Using Metaphors, Similes, and Analogies to Create Better Training

Metaphors, Similes, and Analogies for Training ImageWhat would you do if someone told you something entirely new and you wanted to make sense of it, remember it, and use it later?

For example, say I started telling you about a game you had never heard of. While you’re trying to figure it out, is it possible you might compare the new game to a game you already know? For example, when learning chess, did you ever compare and contrast it with checkers? Have you ever done anything like that when you’re trying to learn something?

Even better, would it also help if, while I told you about the new game, I explained how it’s similar to and different than a game you know? For example, if I know you understand soccer, and I’m trying to explain American football to you, would it help if I explained some similarities between the two sports (they’re played on a rectangular, grassy field; there’s a ball; you score by moving a ball down the field to a goal or zone at the other end) and also explained some differences (a soccer ball is round, a football is ovular; in soccer you kick the ball, in football you run with it or pass it; in soccer you score by kicking the ball into a net, in football you score by passing a line at the end of the field, etc.)? Don’t you think that process of comparing and contrasting something you already know and something brand new to you helps you learn and remember?

In this article, we’re going to see how using metaphors, similes, analogies, and comparisons/contrasts to create better training materials can help your workers understand, remember, and later use new information on the job more effectively.

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What Does the MSHA Part 46 Competent Person Do?

MSHA Part 46 Competent Person

If you read through 30 CFR Part 46, the MSHA regulations related to safety training for most surface miners and other employees at those mines, you’ll see references to the MSHA Part 46 competent person role. But just what does that mean? What is a competent person according to MSHA and Part 46?

In this article, we’re going to look at those questions more closely and dig up the answers. Ha-ha! Mining pun intended!

In addition, we’re going to give you some resources that can help you prepare yourself or someone else to be a competent person for Part 46.

So let’s get started.

Along the way, we’re going to address some similar issues for Part 48, and we’ve written a similar similar article related to Part 48 and MSHA-approved instructors, so check that one out as well.

And at the end of this article, you can download a Free Guide to MSHA Training Requirements–check it out! 

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8 Training Mistakes to Avoid

8 Training Mistakes to Avoid Image

Normally when we write about training here, we write about how to design, create, and deliver effective training.

You know-training that works.

Meaning, training that’s designed and delivered in a way that helps your employees learn. That helps them understand, remember, and later apply that training on the job. Training that builds real job skills and changes on-the-job behaviors. Training that makes your workers better at their jobs and more successful. Training that helps your business reach its business goals (which is why you’re providing training, right)?

But today we thought we’d have a little fun and turn our normal blog post on its head by listing some ways to create bad training. And so we’re offering you some tips of training mistakes to avoid.

We all have some ideas about this, no doubt. And so we ask you to please use the comments section below to give some “tips for bad training” or “bad training you’ve observed.”

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Lean Manufacturing and Training: A Look at “Training Within Industry”

Our customers are very interested in being more efficient. That’s why they come to us looking for help with their training programs. But of course training isn’t the only solution they look at to increase efficiency. As a result, many are interested in lean manufacturing principles, and so we’ve recently been running a series of articles on some basic lean concepts. For example, we’ve had articles introducing 5s/lean 6s, kaizen, and kaizen events, and we’ve even listed some ways you can use these lean tools to create a safer workplace.

In this article, we’re going to look at another aspect of lean manufacturing–Training Within Industry (TWI). Training Within Industry is the lean approach to training, has been used by Toyota and other manufacturers throughout the world for decades, and still has valuable lessons that can be put to use in training today.

Read on to learn more.

After you’ve read this article, you might want to read the following articles for a deeper dive on different TWI issues:

And you may also enjoy the following lean manufacturing articles:

And to top it off, we’ve included a FREE “5 PRINCIPLES OF LEAN MANUFACTURING” INFOGRAPHIC you can download at the bottom of this article.

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12 Tools for a Safer Workplace

12 tips for a safer workplace imageWe all want a safer workplace, but we’re not always sure how to get there.

Fortunately, there are lots of good ideas and lots of places to find them. You can do worse than checking out OSHA, NIOSH, and MSHA, for example. There are professional safety organizations, such as the National Safety Council (NSC) and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). And there are plenty of good EHS journals, including EHS Today, Occupational Health & Safety, and Industrial Safety and Hygiene News.

In this article, we’re going to consolidate a few topics we’ve written about in earlier posts, presenting twelve solid tools you can use to make your workplace safer. (Note: This article began with 12 tools/tips, but we’ve been adding to it and we think we’re up to 14 now–enjoy the extra bonus tips and let us know your own, too).
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4 Good Books about Training We’ve Read Lately

We thought we’d pull together a list of a few good books about training or instructional design that we’ve read lately.

If you’ve read any of these, it would be great to hear your thoughts on them. If not, you might want to check one or two out.

