Behavioural science principles: just in time

Published by Richenda Sabine on

Behavioural science principles: just in time

Table of contents

If you’ve ever watched hours of video tutorials on YouTube or trawled Google in search of a particular recipe, you’ve already embraced ‘just in time’ (JIT) learning. This style of learning is extremely common in our personal lives – everything from fixing objects to fixing dinner – so it makes perfect sense to do it in the workplace.

The best example of ‘just in time’ training is when an employee needs to access customer-critical information to answer queries about a certain product or service.

Here at BAD we created a suite of modules for the sales reps of a global telco company about their latest products and services. These products and services are continuously being updated. With just in time learning, the reps can simply go online using their mobile device and search for the appropriate information, corresponding short course, or how-to video. This provides access to the right information, in the right place, and at the right time, or ‘just in time.’

This approach works best with learners who don’t have much time to spend in front of a computer. Sales representatives, construction personnel, and field scientists are some of the people who would greatly benefit from this type of training method.

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What is the origin of the 'just in time' concept?

JIT comes from Toyota’s ‘just in time’ production system  — an original manufacturing philosophy to make only what is needed, when it is needed, at every stage of production. This means there’s no waste, consistent quality, and an even production flow: getting the right part(s), in the right place at the right time.

These days, JIT processes have been adopted by many large businesses. In 2012, Nike implemented JIT to improve its disconnected production services and since then, the company cut lead times by 40% and increased productivity by 20%. Fast-food chain McDonald’s use JIT inventory to serve their customers daily.

Time is money

Today, most people value their time above all else. As Richard Branson famously stated: “Time is the new money.” This cultural shift is about how people view their time and how they want to consume content. Information and knowledge, once difficult-to-obtain resources, are now far more accessible to everyone in the ‘Information Age’.

As technology rapidly progresses, so do our expectations. Today, we expect most information to be available straight away — ‘just in time’ sums up the mentality of today’s world, which is defined by instant gratification. We have a ‘present bias’, which means that we prefer instant gratification over future gains (O’Donoghue & Rabin, 2015). On the other hand, this can make us ignore information because we don’t need it at that moment, so periods of change where we are motivated for a ‘fresh start’ are effective times to intervene (Dai et al., 2013).

The benefits of giving information when it’s needed

We are more likely to value things that will help us now, rather than in the future. We prefer “just in time” information to “just in case” training we might need one day. Think about how you will support people immediately, and as they work rather than at some unspecified time in the future. Show people what benefits they will get for doing things now.

We’re also particularly likely to change our habits during periods of transition. You might want to take advantage of this with programmes for new starters, or to help people through radical changes at work (Dai et al., 2013).

Onboarding with 'just in time'

Onboarding is an ideal time for JIT learning. According to research, the employee onboarding experience can play an important role in determining whether new hires become invested in the company.

BAD’s new onboarding program is designed to give new employees a positive first impression – inviting them in with a one-click access to the right information at the right time, chunked into day/week slots so that they have a real sense of the journey they have started and what they can expect from Day 1.

If you’d like to talk about solutions for providing training at the point of need (JIT), please contact us.

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