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Advancing Learning and Training Functions

Advancing Learning and Training Functions

Advancing Learning and Training Functions

Boeing Rocketdyne uses learning and training functions in support of knowledge sharing; there are very few instances where it has been used to support innovation. This process starts with the individual performance development process, which strives to jointly develop individual improvement plans between employees and their managers. Examples of on-the-job training and mentoring include process knowledge and product knowledge classes, educational seminars, Web-based training courses, mentor programs, and formal system thinking classes. Formal training courses disseminate both explicit and tacit knowledge. A minimum amount of training is required for each employee annually, with these classes frequently facilitating knowledge transfer among attendees.

Boeing Rocketdyne utilizes all the tools and functions discussed here to facilitate the learning process. Mentoring is promoted to transfer explicit knowledge and especially tacit knowledge. The in-house classes from both Canoga Park and Boeing are offered by subject matter experts, telecasts, and the mentoring program and provide a quick learning curve for junior personnel in Boeing Rocketdyneís aerospace environment, which greatly relies on acquired knowledge over long product life cycles. For the critical function of program management, a senior process council has created a Web-based best practices database and companion formal training classes. Mentoring, both formal and informal, is used for knowledge sharing and includes both on-the-job training and story telling. In the case of virtual team collaborative training, Boeing Rocketdyne disseminates best practices in each training session and makes the sessions interactive so that answers are derived in a non-threatening environment that show knowledge capture and knowledge management in a situational context. The KM team training helps to spread best practices across the various organizations and/or teams that are adopting KM as a basis of doing business.

Boeing Rocketdyne uses Web-based training for specialty classes, both within the office environment and, more recently, the shop environment. The formal KM team uses it for its training modules. E-learning also allows for several of these courses to be taught online and on demand in real time.

On-the-job training is used in an ad hoc manner; shop floor e-learning is extending these ideas and taking advantage of on-demand features. Instructors help disseminate best practices while providing the basics. Because virtual collaboration trainers interact with almost every program at Canoga Park, they tend to be a good source for information about what has been tried to improve performance of virtual teams, what worked, and what didnít. The formal KM team also funds innovation workshops, as discussed in preceding sections.

Although mentoring is used, it is not widely supported by funding and remains largely an ad hoc process. Within the current KM team activities, group mentoring and individual mentoring programs are in place.

After-Action Reviews are highly used by program management in the context of contract performance or lessons learned sessions, but not more generally. These activities are beginning to help identify the best practices and other KM learning activities to be disseminated to the next integrated product and process development team.

Recruiting and Training

Recruiting, a centralized function, conducts interviews at numerous venues to identify employees who will thrive in a knowledge-sharing environment. Additionally, young, motivated engineers and managers frequently staff college fairs.

Boeing Rocketdyne uses the following tools for new hires:

  • buddy system,

  • orientation,

  • continuous product/process class training opportunities, and

  • team interviews to examine best practices and lessons learned.

The specific features of knowledge sharing or innovation for an applicant are easily elicited in the interview process in terms of the recruitís interests. (According to Carman, most college recruits have an unrealistic appreciation of the time devoted to innovation, technology, and research in an engineering design environment.) There is no difference between this recruiting strategy and the one used for KM.

Boeing Rocketdyne does not have training focused or targeted on creating and sharing knowledge for its employees. Nor does it have an explicit or formal process for the company. However, Boeing Rocketdyne customizes its training to an individual department and offers peer training and on-the-job training. Boeing Rocketdyne involves its new employees in teams, exposes them to KM, and helps them understand how the new tools will help them perform their jobs better. It also provides them with resources to answer questions and help them surmount the learning curve on some of the technologies they will be using, like the virtual collaboration tools.

Feedback Mechanism

Boeing Rocketdyne has a structured approach to capturing lessons learned and feeding them back into training, which takes advantage of corrective action boards, preventive action boards, and the natural work teams that perform these functions. This is part of the overall KM process.

Additionally, Boeing Rocketdyne has a series of best practices and lessons learned Web sites assembled by its executive process councils that employees can search for available information. Canoga Park Web sites assembled by the KM team also enable the capture of new lessons learned directly by employees. Boeing Rocketdyne also has a set of ad hoc approaches in which lessons learned and knowledge are being disseminated by movement of personnel among teams, functional team meetings, dissemination of best practices to newly forming teams, functional/organizational communities, and within classes. All of these methods allow for the information to be passed electronically; however, Boeing Rocketdyne prefers doing this face to face, according to company representatives.