Ep 61 – Learner Controlled Systems

Covey was asked to consult on a project with a large banking institution.  They needed to evaluate and improve their management training program.  At the time, they selected college graduates and put them through two-week assignments in each of the 12 departments, creating a 6-month training program.  At the end of the 6 months, the trainees were assigned as assistant managers in different branches.

To start, Covey’s consulting team tried to nail down objectives.  What did the execs want the trainees to know?  They got vague and contradictory answers.  As it was the program dealt with methods, not results.  So, covey’s team suggested learner-controlled instruction. 

They sat down with executives and hammered out objectives for each department and came up with over 100 objectives, which were combined, simplified and consolidated to 39 objectives. 

The trainees were told, here are the objectives, here’s the criteria, here are resources-including each other-go”  It took them 3.5 weeks.

Paradigm shift is hard, and the execs didn’t like it-without saying as much because they had to go through 6 months, so should these guys. 

Staying with learner-controlled instruction, they came up with 8 more objectives with very tough criteria and the execs admitted that if the trainees can do this, they’ll be better off than anyone that did the 6 months. 

The trainees did it, they met the objectives in unbelievable ways, some knowledge was already gleaned from college, some came from books, other trainees, and approaching the executives.

The 6-month program was reduced to 5 weeks with significantly better results creating a win/win situation.

Learner-controlled system is highly motivated for the learners and the executives get to set the criteria.

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