Of course, you’re invite to use the comments section below to give us some additional book suggestions as well–we’re always looking for good ones.

And if you’re wondering what’s next on our reading list, it’s this book about “lean” training: Training Within Industry: The Foundation of Lean.

(Note: It’s been a while since we originally wrote this post–so you can read our article about TWI and Lean Manufacturing now, too).

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Improving Workplace Safety with Lean Manufacturing Principles

Lean Manufacturing and Safety ImageA lot of people are familiar with the lean manufacturing method known as 5S. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a method for straightening and organizing a workplace. Like all lean manufacturing concepts, it’s intended to create efficiency.

But of course, a more organized, clutter-free work area also improves safety. This is well known and I’m saying nothing new. Whether you use 5S or not, I’m sure that housekeeping is a big part of your safety training and your safety program in general. But if you’re not using 5S currently, you may find some of the techniques will be a helpful addition to your current housekeeping efforts.

In addition to 5S, you can use other lean concepts to improve safety at the workplace as well. These include kaizen and kaizen events. And again, even if you’re not using the “lean” name for each, you may be doing something similar at work already. Or, if you’re not, maybe now’s a time for you to add a wrinkle or two to your current approach.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at 5S and two other ideas to investigate improving workplace safety with lean manufacturing tips, plus include a link to a general “What Is Lean Manufacturing?” article. Be sure to check out the linked resources embedded in the article, because they lead to substantive, helpful resources, and please download the free 5 principles of lean manufacturing infographic at the bottom as well.

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MSHA Part 46 Training Requirements for Contractors

msha-part-46-trainining-contractors-imageWhen a contractor is working at a surface mine, it brings up a lot of questions regarding the MSHA Part 46 training requirements for contractors. For example, who’s responsible for what in terms of providing the MSHA Part 46 safety training? And, of course, there are questions about the type of training the contractor needs to receive, who pays, etc.

If you don’t know all the ins and outs of this issue now, you will by the time you finish this article. So let’s get started with this overview of MSHA Part 46 training for contract employees.

To help you answer more MSHA-related questions, we’ve put a free Guide to MSHA Training Requirements at the bottom of this article, too.

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15 Tips for Effective Safety Training

Effective Safety Training Image

We’re all in favor of safety training. But even better, we’re in favor of EFFECTIVE safety training.

But what IS effective safety training? What does that mean?

Effective safety training is training employees understand and remember. It’s training they later apply on the job. And ultimately, it’s safety training that will decrease the number of unsafe actions, increase the number of safe actions. It changes behavior on the job. It leads to decreased incident rates for near-misses, injuries, and illnesses. And it even makes a positive contribution to the company’s overall-bottom line.

And that’s what all safety managers want out of safety training, right?

For a few tips of how to make this happen, read on. We’ve even included a Free 60-Page Guide to Effective Safety Training at the bottom of this article.

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What Is a Kaizen Event?


A kaizen event is one arrow in the lean manufacturing “quiver.” Or one tool in the lean toolbox–pick your favorite metaphor.

But just what is a kaizen event? This article will spell it out for you: we’ve got the goods in the sections immediately below.

If you’re just getting into lean, you may be happy to know that this is part of a series of articles we’ve written on basic lean topics. Here are some others:

And we’ll be adding more from time to time in the future. Hope you enjoy our look at lean topics, and feel free to check out our online courses for lean manufacturing. But now, to business–let’s learn about kaizen events.

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How to Perform a Task Analysis for Job Training

Task Analysis ImageIn an earlier post focusing on identifying job roles and job tasks, we mentioned the importance of creating (1) a list of the job roles at your site and (2) a list of the job tasks that people in each of those job roles have to be able to perform in order to hold their job.

In this post, we’re going to start with the assumption that you’ve created that list of tasks, and we’ll show you how to perform a task analysis for each task on the list. The idea is that you’ll “break down” each task into the smaller steps or sub-tasks that a person would have to perform to finish the task.

The point in doing this is that once you’ve identified the steps or sub-tasks that make up a job task, you’ll know exactly what you need to teach employees who will have to perform the task properly on the job. You would then create learning objectives, assessments, and the actual training materials.

This is an “instructional design” basic. To see how the task analysis fits into the general flow of training development, you may want to check out 8 Steps to Great Training article and/or download the guide to writing learning objectives at the bottom of this article.

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Business Goals, KPIs, and Job Training

Business Goals, KPIs, and Training ImageJob training shouldn’t be designed or delivered in a vacuum. And you probably know that.

We’ve written a LOT about how training should be delivered with the learners in mind (the employees, that is). And that’s definitely true and important.

But in this article, we’re going to look at training from a different angle: the connection between training and the business itself–in particular, the goals of a business. And we’ll do that by looking at business goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), and job training.

Sometimes, trainers forgot to consider this and forget to build it into their training, development, delivery, and evaluation process.

So hopefully this will be a good review and reminder.

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