This program supports building knowledge and experience in two ways: conveying general competencies horizontally, and special competencies on a vertical level.
The T-Shaping programs are available in a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) and contain different building blocks. It is divided into the formal learning stream “Knowledge Management” stream, which contains for example e-learnings and trainings. The second pillar of the program is “Experience”. Experienced could either be gained via so-called “Applied Knowledge”, where the learner practically applies a learned content in an artificially created environment (e.g., a sandbox project) or “Hands-on Experience”. Here the employee is executing a learned content independently in a “real world” project. Both Experience elements support the learner to get a better understanding for the tasks of their colleagues, learning “on the job”.
At Continental Automotive Technologies, besides more generalist experienced employees we need highly experienced specialists as well. Just to mention one use case which clearly outlines the benefits of T-shaped employees and T-shaped teams: We often deal with challenges that can only be solved by a handful of employees – which puts a lot of pressure on them and can stop a whole team when they are not available. To overcome these bottlenecks, we need more than just trainings to close skill gaps. We need experience transfer. This is what T-Shaping does: transferring the know-how and experience of specialists to others – and thus strengthen our organizational knowledge and experience.
The company has witnessed that its first success into this program is already measurable, with an example being the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) department. The ADAS customer software team has been using T-Shaping in a complex project with international scope over a period of ten months, where they see huge improvements.
ADAS emphasized that the team has not had a single escalation incident over the last eight months. On the software side, the project is running excellently, and customer feedback is great. Whenever problems arise, the team comes together to develop solutions, taking on responsibility because they know they can, and it also takes a lot of pressure off individual team members.
At Continental we have observed that modern technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Big Data require high experiences, and very specialized knowledge. Specialists are put very much in the foreground, which also has its justification. But with these efforts, the understanding for other areas can fall behind, which is to be transmitted with T-shaping. A team needs to organize itself in a more agile way. The trend at Continental is toward cross-functional teams in which different competencies come together. We want to achieve competence development through teamwork and by getting different perspectives; but also organize and motivate our employees to acquire it systematically. In the T-Shaping program, we achieve a systematic introduction.
In the future, Continental plans to roll out the program in other areas of Automotive Technologies. The methodological blueprint and framework of the program is in place and can now be adapted to the individual requirements of the teams. T-Shaping makes sense wherever complex competencies are needed, and it is the ideal tool to show employees how they can develop in a very structured way. Looking at Software, for example, with our ambitions to achieve software excellence, we need to offer our software engineers attractive and effective development opportunities to continuously support them in their lifelong learning journey.