Agile’s October 2018 Training Survey

By Michael Sinnott, UCD Agile

What happens after training with UCD Agile – is the training used, what is used in what way, what helps and what impedes?  We use our annual October survey to find out and below is some of what we learned in October 2018.

We asked five questions:

Have you been using some of what you were introduced to during training?
Have you been encouraged/supported locally to work on projects or process improvements?
What have you not been able to put into practice and, if you can comment, what obstacles, challenges or circumstances prevented this?
Collaborating:  Are you working with any colleagues, in your own team or outside it, addressing issues, ‘making things better’ – work in which the Agile training can help?
What more would you like from Agile?
This might be something we do directly for you/your team, something we run, something we do to help those who help you, some training, etc. etc.

Headline:  83% of trainees are using their training, 78% are being encouraged and supported in this, 66% are involved in collaboration, the favourite two tools are process mapping and the 5 Whys, and the biggest calls on Agile are for more training and more support for teams.  The chart below shows use of the various tools training introduces.

Pareto chart of tools used

Favoured tools

The survey cohort was the 183 colleagues who took White Belt/Fundamentals of Lean and/or Yellow Belt training with UCD Agile between May 2017 and April 2018.  Why this pattern?  We give folks a bit of time to have begun using what they learn on the training – hence the April to October gap – and we do not do broad surveys very often – hence the year cohort .  This 183 took 197 training sessions with us, with seven of the cohort leaving since they took training.  Of the 176 currently working in UCD, 43 responded to the survey (24%) and a bunch were on leave of one kind or another when we surveyed, giving about a 30% response rate.

Looking at the overall picture, the ‘using’ (83%) and ‘encouraged’ (78%) responses are encouraging.  The ‘tool use’ responses are interesting for two reasons – that there was detail about what tools are in use and that tool used is more focused on the ‘early engagement’ tools like process mapping, 5 why’s: to editorialise, the audience is enthusiastic but may not be using Lean in depth.

Also interesting is that 13 comments named some mix of ‘time, resources and opportunity’ as the biggest inhibitors in using Lean.  Given what Lean is about, this might be an echo of the not unfamiliar challenges of “I’m too busy to make things more efficient” and “making things better is an option, the day job is a ‘must’”, perhaps even an environment in which efficiency is not a guiding self-measure.

Overall we see the survey not so much as representative but as an indicative commentary from those who chose to respond, providing some insight into the thinking and experience of the more or less engaged.  The qualitative side – the free text responses – are therefore quite interesting, as expanded on below.

What lessons has Agile drawn from the survey?  We take the following as action areas prompted by the survey:

  • Make the Agile Community of Practice more visible
  • Provide more ‘whole team’ training/workshopping opportunities
  • Continue the focus on team lead skills
    • What is needed, beyond our new Lean Operations and Remit Mapping training offerings, to give team leads the skills they want to both managing their team’s engagement with continuous improvement and their ability to support staff who want to develop in this space?
  • Continue the focus on creating the systematic use of the skills and competencies Agile promotes as comments do not indicate strong growth of a more systematically focused local environment.
  • Better leverage training events and connections to explore needs and opportunities with the individuals/teams involved.

Our many thanks to all those who took part in the October 2018 survey.

Now for the detail.

79 people took Yellow Belt (full day) training, 79 took Fundamentals of Lean for UCD (half day), and 39 White Belt (half day).  The difference between Fundamentals of Lean and White Belt is that Agile directly teaches Fundamentals whereas our training partner takes the White Belt.  In the same timeframe 11 colleagues took on larger Green Belt projects, with their associated six days of training.

First, the yes/no questions.

Y/N: Have you been using some of what you were introduced to during training?

No 7 17%
Yes 34 83%
  41  

Y/N: Have you been encouraged/supported locally to work on projects or process improvements?

No 9 23%
Yes 31 78%
  40  

Y/N: Collaborating:  Are you working with any colleagues, in your own team or outside it, addressing issues, ‘making things better’ – work in which the Agile training can help?

No 14 34%
Yes 27 66%
Grand Total 41  

Free text responses were categorised, looking for patterns and themes in the responses.

   
Using?  
Using the tools 24
Making general use… 15
Green belt use context… 4
Inhibited from using by 2
Team focus to using… 1
Encouraged?  
Being encouraged 20
Inhibited from using by 6
Non-answer 1
Remains to be seen 1
Challenges faced in doing more 1
Prevented?  
Inhibited from using by 30
Unclear 3
Neutral 1
Being encouraged 1
Collaborating?  
I’m collaborating… 19
CoP awareness/action 7
I’m not collaborating… 4
Frustrated by 2
I would like to be collaborating… 1
N/A 1
More from Agile?  
Provide training 13
Provide supports 11
Challenges faced in doing more 7
Keep on doing what you are doing… 6
Promote ethos 1

Where does encouragement come from?

