Industry Spotlight: Training - The Divide and Conquer Technique

September 19th, 2013

So you are now in charge of training your entire firm with software they know very little about...this is going to be fun! ...really!

I spent the last 10 years doing this for more than one firm, and I can tell you the best strategy is to have one set up before you even walk into the building. This means taking all reservations, emotions, and personalization out of the equation and focusing on a "divide and conquer" technique.

This process would have been great to know in the beginning but it took me time and many different attempts with small successes and failures before I realized the only way to do it right is to take the group and split it into groups of user types. These types are not decided by race, age, gender, or anything other than work style. These types consist of the following:

  1. Dreamers
  2. Do-ers
  3. Complainers
  4. Refusers

I have these listed in the order in which to approach, and work with first, second, and third. So let’s get started!

The first group are the ones you want to focus on immediately! These are the people just like you, they work toward and strive hard for things to not only get done, but get done better. They look for ways to improve, and better the workflow, process, and standards. In fact, the same could be said on just about anything they can get their hands on. Work with them now and get them to understand your ideas, goals, and passion. Show them what could be, and let them help you achieve it! Usually these people with be the quickest to learn the new software anyways, so it helps to focus on them in the very beginning so they can help you when or if times get tough. One last comment regarding this group, don't feel discouraged if you find out there are only a few of these users out of hundreds. Sadly that is becoming typical and yet those few can easily make a huge difference once you get the majority on board and need some assistance.

The second group is just as important as the first, and need to be your very close second priority. These are the users that will use any tool they are given, as long as they can get the job done. They don't care how it works, or what new features it has, just show them the path and let them run with it. This is great for the overall firm, and sounds good at first, but it can be frustrating at times when their previous may on the surface seem easier, but once they understand the entire process will see the new tool is much faster and more efficient. In the end this group is 90% awesome and self sufficient, with only a few bumps in the road and minimal resistance. I applaud these users for having a great work ethic, and solid social skills allowing for simplified training and support when needed.

Now is where it goes from "awesome" to "not so much", and trust me when I say this group is not for the weak hearted. These people would complain if you have them a machine with only one button to do their job, so as soon as you can come to terms with that, it's MUCH easier to work with them. The end goal is the same, and these users will need to be pushed the entire way kicking and screaming so my advice is to get the first two groups going, but all the while listen (only listen) to their complaints. Find ways to respond to some of those and then do so only when you are able to be with them one-on-one. Once this has been done for a few weeks, then begin to focus on them as a whole. This part will take the most patience of all and you will come home exhausted on multiple occasions, but the only real answer to these users is time. Give it time so they can have their moments, announce their issues, feel important and have their needs and wants addressed. For most of them after this is done, they should be worn out from complaining and allow some teaching to be taken in. Good luck! It can and will be done with success!!!

Finally we've reached the Refusers. This was the hardest group for me to figure out because my solution always included doing something; one on one, homework, special courses, Etc. anyone want to guess what the final best result was? Nothing! Do nothing with these people, and here is why. First, if they are in a position to decline change, they are also able to tell you what to do...meaning you cannot make them. Second, if they are in that same position, they have probably been there for decades and have so much pull that it would be in your best interest to not irritate them. Basically the best way is to let them continue with their current workflow and watch it dissolve in front of them. Updates stop happening, users around them have to do more work just to export or import collaboration with this person, and they will begin to see projects getting done faster, better, and with more opportunities than they can offer and they will themselves either change or ask for help. I never thought this was true but from experience this has happened more than once, and it's amazing!

Looking overhead, by using this system, you eliminate your hardest group, get your best users going ASAP, offering a wider support base once the second group gains speed, leaving you with time to focus on the complaints and getting the last of the firm going with ease!

I thank you very much for your time and do my best to only write articles that I feel could save users time and energy, and appreciate any feedback and support. Thanks again for reading AUGI HotNews and I look forward to learning more each month!

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About the Authors

Brian Andresen

Brian Andresen

Brian Andresen is a Senior Technical Specialist with USCAD with over 15 years of experience working in the AEC Industry, 12 of those years with Revit. Brian has worked diligently to simplify the processes involved with the program for the end user and continue to do so by providing CAD/BIM support, training, management, implementation, and standards throughout. For more information, please visit http://about.me/cadbimmanager.