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Product Training for the Technical Expert: The Art of Developing and Delivering Hands-On Learning



Product Training for the Technical Expert: The Art of Developing and Delivering Hands-On Learning

Daniel W. Bixby

ISBN: 978-1-119-26038-7 January 2018 Wiley-IEEE Press 272 Pages



I was pleased to review Dan's new book - pleased because he addresses an old topic in a new way. He is making no assumptions for trainers who are not fully experienced and seasoned. He takes them step-by-step through practical and realistic methods to set up training graduates to actually be on-the-job performers. Enjoy, learn and be inspired. 

Jim Kirkpatrick, PhD
Senior Consultant, Kirkpatrick Partners, USA

Daniel Bixby’s approach to Product Training for technical experts is practical, relevant and exactly what anyone who is required to train others on technical content really needs. He writes with candor and with a sense of ease, making the reader feel as though he is right there with you helping to develop your training competency. A must read for anyone on your team required to provide technical training to others!

Jennifer Alfaro

Chief Human Resources Officer, USA

An expert guide to developing and delivering technical product training programs

While there are many books on talent development, leadership training, and internal training program development, there are precious few offering subject matter experts (SME’s) guidance on training others to get the most out of their products. Written by a training expert with many years of experience working at top technology companies, Product Training for the Technical Expert fills that yawning gap in the training literature by providing technical experts with a comprehensive handbook on becoming effective product training instructors.

When new technology is rapidly transformed into products for popular consumption, technical experts, such as engineers, and other subject matter experts, are the ones tasked with instructing the public on their use. Unfortunately, most them have little or no prior experience or training in adult education and don’t have a clue about how to transfer their knowledge to others. In this book, author Daniel W. Bixby draws upon his vast experience developing and delivering training programs at Honeywell, Delphax, Telex, Bosch, and TE Connectivity, among other technology companies, to arm SMEs with the knowledge and skills they need to add “Product Training Specialist” to their resumes.

  • Addresses an area of training too often overlooked and ignored in the professional literature
  • Equips SMEs with the tools they need to become effective product instructors
  • Covers both the educational and business aspects of product training for SMEs
  • Packed with tables, illustrations, problem-and-solution sets, tutorials, enlightening real-world examples, worksheets, and group or self-study questions
  • Features a companion website with worksheets and other valuable tools:
  • A must-have professional development resource for students and experienced technical experts alike

Product Training for the Technical Expert is an ideal guide forengineers, product managers, product marketing managers, and technical instructors looking to expand their repertoires and hone their skills. It also makes an excellent course text for graduate-level engineering programs.

