Google turns algorithm on corporate education

Google turns algorithm on corporate education

Summary: Why aren't employees more productive? Why aren't managers more effective? Google is turning its attention -- and data -- to internal education efforts.

TOPICS: Google

Google wants to know how its employees can become more effective.

 ("Join the club," managers at every company in the world say in response.)

GoogleEDU, the company's two-year-old learning and leadership development program, is getting a boost in attention as the company takes its data-driven ways to the classroom.

Can you formalize learning for more consistent return on investment? That's the question Google is working to address as it enrolls some 10,000 employees in classes aligned with the company's overall strategy, dropping and adding classes for effectiveness almost as quickly as it swaps advertisements on its popular services.

Google's not alone in the endeavor -- after all, every major corporation has an education offering in place with the hope of keeping its employees' skills relevant. (ZDNet publisher CBS Interactive has one, too.)

The difference is how they're doing it in Mountain View. 

The Wall Street Journal's Joseph Walker explains:

Google thinks it has found a way to make its learning stick. It has become more exacting about when it offers classes and to whom. It uses employee reviews of managers—similar to the instructor reviews that college students fill out at the end of a semester—to suggest courses to managers. Ever data-obsessed, Google uses statistics gathered from current and former employees to recommend certain courses to managers at different points in their career, say after a move to a new city or joining a new team.

That matters more than ever when there are 8,000 new heads on your payroll, per the company's latest recruitment drive, particularly when they come from companies that aren't as progressive in terms of company culture and heirarchy.

(Think about it: how do you motivate reports that are demonstratably smarter than you? Fear won't do it.)

Some of the classes focus on exerting influence in a company that prioritizes ideas over titles. Others focus on areas of expertise. The end goal: target like crazy, from which you can more easily attribute actionable goals.

Individualized. Customized. It's like a search results page for your own team.

Whether the Google way is indeed better remains to be seen, but it's always good news to see a company try to rethink a corporate crutch.

Topic: Google

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • More productive? Are we not already a productive work force? Seems those

    productivity numbers have been ever growing since I've been around and I'm now almost 50. The simple answer maybe we are not machines nor ants. It could be that simple. And considering ants do amazing things considering their size and all still I don't want to be an ant nor a machine for that matter.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
  • End the P.C. garbage....

    Wondering why your people are not more effective? Too much political correctness, A.A. hiring and promoting. This is not mere speculation: I've seen it so often, it makes my head spin! Can we please get back to merit-based hiring and promoting? Oh,'s "hard to put metrics in place" for merit raises and promotions. Ummm...except they seem to find the metrics to say folks are *not* being productive enough. They could do it...if they wanted to. The political and social pressures in a decaying society just don't allow for it. Well, the producers will continue to get gouged and eventually emigrate to places where they receive what they deserve.
  • how you say

    shut down google it is unsafe and you know it