How and Why Complexity Creates Capability at Accenture

Accenture’s Capability Development Executive Leadership Team (left to right): Kurt Olson, Andy White, Lisa Callahan, Don Vanthournout and Dan Bielenberg.

Here is an excerpt from article written by Daniel Margolis for Chief Learning Officer magazine. To check out all the resources and sign up for a free subscription to the Talent Management and/or CLO magazines published by MedfiaTec, please click here.

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To develop employee capability, Accenture’s learning is highly targeted and organized on a global basis to contribute directly to the company’s bottom line making it the No. 5 ranked company in Chief Learning Officer magazine’s LearningElite.

Sometimes a name change can be quite powerful, especially when the change embodies complex learning. As a global management, technology and outsourcing consulting company, Accenture is in a complex business, which drives a complex learning strategy. But most employees have heard about learning strategy. Capability development, on the other hand, perfectly embodies the strategy, organizational vision and mission at Accenture.

In one of the world’s leading corporate learning organizations, the need to build market-relevant capabilities that drive business and individual success prompted Accenture’s learning department to establish six strategic intents:

1. Be trusted partners in executing Accenture’s business strategies, bringing capability development expertise to the business.

2. Create user-centric learning experiences that help employees develop market-relevant capabilities where, when and how they need them.

3. Champion Accenture’s commitment to learning and deliver on the capability development promise to its people.

4. Drive globally consistent processes while balancing local needs.

5. Be purposeful about innovation, driving new and effective solutions.

6. Continually improve as a learning organization.

Accenture’s business strategy calls for its people to deliver deep expertise to its clients. The company’s growth and its clients’ success depend on its employees delivering this on-the-job expertise in hundreds of different areas of specialization. It can be quite a challenge to forecast what will be needed and schedule learning to develop the necessary skills in its people.

It also can be challenging to build a strategy to develop those specialized skills. The Accenture-wide capability development strategy defines a consistent approach to identify competencies and proficiency needs, as well as how to build expertise through formal learning, collaboration and job experience.

It breaks down specialized competency needs into three types: industry, functional and technical, with five levels of proficiency possible. For each specialized competency there is an associated curriculum that includes formal learning, collaboration and job experience activities employees engage in. The result is a learning road map for each specialized area delivered to employees via myLearning, Accenture’s internal LMS

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Be sure to check out Return on Learning: Training for High Performance at Accenture, published by Agate B2  (2008) and now available in a paperbound edition, in which its co-authors explain how how Accenture achieved an ROI of 353% on its commitment to enterprise learning.

Daniel Margolis

Daniel Margolis is managing editor of Chief Learning Officer magazine. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University, and has been writing and editing professionally for more than 12 years, contributing content to publications such as Wax Poetics, XXL, Complex and AOL Digital City Chicago. Prior to joining MediaTec, he served as a staff editor on publications covering printing, machining, metal service centers and project management. He can be reached at

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