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Speeding the business of learning through collaboration and km training quarterly


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Speeding the business of learning through collaboration and km training quarterly

  1. 1. 48 C A S E B O O K Many of our grandparents were artisans, farmers or small shop owners. They gained experience via apprenticeship, and their ability to learn and share knowledge was usually limited by geography (nearby family and neighbors). A generation later, our parents often worked in hierarchical corporations. Their learning and job knowledge usually came from a boss, who was also the source for answering questions and providing a list of daily duties. Today’s world of work and networks is dramatically different from previous generations, particularly when it comes to learning. When employees encounter a difficult issue at work, they often turn to Google or YouTube for knowledge. Next, they might touch base with their connections, either inside or outside the company. Only then might they look to their boss or their organization’s training opportunities. Modern work tasks are typically complex, requiring newwaysofaccessing,understandingandapplying various sources of knowledge. What’s becoming increasingly important is not rote memorization or formal training solutions, but rather knowing where to quickly find new information and expertise through a network, judging what to trust, and then applying it to the problem at hand. VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER Over the past couple of years, our customers voiced their opinions on the state of learning and training at BAE Systems, and some of what we heard wasn’t pleasant: • Lack of ways to effectively share and transfer knowledge around the business • Over reliance on instructor-led and costly training solutions • Excessive mandatory training requirements • Employees and front-line supervisors being unaware of available development options This caused us to rethink our learning strategy and structure to meet critical business needs as well as position learning for future success. After exploring numerous options in late 2012, we selected the Workforce Development Services Framework (WDSF), created by Jane Hart, as the best strategy and structure for our learning function. We chose this model because research showed that our employees were eager to learn from each other in new and agile ways, which WDSF helped capture. For example, engineers working in one business area wanted to connect and learn from engineers in another part of the business, and they didn’t want to wait for an e-learning or classroom opportunity to make the connection. They were also looking to define and drive their own learning needs as opposed to pre-selected materials and learning objectives defined by a central organization. The WDSF has provided us structure around the “70-20-10 model,” where 70 percent represents learning on the job, 20 percent represents learning through others and 10 percent represents SPEEDING THE BUSINESS OF LEARNING THROUGH COLLABORATION AND KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT BY JOHN HOVELL, ANDREW MURAS, ANGIE DEMPSEY & SCOTT PETRIE BA E S Y S T E M S ILLUSTRATING THE POWER OF NETWORKS: SHORT GROUP EXERCISE Have everyone write down a business issue. Group members should review individually, and add a note if they can offer ideas or solutions. Collate and follow up with those who submitted interesting ideas. The number and variety of ideas will often be astonishing. Now imagine this knowledge network expanded a hundred or thousand times. Such is the power of Yammer and other social tools in today’s world.
  2. 2. TRAINING INDUSTRY MAGAZINE - SPRING2014 I WWW.TRAININGINDUSTRY.COM/MAGAZINE 49 learning through formal training. Previously, most of our organizational learning focused on the 10 percent. The time was right to increase focus on the other 90 percent, with new attention to social learning, collaboration, and knowledge management processes and techniques. BEGINNING THE TRANSFORMATION Since we weren’t resourced to build out the entire WDSF structure, we implemented a modified version by merging the 70 percent and the 20 percent to form a 90 percent — or an informal learning practice area. We kept the 10 percent and renamed it the leadership development practice area. We also merged the learning tools practice area (see iLearn@BAESystems above) and the WDSF’s learning consultant “intake” into the 90 percent informal learning practice area. In this early stage, we are finding that we can still support the business’s formal learning needs, while at the same time providing a greatly improved ability to support and define informal learning needs. The remainder of this article will focus on our implementation of the informal side, primarily the social learning and collaboration element, or the traditional 20 percent of the WDSF model. UNDERSTANDING BUSINESS ISSUES To help identify our customers’ informal learning and knowledge needs, we performed several audits and maturity assessments to help define key business challenges. Many of these challenges, which are all too common in most organizations today, spotlighted inefficient use and flow of knowledge. Here are the top four: • Employee turnover/loss of organizational knowledge and expertise. Approximately 10,000 baby boomers become retirement eligible each day and job hopping has become the new normal for millennials, with more than 90 percent expecting to stay in a job for less than three years. Our workforce age profiles, similar to others in our industry, show a high percentage of our employees who are eligible to retire within 10 years. • Inability to find internal experts. We were somewhat disheartened to discover that commercial social networking tools have more information about our employee capabilities than we do. This limits our ability to efficiently solve problems, innovate and bring new ideas to customers. • Lack of meaningful connections. A very small percentage of our workforce participates in communities devoted to knowledge sharing. Equally alarming is research showing that quality employee relationships, often through communities, lead to higher engagement and better business performance. • Low knowledge and collaboration maturity. Results of an American Productivity and Quality Center assessment indicated that we had random and informal knowledge sharing. Our low knowledge maturity is not helping our business perform better, which was far from our goal of having aligned processes that impact strategic goals. Our social learning group recently implemented a project to consolidate and upgrade the existing LMS. We implemented a number of techniques to collaborate and drive engagement across the business; for example, we used crowd sourcing to select our LMS brand, generating more than 3,000 suggestions. We’ve added several new capabilities and customizations to support our informal learning strategies, including: • Share: Allows learners to“share”their interest in a learning activity (course, class, e-learning, book, curriculum, and certification) with others. • Collaboration Centers: Allows groups of users to create, manage and participate in “community spaces”built around learning activities. • User Interface Redesign: The homepage emphasizes informal learning with links to communities, social sites, collaboration centers and the intranet. iLEARN@BAESYSTEMS — LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (LMS) WE’VE BEEN IMPLEMENTING THE IDEA OF “THINK BIG, START SMALL, GET QUICK WINS.”
