#StuffIBMersSay: testing IBM’s social elasticity

A while ago I wrote a blog post about a twitter meme that was going on where people were tweeting funny things IBM’ers had said with the hashtag #stuffIBMerssay. It became hot real fast and got over 3000 tweets and retweets before it died out after about a week. In my post I did that first day when it all started I stated “ps. Seeing a perfect opportunity here for IBM to use it’s new Analytic tools to analyze this social phenomena!” and well, it seems they have.

I knew they were working on it but hadn’t seen anything made public about it yet until I saw a blog yesterday from Keith Brooks with a link to the research report IBM did on this, the official research page for the meme and an interview with the researcher. It’s really interesting to read and I can see how analyzing this kind of social meme’s can help understand sentiment and feelings within organizations as well as how the rest of the world perceives an organization.

But what this impromptu phenomenon and IBM’s response to it showed best to me is that IBM really is striving to be a truly social organization. Being a social organization isn’t just about providing the tooling and ‘talking the lingo’, it is about recognizing and empowering the individuals within the organizational eco-system so that they can leverage their strengths to get the organization to a next level. That also implies allowing yourself to be viewed through the eyes of those individuals both for the good as well as for the bad and both on the inside (employees) as well as on the outside (partners, customers, contractors, etc). A daunting thing to do, especially when it happens unexpected, unplanned and uncontrolled, which is exactly what happened here. The fact that over 75% of the people who participated were from within the IBM organization itself and that they felt save to tweet about this and inject a lot of humor and banter without feeling they were harming the IBM organization or their own career shows a remarkable openness and engagement. I think that is exactly why this whole thing grabbed me the way it did back then…. and still does!

So…

Nicely said but the real proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say and for me that proof was that seven months on, the two people who unleashed it all, and whom I’ve been closely following ever since, still proudly list “Working @IBM” in their Twitter profile :)

 

Especially had to smile while reading this:

“Second, the qualitative analysis suggested that contributors to the #stuffibmerssay thread were also able to poke fun at the bureaucratic nature of a large global enterprise. We termed this “the Dilbert effect” where tweets served as satirical observations of how the processes within a large organization could be bewildering.”

http://www.jennthom.com/papers/stuffibmerssayshort.pdf

So fitting with one of the tweets I quoted back then!

@FlemChrist: I swear that guy writing the Dilbert cartoon works here. #stuffibmerssay

 

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