Award-winning training plan uses best workers as models
By Mark Watson
The Commercial Appeal, May 29, 2002
A training system developed by a Mid-South quality expert is helping organizations reap
safety and publicity benefits.
Three organizations that use Dr. Donald C. Fisher's "Process Activated Training
System®" (PATS) have won their states' top quality awards, Fisher said Tuesday at
the Greater Memphis Association for Quality's Lunch and Learn event. Most recently, the
Baptist Regional Medical Center in Corbin, Ky., won that state's Governor's Gold Quality
Award in 2001.
Fisher directs the Mid-South Quality and Productivity
Center, also known as The Quality Center.
PATS provides a way to organize on-the-job training so that the best practices from the
most effective employees become standard practice. And those most effective employees
teach others standard practices by using a hands-on approach.
"You learn by doing," said audience member Larry W. Boone, a management
consultant with Performance Systems Inc. "Conceptually, it's the best approach there
is to learning."
The teachers, known as "subject matter experts," or SMEs, first show the
trainees, known as "process activated training learners," or PALs, the way to
accomplish a task in a standard, effective way. Then the SME tells the PAL how to do the
task. The PAL then demonstrates the task.
The Memphis in May International Festival is another organization that uses PATS,
Linda Barnes, a management analyst at the Navy Manpower Analysis Center at Naval
Support Activity Mid-South, said her organization often uses SMEs for on-the-job training.
Barnes also attended Tuesday's event.
Performance Systems teaches managers and asks them to perform certain tasks outside the
training environment, Boone said. Training prepares people to learn, hopefully, but the
real application has to be on the job," he said. "At the management level, we
think it's important to know why they're doing something as well as what they're doing,
whereas, I don't think that's quite as necessary at the administrative or clerical
But Fisher said managers do benefit from using this system. For example, physicians can
learn about the best way to make decisions regarding referrals to specialists, Fisher
said. "Anything that is repeated more than once, this can work on," he said.