From the ground up: Helping our organizations work smarter

| ibm, leadership, work

IBM’s latest Smart Work study is about how outperforming organizations have adopted smarter work practices much more than most organizations have. It has a lot of useful insights from CEOs and case studies. Reading it, I thought: This is written for executives. What do the results mean for us on the ground? How can we help our organizations work smarter, even if we’re not in leadership positions? Ultimately, cultural change doesn’t come from just CEOs or consultants – it comes from what we do every day.

The study showed that top-performing companies focus on:

  • People: quickly building skills and collaborating outside traditional boundaries
  • Processes: automatically reconfiguring processes and enabling collaboration in processes
  • Information: integrating data sources and using real-time information for making decisions

What can we learn from that, how can we challenge ourselves, and what are some ways we can get started?


How can we learn more, and how can we help others learn?

  • Mentor others and be mentored.
  • Share what you’re learning in blog posts, wikis, and other resources.
  • Help out in communities and discussion forums.

How can we reach out to people outside our departments and outside our organizations?

  • Talk to your customers, and make it possible for everyone to have that kind of contact.
  • Ask people outside your team for help and insight.
  • Look for relevant teams and coordinate with them.
  • Build your own rotational program.
  • Learn from everyone, including partners, competitors, non-clients!


How can we make our team’s processes more flexible and responsive?

  • Find out how people “work around” processes right now. Instead of punishing them, make the processes more adaptable.
  • Figure out what information you need to choose which process to use. Get that information faster.

How can we build collaboration into the way we work and the tools we use?

  • Learn about collaboration tools. Experiment. Make a habit of using them.
  • Give feedback on tools. Tell people what works, what doesn’t, and what could be even better.


What real-time information could help us make better decisions, and how can we get it?

  • Identify the information you need in order to better understand what’s going on.
  • Talk to other people and figure out what your blind spots are.
  • Speed things up. Simplify processes or put in tools to collect data automatically.

How can we combine information to give us a better view of the big picture?

  • Figure out the kinds of information you combine manually. Invest in making a tool that shows you the big picture, like a dashboard.
  • Make it easier for other people to find and use your information.

No matter where we are in the hierarchy, we can help our organizations work smarter. What are you doing to build a smarter planet?

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