Experiential Learning and Model Factories


Experiential learning at work has a long history and it has been proved that it has been one of the most effective ways in skill based training. Internship, apprenticeship and training at work programmes take place in all spheres of business processes and this fact shows that experiential learning is an important component in terms of social functions and economic welfare. Systematic acquisition of knowledge and skills is required for supporting transformation of enterprises and success depends on effective combination of theory and practice. Specific experiential learning programmes are used for competence development in achievement of corporate objectives. It seems that competence development is an important handicap for the enterprises before starting experiential learning.

Experiential learning provides an interactive and sharing environment for the participants. The practitioners follow various methods with different details but encourage similar experiences and results. A typical process in experiential learning has these phases:

• Experiencing and exploring: Realization
• Sharing and thinking: What happened?
• Processing and analyzing: What matters?
• Generalization: What’s the result?
• Practice: What’s the benefit?

A model factory/office creates experiential learning environment. McKinsey’s model factories recreates realistic environment for production and work processes. Model factories are based on best practices in many sectors and they are developed first hand in the field. A model factory provides a substantial transformation experience and encourages a unique competence development in a controlled environment. It has a large training module involving lean production and service methods as well.

Qualified labour force is a requirement for Turkey’s objectives
Vocational training is one of the fundamental problems of our country. While unemployment rate is high in Turkey, industrial demand for qualified labour force cannot be met. Since industrial needs are not in taken into consideration in education planning and policy, unemployment rate among highly trained young people is high as well. Almost half of the labour force is primary school graduates and majority of the high school graduates are unemployed in our country. There is a big gap that needs to be filled in labour market between primary school and high school graduates. Vocational training system needs to handle this problem in terms of training the labour force that would full this gap in labour market and industry sector.

Qualified labour force is a requirement for global competitive power, productivity growth in economy and for high per capita income. Vocational training is the key instrument in rising qualifications of our labour force. For this reason, vocational training system should be planned by taking into consideration of both the needs of economy and the tendencies in technology and global competitiveness. Vocational training system and education policies need to be responsive to rapid changes in business life and industrial needs. The content of vocational training should be harmonized according to the needs of business life. In addition to this, both social awareness in vocational training and the confidence of industrial sector in vocational training system have to be empowered. In order to achieve these objectives, primary focus is intensification of vocational training and to make vocational high schools more attractive for the students. The lack of flexibility concerning internal and external transfer between different undergraduate programs in vocational training has decreased the interest of students to vocational high schools.

Ankara Chamber of Industry (ASO) gives priority to vocational training since its foundation and has conducted research about the issue. A considerable part of vocational training projects have been carried out in ASO OSB I (Organized Industrial Zone). These projects have been planned with the purpose of being a model for our country. Main objective is to deal with vocational training problem on a large scale by implementation of the projects in all regions concerning chambers of industry and other business enterprises. The projects and educational institutions in ASO Organized Industrial Zone I are as follows: Erkunt Vocational Training Project in Cooperation of Education Centre and Industry (SİMEP), ASO Technical College, Hacettepe University-Ankara Chamber of Industry OSB I Vocational High School, ASO Continuing Education Centre and ASO OSB I Nursery School.

Interview with Prof. Dr. Murat Caner Testik
He emphasizes that the most important return of model factories in Turkish industry would be their role in growth of productivity and competitive power of the enterprises. Enterprises have to adjust themselves to rapid changes in technology and global competitive conditions in order to protect and improve their positions in the market. Within this scope, the skills and competencies of the engineers have to increase to cope with requirements of technology and business life. The changes and innovations in the world realized by the concept of Industry 4.0 would necessitate the employees to increase their knowledge, skills and competency constantly. This fact brings about changes and innovations in engineering training programmes as well. He indicates that particularly in industrial engineering programs there is a need for technology based experiential learning. A simulation of actual working conditions that is added to the course content as components of implementations would contribute to newly graduate engineers to make a qualified start in business life.

It is possible to use model factories in courses that have been found in the curriculum of industrial engineering program such as lean production, quality engineering, production planning, plant layout, project planning, work study and statistics. In addition to that, model factories can be used for introduction of high technologies to engineering students and they carry a big potential for research studies. Model factories provide an opportunity for small scale pilot studies to be carried out where, Industry 4.0 implementations (methods, techniques instruments, technologies) are tested for productivity growth studies. Within this scope, new forms of cooperation between industry and university would be developed and this cooperation would be able to produce solutions for current industrial problems.

Lean production approach before and after Lean Institute
Lean Institute has been found in 2002 by seven managers and today the institute provides services in all sectors concerning Turkey, Sri Lanka, China, USA, Mexico, Europe and Russia with its 33 lean transformation experts and administrative staff. The institute had the opportunity to carry out nearly 700 lean transformation projects in small/large scale, domestic and foreign production/non-production sectors. Within this scope, the institute had the chance to apply lean transformation principles in field studies, and it has been significant that knowledge accumulation of the institute about lean transformation depends on field experience. Therefore lean transformation principles that have been mentioned in this study are not theoretical but it is unique in the sense that it is based on experience and tested for international feasibility and compliance to Turkey. The institute managed to revise the information that has been gathered from experience of Japan and Toyota and adapt it to Turkish case.

Founders of the institute has met lean thinking concept in 1993. ‘The Machine that Changed the World’, which is a book of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) was significant for them and they gave the book as a gift to heads and senior management of Koç Group and made it published in Turkish language. ‘The Machine that Changed the World’ has put forward the story of a lean Japanese company that has been placed on the top in all indicators in International Motor Vehicles Research. In this way, lean transformation experience of the institute has started with this book about lean transformation.

Model Factory Studies in Lean Institute
The institute has developed different methods for teaching lean techniques and leadership approaches. One of them is to make basic simulations for the introduction of basic information about lean approach to the beginners that have no idea about the subject. These simulations and games are appreciated by the participants as fun activities and they are important in terms of teaching the basic information. Model factory implementations are one of the most effective methods in putting the theory into practice in everyday life. Model factory studies have been carried out with various methods by consultancy firms abroad. The studies are carried out into effect by the institute in two ways. One of them is foundation of a permanent training line in which similar products and processes of the enterprise are created. The other way is to provide applied training to companies from this training line. The training programme has four phases indicating the systems (Just in Time, Jidoka, Standard Job and Flexible Workforce), which form the basic structure of Toyota, and is carried out with 18 active participants

• Production with classical methods
• Lean production techniques
• Lean flow chart and lean production
• Application of lean production techniques, analysis and Kaizen.