PRSA Digital Impact presentation

Below is my presentation at the PRSA Digital Impact conference in New York City last week.

As you will notice, the front half is similar to what I presented in Berlin last month. However, the context is quite different. While Berlin was focused on a very technorati crowd, this was specifically amongst communications colleagues from mostly private enterprises. A much more familiar crowd of sorts.

This presentation really is a culmination of my public speaking for the past six months – all in the context of IBM’s continued six-year transformation down the path of social media. I’ll spare the details as you can read much of it in my other presentations on Slideshare, but I do want to focus on one slide in particular here, slide #10, “IBM’s Underlying Foundations.” Basically, what has enabled success for us in social media thus far? These three things:

  1. IBM’s values. This really has two parts to it. One of our core values is trust in the employee. This is imperative as we try and encourage every employee to engage in social media. But the experiences in how we created our values is every bit as important as the outcome themselves. Back in 2003, IBM set out to define what we stand for as a company. Rather than having it be created by a few folks at CHQ, we decided to put the task to every IBMer. So we launched ValuesJam in 2003, a massive three-day online brainstorm for all employees. Fine right?

    Well, not at first. As soon as the Jam it went live, many employees found a place where they could vent their frustrations. And for the next eight hours, it was overwhelmingly negative. To the point where we were getting calls to pull the plug. We decided to see what happened if we let it run it’s course. And what happened? The conversation organically shifted from being overwhelmingly negative to being overwhelmingly positive. All without any moderation or prodding from the top. It was an eye opener that if we let employees do their thing, in the end, we’ll all gain from it. That experience gave us as a company more confidence that we could give open, free access to employees both internally and externally, which has informed everything we do in the social media context. And perhaps the most important benefit is that employees view the company’s progressive stance on social media as a public example of the values in action. A reinforcing circle, of sorts.

  2. IBM Social Computing Guidelines. I’ve talked a lot about these in the past. But basically, the guidelines provide the framework in which IBMers feel comfortable participating in social media. It gives protection to both the employee and the employer. And it gives formal endorsement from the corporation that employees are not only allowed but also explicitly encouraged to participate in these spaces to advance their day jobs. What’s the one thing that has contributed to the success of these guidelines? That they were written by the community themselves, not Communications, Legal or HR. That’s allowed for an accurate sense of community ownership which results in a wonderfully self regulating community.
  3. The Authentic Enterprise. This is a brilliant document (full disclosure, my boss’ boss, Jon Iwata, helped write it on behalf of the Arthur Page Society) and one that should be a mandatory read for any communications or marketing professional. It summarizes the role of communications in the current business environment. The gist is simply that we are moving from a period of mass communications one of masses of communicators. That has profound implications for us in communications. The whole traditional model of communications (slide #9 in my presentation above) is being turned on it’s side.

And, of course, the rest of my presentation focused on the simple fact that we simply don’t have the luxury any longer to experiment for experimentations’ sake. Instead, we need to extract tangible value from social media. If not, why are we doing it in the first place?

But I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you are seeing this play out in your organization or enterprise. Everyone company’s story is slightly different. I’m all ears.


6 Comments on “PRSA Digital Impact presentation”

  1. dolores says:

    Hello Adam. Re IBM, I guess you haven’t been fired, nor do you visit the Alliance site, where those who have been fired tell of having been threatened when they are fired to train their underskilled replacements in overseas countries under threat of severance/no severance. Good for you that you are one of the valued execs in IBM and so have a career while IBM looks to fire those over 50 with 30 years in IBM and ultimately to offshore all the American jobs until there are only 50K American employees left in the U.S.

    On food, though, I’m sure you are aware that chowhound AND Yelp have censored and censured me, being the modern version of Nazi Germany and having wanker moderators. Therefore, I can’t offer my cynical, truthful, valuable insights on restaurants in Westchester. One that hit me square between the eyes, and I had to go re-read what you said about it, is Inca Y Gaucho, in Portchester, and I had to come here to tell you about it.

