Chuck Fred is author of Breakaway. Here's my Amazon review:

If you only have time for one book this year, read this one. September 21, 2002 Reviewer: Jay Cross, Berkeley, CA USA

What has really changed in our world in the last two decades? Time has sped up and surpassed all the other busienss variables in importance. These days time is more important than money.

To win in business, you must break away from the pack and stay ahead by serving your customers extraordinarily well. "Speed-to-proficiency is more than a theoretical advantage; it is the most devastating competitive weapon in a world where the competitive forces of scale, automation, and capital are subordinate to the power of a proficient work force."

I enjoyed this book, right from the first sentence -- "This book is designed for the business reader, to be read in the time it takes to fly from Chicago to San Francisco or Denver to Miami." Breakaway is an easy read with a vital message. Read it.

Chuck and I talked this afternoon about the continuing lack of discipline in measuring the impact of corporate learning. That's the topic of my Metrics, my strongest statement yet that "training metrics" are a fantasy. The appropriate metrics for training are business metrics.

Chuck and I are both obsessed with time. Chuck's a former competitive runner and the "breakaway" of his book's title is that point when the winners pull ahead of the also-rans. It worked for Jesse Owens and it works for Wal*Mart. The name of this site is a reflection of my view of time. Time has become the prime business metric. How soon can our team reach proficiency? How can we get there faster? How can we stay ahead of the game? How can we speed things up? How soon will we be ready to execute?

The genesis of Chuck's book was interviews with 300 CEOs. He promised them absolute confidentiality in return for their candor. He maintains these relationships to this day.

Late last year, Chuck asked the CEOs about their levels of confidence in the ROI presentations made in suport of training expenditures. Specifically, he asked about purchases of off-the-shelf courseware, training technology & infrastructure, and training-related advisory services.

Nine out of ten CEOs said they had no confidence in the ROI of training as presented to them. You can reach Chuck at Breakaway Group.

Posted by Jay Cross at March 4, 2004 05:21 PM | TrackBack

Thanks Jay for mentioning Breakaway in your blog.

Really this book helped me to understand Metrics of Learning design as a whole (apart from your e-book Metrics). Time to reach proficiency threshold is one of the biggest concerns for the knowledge economy based organizations.

Let me share with you a real world example relevant to this. I was taking a series of interviews with training managers and business decision makers about eLearning metrics. One of the interviewee, Dr. Guido Jouret, Director, IBSG, Cisco Systems mentioned that the biggest ROI they got out of e-Learning by reducing the time required to get a newly hired person upto ”Cisco Speed” and reducing the time to market of a new product (by training the workforce within a short time span).

Jay - please include the concept of Breakaway and it’s relevancy in e-Learning in Metrics 2.0

Posted by: Anol at March 4, 2004 10:05 PM

Reaching Threshold Proficiency in shorter periods of time requires a relentless focus on the "process of accumulating experience." Our facination with ROI of the training event, the "introduction" of new information, will forever keep us from moving quicker. Cycle time to the desired level of performance is the only metric that considers the process to reach proficiency.

Consider this case of a client of mine. They spent considerable time and energy calculating the ROI of thier sales training for field sales people. The "training" was a blended approach with a one-day high-touch facilitated session and three follow-on web-based reinforcement sessions. The ROI looked good because they had dramatically reduced the training time, travel costs and improved consistency.

This company was selling a fairly technical product to large organizations. It was "institutionalized" that it would take a new sales person 12 months to become proficient and begin to reach thier quota.

Eleven-months after their training (ROI calculation had a 6-month breakeven) they still had the same level of proficiency and it still was taking a year to get a sales person up to speed. THEIR WAS NO RETURN AND NO CHANGE IN THE COMPETITVENESS OF THEIR ORGANIZATI0N! One more time they had focused on the training event, not on the process to create a proficient salesperson.

Cycle time to proficiency literally changes the game and gets executives to see the challenge and the opportunities in a different light. What if this firm focused on getting their sales people proficient in six-months versus twelve-months? An ROI analysis would then look at revenues in earlier quarters, the number of new products that could be delivered sooner, the effectiveness of a sales person sooner, and the overall competitiveness that this would bring to the organization.

Lets change the game.

Chuck Fred

Posted by: Chuck Fred at March 5, 2004 05:10 AM

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