Next Level in Training = BlitzTraining

13 December 2016

Speed is more and more a determining factor in nowadays IT projects. I was reading a few months ago in a report regarding Software testing, the “World quality Report” that Time To Market is the second most important KPI for projects in 2016 and 2017.  Ok, for testing I understand, we need to compress all testing phases, to mature the testing process and invest in automation. I understand all that, but why in training? Why can’t we keep at least that at a normal pace? Because the secret of evolution is to leave your comfort zone, face the challenges… and succeed 🙂 The projects are evolving, and so must we, trainers. So last week I was pushed out of the comfort zone on a subject very familiar and dear to me: HPE Application Lifecycle Management. I deliver this topic for about six years, so what could be surprising here?  Well, I was pushed out from my comfort zone by a request from a customer: They asked me to deliver the topic in sessions of 3 hours each on different levels (Basics, Advanced Level 1 and Advanced Level 2), in different days, to about 60 – 70 people, virtual training, with the following general objectives: the trainees should be efficient and comfortable in working with HPE ALM on their areas of interest; each trainee must learn something useful for his activity.

So that was the birth of BlitzTrainig in a technical domain. Thank you Nokia – Alcatel for pushing me out of the comfort zone.  What my customer actually wanted is to concentrate the essence in small bottles. Since it proved to be working I have a second session planned for January 2017 with another corporation to validate the good results from the first attempt.

But what is BlitzTraining?  The concept is taken from fitness, oh no… I did not reinvent the wheel, in fitness it means to train the muscle groups which are most needed for a certain movement/operation. It means a short, fast, efficient attacks in the area where you most need. As opposed to Blietzkrieg, whose purpose is to unbalance the enemy’s defense, the aim of BlitzTraining is to construct in areas which need improvement so the trainee is capable in the short term to perform certain operations right after the training. In other words maximize the rate between time spent in training and efficiency after it.

In BlitzTraining the presentation needs to deliver the essence in a short time, fast enable the trainee to use the information learned, give him/her tips to efficiently use it in production. Short, Fast, Efficient attacks.

The overall subject needs to be decomposed in in basic parts (components which can be at any time reconnected in different order so to obtain the whole again), each part must be reduced to an essence and must cover a need for the participant. The essence must be explained in a relatively short period of time followed by a fast and concentrated demo or hands-on experience and in the end efficient attack methods (usually best practices) regarding how to put it into practice in the delegate’s environment.     

But it is not as simple as it looks… because there are very tight conditions to put this into practice and be efficient. The major disadvantage I see with this method is that it is either efficient or a total failure. The trainer assumes the whole risk; he/she has to know the needs of the delegates very well including details of their projects. Then the trainer has to decompose the subject well, normal delivery of HPE ALM is 5 days… so the “reduction” to essence is the essential part. During the delivery the trainer needs to keep the participants attention to maximum for 2 hours and 30 minutes. That’s challenging because the maximum time an average adult can focus is 20 minutes with 10 minutes before necessary to enter in the “focus mood” and minimum 5 minutes of total defocus afterwards.  For BlitzTraining they need to be focused 83% of the time… or 2,5 hours and it is the trainer’s job to keep them focused.

Another major risk factor are prerequisites: if the trainees do not have the previous knowledge required as prerequisites for the level he/she plans to attend, it is better not to participate or first attend an inferior level. This is the investment and responsibility of the delegate, in such short time the trainer really does not have time to go back to basics and that delegate will be frustrated.  Another important thing is that the subject must be very well mastered by the trainer, at the level where he/she is capable to optimize the process; without that the session cannot be tailored to the customer’s needs.    

One last thing, in Blitzkrieg apart from a good strategy the troops must have a very high mobility (infantry and armored vehicles). When you have 70 people in training in 3 days (6 sessions of 3 hours: 2 Basics,  2 Advanced Level 1 and 2 Advanced Level 2 ) you cannot know exactly the needs of all delegates in one session, what if one of the components you selected is misaligned with one need?  then it is like in Blitzkrieg: the Trainer must be mobile and pull out another vial of magic potion and make his magic efficient once again. It really happened 🙂 second session of Advanced Level 1  the stakeholder informed me with minutes before the session begins that one of the components was of interest only for two people out of 12, including himself, but both attended it in the previous session!  Deal with that black magic if you can and make the session go smooth as silk!

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