Magazine article Personnel Journal

Coca-Cola Learns from Its Training Mistakes

Magazine article Personnel Journal

Coca-Cola Learns from Its Training Mistakes

Article excerpt

Few, if any, companies that embark on a quality journey know exactly how to reach their destinations. Sure, they have some idea about what customer service means and how to attain it. More often than not, however, organizations charge headlong down one path only to realize that another path might have been more efficient.

It's practically a given in the pursuit of TQM that mistakes are going to be made. These mistakes can include ineffective quality communication, a compensation structure that rewards the wrong behavior, or, as happened at Coca-Cola USA in Atlanta, a training program that fails to provide any useful new information.

Coca-Cola USA launched its quality effort four years ago with a massive top-down training effort, in which all 1,300 workers learned about the tools of continuous quality improvement. Covered were such techniques as problem solving, statistical process control and process management. As Ken Levine, division manager of continuous improvement, explains, training came in "a burst of awareness" for employees.

What was the problem? Three years later, the majority of employees had forgotten the tools they had learned because they never had had an opportunity to use those tools.

Today, the company is in the midst of redesigning its training effort to provide employees with training as they need it. Levine explains, "Rather than training all associates in the beginning of a TQM initiative to understand a myriad of tools they may never use, it's useful to train teams as they form. Using this just-in-time training approach, real problems can be used to illustrate tools and techniques. This will accelerate the ability of teams to begin to solve problems and improve processes. …

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