IBM adopts Ask Me Anything sessions to boost staff engagement

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IBM adopts Ask Me Anything sessions to boost staff engagement

Weekly GinniVision sessions coming soon to intranet, IBM News app for 2019.

IBM’s senior leadership has decided the time is right to spend more time explaining the company's plans to staff and will therefore conduct weekly “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) sessions to address workers’ questions.

In a letter sent to staff, CEO and president Ginni Rometty said that in 2018 IBM has “focused on accelerating every part of our business, and that includes the way we communicate with each other.”

“You have given us good ideas and feedback on ways to engage together, more often, on a global basis.”

Management has distilled that feedback into three new communications tactics: a weekly AMA, an expansion of the company’s internal e-learning “Think Academy” (some of which is available on YouTube) and a new IBM news app that will arrive in 2019.

AMA sessions are most often associated with Reddit, but IBM’s won’t adopt the freewheeling style of reddit.com/r/AMA/. Instead IBM will consider all questions it receives each week and put the top three to a panel of senior execs, including Rometty, who will answer them in a short video.

Rometty’s letter says “Given the huge positive response to our Red Hat acquisition, I expect the first few sessions to focus on cloud, but please ask about other things as well.”

As seems proper for an “Ask Me Anything” session.

“You have told us you have great pride in working for IBM,” the letter concludes. “Together, let’s use these new communication tools to create an even stronger sense of shared purpose.”

IBM has significantly altered its workforce in recent years. On the company’s Q3 2018 earnings call, CFO Jim Kavanaugh said “We’ve been rebuilding our innovation pipeline to address what our enterprise clients value in an IT industry that has been rapidly reordering, technologies like AI, blockchain, cyber security delivered in hybrid cloud environments. And we’ve taken actions to further align our skill base to this opportunity and to drive operating efficiencies.”

That alignment has meant some job reductions, some moves of jobs to low-wage nations and some unease among staff.

These new initiatives appear aimed at ensuring staff understand the company’s plans, the better to boost their morale.

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