add or emphasize.

Be a believer

You may be in a new role as an instructor rather than just "one of the guys". Or you may be a staff trainer talking to maintenance people for the first time. In either case, the people in the class will be trying to detect whether you really believe this stuff you are telling them or whether you are just teaching it because someone told you to.

If you don't really believe in the material, the people in the class will know it by how you act and what you say. If you don't demonstrate your confidence it what the course will do for them and the company, you might as well have the class play cards, watch the ball game or complain about the company during the training sessions.

To gain this kind of conviction, first go through the text-workbook yourself. Then talk to the people you work for and see how they feel about it. You need their support. If you believe and you have support, your message will reach your students.

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E Mail: bobfrye@troubleshootingcourse.com