People & Strategy Summer 2017 Vol. 40 Issue 3 - 24
When Fast Is Too Slow:
"Xcelerating" Leaders at Electronic Arts
By Andy Billings
Electronic Arts (EA), a leading interactive
entertainment company, is transforming
itself as a survival response to massive
digital disruption throughout our industry.
At EA, our disruption was related at
first to online gaming and new game
hardware systems, and it now includes
the emergence of augmented reality
(AR), virtual reality (VR), and hyperscale
PEOPLE + STRATEGY
e began our transformation about 10 years ago at a time when our
company was "near death." After years of success, we found ourselves in a
period of major and unsustainable financial loss-a symptom of an organization needing transformation in every important dimension: strategy, products,
structure, and people. At the start of this disruption, our product distribution was
weighed almost 100 percent toward retail and zero percent toward digital.
After staging a major comeback, we are divided 50/50 between retail and digital
distribution. Leadership development, namely our "Xcelerators" program for
high-potential leaders, has been an integral part of our transformation success.
Our Xcelerators program not only prepares high-potential leaders for advancement, but it also energizes them to become highly engaged evangelists of our
strategic digital transformation. When we found ourselves on a "burning platform"
due to our focus on physical products sold at retail, we pivoted our learning and
development function. For our Xcelerators program, we focused on developing a
deep, career-changing leader development program that combines virtual learning