Foreword xix

Preface xxi

Acknowledgments xxiii

How to Use This Book xxv

About the Companion Website xxix

Introduction xxxi

Part I The Foundation of Hands-On Learning 1

1 Hands-On Learning in the Classroom: Articulate Your Approach 3

Product Training as You Know It 3

What Makes Training Effective? 4

Your Goal: Proficiency 6

Articulating Your Training Approach 6

Three Things to Document 7

Adult Learning Principles: The Foundation of Hands-On Learning 8

The Strategy of Hands-On Learning 10

The Structure of Hands-On Learning 10

The Delivery of Hands-On Learning 10

Conclusion 11

Making It Practical 11

Notes 12

2 Experiencing Learning: Emphasize Skill over Information 13

How Does One Develop a Skill? 13

Remember How You Became an Expert 14

Build on Your Students’ Experiences 14

Create Experiences in the Classroom 15

Let Them Learn from Negative Experiences 16

Allow Students to Make Mistakes 17

Capitalize on Informal Learning 17

Allow Students to Share Their Experiences 18

Give Lecture and Observation Their Rightful Place 19

Provide a Structure for Your Hands-On Training 19

Phase One: Exhibit the Product 19

Phase Two: Execute a Function 20

Phase Three: Explore Independently 20

Apply All Three Phases 21

Conclusion 21

Making It Practical 21

Note 22

3 You Know It, Can You Teach It? Overcoming Your Own Intelligence 23

Address Your Biggest Challenge: Yourself 23

The Four Stages of Competency Applied to Instructors 24

Unconsciously Unskilled 25

Consciously Unskilled 25

Consciously Skilled 25

Unconsciously Skilled 25

Why Experts Find It Difficult to Teach 26

Experts Rarely Remember How They Perfected Their Skill 26

Experts Have Trouble Distinguishing Between the Simple and the Difficult 26

Experts Don’t Differentiate Between the Essential and the Nonessential 27

How Experts Can Teach It 27

Ask the Instructor (Yourself) the Right Questions 28

Conclusion 29

Making It Practical 29

Note 30

4 Ready or Not? Why Some Students Are More Ready to Learn Than Others 31

The Four Principles of Learner-Readiness 31

They Must Recognize the Need for Learning 32

What if Their Reason for Learning Is Wrong? 32

They Must Take Responsibility for Their Learning 32

Questions Demonstrate Learning 33

The Instructor’s Responsibility 33

They Must Relate It to Their Experience 34

They Must Be Ready to Apply It 35

Conclusion 35

Making It Practical 36

Part II The Strategy of Hands-On Learning 37

5 It is Never Just Product Training: Why You Should Offer the Training 39

Product Solution Training Versus Talent Development 39

Employee Product Training 40

Customer Product Training 41

Business Plan 41

Training as a Cost of Doing Business 41

Training as a Profit Center 42

Training that Sells Products 44

Conclusion 44

Making It Practical 45

Note 46

6 From Good to Great: Defining the Focus of Effective Product Training 47

Aim at the Right Target: Doing Versus Knowing 47

Change the Approach: Facilitator Versus Lecturer 48

Call It the Right Thing: Training Versus Presentation 49

Make It Sustainable: Standardized Versus Customized 51

Measure the Right Things: Performance Versus Reactions 51

Value the Right Things: Results Versus Head Count 52

Use the Right Delivery Methods: Effectiveness Versus Availability 52

Continue the Conversation: Process Versus Event 54

Keep Improving: Progress Versus Contentment 55

Conclusion 55

Making It Practical 55

7 What Is Expected Must Be Inspected: Assessing and Evaluating Hands-On Learning 57

Assessing the Individual 58

Assessing Their Knowledge 58

Quizzes 58

Exams 59

About Creating Exam Questions 59

About Administrating the Exam 60

Assessing Their Skills 60

Creative Assessments 61

Combining the Grades 61

Evaluating the Class 62

Evaluating Perceptions 64

A Note about Measuring Instructor’s Facilitation Skills 65

Conclusion 65

Making It Practical 65

Notes 66

Part III The Structure of Hands-On Learning 67

8 Dethroning King Content: A Paradigm Shift 69

When Content Is King 70

What if Content Is All They Need? 70

How to Tell if Content Is King 71

Giving Content Its Rightful Place 71

Introducing the 4 × 8 Proficiency Design Model 72

Is Training the Solution? 73

Training Will Not Improve Your Product or Solution 74

Training Is Not a Marketing Gimmick 74

How Can You Know if Training Is the Solution? 75

Conclusion 75

Making It Practical 76

Note 77

9 Designing for Proficiency: Determining the Curriculum 79

The 4 × 8 Proficiency Design Model 80

Level 1 80

Business Goal 80

Intended Audience 81

Level 2 82

Objectives 82

Exercise 83

Level 3 84

Outline 84

Constructive Activities 87

