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Lean, Mean & Training Green!

Anymore in the news you hear about the Green movement. Save the Environment is no longer just a buzz word – it’s a way of life. It doesn’t matter whether your from Dubai or Detroit, we all know that what we have on the earth is a finite resource – one which we need to work hard to protect. So what does saving the Environment have to do with Business, SAP and training? Other than the personal satisfaction of training in an Environmentally friendly way, the biggest impact is a reduction in cost per training session. So instead of focusing on how to be a ‘save the environment’ champion – I’d rather blog to you about how to be a Lean, Mean, Green Trainer in a few easy steps – and if it helps the environment in the process – that’s a good thing!


Train Lean

So how do you reduce costs?  Take a look at all aspects of your average training session. Did the users have to drive or fly to attend your session when they could have easily set up a videoconference link to attend instead? Reducing travel costs not only reduces your overall travel budget/costs but also reduces auto emissions, jet fuel, etc that have an environmental impact.  The next time you sit in on a conference or training session at a hotel – look at the amount of waste. Notepads not used, pens lying on the floor to get thrown out, if there are pastries or coffee the used supplies that get thrown out. There is a hard line between being prepared and wasting resources. For example, you have a SAP Transaction you are training on. This is a transaction you know is going through modifications and enhancements and will continue going through multiple modifications and enhancements but you are training users on the transaction as it is used at this point in time. If you print out handouts, you know they will be outdated the minute you print them out. If you create a presentation you may even know it’s up to date – but as of next week it too will be outdated. In this situation, it may be better instead of wasting physical resources (paper and ink to print those printouts – time to create the printouts, etc) to use virtual ones instead. Create a portal or SharePoint or common drive where your trainees can get updated information. Use documentation toolsets to contain your training materials so that your users can access up to date electronic copies of items. Have copies of these prepared either on your laptop for demonstration purposes or ensure that your trainees have access prior to the session. Reduction of Printouts, Travel Costs, Materials (such as stopping usage of flip charts) all add up to a Leaner training style.

Train Mean

It’s always fun to tell a group of trainers to be the MEANEST trainer they can be. Of course mean isn’t always an angry angst filled person.

To me being a mean trainer means to Motivate, Energize, Assess and Never Give Up!



So what would happen if I walked into a room of Business Process Experts, and I closed the training door, assigned everyone seats, told them to be quiet and only spoke if they raised their hands, and could not leave the room until the training was done or I was going to send them to their manager’s office.


Obviously, that wouldn’t work. What motivated you as a child, does not motivate you as an adult. I cannot say that enough. Business Professionals who are walking into a training environment are adults and expect to be  treated as such. The materials that you are using need to focus on ‘real world’ examples that the trainee can relate to and understand. Allow time for debate and discussion to further motivate trainees to learn more about the topic at hand. Sometimes a good heated discussion can enhance learning more than any book or handout could ever do for material retention. Listen and respect your trainees, and encourage them to not have fear trying out a newer transaction and set up an environment so that if they are new to SAP or if they want to try something out they can without fear of ‘breaking the system’. Motivation isn’t just in a classroom – motivation can occur virtually as well. If you are using videoconferencing engage your learners with tasks and questions to ensure they are engaged in the topic. Finally, motivate appropriately to the culture you are in, motivate your users to learn, and focus on the infamous WIIFM.


Users that come to a training session many times are focused on the infamous WIIFM?! (What’s In It For Me). They want to know what is in it for them – how does the topic you are training on impact your learners. As long as your motivational tools reflect on the WIIFM concepts – your training will always be successful.


