Leadership, innovation, growth: agents of cultural change at GE

Susan Peters, vice president and head of executive development at GE, recently on her fourth visit to India, speaks to domain-b's Dhruv Tanwar on GE's innovative leadership programmes run by the company's John F. Welch Leadership Centre, also called Crotonville, and Indian talent powering GE

In GE's own words "At GE, learning is a cultural force and Crotonville is its epicentre."

Established in 1956, over a sprawling 53-acre campus, Crotonville was a pioneer as a corporate learning campus. For over 50 years, the legendary John F. Welch Leadership Centre has been at the forefront of real-world application for cutting-edge thinking in organisational development, leadership, innovation and change.

Starting with the 80s and 90s, Crotonville has developed into platform for broader culture change at GE. Its legendary former CEO Jack Welch used the university to launch his company wide efforts in Six Sigma, which current CEO Jeff Immelt is leveraging for initiatives to drive growth, the current company wide objective.

Susan Peters, vice president and head of executive development at GE was recently in New Delhi, "primarily for a big course", as she put it.  "The LIG (leadership, innovation, and growth) course," says Peters, "has been developed at Crotonville as an actionable training and dialogue to drive growth across the company."

The LIG programme started in late 2006, at the very top of the organisational chain of top 'Profit and Loss lines', (as independent GE businesses are known within the company). It was so successful in engaging teams to drive growth, that it was decided to extend the course to the next tier down from top management, and groom the 'talent pipeline.' The global tour takes Peters this time around to Shanghai, Delhi and Dubai. With the LIG programme for senior level business teams at GE as the prime focus of her visit to India, she also met with other GE leaders from across the Asia region as part of ongoing efforts in developing talent in emerging markets.

Talking about Crotonville's role as an agent of cultural change at GE, Peters says the oldest corporate university in America has "a wonderful role", and a wonderful 'legacy factor' since it has been around for a long time - over 50 years. That legacy itself drives cultural change.