Russ Powell Consulting > Projects

Project Examples


Faster, Better, Cheaper eLearning (Sun Microsystems)

Sun Microsystems was looking for a “faster, better,
cheaper” way to bring their global sales force up-to-speed on a new account planning model they had adopted. They had grown weary of the linear slideshow-with-audio style of training their sales force had become used to.

After deciding to use Dr. Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan’s innovative four-door approach to eLearning, Sun Learning Services hired Russ to lead a team of instructional designers and subject matter experts to create this program for them. Russ worked with Sun sales and methodology experts, and a team of technical developers, to create an instructional program that combined Thiagi’s four-door model with elements of Sun's internal sales processes (e.g., account planning, opportunity management, business- and territory-planning).

The program was wildly successful. Not only
did it meet the leaders’ business objectives, they asked for twelve more courses in this style. In addition, Brandon Hall Research honored one of the courses with a gold Excellence in Learning award for Best Custom Content, and the Director of Sales Training had this to say:

“This was a challenging project with demanding clients, complex subject matter and political tension. Russ managed our internal client expertly. His instructional solution was praised by our internal client and from my perspective is the best course we've developed—elegantly designed with high-value content and methodology.”

During Russ’ tenure with the Sun Learning Services (SLS) instructional team, they won ASTD's BEST Award for organizational excellence and placed #11 on Training Magazine's worldwide list of the top-125 training organizations.

Work samples:

  1. BulletWhite Paper on the Four-Door Approach - This from an industry  presentation about the four-door model

  2. BulletJob-Aid - How to enhance your LinkedIn profile

Building Core Competencies (U.S. Coast Guard)

In the wake of the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United States Coast Guard was dealing with a rush of new recruits and needed to update several of their instructor-led training programs. They hired Russ (through L3
Communications) to lead a team of instructional designers, subject matter experts, course developers, editors, and alternative media specialists in the redesign and development of two of their “A” schools. Russ also performed front-end analyses for the USCG National Security Cutter C4ISR “Deepwater” training program.

As project leader, Russ played a dual role of project manager (planning, executing, tracking, and completing project tasks) and instructional designer (analyzing, designing, developing, implementing and evaluating instructional materials).

He also ran train-the-trainer sessions and served as an adviser to military and civilian personnel on training-related issues.

Russ’ work on USCG programs led to several ISPI Awards of Excellence for Outstanding Human Performance Intervention. The supervising Training
Manager at the base said this about Russ’ work:

”Russ helped the staff at TRACEN Petaluma re-design two major training programs. He helped us complete the design and development of these programs in record time, exceeding our expectations. He helped raise standards for training here on the base.”

Work samples:

  1. BulletInstructor Guide - Excerpts from a lesson on wound closure (Health Services)

  2. BulletJob-Aid 3 - How to Open a Sterile Pack (Health Services)

  3. BulletJob-Aid 4 - Excerpts from a patient assessment job-aid (Health Services)

  4. BulletFront-end Analysis - Excerpts from a set of New-Performance Planning Worksheets (Electronics Technicians). This is a rather raw document, but it illustrates some of the rigor behind many USCG analyses.

  5. BulletSimulation Video - Illustration of patient encounter simulation (Health Services)

Getting Sales Reps Up-to-Speed Faster (NetApp)

NetApp was looking for ways to uncover more business opportunities and bring in greater revenue from newly-hired sales representatives.
After determining there was a need to improve components of their new hire training in this area, NetApp’s Senior Sales Training Manager contacted Russ for help.

After helping the training manager clarify her objectives, Russ worked with her and NetApp sales experts to build fictional case studies based on real success stories from the field. He also created interactive classroom activities that supported the objectives.

The sales training manager anticipates a marked increase in effectiveness of the new hires as well as increased retention of new employees.

Increasing Call-Center Sales Skills (Broderbund)

A senior manager at Broderbund Software—at the time one of the most widely-recognized software game producers in the world—needed help building sales skills among her call center reps. She hired Russ to help out.

After analyzing their needs, Russ designed, developed and implemented a performance intervention that included training and coaching components based on techniques used by best-of-breed call centers.

The programs contributed to a significant increase in sales in all three of her call centers—Inside Sales, Customer Service and Technical Support. In one center, they observed a sales-per-rep increase of over 500% within the first six months.

Building Critical Skills, Decreasing Turnover (Nelson)

Nelson Human Resource Solutions, an independently-owned
group of companies that provides placement and staffing services, was trying to meet growing needs in Northern California’s staffing market, including Silicon Valley. They needed help re-vamping the organization’s new employee orientation program. Their primary objective was two-fold: (1) helping the organization’s managers get their people up-to-speed faster and more effectively (i.e., building the right skills at the right time), and (2) decreasing employee turnover. They hired Russ to help design and develop this new employee orientation program.

After working with the Director of Learning to pinpoint the organization's needs, Russ helped him create a state-of-the-art corporate university that used eLearning and instructor-led components, as well as one-on-one coaching, to build professional development skills, industry-specific knowledge, and technical skills among employees.

Within only a few months, managers began reporting that their people were entering the field more motivated and better equipped
with the knowledge and skills they needed—saving time and delivering results to the bottom-line quicker than before. And, as expected, turnover dropped dramatically. Russ’ work on this program earned him an Excellence in Service award from Nelson and kudos from the Director of Learning:

“Russ has both a highly disciplined approached to design and a learner-centered approach to facilitation. The combination of these traits differentiates him from many in this field. I was always confident he would produce as promised. He has impeccable character and is a pleasure to work with. I endorse him without reservation.”

Doing More with Less (NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)

A senior manager at a NASA Space Flight Center wanted to boost the professional development skills of her employees, some of whom were working on Space Shuttle projects.

Following an initial consultation and analysis, we uncovered several important skill gaps. One of these gaps included basic time management skills such as prioritizing tasks, managing interruptions and planning meetings. She hired Russ to design and develop a cost-effective performance intervention that included the customization of an existing training program, the development of several job-aids, and one-on-one coaching.

After the intervention, three important sources of feedback suggested the program had been successful: (1) feedback from participants’ managers stated that the program had helped employees develop the requisite knowledge and skills; (2) the senior manager reported that the program had exceeded her expectations, and quoted anecdotal feedback suggesting that employees were indeed finding ways to do more of their most important tasks in less time; and (3) the next time the Space Shuttle took off... it was on time!