Traditionally, Knowledge Management and Learning and Development have trodden parallel but separate paths - KM dealing with unstructured on-the-job peer learning, and L&D dealing with structured, off-the-job top-down training. However some organisations are smart enough to blend the two.
|Image copied from Corporate University done right by Annie Mustain|
#This blending becomes easier for organisations with a corporate University, as this is a body tasked with the overall development of organisational competence.
So we see the ENI university with one of its objectives to "contribute to the enhancement and development of knowledge through the promotion of knowledge management systems", the Mars University "serves as the global center of expertise for talent development and knowledge management, fostering a culture of learning, collaboration and knowledge sharing" and the DaimlerChrysler University in the early 2000s being responsible for organising global KM initiatives.
Example from Caterpillar
This story below from Vicki Powers describes how KM and the corporate university are linked at Caterpillar.
In 2001, Caterpillar discovered a number of relevant issues that would affect its business: new technology, a changing marketplace, and changing demographics of an older workforce that would begin retiring in the next few years, often with more than 30 years of service.
A team within Caterpillar examined how the organization could remain competitive in the future. It recommended that Caterpillar make the transition to a continual, learning organization, of which knowledge sharing is a key element. In response to that need, the organization formed Caterpillar University in 2001. Its learning philosophy centers around a triangle-shaped learning model with "Build People" as the center. Three elements make up the sides of the triangle: Leadership, Knowledge Sharing, and Learning Culture.
The Knowledge Network moved under Caterpillar University and out of the Technical Center at that time because the organization viewed it more as a knowledge-sharing tool than as technology. Through this relationship, Caterpillar University has supported the organization's business objectives of knowledge management that focus on supporting a learning culture, delivering bottom-line results, and improving performance.
Mark Shipley, global learning project manager at Caterpillar, believes that the Knowledge Network's reporting relationship to Caterpillar University — rather than to a corporate-level executive—definitely made a positive impact on its success. Managers within each community facilitate the 3000 communities of practice. The corporate staff for the Knowledge Network is a small team of six, including positions in marketing, information services, technical support, and a knowledge-sharing manager. Shipley manages several communities of practice, including the Global Learning community. He especially appreciates how easy it is to get the word out quickly within a community.
"If anyone has a question [around learning], there are upwards to 400 people who have part of their job responsibility for learning," Shipley relates. "There's a wealth of knowledge out there to tap into quickly."