   
Being encouraged 20
Successful – continuing 5
… through Green belt project involvement 3
… through a project focus 3
… broadly in the team 2
… in lots of local activity 2
… by support for a process mapping 1
… by a supportive manager 1
… by a supportive team 1
… by oblique involvement 1
… through being inspired 1

When it comes to being inhibited, in some way, in using the ideas and skills which form the training, what is going on?  Here we look at the ‘inhibited’ category across the questions.

Time, resources and opportunity are the biggest inhibitors in using Lean.  Given what Lean is about, this might be an echo of the not unfamiliar challenges of “I’m too busy to make things more efficient” and “making things better is an option, the day job is a ‘must’”.

  Using? Encouraged? Prevented? Total
Inhibited from using by 2 6 30 38
Lack of time and/or resources and/or opportunity 1 4 8 13
Relevance of training     3 3
Difficulty mobilising others     1 1
difficulty in creating collaboration     1 1
Culture challenges     1 1
Day to day job     1 1
Not finding the right project     1 1
GDPR     1 1
… lack of support   1   1
Buy in     1 1
Resistance to SOPs     1 1
Lack of ‘Agile’ focus     1 1
Some resistance     1 1
Lack of buy-in     1 1
Not using the training myself     1 1
Lack of follow through     1 1
Used on GB project only     1 1
Lack of team buy-in     1 1
The team not all trained     1 1
Perception of Lean     1 1
… passive support   1   1
Pragmatic urgency 1     1
Access to data     1 1
Process review not the norm     1 1
Grand Total 2 6 30 38

What more can Agile do to promote all this good stuff?

Category

        Comment

More from Agile?
Provide training
·         access to green belt training
·         Also refresher for me as I am now more familiar with our processes -suggestions for new tools such as visual management.
·         Assistance in identifying any suitable projects; getting members of my team involved in external projects/ COPs
·         I am very interested in more training for my team; ensuring team members are trained
·         I would like to progress with further training in process improvement/project management.
·         intensive training
·         It would be good to introduce the training for new staff as part of their Year 1 development plan.
·         More ad hoc training
·         Perhaps team building workshops?
·         Possibly attach a sub-section to the course that looks at other working styles. I think it’s a positive course to put junior staff on (who have not completed project work) to give them an idea of how they may structure their time/energy, as from memory this is a beginner’s course. Oddly I attended the beginner course with my direct manages though, so I can only assume they received even less than I did. Possibly it should be targeted at more junior staff? As I mentioned, it was run well, but possibly a little more appropriate for a junior staff member.
·         Small workshops in use of particular agile tools
·         Support with training
·         You may only consider providing the training more times within the year.
Provide supports
·         Being able to call on the Agile team to facilitate workshops, creative thinking sessions etc. would be beneficial
·         Facilitation
·         Great to have the list below also for memory jogging.
·         Green belts- I’d like to hear more about how they defined and came up with the concepts for theirs projects or had buy in from their teams.
·         I recently attended a SOAR feedback/training event with my Unit. I found this beneficial. Perhaps offering this to other Schools/Units too might be also as beneficial. This may be offered but may need to be communicated more.
·         In 2019, I would like to work with Agile in helping a team develop a clear mission and direction.  This would be a broad mapping exercise and would involve taking continuing a work programme but with a new team and perspective.
·         it would be nice to get a summer up of the yellow belt method at the end, to have something to refer to
·         more online resources
·         set up community of practice
·         support for team especially team leads
·         The process maps definitely stuck and we have adopted these into normal practice but definitely help would be appreciated in starting SOPs and how they are not as scary as they appear to some 
 

And lastly, the survey gave the chance to tick on tools in use.  It is great to see some of the fundamental tools in use but interesting, also, to note the shape of the bar chart below.  We take this to reflect that Lean tools are in good general use but that more structured projects, which will use a broader spectrum of tools, are not so common.  

Tools Noted by:
Process map 27
5 Why’s 23
SIPOC 16
Voice of the customer 16
Fishbone 15
DMAIC 11
Standard Operating Procedures 10
Ant solutions 9
Visual management 8
Other/Comments 8
Mistake proofing 7
TIMWOODS 7
Affinity brainstorming 7
Control plan 6
Baseline measures 5
Critical to quality 5
FMEA 3
A3 2
PINS 0
Forcefield analysis 0
Grand Total 185

 

Many thanks to all of you who took part in the survey.  We are always interested in comments, feedback and suggestions so be sure to contact Agile if there is something we need to hear or a conversation you want to have.

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