Knowledge-sharing program creates hive of innovation

by Brett Henebery29 Mar 2017
Having realised that the bulk of L&D happens on the job, Transurban’s HR team came up with CoPs – ‘Communities of Practice’ – which they’ve defined as “a group of people who have a common expertise, interest or passion, and want to share and expand their knowledge”.

The approach is straightforward: members of these communities are encouraged to share their best practices and come up with new knowledge that they can apply to their work.

These knowledge-sharing forums are employee-led, thus fostering initiative and empowerment, and are properly tailored to suit specialised fields. One community can consist of employees from different areas of the business and can also include external partners.

Louise Anderson, Transurban’s organisational development manager, told L&D Professional that the opportunity for professional and personal growth is a key factor in in employees’ engagement and achieving the organisations’ business goals.

“In 2015 our Employee Opinion Survey showed that our employees wanted more opportunities to connect with others, and to further their training and career development,” Anderson said.

“As a result, our HR Team developed a new, forward-thinking solution to enhance our learning and development program across the business.”

Evidence shows that 70% of learning and development occurs on the job, through day-to-day tasks, challenges and practice. This provided Transurban with a significant opportunity to support employee development in the workplace, utilising collective learning.

“To do this, the HR Team, in consultation with employee stakeholders, developed a formalised Community of Practice (CoP) procedure,” Anderson said.

Anderson said CoPs delivers value to employees by enabling greater exposure in the workplace, and supporting strong cross-functional working relationships. As well as providing access to new information and ideas it can foster a sense of belonging.

“In terms of benefits to the business, CoPs can drive business growth by accelerating opportunities for collaboration, one of Transurban’s organisational values,” she said.

“The sharing of knowledge and ideas can also impact strategic decisions and even nurture innovation.”

Transurban have already had significant success with the CoP program, and in 2016, Transurban’s Pavement CoP utilised the experience of members, industry bodies and contractors to implement initiatives to extend pavement lifecycles, reduce maintenance costs and time, and improve road safety and performance for its customers.

In the same year, Transurban’s Agile CoP, focused on the implementation of Agile software, worked through issues and questions to create an Agile blueprint for other teams who will adopt Agile in future.

“CoPs create tangible results for individual employees and therefor the wider organisation,” Anderson said.

“This includes improved skills, reduced costs, faster access to information, cross-departmental communication and an increased ability to innovate.”

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