| krAft in English / The krAft Program
The acronym krAft (which is Swedish for "power") should be decoded as "K" for competence/knowledge, "R" for reflection, "A" for business development and "T" for growth. The acronym mirrors the belief that business development in SMEs is not primarily about simple knowledge transfer. We believe that knowledge is not a product that can be easily transferred. Knowledge is something that develops in the minds of people when they are exposed to stimuli (competence/knowledge) that make them reflect on their present situation. Further, and perhaps most importantly, business development is about “getting your act together” and take action to grow the business. Based on these assumptions, we have developed a new approach for fostering business development initiatives in SMEs.
We initially identify groups of companies that already work together or seem to have a high potential for working together. These groups have often achieved a certain level of trust and the company managers will probably know each other socially. Some of the groups will not have reached beyond the social level, while others have explicit ambitions to gain commercially from the cooperation.
We search for individuals that are able to operate as “krAft tutors”, acting as process consultants, advisers and speaking partners to SME companies. Our goal is to engage experienced individuals; perhaps they are former entrepreneurs or top-managers themselves. The krAft tutors must be willing to contribute, and hopefully also feel the urge to learn more. Frequently, these individuals are already in contact with companies or groups of companies that are potential participants in the program.
We cluster the networking companies into “krAft groups” and assign a krAft tutor to each group. Together with a university representative (acting as the project leader), the program starts by defining the development theme of the group. At this stage, the participating managers, the krAft tutor and the project leader actually construct a unique structure of their own development program.
On the “supply side”, representatives from the involved universities will wait and see! They obviously have a fairly good idea about what might be of interest to the SME companies, but they will only develop specific educational activities on demand. The aim is that all educational activities will follow a pedagogical style based on dialogue and problem-based learning. The ultimate goal is not to make participants learn a lot of theory but to encourage them to develop and grow their businesses.
The leading words are flexibility and customisation. We therefore use the standard model of a krAft group only as a starting point. A standard group contains 5-7 companies (2-3 representatives from each company), the program lasts 12 months, includes 12 days day of education and training and involves one kraft tutor,
one project leader, and a number of university representatives (engaged by the project leader to teach specific parts). Participation fee is 38 350 SEK + VAT.
In addition about three days (for each participating company) will be reserved for the krAft tutors for the implementation of projects emerging from the activities in the krAft group. We try to pool our resources with other financial supports to reach synergies in the actual implementation of the projects emerging in the krAft groups.
The kraft program is organised by a consortium of Swedish universities, including Lund University, Gothenburg University, Umeå University and Jönköping University. Development costs are financed by the KK-foundation, a state initiated foundation, which, among other tasks aim to bridge the gap between the academic world and the industry ( read more about the KK-foundation in this .pdf document ). In the pilot stage, the support was 15 MSEK, The pilot was evaluated during autumn 2001 and December 13 the decision was taken that the program will continue in the period 2002-2004. Fort this period the support is another 45 MSEK. The aim
was to start more than 70 krAftgroups (with 5-7 companies in each) in all. Further information may be requested from Anders.Melander@jibs.hj.se
krAft February 2005
Today we are about 80 people working part time with krAft. The core is involved in organizing, marketing and developing teaching tools. About 60 (both inside and outside the academic world) are involved in the formation of new krAft groups.
At the moment, 88 groups have started, involving 540 companies, and we have
10 more potential groups ("prospects") on the list.
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