Volume 2, Issue 12

December 2013

Blue Ridge Conference

Training or No Training?

This is the question faced by American Cast Iron Pipe Company and many other major U.S. manufacturing companies.  Managers are often divided over the value and necessity of specific types of training.  Of course, most individuals realize scheduled training can be both expensive and time consuming for employees when there is work to do.  But before one is able to answer the above question, he or she must first answer this question, "Is it worth it?"

One company I recently read about did an interesting experiment. The company's goal was to develop an internal method which workers could use to solve problems in a timely manner. Thus, upper management established two pilot programs that started at the same time.  In one group, the leaders received no training. They simply organized teams, started identifying and solving problems, and used their past experiences and knowledge to achieve the desired results.  

While the other group went through normal team training with the team's leader and team members introduced to problem solving tools and coached on how to run effective meetings.  They were also trained in specific methods to be used for proper evaluation of problems and guidelines for data collection.  Five months later, the two groups’ performance and outcomes were compared, and the positive results convinced management to continue with future training events.  The project’s return-on-investment (ROI) was the needed answer to senior management's question, "Was it worth having targeted training?” 

This event confirms a statement attributed to the late D. Ishikawa, commonly known as the Father of QC Circles in Japan.  He said, "A ton of enthusiasm is worthless unless backed by an ounce of scientific knowledge."

At American Cast Iron Pipe Company, we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to improve our leadership skills and knowledge by attending the Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership.  The keynote and break-out sessions offered at this annual conference held in Black Mountain, North Carolina, help develop leadership skills, time management, communications, listening, and a host of other topics. All of which help employees to be more effective in both their jobs and personal lives.  Training opportunities missed, are professional growth opportunities lost.

Change happens faster today than at any other time in history. Competitive pressures force us to be more efficient and productive. Keeping up with the latest technology and trends is a must.  This requires all of us to continuously learn and keep our skills sharp. The 95th Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership, October 8-10, 2014, will offer many opportunities for each of us to develop and improve leadership and personal skills.  Make plans now to attend – it is worth it!


Charles P. Stephens, Jr.

Chairperson, Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership
Manager, Placement & Development
American Cast Iron Pipe Company


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