Vice President, Learning
The Role of the Manager@IBM program, developed by IBM Vice President of Learning Ted Hoff, is a superlative example of how to build effective alliances between business units and outside organizations.
The initiative is significant not only for what it teaches, but also in its sheer scope: The Role of the Manager@IBM has involved–in one way or another–approximately 32,000 IBM executives and managers across a gamut of business units, functions and geographies.
This initiative was launched, in part, to encourage a dialogue between managers on the structure of the business and their role in the organization. IBM’s structure is characterized as a matrix environment in a perpetual state of flux. Encouraging communication among managers and leaders from various business units ensures a flexible, knowledgeable organizaion, which is able to adapt rapidly to continual change.
The first phase of the program, the ManagerJam, was a two-day enterprise-wide online conversation hosted by IBM’s CEO and 70 executives, in which thousands of managers discussed key topics in six discussion forums. There were more than 7 million “page reads” and 4,554 responses, resulting in an extensive knowledge library based on managers’ insights and recommendations. The event, which was held to improve networking and knowledge sharing among managers and get them to think about IBM’s big picture, set the tone for the initiative as a whole.
The Role of the Manager@IBM also steered a groundbreaking relationship between IBM and Harvard Business School Publishing (HBSP). IBM obtained permission from HBSP to customize seven articles from the Harvard Business Review for the Role of the Manager@IBM online simulator.
In addition, the company has licensed an HBSP book, “Winning Through Innovation: A Practical Guide to Leading Organizational Change and Renewal” by Michael L. Tushman and Charles A. O’Reilly III, to form the basis for the in-class case study, and it also is used for the program’s Learning Lab.