Determine Delivery Method 88

Delivery Method 88

Duration 89

Maximum Number of Students 89

Other Logistics 89

Level 4 89

Provide an Assessment to Validate the Learning 89

Create the Content 89

Why Is Content After Assessment? 90

Conclusion 90

Making It Practical 91

10 Pixels or Paper? How to Build the Content and Deliverables 93

Ask the Questions Again 93

Create a Student Guide 94

Create Your Visual Aids 95

Creating Presentation Slides 96

Use the Software Correctly 96

Don’t Rely on a Presentation 96

Don’t Let the Presentation Tie You Down 97

Know Your Material 97

Creating Handouts 98

Statement of Indemnification 98

Create an Instructor’s Guide 99

Running a Pilot Class 99

When an Instructor Teaches This Class for the First Time 99

When This Class Is Being Taught for the First Time 100

Handpick the Audience 100

Plan on Extra Time 100

Be Aware of Too Many Auditors 100

Debrief with Everyone 101

Debrief with Your Core Team 101

Conclusion 101

Making It Practical 101

Part IV The Facilitation of Hands-On Learning 103

11 Speak Up: Effective Verbal Engagement 105

Decorative Speaking 106

Controlled Energy 106

Controlled Breathing 106

Controlled Pitch 107

Controlled Tempo 108

Controlled Volume 108

Controlled Articulation 109

Declarative Speaking 109

Controlled Jargon 109

Verbal Crutches 110

If Your Use of Verbal Crutches Is a Communication Issue 110

If Your Use of Verbal Crutches Is a Habit 111

Poor Grammar 111

Conclusion 111

Making It Practical 112

Notes 113

12 Shut Up: Effective Listening and Engagement 115

What You Are Listening for 115

What They Already Know (or Think They Know) 116

What They Want to Learn 116

What They Have Learned 117

The Foundation for Engaging Learning 117

Students Learn Better When They’re Awake 117

Learners Require Time to Absorb the Learning 117

Set the Expectation for Engagement 118

Practical Engagement in the Classroom 118

Engaging as a Conversation 118

Engaging with Questions and Answers 120

Why Instructors Ask Questions 120

When and How to Ask Questions 121

Answering Student Questions 122

Engaging Group Learning Activities 123

Engaging Labs and Exercises 124

Icebreakers, Games, and Other Interactive Options 124

When Should They Be Done? 125

Games and Gamification 125

Interactive Technology 126

Conclusion 126

Making It Practical 126

13 Stand Up: Effective Nonverbal Engagement 129

Observed Communication: What They See You Saying 129

Posture 130

Facial Expressions 131

Eye Contact 131

Gestures 132

Physical Presence 132

Physical Appearance 133

Perceived Communication: What They Feel You Are Saying 134

Be Genuine and Humble 134

Be Likeable and Pleasant 134

Be Available and Prepared 134

Be Positive and Have Fun 134

Be Confident and in Control 135

Environmental Influences 136

Room Layout 136

Furniture, Lighting, and Technology 136

Know Your Environment 136

Hosting a Training Event 137

Make Your Students Feel Welcome 137

Conclusion 138

Making It Practical 139

Note 140

14 The Smartest Engineer: And Other Difficult Students 141

Set the Expectations at the Beginning 141

Take Responsibility for Your Learning 141

Be Prepared for Difficult Responses 142

The Stubborn Mule 142

The Pessimist 143

The Helper 143

The Talker 144

The Extreme Introvert 144

The Sleeper 144

The Expert 145

Conclusion 145

Making It Practical 146

15 Virtual Facilitation: Tips for Effective Webinars 147

What Doesn’t Change 147

The Philosophical Approach 147

The Structure 148

The Definition 148

Facilitating Virtually 148

Regarding the Presentation 149

Regarding the Tool 149

About the Event 149

Conclusion 150

Making It Practical 150

16 Technical Presentations: Effectively Design and Deliver Technical Information 151

When to Use Presentations 151

When the Objective Is to Deliver Information 152

When Time Is Limited 152

When the Audience Is Large 153

To Motivate and Encourage Change 154

How to Design Effective Technical Presentations 154

Determine the Delivery Method (Optional) 156

Informational Objectives 156

Motivational Objectives 156

Delivering Your Presentation 159

Ask Questions 159

Practice, Practice, Practice 159

Relax and Have Fun! 160

Conclusion 160

Making It Practical 160

17 Culture and Proficiency: Training for Proficiency in a Global Environment 161

What Doesn’t Change 162

The Philosophy of Hands-on Learning 162

The Strategy of Hands-on Learning 162

The Structural Design of Hands-on Learning 163

What Does Change 163

The Delivery of Hands-on Learning 163

The Facilitation of Hands-on Learning 164

Other Tips for the Traveling Trainer 165

