How HP Reinvented Learning with Brain Candy

Earlier this year, one of our favorite Pathgather customers, Mike Jordan, Global Head of Talent and Learning at HP Inc. joined us at the CLO Spring Symposium, During the event, Mike shared the story of how he and his team reinvented learning at HP. We love this story so much, we wanted to share it here on our blog. Enjoy the video and transcript below!

At HP Inc., we have transformed the way we think about learning. We did this just as HP separated into two companies. I'll talk a little bit about the journey of how we got there, but also exactly the process and the way we implemented that. 

New Company, New Learning Culture

Back in November 2015, HP Inc. split from HP Enterprise and became a standalone company. As we did that, we looked at our culture, and thought, "What do we want to change? What do we want to be known for? What do we want to leave behind?" And a lot of that truly had to do with the way we think about learning overall, and the way that we wanted to shift that.

We did focus groups and surveys. We connected with all of the employees in our different regions to figure out what learning and development would look like in a brand new company and answer these questions: What's happening out there? What are other companies doing? What research can we learn from?

And that helped us to galvanize a few themes that came forward from our employees:

  1. It needed to be a lot easier for employees to find and share content.
  2. People wanted to be able to find experts in the company. We have a lot of great and smart people at HP, and yet we can't find them, or get them to share their expertise because they're hidden.
  3. Employees wanted to be able to customize and curate learning. Employees wanted to take more ownership.
  4. And they want to be able to access that on the go with their mobile devices. 

Big Changes, Short Timelines

We gathered that feedback and connected with several external platforms to look at what would be the best possible option. We found one that worked the best for us, Pathgather. From the minute we signed the deal with Pathgather to implement, we decided we wanted to do it very quickly.

Within 14 weeks of being official with Pathgather, we launched this new social learning platform.

To do that, we created core project teams comprised of people within the HR and L&D functions, as well as the line of business. We knew we needed to tap into people who had a passion for learning and development, could help us curate content, and think about how we could pull this together. 

In mid-April 2016, we started to pull together those teams. We had to be thoughtful about not only the content that we were going to curate but how we would market it to the organization, as how the platform was launched would impact perception and overall value.

We also did a beta pilot with early adopters to help us curate content. They represented all different parts of the business. Then we expanded and invited in 500 employees to see what was working and what wasn't. Is it confusing? Do they understand how to access content? Where do they see additional areas that we need to focus on before we launch? 

The Launch

We launched in July 2016, and were very intentional about not attaching our launch to a single learning event, which many organizations do. That can be helpful, but we wanted this to be purely something that people accessed because they felt learning was valuable and they wanted to find it in new ways.

We crowdsourced the name itself. We wanted to step away from more traditional names we'd used in the past, i.e. HP University to describe how different this new process of accessing learning content was. We came up with Brain Candy. I think were a few bets about how long it would be take for me to be let go after trying to launch a learning platform named Brain Candy, But it was received quite well. A lot of that had to do with the buzz we built working with the teams across the globe.

We curated great content from multiple sources. We had our internal learning and leveraged external learning sources like Anything with a URL web address can be we pulled into Pathgather AKA Brain Candy, which is fantastic. This allows employees to pull in any content that they want to serve up. 

We not only had this iconic symbol of Brain Candy appear, but we had a week of events, and every day we had a different focus that would help employees learn about Brain Candy. We also came up with a slogan, "fuel your curiosity," and we swapped out the word "curiosity" with different words. Fuel your network. Fuel your growth. Fuel your career. So that they could understand this was a way not only to learn but to supercharge the way that they think about their development overall.

We put out kiosks and had people sign in. Within the first ten days, we had about 12,000 of 50,000 people log into Brain Candy. The feedback from employees was fantastic. It felt fresh, different, and new. It felt like the platforms that employees used in their personal lives, which is what we wanted. 

As we all know the line between work and home blurs. And if something at work looks like it was built in 1972, then people don't want to use it. So Brain Candy looks and feels like what people are expecting these days, especially our junior employees. There was really positive feedback overall.

Mind the Data

From launch, we were aggressive about mining the data. What are we learning about? What's getting a lot of attention? What's being completed? What's being shared? What's being created? We also have an intranet, the Daily Ink, where we launched stories about people who have been sharing their content.

Our employees are going wild with this whole concept of being able to share their content. Currently, we have 27,000 users out of 50,000, and that’s 27,000 active users.

They can also attach to gatherings, which are groups of people learning about different topics. We have over 600. We've had an incredible amount of content completions. And the most completed content is the content that employees share themselves.

As much as we're (L&D) putting content out there, what employees are deciding is important for their growth is what they're completing the most. Because they can endorse it and they can see what they like rise to the top. Just like with social platforms. 

What's Next?

It's been a huge success so far. We're now at a point where we're looking at what's going take it to the next step. It's been nine months, and now we want to figure out how can we augment it even more, and how can we make it even more applicable for learners across the globe. 

We have learned a lot of lessons through the launch. We feel like a lot of things went very well.

But what made it the most successful is that we worked closely with our employees. They were part of the process. We were linked with the business; it wasn’t something that we launched at them, it was something they were a part of building.

And of course, having leadership involved helped, and having a great relationship with IT was key. Those were most important pieces that we were able to attack and solve for. 

We're realizing that this is a long-term change. Nine months in and we have great traction. We're moving in a direction that we think is the right one for the company amd we're continuing to get great feedback. We see not just millennials use Brain Candy, but we see all generations use it. Our different organizations and businesses are using it, from our CTO to our labs, to our 3D printing organization. 

It's something that we're paying close attention to, but it is a journey that we're all on together, and look forward to seeing where Brain Candy will take us in the next year or two.