The Value of Stabilizing Process before Teaching

Title image - The Value of Stabilizing Process Before Teaching

The Value of Stabilizing Process before Teaching

Matt Archer

February 25, 2021

Stabilizing process quote

Remember the old saying, “Measure Twice, Cut Once?” It implies that rushing to make changes before taking the time to determine the result of your actions could be costly. Instead, it’s often better to plan first, then take action once you know your plan is sound. This is a great analogy to apply to many scenarios of training development, particularly stabilizing a process. Taking the time to understand whether your process is stable or unstable before jumping into the training creation stage can save you a lot of time, effort, and money.

What is a Stable Process?

Stabilizing process what is a stable processTraining creation can often follow different routes to reach its ultimate goal of delivering information to learners in a way that gives them the best chance to retain and use that knowledge for your desired purpose. However, not all training is created equally.

Many courses and teachable materials are based on Unstable Processes and/or Unstable Content, which can doom the learning to failure before it has even begun.

Six Sigma defines a Stable Process as “A process that does not contain any special cause variation — it only contains common cause variation. Common cause variation is that which is normal to the process and doesn’t change over time.”[1]

It’s very important for a process to be stable before attempting to create training or teachable materials based on that process.

Why is Stabilizing your Process Important?

Think about teaching someone how to perform a simple task such as how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

A stable process related to this task would be able to clearly list all the steps you need to take and all the items you need to use to complete the task from start to finish, which would allow training to be created to easily explain that task to a layperson.  It could even account for small variations like switching the type of jelly from raspberry to strawberry.

Stabilizing process - what is stable vs unstable

Conversely, an unstable process might be missing a whole piece of the process such as how you get the jam out of the container and onto the slice of bread. Additionally, the process itself might continue to change so that you may be teaching people to put peanut butter and jelly on bread and the suddenly you’re supposed to be teaching how to put icing on a cake.

It should be obvious that a stable process is more predictable and verifiable. This makes it much easier to build training around because you know everything is there and isn’t going to change in any major way.

The Consequences of Teaching an Unstable Process

When a process is unstable, it means something could or does change, but you’re not sure what, when, or how. This makes it very difficult to teach someone how to do something because who knows how long the process will stay that way. You may not even be able to teach the entire process because parts of it may be in flux. This leads to a lot of wasted time, wasted effort and wasted money.

How to tell if your Process is Unstable

There are many ways to tell if a process is unstable, but here are a few of the most important factors to consider when evaluating the stability of a process.

  1. Constant un-anticipated changes to the content of the process
  2. Gaps within the process that cannot be accounted for with documentation
  3. Confusion around how to utilize the process by those that currently follow it

Tips to Stabilize your Process

Just as there are many ways to determine if your process is unstable, there are just as many ways to stabilize it. Often these solutions are unique and specific to your particular process, but below are a few general tips to increase its current stability.

  1. Schedule update periods at regular intervals to review potential changes and evaluate impacts of those changes thoroughly before making updates to the process
  2. Analyze the process for gaps and determine how best to solve for them, whether that means updating the process itself or providing supplementary processes to support it
  3. Meet with team members using the process to understand their concerns around its stability, to find ways to help them now, and improve future iterations of the process.

Don’t Forget Capability

Stabilizing process CapabilityAnother key metric used in determining the usefulness of processes is Capability, which describes the ability of the process to meet customer specifications.[2] A process could be stable (in that it doesn’t fluctuate much from the norm) but it may not actually meet the benchmarks or competencies you’re wanting to achieve.

While it’s important to stabilize a process prior to creating training for it, it’s also important to determine if the stable version of that process is actually going to meet your requirements before getting too deep into development.

Final Thoughts

Building from a stable process is very important factor in creating high-quality training, but it’s not always easy to know when your process is unstable or how to fix it.

Positive Results™ is a training development and cloud solutions company that focuses on analyzing the business process of our clients and finding ways to resolve any gaps we find through training and cloud solutions. We help SMBs understand the complexities of their business process and find ways to stabilize these processes so that more efficient and effective training can be designed around it.

If you would like our assistance in analyzing and fixing gaps in your business process or training, please reach out us. We’d be happy to help.


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