Conclusion 165

Making It Practical 166

Part V The Operation of Hands-On Learning 167

18 Certifying Proficiency: The Fundamentals of a Product Proficiency Certification Program 169

What Is Product Proficiency Certification? 169

When Do You Need a Certification Program? 170

When Is a Certificate Program Sufficient? 170

Why You Should Consider a Certification Program 171

If the Product Is Complex 171

If Your Product Is Unique 172

Products That Are New to the Market 172

When the Go-to-Market Strategy Is Indirect or Complex 172

If It Involves More Than One Party to Integrate 173

If There Are Standards That Must Be Met 174

If There Are Industry or Company Standards That Must Be Met 174

When Quality Standards Must Be Verified 174

If the Product or Technology Changes Regularly 175

If Misuse Could Cause a Safety Issue 175

The Requirements of Product Proficiency Certification 175

Proof of Authenticity 176

Board of Decision-Makers 176

Curriculum and Program Acceptance 176

Proof of Conformity 176

Education or Experience 177

Exam and/or Proficiency Assessment 177

Code of Conduct 177

Recertification or Maintenance 177

Instructor Certification Process 178

Proof of Impartiality 179

Selection and Opportunity 179

Administration and Traceability 179

Exceptions and Deviations 179

Documenting the Certification Program 180

Certification Program Document 180

Process Documents 180

Conclusion 182

Making It Practical 182

Notes 182

19 Managing the Details: The Effective Administration of Hands-On Learning 183

Measurability 183

Sustainability 184

Revision Control 185

Simple Revision Tracking 185

Global Enterprise Classification 186

Propose, Approve, Implement 191

Train the Trainer 191

Prerequisites and Follow-Up 192

Prerequisites 192

Follow-Up 192

Traceable 193

Tracking People and Programs 193

Tracking Business Results 195

Tracking Compliance 196

Tracking Revenue Generation 196

Tracking Cost Savings 196

Improve Services 196

Conclusion 197

Making It Practical 197

Notes 197

20 Developing New Product Talent: Effective Mentoring of New and Junior Employees 199

Why Mentoring Matters 199

Why It Matters to the Mentor 200

Employers Value Mentoring Experts 200

Successful Experts Are Teaching Experts 201

Why It Matters to Your Company 201

Mentored Employees Have Real Input Sooner 201

More Meaningful Experience Sooner 202

Mentoring for Proficiency 202

Multiple Mentors 202

Real-Time Mentoring 203

Partnership Mentoring 203

The Foundation of a Mentoring Program 203

Develop a Structure for Success 203

Get Appropriate Endorsement and Approvals 204

Set Realistic Goals 204

Create Individual Objectives 204

Define the Qualifications of a Good Mentor 205

Aptitude 205

Attitude 205

Conclusion 206

Making It Practical 206

21 Now, Go Do It: To Be an Effective Trainer, You Must Train 207

Define Your Approach 207

DO Articulate How You Will Make Learning Effective 207

DO Emphasize Proficiency over Knowledge 207

DO Become Consciously Skilled on Your Products 208

DO Identify Students That Are Ready to Learn 208

Develop with a Strategy 208

DO Demonstrate the Value of Training 208

DO Improve Your Training from Good to Great 208

DO Inspect and Evaluate Your Training 208

Design with a Structure 208

DO Dethrone King Content 208

DO Use the 4 × 8 Proficiency Design Model 209

DO Build Engaging Content and Deliverables 209

Deliver with a Purpose 209

DO Speak Up 209

DO Shut Up and Listen to Your Students 209

DO Stand Up and Be Confident 209

DO Prepare for Difficult Students and Circumstances 209

DO Deliver Effective Virtual Training 209

DO Deliver Effective Technical Presentations 210

DO Allow for Flexibility When Training in Other Cultures 210

Don’t Forget the Details 210

DO Define Certification Properly 210

DO Manage the Details Properly 210

DO Mentor New Employees 210

Conclusion 210

Making It Practical 211

Part VI For the Boss: Executive Overviews 213

22 The Foundation of Hands-On Learning: An Executive Summary 215

An Overview 215

How You Can Help 216

Conclusion 217

23 The Strategy of Hands-On Learning: An Executive Summary 219

Overview 219

How You Can Help 220

Conclusion 221

24 The Structure of Hands-On Learning: An Executive Summary 223

Overview 223

How You Can Help 224

Conclusion 225

25 The Facilitation of Hands-On Learning: An Executive Summary 227

Overview 227

How You Can Help 228

Conclusion 229

26 The Operation of Hands-On Learning: An Executive Summary 231

Overview 231

How You Can Help 232

Conclusion 233

Index 235

Action Verbs
Certification Documents
Making it practical
Revision numbering