The role of the UBS Agile Academy in enabling a large scale agile transformation

EFMD Sharing Best Practice Workshop (online), in partnership with UBS

On 03 March, our EFMD Sharing Best Practice Workshop (online), in partnership with UBS, convened learning leaders and specialists to learn about the role of the UBS Agile Academy in enabling a large-scale agile transformation. Martin Moehrle, Director of Corporate Services & CLIP, provides an overview of the event.

Despite the current hype around agile management, few organisations go for an agile transformation at scale. UBS, however, decided to do just that, starting with about 20,000 employees in its delivery organisation and corporate functions. The new agile organisation comprises streams such as talent and culture broken up into crews of max 150 members, that again are made up of pods of 5-9 people who own a specific product. Every pod member reports to a chapter lead who is in charge of his or her professional development. An agile playbook and a set of new agile tools got developed to support the deployment.

In a staggered approach, businesses/ functions get onboarded into this new setup. The Agile Academy enables the transition from the old to the new world in collaboration with the Agile CoE and agile coaches. Patricia Stone, the head of the UBS Agile Academy, explained very competently how teams get onboarded to Agile&UBS through a series of e-learning and boot camps. In addition, the Academy provides role-specific learning paths through a Learning Experience Platform. Learners can achieve badges and add them, e.g., to their LinkedIn profiles.

Patricia shared with the workshop participants six lessons that she learned along the way:

  1. get agile subject matter experts in your team early – there is tough competition out there for good people;
  2. build external partnerships with, e.g., agile coaches to get going, but move to internal capability as soon as possible;
  3. build internal partnerships such as with the HR function;
  4. most of the change happens after the onboarding, hence catering to both new and old cohorts is of the essence;
  5. integration into career development and talent management beats a pure training approach;
  6. build credibility by walking the talk first.

The workshop developed into a lively debate about digital enablers of an agile transformation on the one hand and about effective leadership in agile organisations on the other. This highly interactive and engaging workshop concluded with Patricia summarising the new leadership mandate as creating transparency and clarity for autonomous teams to align themselves to the purpose of the organisation.

Save the date! Our next Sharing Best Practice Workshop for corporate members and invited guests will take place on 9 June. 

June sharing best practice workshop (SBP)