Cummins pinpoints the power of learning

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 11 July 2008



(2008), "Cummins pinpoints the power of learning", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 40 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Cummins pinpoints the power of learning

Article Type: Notes and news From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 40, Issue 5

A US maker of electrical generators is training its global network of employees, distributors and customers about its products.

Cummins Power Generation, based in Minneapolis, is using e-learning to deliver on-demand training courses, or “structured knowledge”, on the company’s products and services. But the company is also serving up so-called “informal knowledge” through online communities, wikis and tools for finding and interacting with experts.

“Think of this as the online equivalent of asking a colleague in the next office for the best way to solve a problem, or searching a stack of business cards for an expert you met at a seminar”, said Cummins Power Generation’s training manager, Geraldine John. “We will use the tool to disseminate product knowledge to our sales and service channel. The content, hosted on, is integral to our product qualification programs.”

Before launching new products, dealers can tap into to learn about service and maintenance. Employees can also use the software to view their on-the-job certification requirements. And customers can take training online, which will serve as a prerequisite for hands-on courses.

“We are very excited about online collaboration through communities and expertise exchange. We aim to put that in place after the structured-knowledge piece is launched,” Geraldine John continued. “We believe it will be powerful to have an environment that connects employees and dealers with either peers or experts. We see our employees, dealers and customers using the collaborative tools for sharing ideas and trouble-shooting. This will be the first time our dealers will have a method for connecting, outside of e-mails and telephone calls.”

“People do not consume knowledge in a document-centric way”, said Massood Zarrabian, president and chief executive for OutStart, the company behind “Your performance is not going to improve by reading pages and pages of documents. Your performance will improve with collaboration, exploration and experimentation, which you initiate. And Cummins Power Generation is designing its knowledge exchange with this in mind.”

“Most traditional learning technologies separate structured and informal learning to the point of sometimes creating separate content silos”, commented Bryan Chapman, of Chapman Alliance, a training-industry consultancy. “What makes the system used by Cummins Power Generation unique is its ability centrally to locate both types of learning, creating a single site where people can either contribute knowledge or gain access to knowledge through their participation in an online community. Almost all employers have a vision for developing something like the solution Cummins is planning to implement. It is impressive that the company is making that vision real.”

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