« Let’s not get carried away. Mr. Gilbert, who is 59 years old, is not trying to redefine an entire generation. On the other hand, he wants to change the habits of a huge company as it tries to adjust to a new era, and that is no small task.
IBM, like many established companies, is confronting the relentless advance of digital technology. For these companies, the question is: Can you grow in the new businesses faster than your older, lucrative businesses decline? »
- In the design thinking way, the idea is to identify users’ needs as a starting point.
- But across corporate America, there is a rising enthusiasm for design thinking not only to develop products but also to guide strategy and shape decisions of all kinds.
- “To try to change a culture in a company that size is a daunting task.”
- Ms. Rometty said in a recent interview. “The silver bullet, you might say, is speed, this idea of speed.”
- Now design thinking has broader aims, as a faster, more productive way of organizing work: Look at problems first through the prism of users’ needs, research those needs with real people and then build prototype products quickly.
- When Ms. Rometty became chief executive in January 2012, she told her executive team that she wanted to improve — “to rethink and reimagine” — the experience of IBM’s customers.
- In this new market, software that was tailored to workers’ needs and could be used without technical help from IT employees would win the day.
- After a couple of days’ study, Mr. Gilbert came back and said that to have an impact, IBM had to be prepared to hire and train 1,000 designers.
- By the end of this year, IBM plans to have 1,100 designers working throughout the company, on the way to a target total of 1,500. They are embedded in IBM product teams and work alongside customers in the field or at one of 24 design studios around the world.
- First, you can make a difference in socially important fields because IBM’s technology plays a crucial role in health care, energy, transportation, water and even agriculture. Second, you can be part of a groundbreaking effort to apply design thinking in business.
- At IBM, Mr. Kendall sees a different opportunity. “No one is using design thinking to solve problems on this scale,” he said, adding that he could be part of “changing the future of this giant entity.”
- In all, about 8,000 IBM employees so far have had some in-person training in design thinking. It’s an impressive number, but it’s also only 2 percent of the work force.
- The work groups assemble from across IBM — hardware, software and services, but also from departments like marketing and communications. Customers are often in the mix, especially when collaborating with IBM developers to write cloud software applications. Getting clients into the free-form work space, Mr. Gilbert said, can help “fundamentally change their relationship with IBM.”
- “In the past, we changed what we were working on, but we were pretty much working the same way,” he said. “Now, we’re changing how we work too. And the how element is always related to speed.”
« Chances are, your employees are withholding valuable intelligence from you. Maybe it’s about a project that’s gone off track or a manager who’s behaving badly. Or maybe they’re not sharing their thoughts on ways the business could grow its sales or improve operations. No matter how open you are as a manager, our research shows, many of your people are more likely to keep mum than to question initiatives or suggest new ideas at work. »
- Think about it: How often do employees come to you, on your turf, to tell you the unvarnished truth simply because you’ve encouraged them to do so? The reality is, they worry—rightly or not—that you’ll take their comments personally, or that they’ll come across as disrespectful know-it-alls.
- business units whose employees reported speaking up more had significantly better financial and operational results than others. And at one national restaurant chain, managers were able to persuade senior leaders to make improvements that reduced employee turnover by 32% and saved at least $1.6 million a yea
Relying on anonymous feedback.
The promise of anonymity is a common way to encourage frank inpu
- allowing employees to remain unidentified actually underscores the risks of speaking up—and reinforces people’s fears.
- , it can be difficult to address issues while protecting the identity of the people who raised them.
Issuing general invitations to come forward.
Open doors and attitudes are simply too passive. People still have to approach you to initiate a conversation, and that’s intimidating.
- if you closely identify with an initiative, they’ll probably withhold constructive criticism about it, assuming you’ll take it personally.
Sending signals that you’re in charge.
Whether you realize it or not, you’re probably conveying your power through subtle cues (social psychologist Richard Hackman called them “ambient stimuli”). This can cause employees to clam up.
The Futility Factor
In many organizations we’ve studied, the biggest reason for withholding ideas and concerns wasn’t fear but, rather, the belief that managers wouldn’t do anything about them anyway.
» It has also has inspired scholarship by academics such as Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne of Oxford University, who estimate that 47% of occupations in the United States could be automated within 20 years, and David Autor of MIT, who argues that the ability of machines to take on human jobs is vastly overstated. »
- The most important insight has been that it is far more useful to think about the activities that can be automated rather than entire occupation
- We estimate that activities that account for 10% to 15% of the marketing executive’s time can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technology.
- We find that, from a technical standpoint, work that occupies 45% of employee time could be automated by adapting currently available or demonstrated technology. However, less than 5% of jobs could be fully automated—that is, every activity could be handled by a machine.We estimate, that for 60% of existing US jobs, 30% or more of current work activities can be automated by with available or announced technologies.
- The over-arching implication from our research into automating tasks is that roles will be redesigned and organizations will have to become very good at understanding where machines can do a better job, where humans have the edge, and how to reinvent processes to make the most of both types of talent.
- Organizations that manage the transition to a more highly automated business model can build strong advantages.
- In the age of the highly automated organization, top leaders will need to develop a rich understanding of digital technology and find talent that can manage in a human/machine workforce. Some of those managers, by the way, may be machines.