E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Walking Like a Minister – Innovation at IBM

Over the last three months a few folks have been contacting me, through various different methods, including e-mail, of course, to ask whether I am getting into any kind of trouble with my management line for the blunt move I have made on moving away from work related e-mail and use social computing tools instead for the last few weeks. Trouble? Well, initially I can imagine that for some folks out there it may well have been the perception that I would be getting some kind of negative feedback with such bold move, but then again things haven’t been that way. At all. On the contrary.

Because of my role as a social computing evangelist at IBM, some other folks have always wondered whether this new reality I am experiencing of giving up on e-mail, i.e. work related e-mail, was something that was inspired by someone above me in the management line and therefore having the necessary support for it for the rest of us to execute it further. However, that hasn’t been the case. This whole thing was basically started by myself thinking that I needed to change the way I was working because it was not productive enough. At least, it wasn’t giving me that feeling and over three months now down the road I knew I was into something completely different that would change the way I work now and will always do.

Yes, initially there were a bunch of skeptics who came over to me mentioning how I would rather be getting fired for it, or just give up on it altogether since there is no way that you can carry out your work without e-mail. And to them all along I have been telling them that if there is a way to make it happen, it will be happening. One of the groups of people that  has been my inspiration all along has been the younger generation of the workforce who is coming up really strong with plenty of energy and very keen on collaborating making use of everything, but e-mail. I am sure that those folks who may have been exposed to such generation already know exactly what I am talking about, so if they have been able to do it, why can’t we do it ourselves as well, right? … Yes, that is what I thought.

However, one of the commonest comments that I have been getting from various different people from almost the very beginning is more along the lines of how lucky I am of working for the company I work for that allows me to have a good exposure to a respectable number of knowledge sharing, collaborative and social software tools that perhaps other folks may not have been exposed to. And in the end this is certainly making it possible for me to make it work.

Too funny, eh? When most people out there think that IBM is actually a boring, old and typewriter related company (Thanks much, Gia, for passing that interesting link along!) I cannot but smile about the whole thing, because that may have been the case of our father’s IBM, but it certainly is not the IBM of the 21st century that I started working for some years ago. Quite the opposite! And, as an example, take a look into the superb blog post that one fellow IBMer, and very good friend, Matt Simpson, put together under this particular title: "Walk like a Minister".

In that particular blog post you would be able to see how he is describing the IBM of the 21st century where innovation plays a key role and where knowledge workers are being provided with a whole bunch of different tools to keep that same innovation as rampant as ever. And if not, check out these gems that Matt has put together and which clearly define, pretty nicely, some of the background of where I am coming from as far as my new mantra of giving up on e-mail is concerned:

"The world’s 14-year leader in number of patents didn’t get that way by NOT engaging in everything new. There are lots of things behind the firewall with which early adopters are having a blast: blogs, wikis, podcasts, broadcasts, micro-blogging, tagging, social photo sharing, social video sharing, social file sharing, IM for over a decade now, online communities, 3D Internet / virtual reality, online friends & connections, rating & reputation systems… there are over 100 innovations available within our early adoption program. The list goes on. We don’t gate our innovations. We promote them!" (Emphasis mine)

Or this other one:

"And guess what… We need these tools. The workforce has changed. The standard for the online social interaction experience is set across the Internet. The corporation that doesn’t embrace this functionality will be the corporation that doesn’t stand the test of time. In case you haven’t noticed, IBM is Built to Last".

After reading those quotes from Matt, I guess there is very very little I can add. Perhaps only that it is thanks to that boring and old company that I have been able to finally come to terms with the fact that being productive and walking from e-mail is something that is not only possible, but a reality. My reality. And everything that a company from the 21st century would want to keep trying and promoting, if they would want to keep pushing innovation into a higher level. And I am really glad to be part of one that allows me to just do that: … Innovate with a capital I!

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  1. Hello Yura! Thanks much for the feedback comments and for the info details. I have now fixed the URL link, indeed. Not sure what happened, but just checked it and updated it accordingly. Thanks for spotting that out! Greatly appreciated!

    Oh, yes, and I *do* know work for a great company and most of the times I am privileged of being where I am heh 🙂

    Thanks again for the feedback!

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