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Developing Capabilities

The career framework at IBM is an integral part of IBM’s expertise management system and provides the structure for how employees develop expertise over time; it also provides guidance for employees’ career progression. Furthermore, a structured career development process provides the various processes, tools, and career resources employees need to grow within the framework. The process also helps ensure that employees are growing the right skills as business strategies and needs change over time.

Capabilities are core skills that can be leveraged across the business. They are based on a multitude of experiences that IBM must deliver to enable client success. Capabilities focus on what’s needed to perform effectively, and they rely on a combination of applied knowledge, skills, abilities, and on-the-job experiences. Typically, multiple skills are required to demonstrate a level of proficiency in a particular capability. The level of achievement individuals attain in a particular capability is a composite of their education, skills, knowledge, and experience. To develop a capability, IBM employees must perform designated activities and achieve successful and consistent results that fulfill specified requirements as outlined in the capability level.17 The development of capabilities provides an avenue for advancement in one’s career by helping employees focus on the skills and experiences needed to advance within or move to other job roles in the company.

The career framework and supporting career development process provides guidance to employees on the variety of ways by which they can grow their careers in a linear or non-linear fashion (i.e. developing across many careers, resulting in development of multiple capabilities to varying levels). Generally, employees develop their careers at the job family level, for example, careers in Human Resources or Finance. As the career framework is deployed, employees will also be able to follow broader careers whereby employees leverage previously learned skills and apply them to new, but related job roles. For instance, a consultant is an expert in consulting methodology, however, because the consultant has to manage a consulting engagement, he also develops some level of project management skills. Over time, the consultant may desire a career change to become a project manager. He continues to grow his skills to eventually qualify for a new position as a project manager. The employee builds not only depth in a particular capability, but also breadth by growing capabilities in other complementary areas that enhance the individual’s ability to deliver client value. The process facilitates educated career advancement and encourages employees to progress in broader ways.18

Developing a varied set of capabilities is critical in IBM’s changing definition of career, where versatility in what one knows is becoming increasingly important to satisfying client demands. The primary objective is to help employees understand the core capabilities that IBM needs to deliver and what specifically employees need to do to make its clients successful. By establishing a common set of global capabilities with career milestones, the capabilities establish a common language that can facilitate career development and movement across the business.19

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