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Company: IBM Corporation

Nomination Category: 360 Degree Feedback Solution – New


Nomination Title: Continuously Improving with ALMA


Products Essay

During 2018 the IBM Enterprise Operations and Services (EO&S) group supporting IBM Sales continued the organization-wide transformation called Accelerate Agile, initiated in 2017. The strategic objectives of this extensive shift were to simplify processes, improve/consolidate tools and build an Agile work environment to deliver on business commitments. Most importantly this transformation was about accelerating the move towards creating a culture of continuous improvement by self-managed teams that are empowered to make their own decisions and execute on them.

One very important aspect of working Agile, is that the leaders need to change their own way of working and approaching their leadership role. For this purpose, five Agile Leadership Practices were identified to help them in becoming a successful Agile Leader in their daily work, supporting their self-managed teams.

These are the five practices for self-assessment and 360 degrees feedback:
-Inspire purpose: Shared Understanding of Outcomes, Business Value Clarity, Stakeholder Engagement
-Set up for success: Discovery practice, Big visible charts, Whole Teams, Loosely Coupled Teams, Team size
-Optimize Value Flow: Task/Issue Walls, Managing the Funnel, Value Regularly Delivered, Optimize Collaboration
-Govern for Greatness: Wall of work, Portfolio Planning, cascading goals, Project prioritizing, Strategy Feedback
-Drive Innovation: Retrospectives, Shared Learning, Innovation Time

Along with the practices, we also needed a way to measure adoption. The initial version of the Agile Leadership Maturity Assessment (ALMA) was a spreadsheet developed by IBM Agile Academy. Based on the original content, it was decided to build an automated tool to accommodate user demand. The tool was developed as a part of our Career Progression platform to allow leaders to assess themselves and ask for feedback from their teams, manager and peers. The tool is closely aligned to the Agile strategy where feedback is a crucial element for continuous improvement and development supporting our current focus on driving Servant Leadership oriented culture change.

Agile Leader Maturity Assessment Tool is intended for leaders and aspiring leaders that want to know what practices to adopt and improve for Agile teams within the organization to improve.

The tool is designed to be development activity focused, and not just assess the current situation. Focus is on what can be done differently in order to enhance the expected outcomes and the use of agile practices. The tool is simple, intuitive and user-friendly with minimal need for instructions. The tool was well accepted by our organization and received great support from the executive leadership team.

-Self-assessment on the five Agile practices (21 questions), current level and desired level
-Provides relevant recommended learning for each practice, allowing to include specific content for each organization
-Help button for guidance and elaboration on the questions in case needed
-Send function for 360 degrees feedback from team, peers, upline or random colleagues integrated with organizational global structure
-Visual summary report showing self-assessment and feedback vs desired state
-A ‘living’ action plan that is editable and can be downloaded and shared
-A Watson AI-based chatbot available for more help
-Feedback button providing option to easily submit feedback and comments

User comments:
“Vital - it facilitated a very balanced discussion and allowed me to build action plans with agreement of peers, employees and mgmt line”
“It is very useful and important for me to understand team's current status and help me to know more deep about myself besides my self-awareness”
“Understanding where you are where you need to be helps to develop a plan to close gaps”

Next step:
-Promote and increase adoption internally outside of EO&S
-Scale up to other business units in IBM - requests received from other parts of IBM to use the Assessment in their Agile Accelerate process
-Evaluate product to be offered to clients

Products Summary

Benefit of the tool:
-Provides an opportunity for individuals to see the progress achieved across the five Agile Leadership Practices adoption.
-Enables a two-way approach to the agile maturity evaluation: a self-assessment, and more importantly, it allows for feedback and assessment from others, on how they see their leader’s and peer’s development of Agile Leadership practices and behaviors, and what changes they would recommend.
-Provides advice and recommends learning. The learning recommendation may change on a continuous basis, with ongoing and relevant new learning, also accommodating individual organizations special needs.
-Allows to create a personal and customized action plan, that can easily be updated and kept current
-Since release of the tool in 4Q 2018 we have achieved 100% adoption of the tool by all of our organization leaders globally. The latest Pulse Survey demonstrated a favorable feedback with 87% of users speaking complementary about its usefulness and value.

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