I was in a leadership development session once where I learned the art of how to break a board with my bare hands. The trainer started off explaining to us that by the end of the training session we were going to be able to do something that each of us felt was impossible to learn how to do in the session. By the end of the session each of us had a wooden board broken in half in our bare hands. I was energized for weeks after that session. Now, would I suggest breaking boards (be them wooden or circuit boards) in half in a training session? No. But you do want to motivate your learners and energize them by enabling them to experience learning in a open safe environment free of judgment and prejudice. Encourage them that they can make the impossible – possible in a safe environment and make your learners want to learn. Use analogies that pull them into the topic at hand. Toss questions out to your learners and reward them with an edible treat such as candy or a reference card they can use. A ‘great green’ way to reward learners may be as simple as sending them a certificate for completing the training class via email. I’ve even presentations on Kanban that were energizing & we talked about days after the session –  it’s all in the presentation of your topic, your materials and how you translate your topic to your learners. So get up from behind the computer and train to energize.


If you have ever trained before, chances are you’ve had a problem session at least once. One where no matter how hard you tried, the trainees just didn’t ‘get it’, or maybe even one where you thought they understood the material but when it came to applying what they learned the trainee’s lacked the ability to do so.  Assessing the learner throughout the training session helps to prevent these situations from happening. Most individuals want to know how they are performing, especially if the skills they are learning about in your classroom are ones where they will need to perform on the job. There are two main ways that you can assess your trainee’s understanding and knowledge of the materials that you are presenting to the group :

1) Monitor Group Performance Attitudes & Reactions
2) Provide Learners the Opportunity For Self-Assessment

Very few people like to take tests. By the time the average business professional sits in your training class, they have taken thousands of tests in their lifetime. Some fear testing environments and some will actually avoid training sessions if they know that a testing aspect is involved. But, testing is not the only way to assess a trainee’s knowledge and retention of the materials. While you are in the training class, monitor the reactions of the class. Is there a high energy level in the room or do people look confused and keep looking at the clock? Are people asking questionsand if so are the questions meaningful or defensive? Are the learners reacting in a way that shows their understanding of the materials? There have been times where in the middle of a training session sometimes you just need to turn the PowerPoint off, move the flip chart, and just talk to the class – see what is the problem that is preventing learning from occuring so that you can deal with the topic or situation and move on.


Once you know that there is a level of understanding – allow the learner the opportunity for self-assessment. Give the trainee exercises and a safe environment if possible to practice on outside of the classroom to continue learning. Ask the trainees questions to resolve as a group or facilitate the trainees in small groups where trainees can discuss and evaluate topics and questions and share these solutions with the group within the training session. Assessing a learner’s understanding not only reaffirms that you have trained the user – but also affirms the learner’s confidence in the training they are attending.

Never Give Up!

Training is stressful. Being trained is stressful. Be prepared. Think of new and innovative ways to train your users and have plans for those users who are falling behind in class to bring them up to an acceptable level. One thing I have trainers who I’m training study – was conflict management. Why conflict management if you are just training folks on how authorizations work or about BI? Because when people become stressed – they will sometimes act or say things they wouldn’t normally say. Opinions get heated, and things break down. Training isn’t always easy but if you know how to calm conversations between two people that are monopolizing the classroom’s time discussing whether SE16 or SE17 is better – you can reclaim the classroom and refocus everyone on training. No matter what happens, at the end of the day, never give up. In every training session, even if everything went wrong – at least you learned what not to do – and usually the trainer learns from the trainees just as much as the trainees learn from the trainer. So… Never Give Up! Keep Training!

Train Green

Some of these we’ve already gone over above in our lean training styles, so I shall just bullet a few ideas for Training in a more environmentally friendly manner :

1) Use Electronic Means if possible (Portals, SharePoint, E-Mail, etc)

2) Use Flip-Charts Sparingly

3) If you need to use handouts, use double sided paper – and limit the number

4) Dim the lights if doing a PowerPoint Presentation – it not only makes your presentation easier to read, but focuses the learner and saves electricity too

5) Try to do Virtual Blended Training using videoconferencing or Net meeting / LiveMeeting type tools  if at all possible to reduce travel costs and emissions from cars, trains, planes, etc.

6) Think twice before handing out pens and notepads – encourage your trainees to take notes electronically to save paper or use mnemonic devices so better retention occurs and notes are not needed

So think Lean, think Green…. and be a trainer that is …..

Never Give Up

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