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4c4Learn - Customized Corporate Competence Coaching for Sustainable Competence Management in SME


Project Duration: 12/2013 – 02/2017
Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Uta Wilkens /  Prof. Dr. Heiner Minssen &  Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Herrmann
Project Coordinator: Dr. Nicole Sprafke
Project Members: N.N., Dr. Alexander Nolte, Mara Erlinghagen, Saskia Hohagen
Funding: German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF)
Funding Code: 02L12A020
Funding Priority: Competence Management in times of demographic change


Portal to the operational Competence Management:

Further information about the operational Competence Management you will find here.

Description of the Project

Organizations are challenged to generate and sustain competitive advantages despite having to cope with complex and changing requirements. Recent technological developments are foster flexible working systems leading to knowledge-intensive and collaborative work environments, while also demanding high adaptability of organizations and people. The adaptations and organizational change processes, however, have to be mastered by an increasingly heterogenic workforce due to demographical developments. Competence Management Systems are viewed as a practical solution to handle such challenges. Specifically, competency models aim at developing new strategies in complex environments by unlocking potentials within the organization and its network. While large-scale enterprises increasingly implement competency models as a basis for strategic decisions with regard to the corporate and personnel policy, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are confronted with specific barriers to implementation. SMEs have access to tools for the analysis of competences in project-specific settings but often lack the resources necessary to transfer specific approaches into comprehensive competence management systems. A method for SMEs that enables sustainable implementation is still missing. This shortcoming can, with regard to demographical challenges, lead to strategic deficits for SMEs.

The aim of the project 4C4Learn is to enable SMEs to autonomously develop and use competency models to identify and realize new corporate strategies with regard to technological and demographical challenges. With this in mind, we develop an implementation method for competence management in SMEs that is oriented at the specific development stage of the organization. Therefore, we will develop a tool for diagnosing the maturity of the organization with regard to the integration of the relevant fields of action: ‘people’, ‘organization’ and ‘technology’ (Figure 1). The implementation method itself will be realized as a coaching process on the organizational level that integrates specific tools (Customized Corporate Competence Coaching).


Approach 4c4Learn: Maturity of Competence Management

The implementation method 4C4Learn will be introduced within a pilot phase in the involved organizations. During the project year of 2014 the analysis of the organization’s strategic alignment, the operational boundary conditions and relevant individual and collective competences was central. Foundations for the maturity model and the organization specific competency model have been worked out, resulting in a graphical presentation of value generating processes and process fitting competency models. A user-friendly software solution for the management of competency models in SMEs will be developed in the current year. A practical handbook for implementation, which provides crucial steps of implementation as a function of classifications of the maturity, and a prototype that integrates the results and lessons learned of the organizations will be designed in 2016 and 2017.

The development of a prototype ensures the immediate availability for SMEs interested in the method. The tools (e.g. self-test of maturity, blueprints of competency models) will be available via an online-based platform.


Project Website: 4c4Learn



This research and development project is/ was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the Program “Innovations for Tomorrow’s Production, Services, and Work” (02L12A020) and managed by the Project Management Agency Karlsruhe (PTKA).



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