Top 10 Hall of Fame Outstanding Training Initiatives (Sept./Oct. 2019)

Each year Training magazine requires all Training Top 10 Hall of Famers to submit an Outstanding Training Initiative that is shared with our readers in a print issue. Here are the details of Keller Williams Realty, Inc.’s new tech training; KPMG’s industry simulations; and digital upskilling at PwC.


The real estate industry is experiencing immense disruption with new competitors and technology innovations.

In this period of rapid change, Keller Williams Realty, Inc., seeks to empower agents with cutting-edge tools that give them the competitive advantage in serving their clients.

At the company’s annual convention in 2018, Cofounder and Chairman Gary Keller unveiled KW’s first-of-its-kind, industry-specific Artificial Intelligence (AI)-first technology, which was designed hand-in-hand with agents through KW’s innovative “labs” process. To promote rapid adoption and engagement with the new technology, KW applied the same labs process to collaborate with agents on the development of timely tech training. This necessitated the creation of KWConnect Live, a live broadcast platform for delivery.

The goal of this four-week training initiative was to achieve 20 percent adoption and engagement with two key components of KW’s AI-first solution within 60 days of launch. Components included:

1. Kelle (AI-based virtual assistant): The initiative intended to drive engagement with Kelle, KW’s AI-based virtual assistant. Kelle allows agents to:

  • Run their business from a mobile device
  • Gain intelligent insights to increase productivity and competitiveness
  • Check their progress against their business goals
  • Create and manage a business schedule
  • Add and nurture their contacts
  • Find KW’s training content and best practices quickly
  • Grow their own agent-to-agent referral network

2. Referral Networks: In the real estate industry, it is common practice for an agent to help a client sell a home in one location and then refer the same client to an agent in the new location for a home purchase. Yet this process has never been systematized or efficient. With KW’s new automated referral technology, all agents are easily searchable, and communications and transactions are handled seamlessly. Through the training initiative, KW sought to facilitate agent-to-agent referrals through this component of the new technology.

Program Details

With innovation as the driving theme, and a new livestream platform to play with, the Instructional Design team and the Tech Training team collaborated on training development with KW’s CIO and key technology stakeholders. Since new product features were being developed and deployed so rapidly, content demanded daily updating. This necessitated the use of flexible instructional design elements, including:

  • PowerPoints to guide the discussion
  • Scripted instructor notes
  • A live laptop display
  • A live mobile device display
  • Polls
  • Videos
  • An interactive whiteboard
  • Real life stories and examples from top agent presenters
  • Q&A with attendees
  • Daily evaluation of training and delivery

Training was then delivered through KW’s interactive livestream platform, KWConnect Live, in KW’s in-house studio. Over four weeks, each daily session consisted of:

  • Instructor-led training (ILT) with highly qualified and engaging agents serving as volunteer instructors
  • Products and platform demonstrations
  • Experiential interaction with Kelle and the Referrals network

The labs process was used to fine-tune the training throughout the four-week initiative. KW Labs is the innovation hub of Keller Williams where agents are invited to participate in the design of technology and training that meets their needs. KW has found that agents get engaged when they’re part of the process.

Over four weeks of livestream training, KW labbed:

  • Different times of day to test attendance from different time zones
  • Different lengths of time to test viewing attendance
  • Different set designs
  • Repeats of topics
  • One presenter versus two
  • Use of an interactive whiteboard
  • Polls and other forms of interaction
  • Incorporating video feeds from remote offices into the livestream

Training was promoted through associates at local franchise offices via training calendars, guided training huddles, and local tech adoption drives. To advertise the training, KW Video also developed creative “commercials,” which ran between the live broadcasts and were available on demand on KW’s intranet.


The measured results show strong indicators of adoption and engagement, both during the initiative and after. Some 9,000 associates tuned in during the four-week KWConnect Live lab, and, to date, more than 35,000 associates have participated in livestream training. In relation to the initiative’s stated goals:

1. Kelle:

  • The goal was 35,000 downloads; actual was 22,000.
  • Active engagement with Kelle to date: 72 percent of associates are using Kelle.
  • Nearly 24 million interactions after six months.

2. Referral networks initiated:

  • The goal was 35,000; actual was 9,712.
  • Referral Network requests via Kelle: More than $9 million.
  • Live referrals sent: 9,712, representing $2.3 billion in sales volume.


When potential clients are choosing between qualified professional services firms, they look for firms that are able to appreciate their industry-specific needs and adjust their approach accordingly. KPMG’s latest Net Promoter Score data confirm that 85 percent of its clients view industry knowledge as “very important”—as such, those that are confident in KPMG’s knowledge of their industry are more likely to choose it as a service provider.

As such, KPMG designed Experience Disruptors & Trends – Industry Simulations to help its professionals take their industry knowledge to a new level. These programs enable KPMG professionals not only to identify and define emerging trends and key disruptors for an industry, but also to see the world from their clients’ perspective, and become more alert to their needs. They give learners the opportunity to experience industry challenges firsthand, and grapple with the types of decisions their clients potentially may face.

Program Details

KPMG selected a vendor to build a customized strategic simulation scenario, model, and platform. This initiative began with one pilot industry simulation (Industrial Manufacturing), and since has expanded in scope to include Oil & Gas, Mid-Market/High- Growth, Banking, and Healthcare and Life Sciences.

Working in teams, learners “manage” a simulated company, and compete with simulated companies (from the same industry) managed by teams of other participants. In successive rounds, teams collaborate to make decisions. The technology-enabled simulation platform calculates the impact of those decisions on market share, product quality, and other key performance indicators. Each one-day simulation focuses on one industry.

