Thursday, 24 March 2011

Social Business Summit: IBM’s social business / jams


  Next up is Stuart McRae, Executive Collaboration Evangelist at IBM talking about IBM’s experience becoming a social business supporting its transformation to a globally integrated organisation.



Stuart mainly talked about IBM’s Transformation Jam in the UK last year.  This jam was used because IBM wanted to transform the organisation and therefore the company decided to use social technology vs the other way around – which is sort of the right way to do it (agreed! – see my last post).

The jam process was launched in 2001 and you’ve probably heard of their values jam in 2003 but they’ve done a whole series since then, including the recent social business jam I participated in.  The jam leverages the wisdom of crowds in the organisation.

To make successful, lots of things need to happen in the background.  For example, the use other social systems to make people confident to contribute to the jam.  And the use of analytics to drive participation – ensuring different parts of the business are represented, reinforcing key message etc.

The key is what happens next – sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not. Eg in the values jam, IBM millions of inputs were distilled down to three values.  This is particularly the case with open jams – focused on how the business can be made better – leading to lots of  diverse opinions (note you need to try to understand why people are commenting eg you get more negative than positive comments).

It helps to make it very clear what the organisation is trying to achieve!

In the UK Transformation Jam, IBM brought 100 people who were most active in the jam together in a workshop for face-to-face networking.  They then created workstreams to continue the conversation.  It’s important not to let this drop (and IBM got this wrong with the UK jam – the workstreams took up 3-6 months during which other participants didn’t hear anything).

(Ermm, yes, I was talking to a contact just last week about the fact we’re still waiting for follow-up on the Social Business Jam and how this is less than ideal.)



One of things that came out the Transformation Jam was need for better productivity – through better collaboration tools (so this experience was about using a collaboration tool to identify the need to use more collaboration tools!).  The need was to transform the way that the average IBM employee works.

IBM’s philosophy about social media in IBM is to keep it open [relating to JP’s comments about the way organisations try to develop something in a closed way in one part of the organisation while another part of the organisation tries to engage people around it – much better just to develop the thing in a social way in the first place!].

They’re also changing the paradigm from an email model to a social media model.  And are working to make the organisational silos permeable (but note your ultimate silo is the firewall).


IBM measure the results of all this through usage of the technology but also mining information about what people are using it for.  And IBM’s stock price!

Becoming a social business is about understanding what business problems you’re trying to solve (eg increase the stock price, or back to my last post, taking too long to repair the buses).


Your employees are your differentiator – social businesses use them better – by being transparent, ensuring employees are engaged – and thus becoming more nimble.

Loyalty with a company today is about a sense of affinity with the employees you are interacting with.


Technorati Tags: Stuart McRae,IBM,social business,transformation,jam


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