Jamming at IBM: Birth of a new marketing medium

Consultantjam Now there is a genuine way that law firms can get valid internal input when trying to:

  • Define the firm's brand.
  • Pick new industries and companies to target.
  • Create new services for clients to buy.
  • Define what the firm's values are.

IBM is using a new collaborative online medium to capture best practices, solve urgent company issues, get ideas to change company agendas, and explore the company's values and beliefs.  It's called "Jamming," according to Michael Wing, Vice President of Strategic Communications at IBM's Madison Avenue offices in Manhattan. AND it replaces knowledge management, which he said is a "30-year failure."

Getting consensus is tough at a company with 175 locations and 369,000 employees.  It's no easier at any size law firm.

Wing spoke at the recent Strategic Research Institute conference "Blogs and Social Networks." A Jam is a global online brainstorming event -- "a threaded discussion in a Web environment."  Here's how it works: an employee goes to the company intranet and clicks on the topic of the Jam.  Then they type in their thoughts in a message, using their real names. They have a 48 to 96-hour time period to make a comment, and then the Jam closes.  No comment is deleted, even negative ones or calls to unionize IBM.

To make sense of the thousands of messages, IBM uses eClassifier, JamAlyzer and SurfAid to sort them into topics, spot emerging patterns and put structure on all the comments.  Then they use the ideas to run the $96 billion company.

Here are some of the questions IBM posed to its entire workforce, and the results they got:

WorldJam (May 2001): Urgent IBM issues:

  • 52,595 participants (unique users)
  • 6,000+  ideas
  • 268,000+ views of posted ideas

ManagerJam (July 2002): The changing workforce and the role of the manager

  • 8,123 participants (unique users)
  • 4,500 ideas
  • Framed agenda for two-year program

ConsultantJam (Feb. 2003) - helped accelerate the acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC)

  • 8,560 participants (unique users)
  • 2,960 ideas

According to Wing:

A jam is not:

§         An announcement vehicle

§         A top-down communications tool

§         A community creator / definer: it's a population, not a community

§         A personal soapbox

§         A chat room: no one is anonymous

A jam is:

§         Best-practice capture - an idea socialization vehicle

§         Global collaboration - find people you otherwise would never meet

§         Democratic -  equal access and freedom-of-action for all

§         Pragmatic -  participants rate actionable ideas and behaviors

§         Organizational research tool -  a population snapshot, a barometer of culture change

§         An event - an organizational intervention that begins and ends

Imagine the marketing and business development uses for a Jam at a law firm!  Look for an upcoming article on The LawMarketing Portal by Mike Wing on Jamming and how your firm can use it.

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Expertise Marketplace - February 21, 2006 4:15 PM
Here's a copy of a post made by Larry Bodine, the editor of the LawMarketing portal www.lawmarketing.com, on a conference he attended called Beyond Blogs and Social Networks. While he was there, he heard a speech about an amazing technique
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