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Permission to Speak – Leadership Blog – Kelly Vandever Interviews Ed Brill on Lessons from Social Business for Better Leadership


Episode 9 - Ed Brill - Podcast LogoPermission to Speak

Video Blog & Podcast

Hosted by Leadership Communications Expert Kelly Vandever

Permission to Speak is the video blog and podcast that loiters at the intersections of leaders who want their people to speak up, technology that facilitates connections, and results that serve an organization’s higher purpose.

Our guest for this episode:  Ed Brill

Topics covered include:

  • – Early computer connectivity, connecting people & ideas
  • – Sharing knowledge from the field
  • – Blogging
  • – IBM social guidelines (started without HR, Legal and Finance)
  • – Ed’s early supervisory experience that shaped his leadership style
  • – Having all voice respected, everybody’s point of view being important, expressing gratitude
  • – Be your own best reference
  • – Importance of thinking of rolling out IBM Verse as an employee engagement campaign rather than an IT rollout.
  • – White glove service for executives
  • – Set of community forums which turned into a support forum
  • – Listening to the voice of all IBMers as rolling out
  • – Started with an 11 step complicated process, using agile, they iterated and got process down to 4 steps by 6 weeks into the roll out – in Asian, actually got it down to one, automated button
  • – Rather than wait for the perfect process, get started, then improve as you go using the feedback you get
  • – In Japan, 0.01 defect rate, only 18 problems out of 33,000 mailboxes converted
  • – Transparency
  • – Being straight with people is needed to get behind a mission, understand individual contribution to the mission, the climate in terms of risk taking, or even just accomplishing tasks on any given day
  • – Verse roll-out
  • – The faster we went, the more we uncovered the problems. The problems were looking us in the face and no one could pretend they weren’t problems.
  • – Warned the early adopters, this rollercoaster hasn’t been tested yet!
  • – Being straight with people is the best way to get things done
  • – As the leader, when there are problems, own those problems; don’t blame the team
  • – Highlight the positives, even on the darkest days
  • -Storyteller collecting stories and publicizing them so others could see the positives
  • – Tell the good stories to help people envision the future
  • – Encourage people to participate at the brainstorming/problem solving stage because even if it’s ultimately a management decision, you’ve given people a chance to put their ideas on the table and they feel like they were part of the process.
  • – Hear people’s opinions first, socialize with the group, come to a consensus
  • – As a leader, put your ideas out as equal to anyone else as opposed to, “I’m in charge here and this is what’s going to happen.
  • – What’s working well? What’s not working well?  What are your ideas to fix it?
  • -See job as a manager as being player/coach – not dictator in charge.
  • – Surface the ideas. Some of them won’t be very good but some of them will be awesome, certainly things I’ve never thought of.
  • – As leader, my job to connect the dots knowing about what’s going on in other parts of the organization
  • – Don’t need multiple levels of review when the people putting together the product are the experts
  • – What’s needed to be a more social, open environment: (1) Defining your objectives & what your expected outcomes are (which can be a group exercise to get everybody bought in), (2) Have to have lead by example leaders
  • – Reverse mentoring for senior executives being coached by younger employees (often millennials) to get up to speed on social
  • – Those execs who were coached had 6 times the helpful content (as measured by likes and comment, etc.) as those that were not coached
  • – Being recognized and known for your work because of your social profile
  • – Sense of belonging comes through in Connections, IBM’s social environment
  • – Involvement starts from the top and trickles down
  • – Don’t be afraid to make mistakes when you get involved in social, just go and find your sea legs as you go. People are forgiving.  They’d rather have content in real time, rather than perfect.
  • – Decide your strategy for social and go… Maybe it’s commenting on other people’s stuff rather than coming up with your own… Or using video because you don’t have the time to write. Decide and go.  Don’t wait for perfect.
  • – Pleasantly surprised as a company that we got social so quickly, at the same time as the other social networks came about
  • – Changed the culture of the company through social
  • – IBM is the biggest company on LinkedIn
  • – Individual voices show expertise in a myriad of markets
  • – We celebrate our people
  • – Also pleasantly surprised by the willingness of individuals to get involved
  • – There’s a finance guy in Bratislava who on Wednesday afternoons puts on a lab coat and becomes Dr. Connections. He’s not paid to do that.  It’s not part of his KPIs.  But he just loves it so much that he does it!  He posts video tutorials and they’re posted on the IBM intranet.
  • – People will give up their time when they feel an individual satisfaction or reward for it. It’s not always about the money or the reward.  It’s about the right thing to do.
  • – Expertise locator app
  • – If a client is looking for a particular expertise we can usually find them, which is not an easy thing when have a company the size of the population in Miami.
  • – Social is a learned process
  • – Number 1 point to emphasize is know what you’re trying to get at, know what those business outcomes should be
  • – For IBM it was to be innovators and they’ve lead the patent and trademark filings in the US for 23 years, and they keep setting records every year