Living in a sweet shop

IBM - apparently, like a candy store

When my friend Suzanne Minassian-Livingston described IBM as “like a candy store” at last year’s Web 2.0 Expo conference in Berlin it immediately struck a chord with me; and I’ve reused her slide (based on a Creative Commons-licensed image from a Flickr contributor) many times over the last year.

One of the things I’ve learned about the company I work for (particularly as a result of getting involved with social software, networks and communities both internally and externally) is the massive diversity the organisation has and the enormous strength that it delivers. It’s a diversity that is constantly being refreshed as new acquisitions are made and new thinking and innovation joins the existing talent pool. It’s a diversity that’s reflected not only in the global nature of the business, but also in the different areas in which the company is engaged – from hardware, software, services, methodologies, research, all kinds of cool thinking. It seems lately that almost every day I meet someone new who has something different to share with me.

Yesterday I was presenting to a customer about what IBM has been doing internally with social networks, and how we collaborate both internally and externally. That brought me back to the diversity slide – the sweet shop, the candy store. What was really cool about that was that it enabled me to tell the story of how I’d widened my network internally, and began to reach out to people across the organisation – making friends in Boston, Melbourne, Singapore, Delhi, all over the world as well as around the UK, and from all different areas of the business. One of the things that I learned as part of the briefing the IBM team delivered yesterday was about IBM’s green strategy and Project Big Green – I’d heard about it before and been excited, but I learned a lot from one of our VPs about a number of different client stories where value and environmental improvements have been delivered.

It’s just incredibly exciting. That, and that the fact that there’s always something new to learn, coupled with the rich cultural diversity and the enormous amount of trust that I feel that the organisation places in its employees, is really what makes it such an enjoyable place to work, and that I believe makes it a really strong organisation.

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2 responses to “Living in a sweet shop

  1. Your picture reminds me of a visit to the M&M store in Times Square New York. I took a few photos (see http://www.flickr.com/photos/odonovan/tags/mms/) but they don’t really capture how awesome the place was (and I don’t even particularly like M&Ms).

    But you are right. Working in IBM you get to see so many cool things that you sometimes feel a little dizzy and confused. Somewhat like the pain you might feel in your stomach if you attempted to eat all the M&Ms in the Times Square store.

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  2. I was also reminded of an analogy related to this, in particular as the kids saw Harry Potter for the first time this weekend.
    Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans

    Like

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