LXP Integration of goFLUENT’s English Learning Program

To create a sustainable society, Hitachi, Ltd. is driving social innovations across their companies worldwide through promoting Position-based Human Resource Management. As their main tool, they implemented a large-scale yet customized reskilling program for employees in a learning culture that breeds self-directed leaders.

To ensure each employee with appropriate learning opportunities,  goFLUENT’s Language Learning Program was introduced as one of the contents in Hitachi’s LXP (Learning Experience Platform). During our interview, we learned from Mr. Raizo Sakoda, President of Hitachi Academy, Ltd. the following highlights:

  • Managing a company without investing in human capital will not thrive in the future.
  • As a response to globalization, creating an environment where all employees can learn a language on-demand supplements the position-based HR management approach.
  • A Learning Experience Platform (LXP) with personalized content is essential to give a fair and equitable learning experience

Adopting Position-based Human Resource Management in Response to Globalization


Sakoda: In 1910, Hitachi, Ltd. was founded in Ibaraki Prefecture of Hitachi City as a mining machinery repair shop. This year marks its 112th year. It was a conglomerate of companies until it restructured its businesses in the 2000s. Now, Hitachi is developing the “Social Innovation Business” globally. Approximately 60% of sales revenue and the consolidated number of employees are overseas.


Ono: You have focused on the “Social Innovation Business,” during a time like this when, I think, the required skills of Human Resources practitioners are actually different than we were used to. Tell us more about this.


Mr. Sakoda: The Social Innovation Business is “an entity that enhances environmental, social, and economic value through the power of digital technology”. Since we aim to scale globally, the flexibility to respond to digitalization and globalization is the basic skill required. So, we are reskilling in that direction.


Kannari: I understand that you have adopted a position-based human resource management system.


Mr. Sakoda: Yes. Position-based human resources management is common overseas while membership-based human resources management, based on mass hiring of new graduates and lifetime employment, is unique to Japan. In order to expand our business globally, our practice must change too, So, we adopted the overseas model.


A Mutual Responsibility Between Employee and Company


Kannari: What kind of Position-based human resources management is Hitachi, Ltd. aiming for?


Mr. Sakoda: Ultimately, we want to be a global leader in the business of social innovation by forging an autonomous human resources organization and culture.


It is essential to inspire growth in each employee as an individual, which ripples to the organizational level of growth. Instead of having them wait for a company to give them a job, we must hearten their individual career goals and contribute to making them attainable.


What career paths are available to the company? What skills are needed to obtain them? What are the available learning and training opportunities? The individual should indicate the work they want to do, the skills they possess, and the career plan they seek. This will increase engagement in learning on an ongoing basis. 


It is more important to determine the “right position” than the right person for the right job. Needless of age, gender and other attributes, capitalizing on employee motivation and ability can be a key to an equal partnership between the company and its human capital. This naturally begets a culture of continuous learning and organizational growth. 


Ono: You are talking about the synergy of employees taking responsibility for their own careers and the company sharing its part of that responsibility. This is a bit of a nasty question, but what happens to the employees who don’t want to take responsibility for their own careers?


Mr. Sakoda: They will miss seizing opportunities for growth while the willing employees improve their skills, take on new challenges, and are welcomed by great opportunities.


Fair Learning & Optimizing Content for All Through LXP (Degreed)

Ono: Can you tell us more about the approach you are implementing for reskilling?


Mr. Sakoda: We are implementing a four-point strategy: (1) Push the individual, (2) Train superiors who can support the individual, (3) Provide buffet-style learning content relevant to the desired profession (4) Use LXP as a concierge to promote the habit of learning


Each employee is encouraged to think carefully about his career and verbalize his aspirations, thereby creating an environment in which he or she can receive appropriate advice from superiors. Then, we ask them to use the LXP where they are guided on which relevant content to choose and study. It also has features that encourage the habituation of studying.


Ono: You seem to think that LXP is an indispensable tool for Position-based human resource development.


Sakoda: In the past, human resource development tactics were mainly one-size-fits-all. Managers provide the same learning program to all employees without intentionally knowing and following through on what they’ve learned. In today’s job-oriented world, however, we acknowledge that employees are more likely to be motivated when individual goals are met.


Heeding that career goals are different among employees, a company’s most logical approach would be to customize plans for each of them. However, manually processing these plans is simply not feasible for a company like Hitachi, Ltd. with 30,000 employees.


That is why we decided to use LXP, which analyzes the wishes, abilities, skills, and learning the history of each employee and recommends the best learning programs and methods.


