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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

Document Your
Rapid Response Process

don't just cope with surprises, learn from them

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Every year, your company and its various functions and departments make plans around training: what will be taught, to whom, where, how often, and so on. And a great deal of training is done in this planned, scheduled fashion, it might well account for most of the work your training function does for your organization.

But most years also bring surprises. A sudden need arises to develop and deliver (or to hire someone who can deliver) training that wasn't in the annual plan. Perhaps there has been a major change in the company's employees: layoffs shift roles, mergers and acquisitions bring together different cultures, new opportunities bring in new functions and people. Perhaps a major regulatory change has just been handed to your industry, or a dramatic technological shift has radically altered the rules of the game.

Whatever the source of the need, you jump into action, quickly figuring out what needs to be done, scrambling to make it happen. You sigh with relief after you have pulled it off, and go back to your "regularly scheduled programming," if you will.

The two key questions I have for you are:

  1. Do you learn from these experiences, time after time? and if so,
  2. Do you capture what you learn so that others can use it?

Highly trained rapid response teams are all around us, in our communities, ready to leap into action when natural disasters occur (or result from human action), when sudden threats appear. But those teams didn't develop their expertise and efficiency overnight. They captured what they learned from one experience after another, tweaking their procedures over and over again to improve the response they can deliver to the next sudden need.

Many times I hear training staff talking about they responded to an unscheduled need, and I get the impression that the response, although ultimately effective, was just as chaotic and stressful as the previous one was, and the one before that.

But even though you can't always predict where the next sudden training need will come from, you can learn to handle each one a little more efficiently than the last one. You can probably identify a finite number of first steps in common among all these incidents over the years. You have to identify contacts and decision makers, identify resources, understand timelines, and so on.

The next time you end up with an unscheduled, rapid response, develop and deliver event, don't just move on when the crisis has passed. Sit down with your team to identify which parts of your response were most effective, which least. Identify what you could carry over to almost any emergency training situation, and brainstorm ways to improve the parts of the process that didn't go so well.

And document what you have learned -- someplace where it is easy to access quickly when it is needed!

Finally, face the hardest part: making a commitment to follow your process the next time an urgent, unscheduled training need pops up. What you have learned from your experience will do you, and your company, little good if you ignore your own rapid response procedures the next time someone catches you by surprise with a training request.

© 2010 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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