    Hubby and I went there last week, after he poo-poo’ed Tortilleria Los Gemelos on sight, much to my dismay. It was a bad experience right from the start, but I’ll go to the food first. My spinach empanada was good, the mussels were only okay, hubby’s steak was only okay, and the Neri rolls were fine with the very interesting sauces put on the table.

    But the DRINK? Holy cow, it was DIS-GUST-ING. They note, in a warning to one and all, that their margarita is made with a DIS-GUST-ING concoction made from grapes. GRAPES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????? IF THEY HAVE A BAR, why can’t they buy tequila????? If they have NO liquor license, why not SAY SO? But they serve wine, so they have to have a liquor license.

    On top of it all, I took one sip of the DIS-GUST-ING margarita and wanted it replaced with a glass of wine, and the server wouldn’t leave the DIS-GUST-ING margarita on the house for hubby to consume (yes, he drank his anyway). He told me if he left it he would have to charge me. I thought that was cheap and stupid.

    So, I won’t be going back to Inca Y Gaucho.

    Oh, and I’m still bereft that Sunset Grille never reopened. What a crime.

    Well, anyway, thanks for reading and have fun at IBM and chowhound, Adam.

  2. adamclyde says:

    On Inca Y Gaucho… I don’t really care about drinks so that’s not a problem with me. They do have good empanadas and good lomo saltado (from the Peruvian half of their menu). The Argentine steak doesn’t seem to really have much of a resemblance to the Argentine steak I’ve had in Argentina…

    On IBM… oh, I’m fully aware of the Alliance, the website, the practices and the management. I sit neatly in the middle of it all. I’m neither an IBM exec nor ignorant on it all. But I see both sides. I can understand why people don’t agree with corporate practices. I get that. I also see through the self interests of the Alliance and it’s amazingly unsavory tactics.

    Here’s my personal, non IBM-endorsed take on it all. What would you rather have? Lay people off (i.e., reduce cost) when we know the economy is tanking to ensure stability on earnings or revenue? Or hold off, then have to lay off more after missing earnings or something and have to take much more dramatic measures to satisfy shareholders? Sorry, I’ll take the former. I don’t want to minimize how much it sucks to lose a job. Many after dedicating a quarter of a century of work. But we all signed up to work for a public company and know that’s an inherent part of it. We are all employed at will. And on the flip side, IBM is my employer at will – I can leave at any time I want or need. As a result, I feel a massive personal responsibility to take my own career in my own personal hands. If I’m laid off tomorrow (always a reality) I want to make sure I’ve got a reserve and a back up plan. I don’t get a pension – I never have. And I never assumed I would. I get some 401K match, which goes with me when I leave. That’s all the security I assume I’ll ever have from an employer.

    My two cents on it.

    Anyhow, let’s keep the food comments to the food posts and the work comments to the work posts…

  3. dolores says:

    Okay, on the work posts then.

    “Lay people off (i.e., reduce cost) when we know the economy is tanking to ensure stability on earnings or revenue?””As a result, I feel a massive personal responsibility to take my own career in my own personal hands.”

    Wow, corporate speak. Excellent, Adam. Never mind the ‘additional compensation’ lies told to employees for decades and decades.

    Remind me, what was Sammo’s bonus in 2008? What was IBM’s profit in 2008? But as you say, as long as the shareholders are happy and the execs get their bonii, that’s what it’s all about.

    Employed at will — yup, that’s what the Alliance is trying to get through the heads of the sheeple in IBM. Unionize now, or IBM will gladly fire you tomorrow — I find it interesting that you use the management lie ‘layoff’ — for no reason whatsoever.

    No matter the spin, IBM won in 1999. The employees and retirees are screwed.

  4. [...] Board panel about how social tools like blogs are increasing collaboration across the company (here’s a cool presentation from Adam covering IBM’s internal social media efforts). For IBM, the only barrier to internal collaboration through social tools is older than stodgy [...]

  5. [...] that being said – check out this post on how Jam organically evolved over 72 hours from an entirely negative social media experience, to [...]

  6. [...] The Experiment Is Over: It’s Time to Extract Real Business & Societal Value from Social Media Adam Christensen, manager, corporate communications, IBM [...]


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