Archive for July 31st, 2007

IBM employees, empowered or restricted?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Roo Reynold’s post IBM virtual world guidelines outlines the recently launched “code of conduct for IBMers in virtual worlds”.  This adds to previously published guidelines for blogging and general business conduct.

Obviously, as an employee, Roo is bound by these new rules to take a positive stance on them isn’t he?  Maybe?  Maybe not.

It’s easy to knock the gorillas and I often do, but on this occasion I think IBM has got it about right.  The very fact that a code of conduct exists acknowledges that IBM:

a) is encouraging its employees to participate online for the corporate good; and

b) acknowledges that in such a large organisation there has to be some control (but not too much restraint).

In our small company, anyone who wants to participate in online worlds, blog, or commentate, and purport to represent Blue Prism can do so, because they can speak directly to a director if in any doubt.  But there needs to be some guidelines surely?

Do you remember when the inimitable Dale Carnegie said “dress for the job you want tomorrow, not the one you had yesterday”?  Of course “dress” was a proxy for the way you think, and the way you act in all respects.  One of our consultants once asked me what our dress code was.  I told him that, when on customer site, he should dress as well as the best dressed customer rep (but not better).  This is also a proxy for fitting in with our customers and business partners in all regards and as a simple principle is easily understood, if a tad primitive.  I think this extrapolates well into a “code of conduct” for online behaviour too.

IBM’s rules do cover well this principle of being respectful and protective of the brand but also appropriate to the environment of the virtual world.

The gorillas don’t have the luxury of our much looser “common sense” interpretation, and I think IBM is more empowering its employees than restricting them with this code of conduct.

Office space in the enterprise

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

It’s interesting to note how different enterprises treat their staff in respect of the office space they provide.

I was at a large UK retailer for a meeting, yesterday.  Retailers are not renowned for overpaying their staff or providing luxurious facilities.  However there has to be an understanding that, if you want your staff to be the smiling face of your company you better treat them with respect.

From the outside the building looked like a massive tin shed with porthole sized windows.  From the inside the floor plan was huge and lacked natural light.  However, there was smart furniture, well laid out with sound deadening screens where required.  There was air conditioning.  IT facilities looked excellent on the face of it.  An abundance of meeting rooms was supplemented by clever (and cheap) refreshment areas.  I thought they had made every effort to make the best of a difficult environment.  The staff seemed mostly upbeat and good humoured as far as I could tell.

On the walk back to the car park I passed the adjacent building which, although identical in architecture, contained a different company, a gambling operation that has been around for donkey’s years.  Without even going into the building I could see the difference.  Windows and doors were wide open as staff struggled in the heat.  The people I saw moping in and out of the building looked bored.  There were no external recreation areas.  The reception was small and uninviting.

I am not sure if this is about the (internet driven) resurgence in parts of the retailing sector and a decline in old gambling formats causing affordability issues, or whether it’s a reflection of two differing management styles.  Either way, I know which company I would rather work for – it’s not just about wages.