Ericsson

Lifelong Learning in Ericsson

Context

Ericsson was the UK subsidiary of the Sweden based Ericsson Group, since bought out by Sony. The SML approach was chosen to facilitate a change of culture to lifelong learning in line with the organisation’s strategic direction and local business strategy. It was initiated and run by senior line managers and presented as an opportunity for volunteers.

The two programmes covered 114 participants across two divisions in the following roles:

  • Senior Managers
  • Project and Product Managers
  • Group Supervisors and Team Leaders
  • Software Designers
  • Administrators and Secretaries
  • Human Resource Officers

Following the programme, SML formed part of the businesses learning and development strategy in the UK and became an integral part of the company’s two-year graduate scheme.

Aims

To support the strategic direction:

  • Senior Managers
  • Project and Product Managers
  • Group Supervisors and Team Leaders
  • Software Designers
  • Administrators and Secretaries
  • Human Resource Officers

To support local objectives:

  • To encourage people to take charge of their own development
  • To get the most out of the time that people were investing in learning activities
  • To provide an approach to learning that people would enjoy, was collaborative and highly visible

Process

  • Designing and developing the programme
  • Briefing sessions
  • One-day off-site workshop
  • Six Learning Group meetings over a period of 10 months with external Learning Group Advisers
  • Half-day reflection at the end of the programme

Evaluation & Achievements

Evaluation Methods

  • Focus groups with participants
  • Questionnaire based survey of participants

Research conducted by Robert Lines, a Senior Line Manager within Ericsson, for his MBA.

Achievements

  • People working with others to pursue learning goals
  • People viewing their careers in terms of learning and development
  • Evidence of a change in approach to responsibility for learning against Kotter’s (1996) mental habits
  • Honest assessment of success and failures, especially the latter
  • Aggressive collection of information and ideas from others
  • Propensity to listen to others
  • Risk taking and a willingness to push oneself out of comfort zone
  • People focussing on longer-term goals and objectives as well as ‘day to day’ fire-fighting
  • Increased networking, coaching and support between people

Quotes

From a Project Manager:

“… it (SML) will build a different type of culture where people are responsible for their own futures as opposed to thinking ‘My manager knows what I need to learn – I’ll just wait for him or her to let me know’. ‘Empowerment’, that’s the word I was looking for.”

From a Software Designer:

“I was surprised it worked. In the early days I couldn’t see how a bunch of people from different areas would be able to help other people learning different things. But I guess with SML you don’t always need to be told the answer. Sometimes people suggest something that leads you to the solution indirectly. Often just the opportunity to discuss an issue makes you realise that you knew the answer all the time.”