Success Story in Brief

A case study of how IBM partnered with Herrmann International to enhance the efficiency, reach and impact of it’s global new leader development program.

“We have a globally integrated culture that prizes intelligence and innovation. That means that, even when an initiative is successful, we’ll continually look for ways to remain on the leading edge in programming, ideas and efficiencies.”

Richard DeSerioManager of IBM‘s Leadership Development Programs’ Global Design Team
About IBM

International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation, with headquarters in Armonk, New York. IBM manufactures and markets computer hardware, middleware and software, and offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology

Objectives

Objective

To update the company’s highly benchmarked and successful global leadership development program.

When IBM began the process of updating its highly benchmarked and successful Basic Blue for New Leaders (BBNL) leadership development program, one thing was certain: quality couldn’t be sacrificed for efficiency.

Richard DeSerio, Manager of IBM’s Leadership Development Programs’ Global Design Team, says the company views BBNL as a competitive advantage, and as such, any changes would have to maintain the quality and level of results the program had shown since its inception in 1999. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t an opportunity to push the design team’s thinking and innovate their approach.

“We have a globally integrated culture that prizes intelligence and innovation,” says DeSerio. “That means that, even when an initiative is successful, we’ll continually look for ways to remain on the leading edge in programming, ideas and efficiencies.”

Part of that process, according to DeSerio, involves evaluating and improving leadership development offerings within the context of what’s going on in the leading edge in programming, ideas and efficiencies.”

Part of that process, according to DeSerio, involves evaluating and improving leadership development offerings within the context of what’s going on in the world today. “Increased individual responsibility and new leadership competencies are a necessity in our current business environment, and we need to be able to rely on a globally integrated team to get the best business results,” he says.

Challenge

To engage leaders across the globe in a cost-effective, efficient and seamless way without sacrificing learning outcomes and program quality.

With nearly 400,000 employees worldwide, the Armonk, N.Y.- based company, which operates in 170 countries and generated nearly two-thirds of its revenues in 2008 from outside the United States, was faced with a real business concern of finding a way to seamlessly and cost-effectively reach their global leaders at any time, no matter where they may be located, while reducing overall expenses and time spent in the classroom.

“At the same time,” DeSerio says, “we want to spend our classroom training time and resources wisely while making sure the learning is designed with a clear business application so people get the most out of the experience.”

With these goals in mind, IBM began discussing program design ideas with Herrmann International. The originators of the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®) assessment and pioneers of Whole Brain® Thinking, Herrmann International helps people, teams and organizations unleash transformative thinking and build the agility necessary to thrive in a complex world. The company immediately recognized that IBM was not alone in the issues it was facing.

Solution

Combining innovative technology with pioneering thinking and learning research to deliver a blended solution aligned with learning and business objectives.

The IBM team had already built up a successful track record implementing Herrmann International solutions. The HBDI®, which defines and describes thinking preferences across the four quadrants of the Whole Brain® Model, was the “instrument of choice” for the existing BBNL program. In addition, HBDI® profile debriefing workshops and Whole Brain® application modules had been incorporated into BBNL to help IBM’s new leaders enhance their leadership effectiveness by applying a Whole Brain® approach to communication, problem solving, and decision making.

The two companies realized that the foundational Whole Brain® Thinking elements could serve as a jumping-off point and framework for a new way of delivering training to global audiences, one that would reduce overall face-to-face classroom hours while actually enhancing the business and learning impact of the training itself.

Accomplishing these goals meant focusing on two key areas: integration of state-of-the-art technology and learning design, and development of a conceptual plan to reinforce the learning’s business context and better leverage classroom hours.

Results

Pilots of the BBNL blended solution, conducted in India, Europe and North America, indicated early on that this innovative approach and partnership was destined for success. Participant surveys revealed a 92% satisfaction rate with the virtual ramp-up activities. 96% also strongly agreed or agreed that the learning was relevant to their current or future roles as leaders. A full 100% found the Thinking Accelerator™ featuring HBDIinteractive™ to be valuable, and all respondents said they intend to apply what they learned in the overall new leader program to their current or future roles as leaders.

DeSerio says the results show the online program to be an effective alternative to the face-to-face session, “enabling precious lab time to be devoted to applications.” The pilot results also demonstrate that the live virtual classroom and rampup activities provide a “valuable and effective linkage” to the initial classroom lab module.

One other key finding from the pilots that bodes well for the ongoing implementation: DeSerio says that both “the entry- and exit-level participant knowledge at the BBNL Lab is superior” to the prior BBNL program. The most important goal of maintaining a level of quality that has become a competitive advantage for IBM, has not only been achieved, but exceeded.

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