Intro to Systems Thinking for Workplace Performance Improvement

Systems Thinking Image

It’s common to hear people talking about the importance of systems thinking in the workplace these days.

The point that folks make is that if you want to really solve problems, or really grasp opportunities, you’ve got to think of issues systemically.

I’ve heard this same basic point made by people in different work circles: learning and development, safety, operations, maintenance, HR, and more.

And beyond that, the point is often extended with some helpful advice: think of connections instead of disconnections/silos; think in circles instead of in a linear manner; think in wholes instead of parts; think of synthesis instead of analysis; think of relationships instead of about things in isolation. Be big-picture. Be holistic.

And that advice is good, to a point. But I also find it somewhat vague and hard to act on.

As a result, I decided to do a little reading on systems thinking to learn more. I’m hoping that by learning about different systems archetypes, different components of systems, and the different ways systems grow/decline, it will make it easier to identify systems at work, determine how they work, and then try to change them when I want to.

I’m doing this as a bit of a “learning out loud” project, not entirely knowing where this will go or how useful it will be. As a result, even though I always invite your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below, that’s especially true for this article. If you’ve got your own favorites sources about systems thinking, your own thoughts about systems thinking and how to apply it at work, or if you can begin to point out how to apply some of the lessons below in specific contexts, please do share!

In the credit-where-credit is due section, I should note that this article is largely based on the first-half of the book Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows. We are deeply endebted to Meadows here and in no way do we think this captures all the great thought in the book. Please consider buying a copy of the book today, as it goes into much more detail and includes many helpful examples and illustrations. It’s our plan to return to some of the materials in the second-half of Meadows’ book in future articles.

(more…)

Read More

8 Principles of Risk Management: Risk Management Basics

Risk Management Basics Image

This is the first article in an ongoing series that will introduce the concepts of risk management. The articles and series will be based on the ISO 31000 standard for risk management (at least the initial articles will) and the discussion about risk management in these articles can be applied in any industry and for any subject–finances, supply-chain management, brand reputation, talent recruitment and retention, market share, occupational safety and health, supply-chain management, and more (this is known as enterprise risk management).

If you’re new to risk and risk management, we hope that the articles in this series will demystify the field to you and show you the opportunities that taking a risk-based approach can offer in a variety of applications.

Please let us know if you have any questions you’d like us to address in future Risk Management Basics articles, and of course do use the comments section if you’d like to chime in with your own knowledge, thoughts, and experiences.

(more…)

Read More

How to Develop an Effective Paper Manufacturing Training Program: Free Downloadable Guide

Paper Manufacturing Training Basics Guide

Effective training has always been important in paper manufacturing, and that may be even more true today as a generation of older, highly skilled employees retire and new generations of smart and highly motivated workers without the same experience enter the workforce. All while economic realities call for making production increasingly efficient.

To help you optimize the training program at your paper manufacturing facility, we’ve developed this guide that explains a lot of the basics of training design, development, delivery, and evaluation in a paper manufacturing facility.

Here’s what our Paper Manufacturing Basics Training Guide covers:

  • Matching training to business goals
  • Identifying job roles, competencies, and tasks
  • Task analysis
  • Learner analysis
  • Learning objectives
  • Assessments
  • Design & development of training materials
  • Training implementation
  • Training evaluation & continuous improvement

If you really want to put your paper manufacturing training program into high gear, download this free guide plus our free guide to online paper manufacturing training.

(more…)

Read More

The Paper Manufacturer’s Guide to Online Training

Online Paper Manufacturing Training Guide Image

If you’re a paper manufacturer (or manufacture pulp, tissue, or corrugated), and you want to learn more about online training solutions you can implement at work, you’ve come to the right place.

That’s because we have put together a super-useful and comprehensive guide to online paper manufacturing training for you. If you’re looking to get into online training at your paper manufacturing facility, this is a great place to start doing your research.

Without giving it all away here, our papermaker’s guide to online training covers:

  • What online training is
  • How a learning management system (LMS) helps administer & manage training
  • Online courses for paper manufacturing
  • Managing training other than online training
  • Structuring your training program
  • Personalizing training assignments for job roles & individuals
  • Reporting

(more…)

Read More

Customer Success Story: Rengo Packaging

Customer Success Story Rengo Packaging Image

Rengo Packaging, Incorporated is a corrugated packaging manufacturer that specializes in custom-design packaging systems. They’re located in Kapolei, Hawaii and have fantastic management, employees, and a rock-star HR/AC/Administration/IT Manager, Manu Bermudes.

