A well-known multinational recently asked us to look at their product development process. The request arose from the fact that their junior development employees were having a hard time finding their way through a process that was seen as overly complex, insufficiently transparent and barely documented.
A new, milestone procedure has now been designed to tackle these problems and we were asked to train the developers in the area of Requirements Management. From a content point of view this involves tools, templates and methods such as specifying requirements, determining impact of tolerance windows on different design levels, and setting up verification and validation tests.
More than content training
Our experience shows that content training is necessary to successfully achieve behavioural change, but on its own not enough. Being able to influence people’s behaviour within the prevailing corporate culture is also vital to success.
Collaborating with one of CQM’s partners in the area of change management, The Leadership Company (TLC), we initially conducted several interviews with engineers, project leads and architects to assess the current situation.
We found that when it came to content people understood things well and had the requisite skills. However, the prevailing behaviour and culture were seen as major roadblocks to actually executing the development process using the desired means and methods.
Having investigated how to address both content and behaviour in a training environment, CQM and TLC developed a serious game setting called ‘The Art of Engineering’. As part of the training, participants are challenged to develop a working robot prototype for a demanding customer. During this development process both hard and soft skills are addressed in a logical and realistic fashion.
The first pilot of ‘The Art of Engineering’ ran in October 2014 and was a huge success. Employing their engineering skills in a realistic and demanding development environment not only brings out the drive, knowledge and passion of participants, but also their less effective behavioural patterns. Real-time interventions by the course trainers can then facilitate a steep learning curve amongst participants to help remove the blocks to successful implementation of the development process.
We’re now investigating how best to incorporate this powerful learning tool within our DfSS training.