In the Sparda-Group people learn and work according to the L-I-C-A principle. Lurking in the background though is the open source solution from the Sparda Academy. During the TTS Knowledge Transfer Forum 2011 Torsten Maier presented the L-I-C-A principle, which is applied to employee training. The Sparda Group comprises 12 cooperative banks with 3.3 million customers who are taken care of by 7000 employees at 432 outlets. The Group also includes the four cooperation partners Union Investment, DEVK, BSH and Monega. The Sparda Academy is likewise a part of the Group and offers various services within the association of Sparda Banks.
The networked Sparda World 2.0
In the Sparda learning and communication platform project (LuK) the Sparda Group had the objective of bringing the worlds of learning and working together technologically, culturally and organizationally as well as professionally. The platform became operational at the end of 2009 after a three-month conceptual phase. Since the target audiences and the organizational structure were very heterogeneous – the banks, being part of a loose grouping, are more or less decentralized and the number of employees of the individual credit unions ranges from 180 to 1100 – it was important to build a space for training in which certain standards and rules were defined, but which could be adopted or not according to the individual organization’s needs. Thus the objective was to have flexible processes within the LuK project instead of a rigid and unitary solution. The previous banking environment was very much focused on the individual credit union, but here there would in future also be new distribution channels: the use of apps, Twitter and Facebook was increasing, even for recruiting actions and sales approaches or internet banking. Banking staff are service providers for customers and they depend on their knowledge of their bank’s products, processes and offers. “In order to retain, increase and share this knowledge it is important that employees should network since a credit union is by definition a networked world – basically, a modern Web 2.0,” explained Torsten Maier.
TT Knowledge Force is perfect for IT topics but it is too rarely used for non-IT topics, which it can also master.
- Torsten Maier
The L-I-C-A principle
Previously you were either learning or working. Learning was a formal process that was not part of work. Today, learning is increasingly returning to the work environment. Blended learning is almost part of the daily routine. In the future, learning and working will perhaps be even more closely entwined, since the share of presence training will reduce and the share of modern learning formats will grow significantly and these will be purposedesigned. The Sparda Group’s platform, which is, by the way, referred to as a working platform rather than a learning platform, is controlled via four navigation points: Learning, Information, Communication and Applications: L-I-C-A. “The A could be replaced by a W for work,” according to Maier. In practice, LICA means that in (for example) a new sales campaign, texts would come under “Learning”; user product sheets and TV advertising under “Information”; under “Communication” you would have direct access to the call center; and under “Applications” you would have direct access to work applications such as CRM tools, the ERP system and so on. “When we learn formally, this always takes place in a blended learning approach with a variety of components according to the audience, the topic and the content. The objectives are always aligned to the company objectives and therefore support the attainment of the latter,” Maier explained.
Formal vs. informal learning
The objectives of the LuK project were to increase the share of e-learning/Web 2.0 in training and to establish informal learning processes closely aligned with the IT department, for whom it was important to see the full picture on the technical level. The baseline at the project start at the end of 2009 was an e-learning share of ten percent. Presence training, including seminars, events, workshops, on-the-job training and coaching accounted for 90 percent. The objective was to achieve an e-learning share of 30 percent by the end of 2012, including Web 2.0, with presence training reduced to 70 percent. In addition, Sparda Group wanted to establish informal learning processes, context-sensitive viewing and an internal Facebook within the same timeframe, as well as learning processes on standards and quality assurance/ training supervision.
The work platform is internet-enabled and functions according to the client principle, which means that the stakeholders (the credit union, the individual banks and cooperation partners) each have a single client contact. “The Sparda Academy functions here as a service provider for the platform’s clients (banks and cooperation partners); however, the banks have their own resources in order to work on their own topics. For each bank a person is defined as a ‘LuK-Manager,‘ ” explained Maier. “These individuals are the LICA champions.” The LuK managers all meet twice a year at training days to update their skills and exchange best practices. These training days are organized entirely on a virtual basis in LuK. In a preparation phase, knowledge is communicated along with any queries about technical issues or expectations. Documentation for the participants and additional information are uploaded to the platform for the presence phase, together with feedback forms and documents for the follow-up work such as meeting minutes, meeting handouts, agreed follow-up tasks, and so on. Forums for virtual exchanges or the editing of FAQs are available throughout all the phases – all following the blended learning approach.
Using TT Knowledge Force to manufacture knowledge products
TTKF is currently only installed locally at some workplaces and is only sporadically in use. However, a server-based solution has just been installed which will enable individual clients to produce their own content or to adapt centrally produced content for their own requirements. High-value and flexible templates are important here, also for working on non-IT topics so that processes can be standardized. The objectives are clear: there should be knowledge products for knowledge transfer, for information and documentation, which can be activated in a context-sensitive way within the work process. These knowledge products should also be role and process-based. The topic areas of the knowledge products are highly diversified, ranging from products and campaigns through specialist areas, legal and regulatory issues, sales, work and sales processes and IT applications to corporate leadership. “You can use TTKF for every topic area, not just IT. It also works for product, process and leadership issues,” advised Torsten Maier.
Implementation in practice
Fifty-five “Guided Tours” were created in just two and a half months for the group-wide CRM tool PRISMA with the help of TTKF. Each lasts six to seven minutes and they are used for informal learning. A next step is certification of the various authors. Along with the training by TTS, the authors are being systematically trained and certified internally. The content providers include academies, member banks, IT department and cooperation partners. “Our cooperation partner DEVK will itself prepare content analogous to the Sparda templates,” explained Maier. External partners must also work with TTKF in order to meet technological and content-related standards. Documents can then be filed according to topics or requests, and WBTs and guided tours created. “For an active customer dialogue it is essential to bring the relevant bank employees together in a network,” Maier concluded. Each should use the knowledge of his colleagues and link to topic areas. This enables him to collect practical knowledge, to reflect and to produce new insights and outcomes.