"This not only produces great ideas, but helps us shape the kind of inclusive, collaborative working environment and culture we need..."
A while back, IBM was just beginning to undergo major change. A new CEO had recently been appointed. He introduced a new corporate strategy called On Demand, and he declared that IBM would be the first and best example of an On Demand business. While employees were struggling to understand the new strategy, IBM's leadership knew what they needed most were some really great ideas.
As one of the largest and most diverse businesses in the world, IBM knew that the creativity they needed was there. It just had to be uncovered — somehow.
When you have a big problem to solve, sometimes it's best to ask a few thousand of your closest friends. IBM concluded that engaging employees in large-scale conversations focused on urgent business problems would unleash the company's creativity. That's when they came to TeamSpace.
We quickly helped IBM visualize an electronic forum where employees from around the world would meet to solve problems. The forum -- which we now offer to the market in partnership with IBM as Achordus -- would be designed to give employee dialogue a sense of urgency and momentum.
The ActionNet discussions were moderated by a junior IBM executive. Our consultants Chris Brennan, Mike Johnston and Michael Kirschenbaum helped IBM imagine who the typical moderator would be. They even gave him a name—Fred. Fred would know IBM's business quite well but wouldn't know anything about moderating mass discussions on the web. The ActionNet had to be built to coach Fred and his real-life counterparts until they became effective moderators.
Today's version -- Achordus -- is an online, collaborative workspace that steps large groups through a 4-phase problem solving process. The result is an outpouring of practical ideas for resolving issues. Along the way participants are encouraged to participate, learn, share best solutions and enable plans that drive success. The resulting environment facilitates broader communication and networking among participants who often include a company's employees, managers and executives.
The first organization to use ActionNet was the Integrated Supply Chain (ISC), a brand new organization with parts pulled from all around the company. The Senior Vice President wanted to create an environment in which ISC employees could brainstorm, debate and collaborate as though they were face-to-face.
After holding several organization-wide discussions using ActionNet, the VP said it "engages and inspires [people] to apply their judgement and insights in a new way. This not only produces great ideas, but helps us shape the kind of inclusive, collaborative working environment and culture we need for an On Demand business."
Over 25 major major leadership change initiatives globally have been supported to date, generating hundreds of great ideas that have been implemented worldwide. We helped IBM and several other clients understand how upward and outward dialogue could change their business, and Achordus is making it happen.