Caterpillar recognizes that it is lucky to have a sharing culture in which people are willing to help each other with no expected reward simply because they feel part of a family. Even with no mention of sharing in performance goals or associated monetary reward, people will collaborate with those they have never met, even across continents.
With this sharing culture as the base, a knowledge management system was laid over top to make it easy to form communities of practice to link those that would never meet because of geographic disparities between their locations. Currently, Caterpillar has 4,000 communities of practice with 40,000 people involved in active discussions.
The value of this process lies in the discussions such that storing the information is not the primary goal. The system does store knowledge, but the real value is the in speed of finding a solution. Rather than spending days to research the problem, which the individual is capable of doing, the question or problem is posed to the community. Usually, within the day, others who have encountered the same problem respond, thus saving the individual multiple days of research. These gains in productivity and efficiency can be easily measured and valued. An important note is that none of this collaboration works if you do not have a sharing culture. With the culture in place, all that is needed is the process to facilitate the sharing.
“I’m grateful to be in this network. The calls I had with other members gave me the information I needed to move my project forward.”Annette RollsLeadership Development Program Designer, Boeing
“We were able to realize almost immediate value—in terms of definitively quantifiable savings—by implementing the concepts introduced during this [Art of Negotiation] program.”Ken MurphyEVP of Sales and Operations, Mattress Firm
“In my particular case, I certainly care about the HR functions, but that’s not why I wake up every day. I care about advancing the ball down the field with our people’s professional development skills and knowledge. You guys focus 100% on the learning piece, and that’s what I like.”Jim StewartCLO, Teradata