Through four rounds, each representing one business year, teams study market trends and disruptors, then make strategic decisions based on the change they anticipate. They consider their situation from the complementary perspectives of Sales, Marketing, R&D, Purchasing, and Production. They look beyond traditional finance and operations decisions—based on what they see on the horizon, they look for their greatest opportunities to invest in the future.

Among the facilitators of the program is an Industry Advisor. Teams tap into the knowledge and experience of this advisor—in each successive round, they have the opportunity to “purchase” consultation and guidance from this advisor, and then work to generate return on their “investment” in building knowledge.

Each round highlights a new set of trends and disruptors. By the time the fourth round is complete, learners have been exposed to a broad range of changes on the horizon. For example, teams in the Industrial Manufacturing simulation grapple with:

  • Round 1: Emerging technology
  • Round 2: Cybersecurity and data protection
  • Round 3: Internet of Things
  • Round 4: Staying competitive through strategic partnerships

Facilitators help teams debrief their decision-making process, their confidence in their decisions, and their results.

By the end of the simulation, participants have walked a proverbial mile in the shoes of their clients, and are better equipped to see the business landscape from their point of view.

Follow-up communications remind participants of key behaviors demonstrated during the session, and share additional industry-specific thought leadership to help participants continue to explore the trends shaping their industry. Learners have access to a new Market Development Pathway site populated with dozens of courses and resources available on demand, and are encouraged to pursue follow-up conversations with other professionals who serve clients in the same industry.


In 2018, more than 400 learners completed these simulations. Post-course surveys provided predictive metrics, including:

  • 92 percent of participants agreed they will be able to apply knowledge and skills gained in this program.
  • 95 percent agreed the simulation was an effective approach to learning key content.
  • 90 percent agreed that after the program they were better prepared to engage in strategic conversations with/about clients.
  • 92 percent agreed that after the program they were better prepared to collaborate with peers.
  • 93 percent agreed the simulation improved their understanding of their clients’ strategy, operations, and industry trends.

Other internal measurement efforts have validated the high correlation between these predictive data and data from full impact studies. The simulations have reached a growing audience throughout 2019, and continue to generate positive feedback and positive impact.


In the last few years, PwC made a significant investment to establish the firm as a leader in the digital space. Expectations for value, fee differentiation, and a technology-driven experience are only growing. To meet these demands, PwC engaged its most influential leaders to identify the critical skills and new technologies that go hand-in-hand with achieving the firm’s business strategy. A key part of this is known as Digital Upskilling—a people-centered initiative that is deeply rooted in learning. By digitally upskilling its 50,000 people, PwC is preparing them for the future and creating opportunities to apply their new skills to tackle the challenges of tomorrow for the firm’s clients and communities.

In addition, 1,000 Digital Accelerators (selected from a pool of 3,500 self-nominated PwC professionals) and growing, are ready to apply new skills specific to data, intelligent process automation, and artificial intelligence. Embedded in teams as “on-the-ground” resources, they are prepared to add immediate value to both tech-related client work and finding opportunities to automate outdated processes.

Long-term expectations for Digital Upskilling include:

  • Build the digital knowledge and skills for PwC’s people
  • Accelerate PwC’s journey to what it considers a culture of “infinite learning”
  • Generate more value for PwC’s clients and the firm

At a baseline, learners are expected to independently explore digital topics in the Digital Foundations curriculum based on personal interests or individual client considerations. PwC is developing a mindset of the Infinite Learner at PwC—pushing the limits on when, where, what, and how a person learns.

Program Details

The various learning channels were designed and developed using Agile methodology—a rapid-development approach that encourages teams to engage, collaborate, and “fail fast.” Learner profiles (or personas) helped the team better understand the targeted audience.

PwC professionals can achieve varying levels of digital proficiency within the Digital Upskilling initiative. As they progress, the content and application of that content grow more complex.

  • Digital Foundations provides knowledge to help PwC partners and staff become conversational in 27 essential digital content areas ranging from blockchain to social media.
  • Digital Accelerator specifically targets Agile, Design Thinking, and data to develop the knowledge and skills needed to identify innovative solutions within client and internal teams.
  • Digital Advanced is a curriculum designed to build on the specialty knowledge that already exists in Assurance, Tax and Advisory. PwC works to maximize this existing knowledge by integrating tech-enabled processes and workflow tools, which then can be introduced and used with clients.

The Digital Upskilling effort is delivered in a multi-channel format that centers around the Digital Hub, which manages all the content and channel information. The various channels include:

  • An external-facing Digital Fitness app for clients to access with learning experiences on critical digital topics
  • A series of podcasts showcasing firm leaders and specialists in the digital domains, accessed on any device
  • A live trivia experience allowing individuals and teams to compete in a twice weekly game on digital topics
  • A custom tool developed internally to support digital topic microlearning opportunities on the go on any device
  • A cadre of coaches in each market to support partners and teams as they discuss these digital domains and direct them to available tools
  • A series of simulations to help enable learners to experience scenarios in which they need to apply what they have learned
  • The Digital Accelerator workstream, which provides training on three key domains the Digital Accelerators will take back to their client engagements and project teams
  • The opportunity to earn the Digital Acumen knowledge badge, which is valid for two years


In addition to providing on-demand learning for PwC professionals, the most impactful outcome is PwC’s ability to identify efficiencies in work products and processes—for the firm and its clients—and its ability to consult and help clients navigate and innovate during a time of great disruption. PwC professionals are creating capacity at both the team and individual level. Examples include using new skills to create bots or software to cut data processing time to a fraction of what it might have taken in the past, or finding opportunities to redirect strategic efforts on new business, self-development, and community involvement. Editor’s Note: PwC did include a specific business outcome in its Outstanding Training Initiative submission but opted to make it not for publication.


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