Everything I learned about Learning Transfer I learned cleaning restrooms

One of the key bits of wisdom I’ve extracted over the years about what it takes for training to stick can be summed up by one of W. Edwards Deming’s more famous quotes: “You can expect what you inspect.”

A number years ago, in one of my past lives as a new business process implementation consultant, I was working on a project for a major oil & gas company where we were helping them implement new restroom cleaning processes in over 10,000 of their spanking new convenience stores. As strange as it may seem, this was a business critical initiative because the marketing research showed that the number #1 determining factor for women choosing to shop at a gas station convenience store was the “perceived” cleanliness of the restrooms. And, since the research shows that women make most of the decisions about where food/snack shopping takes place, it was a major competitive advantage to own the reputation for having the cleanest restrooms around.
So, as you can imagine, there was much executive hoopla about the importance of the effort, lot’s of money was spent researching and developing world class restroom cleaning process, a state of the art training system — accompanied by the full enchilada training deployment communication strategy with all the bells and whistles.

About two months after the deployment we got a call from the company’s project lead saying “The training is not working.” Some locations were applying the new process and other geographies weren’t. The company spent another six figures to determine why the employees in the convenience stores weren’t applying the new process. It turns out that in locations where the bosses had a restroom cleanliness metric as part of their weekly scorecard the process was being implemented. In those places where the boss wasn’t paying regular attention – Nada.

When the VP added a restroom cleanliness metric to his direct reports weekly scorecard — presto, clean restrooms across the company.

This simiple initiative took three key things to flawlessly execute.

  1. Sustained executive will and attention in the face of other demanding priorities.
  2. A well thought-out process for engaging all of the players to ensure everyone understood the business purpose for the change and the game plan for execution.
  3. A doable way to monitor, reinforce and report on the requisite behaviors of all the key players. (i.e. learners, learners bosses and SMEs)

Anyone who has been around a while knows that garnering and sustaining sufficient executive will and attention is always a challenge due to changing of people and priorities. When you are fortunate to have the level of support needed, success is possible.

In many organizations, ensuring flawless execution of the critical monitoring, reinforcing & feedback pieces of the training puzzle is a nightmare, requiring of lots of people with numerous spreadsheets.   The good news is that next generation learning systems like Q2 Learning’s XPERT eCampus are now becoming available to take as much of the pain as possible out of the implementation/training, monitoring, reinforcing and reporting process.

I welcome the opportunity to continue the discussion. Please comment below or contact me directly at to discuss any of these ideas!


RSS Feed

No comments yet.

Leave a comment!



Find it!

Theme Design by