Tuesday, April 14, 2009

RTFM as an option

My relative silence on the interwebs have been a result of a project eating up a lot of my time / stress-coping capabilities / mental bandwidth.

It's an implementation that's not really an implementation. Therefore, no real plan, no standardization, and few resources. Just higher ups demanding things yesterday and us jumping - damn the consequences. These things happen.

In an attempt to get some semblance of control over the process and mitigate potential damage, I sat down and thought of some training options.

I had some goals:
- Minimize "seat time". In every organization, during every implementation - higher ups want people out of the office / away from their desk / out of commission as little as possible.

- Maximize "hands on" time. There is too much research that straight lecture doesn't work.

- Maximize retention. A goal of every training. Maximizing retention helps accomplish the next two goals.

- Minimize resources on-site. We have lots of projects on our plate beyond these "emergencies." As a group - we realized that on-site support for the initial implementation (for this particular group) was unavoidable. When everyone is over-taxed, the quality of service goes down for everyone (especially for the groups not getting our attention).

- Reduce "babysitting" requirements. This is a correllary to the above. More time spent cleaning up / babysitting the prior group means less attention to the next group. This may also be the most immediately measurable piece of the success of the training. If we reduce the number of help-desk calls / panicky visits as a result of the above project, we reduce the overall resources required for the project. Money, attention and resources can be spent on higher priority items (you know, the planned stuff).

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After writing up 4 different training plans and 3 different outlines (with 2 sections - the actual class and stuff we will get asked about later), I got the pit-of-stomach feeling that this was all a useless exercise.

I want to throw up my hands, do a training on how to RTFM, remind them that they are all professional, educated adults, unplug my phone, do an auto-dump of all incoming email, and find a nice hidey hole near a vending machine.

I was feeling pretty guilty about this.

After reading Harold Jarche's recent post, I'm thinking that may be where we are headed anyway.

As Harold pointed out, training functions are headed towards supporting collaborative (people learning from each other) and self-directed (RTFM) work. In this instance, the time we (the IT department) spend with the group serves as part of the collaborative function. Helping people become more independent so they can help each other. The materials - the self-directed function.

Maybe I shouldn't unplug my phone just yet.

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