Thursday, August 25, 2005

IBM WorldJam & Values Jam

The IBM On Demand Workplace addresses many of those challenges. Created a decade ago as a vehicle for employee communications, IBM’s intranet has been transformed into a 24x7 interactive platform connecting a global workforce serving clients in 170 countries. Since 2003, the On Demand Workplace has saved the company more than US$680 million by Web-enabling processes for travel reservations, procurement, software installations and employee help desk calls, among others. But the savings are just the beginning.

On Demand Workplace is becoming the platform for how work gets done within IBM — providing a personalized, customizable user experience, specific to geography, business unit, function or interests. And we’re taking the lessons learned from our own implementation and offering our expertise to clients in the form of the IBM On Demand Workplace suite of software, hardware and services for On Demand Business.

To enhance employee productivity, IBM is shutting down outdated and redundant Web sites and portals (over 900 in 2004 alone). Eventually, most content on individual business unit and organization Web sites will be integrated into the On Demand Workplace, which will feature role-based portlets and will eliminate the need for employees to go to multiple places for relevant information, avoiding conflict in content across the intranet.

To further improve productivity, IBM is making it easier to find subject matter experts wherever they exist within the company. Using IBM’s Blue Pages, employees have searchable access to a vast array of information about their colleagues – everything from skills and expertise to interests to client relationships. More than just a corporate directory, Blue Pages, used in conjunction with talent solutions and tools, provides one view of expertise and skills across IBM. This comprehensive view of employees helps IBM connect talent to opportunities, whether it is securing subject matter experts to fulfill client needs or internal business unit requirements. Building off that talent management capability is the ability for employees to have job opportunities presented to them rather than searching for a job, and conversely a manager with a job opportunity will receive qualified candidates with their profiles.

IBM looks at IT through two different lenses — how IT can be used to run the business and how IT can be used to transform the business. This is double loop.

Layered reality is the rule, not the exception.

In-the-moment collaboration leads to ongoing innovation

Engaging a global employee population in a conversation about best practices or critical company direction may seem like nothing more than a metaphor. But thanks to the capabilities of the On Demand Workplace, for IBM employees it’s a real-time event. IBM has held a series of online “WorldJam” events that engage employees worldwide in mass collaboration — from uncovering and ranking new business opportunities, to ideas on how to overcome obstacles to achieving goals, to helping its 33,000 managers work more effectively. This has changed the company in significant ways. In 2003, for instance, the honest, thoughtful, free-flowing views and experiences of tens of thousands of participants in “ValuesJam” produced a set of definitions of what IBM employees most fundamentally value, and a follow-up event in 2004 then developed an action plan to make it real.

As Sam Palmisano told the Harvard Business Review, “There is a collective impatience that we’ve been tapping into to drive the change needed to make IBM everything that all of us aspire for it to be. I’m convinced that we wouldn’t have gotten to this point if we hadn’t found a way to engage the entire IBM population in a genuine, candid conversation.”3 WorldJam is now a key component of IBM’s ongoing operations — both a tool and a new management approach for a more open, democratic age.

IBM’s solution-based value proposition, and the resulting focus on collaboration, is intended to change that culture. The goal is to create a worldwide workforce unencumbered by geography, processes or business unit structures — so it can efficiently and effectively work across boundaries to share whatever knowledge and skills are needed to bring new value to its clients and to IBM.


So how does a large, complex, global company change its culture and create a more collaborative environment? By enabling people to quickly identify, contact and engage the experts who have the complementary skills required. By recognizing and rewarding collaborative behaviors. By reshaping its compensation strategy to weight business unit and IBM performance equally. By changing management behavior: training managers to create a climate that encourages both staff and client-facing teams to collaborate outside of their job-specific silos. And by celebrating the heroes who create innovative and broadly applicable solutions by collaborating with others from across the company.

In all of these transformation efforts, the technological changes are integral with the process and cultural changes. They’re not “parallel” workstreams, but different aspects of the same management system. The On Demand Workplace, for example, is integral to turning IBM into a learning organization — and in turn, continual, just-in-time learning is integral to process transformation, to the changing role of the manager and to the employee empowerment required for on demand client responsiveness. This fusion of technology and insight is, in the end, a manifestation of IBM’s business model, portfolio and long-term strategy: delivering innovation by integrating invention and insight.


Governance — To guide the transformation process and track its progress, IBM formed an executive advisory group with representation from every business unit. This team’s mission is to identify, prioritize and staff cross-IBM initiatives that will contribute to an increased level of productivity and top-line growth within the organization. Team members are responsible for incorporating productivity measures into their business unit management systems. There are milestones and checkpoints, and regular progress reports to IBM’s chairman and senior leaders. Finally, IBM formed advisory panels comprising clients, employees, Business Partners and suppliers to keep IBM focused on issues pertinent to improving its own business performance and that of its clients and partners.

Performance measurements — To understand the impact of its investments, IBM tracks various transformation metrics. IBM measures results through growth and innovation performance measures tied to its annual compensation program. The company can measure specific growth commitments for each of its business units and reward employees for innovation that drives that growth.

One of these growth and innovation metrics is productivity improvement. IBM views productivity as one of the most important measures of progress in its transformation to becoming an On Demand Business. IBM can track productivity gains by assessing how much revenue it generates for every dollar it invests in total labor costs. Annual targets for productivity improvements are created for each business unit, and roadmaps are developed that specify the actions necessary to reach the target. Diagnostic metrics and milestones are utilized to track whether the actions are being accomplished. Employee compensation is based, in part, on whether the annual targets are achieved.

A cycle of reinvestment — From the beginning, one of the thorniest issues IBM had to grapple with in its journey to On Demand Business was funding. No one authorized a big bucket of money and said, “Let’s go make all of this change right now.” Fundamental to IBM’s approach was the concept of value creation and reinvestment — tracking the savings and productivity gains and then reinvesting a large portion of these savings in its transformation initiatives. And continuing the cycle in an iterative fashion.

This is a highly disciplined process, especially when it relates to planned IT savings. In fact, these savings are incorporated into IBM’s own outsourcing agreement with IBM Global Services, something that more and more organizations are opting to do.

check Karen Ughetta

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