  3. 3. 50 GETTING TO SUCCESS We define success as providing social learning and knowledge management techniques, solutions and ideas that employees actually use, and by showing positive impact to the business. We’ve attempted to steer clear of what our past experiences in knowledge management have shown don’t work; for the corporate landscape is littered with unused SharePoint sites, lessons learned databases, and many other solutions focused around technology implementations that just end up gathering digital dust. Our social learning and knowledge efforts have instead focused on collaboration processes and techniques that emphasize the human element, solve business problems and can be implemented in a cost-effective manner. To date, we’ve developed a strategy around four major areas: • Knowledge Continuity (KC). KC is a human teaming process that builds and transfers knowledge from individuals into the broader organization. We’ve piloted the technique to address knowledge loss through retirements, turnover, job rotations and moves. KC has shown excellent successes in 2013, often generating cost savings and avoidance of more than $200k per team, and will be rolled out enterprise wide in 2014. • Communities. Communities are groups of people who voluntarily choose to participate in a shared conversation around specific topics of interest. Community participation at BAE Systems has languished over the past several years. Therefore, our current efforts are centered on rebuilding and then developing new communities that not only tackle business issues, but also help address employee engagement and promote overall organizational learning. • Expert Location. Finding experts is critical for developing new business, as well as solving current customer and business problems. Unfortunately, expert location crosses many different organizational boundaries (e.g., HR, New Business, IT, etc.), making it difficult to develop a coordinated strategy. We are currently supporting initiatives to build out employee profiles in our new intranet system, plus looking at pilots for talent market concepts. • Culture. The defense industry is not known as being an open and knowledge sharing environment, for “need to know” often dominates the business. We realize the uphill battle and have adopted a theme of “working out loud” to help broaden understanding of collaboration and knowledge sharing concepts for the workplace. We’re trying to move culture one pilot at a time (see BAEConnect above). We launched our first enterprise-wide virtual conference in October 2013, and wanted to provide the opportunity for all employees to connect across business silos to create networks that are more than social. This was not a traditional conference. Along with 15 virtual conference sessions in dual tracks, we invited participants to connect using Yammer and Lync. During the virtual sessions, senior leaders and technical experts discussed topics relevant to their business to drive collaboration. The event helped employees discover innovative ideas, share expertise, and improve business acumen with zero direct program cost. We are looking to make this an annual event, potentially with up to two conferences per year. Participant Feedback • 400 cross sector business connections • 97 percent report an improvement in collaboration • 67 percent report and improvement in innovation • 70 percent applied what they learned to their job BAECONNECT — ENTERPRISE VIRTUAL CONFERENCE
  4. 4. TRAINING INDUSTRY MAGAZINE - SPRING2014 I WWW.TRAININGINDUSTRY.COM/MAGAZINE 51 THE JOURNEY AHEAD In the best of scenarios, we would have loved the opportunity to spend months developing our strategy, getting full executive buy- in around the company and implementing many other standard change management plans. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the luxury of time. With the downturn in the defense industry, the emphasis was, and continues to be, on getting results quickly. Therefore, we’ve been implementing the idea of “think big, start small, get quick wins.” We think big by understanding business needs and how our efforts could help increase sales or lower costs. We start small by developing pilots and generating interest, or pull, from the business. We then focus on getting wins, publicizing them and using the results to generate additional support. As we get more pilots and quick wins under our belt and demonstrate payoffs to the business, we expect by year three to begin expanding efforts throughout the company; truly building a culture of collaboration that not only speeds the business of learning, but also provides measureable business impact. John Hovell is a senior manager of social learning. Andrew Muras is an advanced learning manager. Angie Dempsey is an advanced learning manager. Scott Petrie is a manager of learning tools. All authors are employees of BAE Systems. Email John, Andrew, Angie and Scott. WORKING OUT LOUD: FIVE-MINUTE PRACTICE EXERCISE FOR GROUPS In one or two sentences (or, 140-200 characters), write down a re-cap of something you’ve done or learned that day that might be of interest to others. It could be a quick overview or have the explicit goal of teaching others, such as “this is how I do xyz.” Read out loud to the group and ask for quick comments and feedback. Congratulations! You’ve now begun narrating your work, or working out loud.