A work-based learning approach to business improvement deployment activities which utilises a cluster concept to achieve enhanced knowledge gain and economies of scale.
Social and contextual learning can help to overcome the isolation and resource constraints felt by SMEs when implementing new process/people technologies. The learning cluster concept fosters cross-fertilisation of ideas, and enables companies (or teams within companies) to access support from others in the group, as well as becoming familiar with technical business improvement aspects.
In addition to equipping participants with technical business improvement tools, the SME Learning Clusters approach focuses on addressing the required behavioural aspects which will support effective implementation. Key features include the modularity of the approach and the emphasis on coaching for individual companies between formal training sessions.
What outcome can be expected?
Participation in an SME Learning Cluster results in:
Cost-effective and time-efficient embedding of business improvement techniques
Increased assimilation due to sharing of experiences, accompanying behavioural development and individual company-centred coaching
There are two main elements:
- SME Learning Clusters Handbook: describes the deployment process
When should you use it?
The SME Learning Clusters approach should be used when embarking on significant business improvement programmes, for example, Lean, TQM or Six-Sigma
How does it work?
The SME Learning Clusters approach is led by two facilitators, one of whom is skilled in technical business improvement activities, the other in behavioural development. In aggregate the approach combines:
Structured workshops for sharing and discussion of activity around individual business improvement projects
Workshops focused on individual soft skills development to support cascade of business improvements approaches within each participating company
Regular individual coaching sessions between a central technical coach and participants of the “cluster” activities
The technical and personal development streams work in parallel, typically over a period of several months. For each company, a business improvement project runs alongside the programme, allowing the participants to apply the learning from each training session. In addition, the business improvement projects are analysed in terms of their impact on the business.