Microteaching to support incremental innovations for sustainability
M.G.F. Overschie*1, M. Pujadas2, A. Espuna2, P. de Vries1
*Technical University of Delft, TPM, TD&SD, Jaffalaan 5, 2628 BX Delft, The Netherlands, m.g.f.overschie@tudelft.nl, +31 15 2785505
Companies are looking for ways to increase efficiency via innovations that achieve ‘genuine sustainability’. To transform a promising idea into a working innovation, a process of continuous breeding and incremental improvements is required. However, it would appear that increasing time pressure prevents companies from spending the necessary attention to the process of knowledge transfer. The project called ‘Microteaching for sustainable technological innovation’3 has tried to overcome this difficulty by developing a method designed to enhance the efficient transfer of sustainability-related knowledge in the day-to-day working environment. The method was tested at eight companies in the Netherlands and Spain, virtually all of which decided to continue using it. (Overschie, 2006, 2007) (Pérez-Moya, 2008).

 Knowledge transfer in companies is especially difficult for employees whose presence in the workplace is vitally important to the primary business processes like production, operations and sales. The Microteaching project has addressed this issue for those whose basic knowledge needs to be refreshed or improved and who need information that they can use immediately in their daily practice. A time limit of 15-30 minutes was chosen as a challenging goal for face-to-face meetings. Each session starts actively, followed by a demonstration or exercise, feedback or short discussion, and ends with directions for further development and a brief preview of the sessions to come.

 In these sessions, employees are encouraged to share their knowledge with others and contribute sustainable solutions that benefit their organization. Often, the transfer of ‘tacit’ knowledge has proven to be important. Tacit knowledge consists of mental models, skills, insights and perspectives that are based largely on people’s experiences (Verburg, 2006). At least eighty percent of on-the-job learning takes place in informal settings. The Microteaching method supports informal, unofficial, unplanned and ad hoc learning processes. A sequel project4 is aimed in particular at designing a support system that helps companies put the training method into practice.

 In this paper, we describe the value of Microteaching about two years after the first sessions were set up, focusing on the benefits of the learning process in the various companies, perceived as a profitable activity.

Full Paper (.doc format, 201.0 kb)

9:00 AM-5:00 PM, Thursday, June 26, 2008, Oral

The Netherlands, 2008 Meeting