Rengo partnered with Convergence Training some years ago and since they began with us have used a number of our products and services, including our Contractor LMS, our flagship Convergence LMS, our online courses for corrugated packaging manufacturing (known as “Box Plant Basics”), and additional online training courses on safety and manufacturing topics.

Manu was kind enough to take some time from her very busy schedule to talk with us about her experience using Convergence Training products and working with Convergence on the development of the training program at Rengo. As you’ll see, Manu’s a powerhouse and a special person, and we had nothing but a great time working with her.

Check out the interview below and be ready to be inspired by Manu and by everyone at Rengo.

(more…)

Read More

Paper Machine Hazards

paper manufacturing safety image

A paper manufacturing facility has many hazards that must be considered in order to create a safe, healthy work environment.

In this article, we’ll point out quite a few of the general types of hazards that are common in paper manufacturing. Many of the images we’ll show come from our Online Paper Machine General Safety online course. We’ll start with a quick sample from that course.

(more…)

Read More

Paper Manufacturing Safety Tips: Hazards, Controls, and Safe Work Practices

Paper Manufacturing Safety Tips Article Image

If you’re a paper manufacturer, we probably don’t need to tell you that (1) paper manufacturing comes with its own unique set of hazards, (2)  controlling those hazards and keeping employees safe on the job is important and worthwhile, and (3)  not only is creating a safe workplace the right thing to do, it pays off in terms of better operational efficiency and higher revenues too. So you may be looking for some paper manufacturing safety tips.

We partner with many paper manufacturers to make online paper manufacturing training videos, both custom and off-the-shelf. And all our customers see the value in online paper manufacturing safety training courses as well.

In the article below, we give a few tips about safety issues when working around a paper machine. The images are taken from our Paper Machine General Safety online course. We’ve included a sample video of that course immediately below, and throughout the article, you’ll see other sample videos from other related courses.

(more…)

Read More

Visuals for Better Paper Manufacturing Training

paper manufacturing machine image
Pulp and paper manufacturing is a competitive business (that’s true of tissue and corrugated board as well). You’ve got to be an expert in many things–operations excellence, health and safety, environmental regulations, training, and more.

That’s true no matter where in the world you’re doing business.

In addition, American pulp and paper manufacturers have one arguable competitive disadvantage: they have to pay their workers more than workers in many other nations are paid. As a result, it’s important to provide the best possible training to this pulp and paper manufacturing workforce so they will have advanced skills that allow them to create a product, including value-added products, with more efficiency.

That’s where we come in. We’re experts in pulp and paper training and we’ve been doing it for more than 15 years.

With our training, you can onboard new hires more rapidly, efficiently, and effectively than you can otherwise. And that’s going to matter as the experienced Baby Boomers at your company are retiring and they’re being replaced by intelligent, capable, even college-educated millennials who have a lot to offer but don’t have a lot of relevant job experience.

Our training will help you cross-train workers so they know how to perform multiple different jobs. This will ease succession planning but will also spark motivation, creativity, and innovation from your workers.

It will, as a customer of ours who’s a training lead at a major American paper products manufacturing company has said to me, “turn your machine operators into machine engineers.”

In this article, we’re going to demonstrate a few visual design techniques that make our paper manufacturing training materials so compelling, engaging, and effective. This is actually the second of a two-article series looking at how to design visuals for effective paper manufacturing training. You may also want to check our earlier article, Better Paper Manufacturing Training Through Visual Learning.

Feel free to watch the short sample video, which shows some highlights of our online job training courses, before you begin. You’ll see we make online training materials for pulp, paper, tissue, and corrugated board manufacturing, but also for things like environment, health, and safety; HR and soft skills; general manufacturing; and more.

(more…)

Read More

Better Paper Manufacturing Training Through Visual Learning

There are many ways to make better paper manufacturing training materials, and as a result make it easier for paper manufacturing workers to gain the knowledge and skills they need to perform their jobs well. And that in turn makes the paper manufacturing companies those people work for more productive, efficient, and profitable.

One way is to include well-designed graphics, videos, and other visuals as part of your training materials. That’s true no matter what kind of training you’re talking about: if you’re leading instructor-led training, putting together a PowerPoint presentation, creating written training materials, developing your own eLearning courses for online learning, or getting paper manufacturing online courses from a training provider.

But it’s not entirely simple. You can’t just create any visuals. Some visuals will make your training more effective, and others will make it less effective. There’s a mix of art and science to using the right visuals, and it’s based on what experts know about how people learn.

