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IBM Accelerate - Becoming Agile and Excellence in Training Delivery

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Company: IBM, Armonk, NY
Company Description: IBM is a values-based enterprise of individuals who create & apply technology to make the world work better. Today, more than 377,000 IBM employees around the world invent and integrate hardware, software and services to help forward-thinking enterprises, institutions and people succeed on a smarter planet.
Nomination Category: Sales Awards Achievement Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Sales Training or Coaching Program of the Year - Technology Industries

Nomination Title: IBM Accelerate - Becoming Agile and Excellence in Training Delivery

Tell the story about your organization's sales training and/or coaching program since the beginning of July 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:


In six months, the Accelerate Training Team (comprised of seven core team members and 62 Agile Champions) successfully implemented a training and coaching program on Agile for operations tailored to our nearly 8,000 members of IBM’s Sales Transaction Support (STS) organization.

Agile employs practices based, on a set of values and principles, to improve organizational behavior. Our Accelerate model, based on Agile, proved that the method, while already successful the development space, can be used in any part of the business and for any type of work including operations.

The challenge

The Accelerate Program in STS sought to ignite a culture change by restructuring our teams, redistributing our work, and measuring what matters. An organizational change of this magnitude requires more than a singular training session; it requires nine months of intensive and progressive training and coaching in the Agile methods as they apply to our new organizational model.

Because Agile for operations is a new concept, the Accelerate Team had no industry references, so the team had to design unique curriculum by analyzing the specific needs of our organization.

Lastly, we were challenged the speed and scale with which we needed to execute: the team had to complete the initial round of “just-in-time” bootcamp training for all employees and managers in tandem with the new STS organizational deployment. The rigorous, global training schedule provided in the attachment.

The methods

The Accelerate training process included the following activities:

-Design a unique Accelerate training and coaching program by analyzing learners’ needs within the STS Accelerate pilots and the goals of the organization-wide deployment

-Develop content by combining IBM’s Agile Academy courses with customized education that addressed desired skills achievement

-Recruit and train the 62 Agile Champions, so they Champions could further train and coach the squads for the following nine months

-Deliver efficient, initial face-to-face training, as well as online training through a single website—and plan for training refreshes, incrementally at 30-, 60-, and 90-day intervals

-Meet the delivery capabilities of instructors supporting the training execution (including training in local languages)

-Provide ongoing mentoring support to squad teams and leaders through Champion attendance at ceremonies and guidance on how to enhance Agile adoption

Additionally, the Training Team engaged in the following actions to ensure program success:

Established management system to continuously improve the training and coaching methods (including frequent, managed updates to training materials and the rebalancing of Champion workload)

-Planned and scheduled courses by working with local education coordinators in 23 countries
-Performed website maintenance and training model integration based on identified gaps
-Gathered measures around training satisfaction and self-identified Agile maturity growth

The outcomes

As the mainstay of a first-of-its kind Agile for operations transformation, the Training Team fully enabled our organization with the educational materials, coaching methods, tools, and best practices required to succeed in an Agile-driven culture.

Currently, the Accelerate Training Program results are as follows:

-Nearly 8,000 team members attended the initial bootcamp training session
-We’ve seen a steady increase in the self-reported Agile maturity ratings of our teams
-There have been more than 4,000 hits to our training website
-We’ve begun tailoring similar programs to other areas of IBM, using the STS formula as a base

But the real results that are a reflection of our training program, are the results that we’ve seen to our STS business; those include the following:

-A year-to-year total expense reduction of 15% with minimal impact to operations—including two successful quarter closes
-Creation and enablement of 730 new teams, globally, in five months (a few weeks ahead of schedule)
-Most importantly, we saw a 32.3% cycle time improvement and a 22% increase in throughput year-to-year in our pilot teams

In conclusion, we nominate the Accelerate Program because of the unprecedented scale, speed, and depth of our work in order to make Agile for operations a success through timely and progressive training and coaching.