How we’re reimagining our finance learning to empower our new ways of working
December 2, 2021
At Accenture, we embrace change. In 2020, the company introduced a new operating model and vision for growth. At the same time, Accenture’s Finance function introduced a progressive, new strategy to better position our people to support this growth model.
What makes our Finance Reimagined strategy different from any in the past is a shift of our people’s time to focus more on analyzing, planning and advising and less on the activities of transacting, accounting, controlling, complying, and reporting—largely through transformation (change of focus, streamlining processes and policies, data enablement) and automation.
Our Finance Reimagined strategy also promotes greater influence and relevance of the Finance function, and more tangible value for Accenture and our clients. Supporting this strategy means providing our Finance professionals with more and better learning on our markets, the industries we serve, and the products and services Accenture sells. It also means more learning on Accenture’s strategies and the priorities of Accenture’s business units.
We gave ourselves the opportunity to reimagine learning. We asked, what is the right design of the programs that gives the best learning experience? At the same time, how can we be more innovative in how we do learning?
We brought together our Accenture learning expertise, Finance subject matter experts, and a third-party learning design company to combine innovative learning technology with our ingenuity and knowledge. We’re adopting new learning formats and forums. They’re more interactive, more experiential, more role play, and less “talk to”—we’ve eliminated PowerPoint presentations and slides from most learning forums.
Most formats are a combination of digital and human interaction, a combination we think is essential for the best learning. Digital modules are embedded with videos, avatars, questions, insights, opportunities for reflection, and discussion items. They include live, virtual coaching pods and group connects—aspects that make the programs stand out and provide a human connection and networking element.
Learning science also tells us that teaching is the best way to learn. So, we are encouraging many of our finance people to serve as faculty and coaches as well as to drive content creation—both with other finance audiences and with other business runners and Accenture practitioners.
One demonstration of these new approaches to learning is our new New Joiner Program. It’s a 30-day onboarding experience with a personalized avatar that walks a new person through short, daily “moments that matter.” Videos of our Finance leaders and various Finance people explain our function’s organization and culture. Every session leads to an activity or a reflection. It’s easy and interactive. Each new joiner is assigned a Finance buddy to talk to and get to know other new joiners and some of our leaders through live Microsoft Teams sessions.
We believe we are creating learner experiences that are innovative, impactful, and lasting. Sessions focus on skills, behaviors, and outcomes. Learning includes time to practice. Courses are designed to include human/social aspects by engaging groups of people to allow for co-creation of content and sharing of context.
Spending and investing more time in learning has also required us to be more intentional with prioritizing the volume and pace of learning. We’re cognizant of not asking our people to learn too many things at one time; otherwise, it compromises a person’s ability to focus and retain what has been learned. Our Finance Reimagined Learning program also requires us to better prioritize learning with day-to-day job responsibilities.
We broadly organized our Finance Reimagined Learning needs into skills “buckets,” such as the general finance skills that everyone needs, cross-function skills, specialized skills, and the Accenture courses an individual can choose from. These buckets were set up in one place on our internal Finance website. Our Finance user sees the current learning landscape and courses prioritized for that individual on their learning journey.
Feedback has been favorable to date—from our people and from the business. We have other progressive learning modules under construction. For example, we are preparing to launch an interesting “unlearning” program to ensure old behaviors and habits, no longer aligned to our needs and ambitions, quickly end and give way to the new ambitions of analyzing, planning, and advising.
In the meantime, we’re encouraging everyone in Finance—from new joiners to our most senior leaders—to adopt a growth mindset by being a continuous learner and to own their learning journey.
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