January 13, 2005
News & Opinion: Confront and Move On
Thats exactly what happened at IBM, as described in the December 2004 issue of Harvard Business Review in an interview with CEO Samuel Palmisano conducted by Tom Stewart and Paul Hemp. In the interview, Palmisano described a 72-hour ValuesJam via the corporate intranet that drew about 50,000 employees and generated nearly 10,000 comments about the companys values. This was a tell-all meeting on a major scale.
For the first 24 hours, people vented. One who was quoted anonymously in the HBR article said, The only value in IBM today is the stock price. Eventually, the tone of the comments changed: the criticism became more constructive and the postings began to focus on the parts of the culture worth preserving.
Palmisano told HBR that the electronic argument was hot and contentious and messyWe had done three or four big online jams before thisEven so, none of those could have prepared us for the emotions unleashed by this topic. You had to put your ego asidenot easy for a CEO to doand realize that this was the best thing that could have happened.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.