Mani Gopalakrishnan, Senior Leader, Digital Learning & Technology, GE Crotonville, explored the transformation of corporate learning during his keynote presentation to Argyle’s CHRO membership at the 2016 Human Capital Leadership Forum: Fall Event in New York on Sept. 22. In his presentation, ” The Transformation of Corporate Learning: The Launch of BrilliantYou,” Gopalakrishnan outlined the key tenets of BrilliantYou, a marketplace for learning resources.
According to Gopalakrishnan, GE ranks among the top global organizations for leadership design and development. However, the organization recently noticed a major shift happening within its day-to-day operations that forced it to change course.
“We’re in an increasingly disruptive world. You’ve got a lot of uncertainty, and you’re seeing a lot of innovation and disruption in just about every part of the business,” he stated. “That means we had to become an agile, 126-year-old startup.”
To meet the needs of today’s highly competitive global marketplace, GE needed to rethink its culture and become more agile, Gopalakrishnan said. Thus, the company had to revamp its HR strategy and ensure it could recruit, retain and engage employees who drove innovation within the organization day after day.
Driving innovation also required GE to reconsider its learning strategies and move away from traditional learning methods and technologies to guarantee its employees could build their skill sets and help the organization achieve its long-term goals.
“I think [learning] could be frictionless and present with you. Certainly, it doesn’t have to be in-your-face compliance training,” Gopalakrishnan noted. “It could be so much more than what it is today.”
With BrilliantYou, GE became better equipped to make learning “a daily habit,” Gopalakrishnan pointed out.
“We’re in an increasingly disruptive world. You’ve got a lot of uncertainty, and you’re seeing a lot of innovation and disruption in just about every part of the business. That means we had to become an agile, 126-year-old startup.”
He also noted that GE constantly strives to engage with employees via BrilliantYou and ensure it can learn from these workers every day.
“The key part of our strategy has been talking to employees,” Gopalakrishnan said. “We want to listen, listen, listen. We want to engage with employees and grow with them.”
Although many learning technologies are available, organizations often struggle to find one that works well for them.
Gopalakrishnan stated that GE was searching for a flexible learning environment, one that fostered collaboration. In addition, GE wanted to find a learning technology that ensured the company could focus on educating employees rather than the operating costs and return on investment (ROI) on the technology.
“Nobody was going to give us millions and millions of dollars to do this,” Gopalakrishnan said. “As we started looking at a business model, we decided that we weren’t going to pay anyone for a license. We’re going to create a marketplace that vendors … can come and put their content on.”
Ultimately, GE needed to find the best way to provide its employees with relevant, engaging content that would ensure workers could gain the skills and know-how needed to help the organization succeed. At the same time, GE was tasked with finding a viable platform that ensured workers can access content quickly and effortlessly.
“We needed to win an employee mindshare,” Gopalakrishnan stated. “We needed to be in the face of employees … and figure out how we’re going to work this.”
BrilliantYou proved to be a win for both GE and its employees because it allowed GE to foster collaboration with workers in innovative ways.
“We needed to win an employee mindshare. We needed to be in the face of employees.”
For example, Gopalakrishnan pointed out that BrilliantYou enables employees to write blogs and share their insights with one another. These blogs empower workers to highlight their expertise in myriad areas, access insights from their peers and share feedback as well.
BrilliantYou also drives innovation through social media, and Gopalakrishnan stated the “nightclub effect” played a key role in BrilliantYou’s growth across GE.
Much in the same way a nightclub may look popular from the outside, GE needed to find a way to make BrilliantYou appealing to a broad employee base. To accomplish this task, Gopalakrishnan said his team would share insights via social media with one another to illustrate the true value of BrilliantYou.
This helped BrilliantYou generate interest among GE employees and ensured workers understood BrilliantYou’s value. It also promoted the importance of collaboration and led many workers to become influencers who would share their insights with peers via BrilliantYou.
“By just enabling people to share, you’re unleashing a whole farm of learning digitally without bringing people in,” Gopalakrishnan said.
BrilliantYou has proven to be an immense success for GE and its employees. Going forward, GE will continue to explore ways to enhance BrilliantYou and will collaborate with workers to ensure this marketplace delivers long-lasting benefits as well as helps GE remain an agile, forward-thinking organization.
Mani Gopalakrishnan focuses on solving challenges with innovative solutions at the intersection of digital technology, business consulting, and human capital. Mani brings 15 years of experience and a unique blend of technology and strategy, having served in senior roles with Deloitte Consulting and General Electric (GE).
During his tenure at Deloitte, Mani enabled many leading Fortune 100 companies by designing organizations, leading large scale change and transformational initiatives, setting up corporate universities and learning organizations, building technology infrastructure and learning operations disciplines, and designing content and learning experiences for a variety of tools, platforms, topical areas, and audiences.
As Senior Leader for Digital Learning & Technology at GE, Mani is reimagining the digital edition of GE’s leadership institute at Crotonville and stewarding the learning technology eco-system (including LMS, content standards, learning shared services) for the entire company. Mani blogs regularly at LinkedIn on digital learning and technology and builds mobile apps.