GE: Building a More Brilliant Workforce, Every Day

By Chantelle Nash, Program Manager, Digital Learning & Engagement, GE Crotonville [NYSE: GE]

Chantelle Nash, Program Manager, Digital Learning & Engagement, GE Crotonville [NYSE: GE]

We are all consumers, and as individuals and companies continue innovating and creating higher levels of competition to meet a wide range of needs, we see more opportunities that change the way we interact with almost everything around us.

"We are now seeing how an intersection of advances in technology, along with adjustments to organizational strategies overall, can have an impact on talent development approaches"

Much of this is the result of new technology and new applications of the technology. We know that advancements in data and analytics are having a big impact in helping predict performance of systems and more quickly provide resources where needed. This provides us, as consumers, with many advantages.

Of course, certain areas have seen less innovation and competition than others over the years, and one of those areas is talent development. For so long, the differentiator for organizations from the employee’s consumer perspective has been pay and benefits. Other elements of how companies handle talent development, from the performance management process to the structure of work days, have stayed the same for quite some time. However, we are now seeing how an intersection of advances in technology, along with adjustments to organizational strategies overall, can have an impact on talent development approaches. In other words, an integrated talent development strategy is the future, and the future is starting . . . NOW!

In 2014, GE recognized that along with the speed of execution needed for the organizational strategy, learning efforts needed to scale as well to better support and enable talent around the world. Performance management was also changing at GE to be much less formal and much more frequent, a major shift from the highly formal structure GE had been known for.

BrilliantYOU™ – a distributed learning platform accessible to all GE employees – was created to help, and launched in 2016. Content is centralized, organized by topic and keywords, searchable, and employees receive recommendations for content that applies to their specific interests. And, the platform is accessible with single sign on credentials outside of the VPN, providing more convenient access for all employees, but especially for those in areas of the globe where mobile access is key to productivity.

The content available to employees includes internal MOOCs, books, videos, articles, and podcasts. Combinations of content centered around common themes are curated in the form of “Collections” and “Learning Paths”, so users can go through a more in-depth learning experience related to a particular competency if desired. BrilliantYOU™ has also teamed up with external partners to provide employees access to online content from providers like MIT, Harvard Business School, McKinsey, and IDEO.

A dashboard shows a comprehensive view of what employees have consumed on BrilliantYOU, also pulling in data from the company LMS. Content can be “liked”, rated, shared, and comments can be added, which highlights another critical aspect of the platform: user generated content. Through features like the platform’s leadership development “blog” (loosely defined due to its more interactive and somewhat less structured format), users can submit their own content to share with others. Employees are also able to create their own video series and podcasts to distribute through the platform to their teams.

Holistically, the result is an engaging, personal, and socially connected learning ecosystem across the company which catalyzes not only learning from others, learning through reflection, and learning by doing, but learning by teaching as well. In this model, learning is not only consumed, it is also produced (and in many ways managed) by the individual and community.

Connecting BrilliantYOU™ to the organization’s new Performance Development system so that employees can directly see the connection between performance conversations and relevant learning content is a key part of the strategy. This goes beyond simply connecting the two systems and requires implementation of natural language processing and Adaptive Machine Learning (AML).

These advancements (and their implementation in the talent development space) are very important not only to employees, who receive a more personalized and relevant learning experience, but to organizations. Now, it is much easier for organizations to show the impact of qualitative data and informal learning solutions—two areas that were often dismissed or underutilized in the past due to the inability to draw clear conclusions, “track” progress or otherwise control the experience. It’s worth noting that control of the experience becomes irrelevant when the focus shifts to each individual employee and what they need.

That said, the ideal state is to both enable individuals and the organization to meet their goals, and that can be achieved with this kind of intersection of data and user experience.

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