In Mind: goFLUENT Language Learning Program for All Hitachi Groups

Ono: You have adopted the language learning program provided by goFLUENT as one of the contents you can learn at LXP. For what purpose did you introduce this program?


Mr. Sakoda:  Language training was previously provided only to a handful of employees with overseas roles or in charge of overseas transactions. With the increasing project opportunities with overseas offices, it is no longer appropriate to say “English is irrelevant”  —just because you are in Japan. So, it was absolutely necessary to deploy a flexible environment for learning a language.


Kannari: There are many different language learning programs out there. What made you choose goFLUENT?


Sakoda: The program targets 30,000 Japanese employees, but eventually we will offer the program globally throughout the Hitachi Group. For this purpose, we chose goFLUENT. They are highly endorsed by some of our group companies and found sufficient & effective during a trial period as part of the selection process.


Kannari: Hitachi, the Hitachi Group, and Hitachi Academy have introduced this blended program of e-learning, in which news articles and videos are viewed, with live training such as individual lessons, Conversation Classes, and writing lessons. Hitachi, Ltd., Hitachi Group, and Hitachi Academy have 800 employees enrolled in the blended program.Can you tell us about your future plans for goFLUENT?

Mr. Sakoda: In the future, we would like to utilize language content other than English. For example, we are considering offering a Japanese language learning program so that foreign employees working in Japan will not have trouble in their daily lives. I have also heard that goFLUENT has a variety of know-how for making language learning a habit. We would like you to share your know-how with us in order to create the “organization that keeps learning,” which is our company’s goal.

Ono: As specific support, we hold a kick-off webinar before introducing goFLUENT, which not only explains the operation of goFLUENT, but also helps to set the learners’ mindsets. By having them think and imagine for themselves why they want to learn a language, their motivation is clarified, which leads to motivation for learning.


Kannari: In addition, messages from management are also important. I think it is important to make learners feel what is expected of them by the company and why they are starting language learning.


Ono: Nevertheless, I think some extrinsic motivation will also be necessary. For example, organize an event such as a study challenge, in which individuals, groups, business units, etc. compete against each other. Making the degree of each person’s effort “visible” will also encourage learning.

Human capital development as a management issue


Ono: I believe that many Japanese companies are struggling with the issue of human resource development. Do you have any advice for them?


Mr. Sakoda: Developing people is not a job of the Human Resources Department alone. It is important to recognize that it is also a vital management matter. People used to think of education as a cost,when in fact it is an active “investment” for the company. I believe that many Japanese companies in the past, while claiming to “value people,” have not invested enough in people. I believe that it is time to rethink this as a “management issue” , essential for growth.


Ono: Thank you very much. Lastly, please tell us about President Sakoda’s goals for the future.

Mr. Sakoda: It is a huge challenge to embed a culture of “continuous learning. It is not an easy task to implement a program for  30,000 employees. And, expanding to the entire global Hitachi Group is a huge feat. It will probably take a considerable amount of time, but we will work steadily; One step at a time.


Mr. Raizo Sakoda, President, Hitachi Academy, Ltd.

Graduated from Keio University Faculty of Law in 1983 and joined Hitachi, Ltd. He was consistently in charge of human resources and general affairs. From 2005 to 2009, he served as Vice President of Human Resources at Hitachi Data Systems, headquartered in the U.S. He later served as General Manager of the Global Talent Management Department at Hitachi’s headquarters, General Manager of the China Asia Human Resources Division, and General Manager of the Human Resources & Labor Division. He was appointed President and Director of Hitachi Management Training Institute, Ltd. in 2017 and will assume his current position in April 2019.

Takashi Ono, General Manager of goFLUENT K.K.

General Manager of goFLUENT Japan. After working in the food and IT industries, he co-founded a corporate e-learning venture in 2005 and entered the English education industry. Since joining goFLUENT in 2013, he has worked with more than 100 companies, helping them solve their human resource development challenges.

Motokuni Kannari, Sales Manager, goFLUENT K.K.

Motokuni Kannari has over 15 years of experience in global human resource development for companies and universities as an educational consultant to human resource development staff. He has worked for ALC Education, GlobalEnglish, and Cooori, helping more than 80 major companies/global companies to improve their human resource development, and contributing to their business efficiency and revitalization of internal English communication. He joined goFLUENT in 2020 and is motivated to accelerate language education in companies, including the training of next-generation leaders and global personnel.

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