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Reverse Mentoring

The new learning curve is from the bottom up.

When General Electric head Jack Welch realized that GE was falling far behind other companies in its use of the internet as a business tool, he knew he needed help. But who could he ask? Welch himself rarely surfed the Web, finding it overwhelming, but he realized that understanding and embracing online technology was critical to GE's long-term success.

To catch up, Welch instituted a "reverse mentoring" program at GE. He required more than 500 of his top executives to find a younger, tech-savvy "Web mentor" to teach them how to use the web and understand e-business. Following Welch's lead, over the past few years, a growing number of organizations, from Proctor and Gamble to the Seattle Public Schools, have implemented reverse mentoring programs to help them understand technology, business trends, and pop culture.

Reverse mentoring can take place either formally or informally. Wharton School of Business requires older MBA candidates with long resumes to partner with younger, full-time ...

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