In the article below, we’ve included some general guidelines that you can follow to create effective visuals for your own training materials. Or, to evaluate training materials made by others. Follow these tips and you’ll dramatically improve the quality of any visuals in your training and, as a result, the effectiveness of your training materials for paper manufacturing employees.

We’ve also written a second article on visuals for paper manufacturing training that extends the lessons in this one.

Before you begin, feel free to watch the short video below to get an idea of what compelling workforce training visuals can do.

(more…)

Read More

How We Make Online Manufacturing Training Using 3D Animations and Videos

online manufacturing training course image

We create highly life-like, online manufacturing training courses that include 3D-animated training videos to teach manufacturing employees to perform their jobs.

In some ways, these animated training videos are very similar to the kind of video you’d record with a video camera: the video you watch is a very life-like, realistic representation of the work environment and machines employees work with every day.

But we can do some things with these animated manufacturing training videos that you can’t do with “normal” videos from a video camera. For example, you can zoom in really close–to microscopic levels. You can zoom out very far, beyond what a camera can do. You can quickly change the viewing perspective from one part of the work area to the other. You can add highlights and arrows to point out important things. You can create “special views” that show the inside of a machine that would ordinarily not be visible. You can create images of things that would be too dangerous to film with a normal camera, perhaps because of dangerous machine motion.

All these special capabilities of using animation allow us to make online manufacturing training courses that do things other courses, even video-based courses, can’t do.

In short, our online manufacturing training courses can visualize all sorts of amazing things, as you can see below in this sample from some of our online manufacturing, maintenance, and industrial skills courses.

To demonstrate this more fully, and show you some more detailed examples and our general work process, we’ve explained each of the steps of a recent project in more detail below.

The demonstration below is pretty similar to how we create a lot of projects. In it, we were making a 3D model of a tissue manufacturing machine (for those not in the know, this is a paper manufacturing machine specially designed to create tissue used for paper towel and toilet paper).  (more…)

Read More

Conference Wrap-Up: Western Pulp, Paper, and Forest Products Safety and Health Conference

We just completed attending, presenting at, and exhibiting at the recent Western, Pulp, Paper, and Forest Products Safety and Health Conference in Portland, Oregon (December 2016). A triple threat–how about that!

First off, a thousand thanks to Oregon OSHA and everyone involved in planning, organizing, and putting on the conference. Here’s a list of other conferences that Oregon OSHA’s putting on, including of course the upcoming Governor’s Occupational Health and Safety Conference (GOSH), which happens in Portland, OR on March 6-9, 2017.

And of course, thanks to everyone else, too. This includes the conference attendees (the whole reason for the conference), the conference presenters (lots of very smart and experienced people were sharing valuable information at the conference this year), and the conference exhibitors explaining their health and safety offerings (a special shout-out here from me to folks from the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center and Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, both of whom had some good stuff and were mighty knowledgeable and friendly). And let’s not forget the hotel staff who took care of everything so we could focus on learning–rooms, food, and more.

I’d also like to say thanks in particular to everyone who I had a chance to meet with and talk to at the show. It’s always a pleasure to get out of the office and meet others in the field, and invariably a learn a lot from it.

Below is an overview of the conference presentations that we attended through the three-day meeting and the conference presentation we delivered at the end of the third day. Obviously, if you attended you may have seen some different presentations than we did, so hopefully you’ll (1) find our brief overviews below interesting and (2) you’ll use the comments section at the bottom of this article to tell us about the presentations you attended or led yourself.

For those of you who attended the Effective Safety Training presentation that we led, we’ll include some links below where you can download some additional information on effective safety training, and we’ll let you know about a second follow-up blog post specifically for you (which we haven’t yet completed but will soon).

If you stopped by  at the Convergence Training exhibit desk, liked what you saw in our solutions for health and safety training, pulp and paper training, and general training management software, feel free to drop an email to our representative Brian Andrewjeski.

 

(more…)

Read More

Come See Us At The Western Pulp, Paper and Forest Products Safety & Health Conference – Portland, OR – Nov 29-Dec 2, 2016

We’ll be exhibiting at this year’s Western Pulp, Paper and Forest Products Safety & Health conference this year. And as a bonus, we’ll also be leading a presentation on Effective Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Training.

The conference begins on Tuesday, November 29 and runs through Friday, December 2.

Brian Andrewjeski will be at the booth saying hi, demonstrating our products, and answering any questions. You can send Brian emails in advance here.

Jeff Dalto will be giving a presentation Effective Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Training. You can send send Jeff emails in advance here.

(more…)

Read More

Page 1 of 3123