Yes, that’s what happened, on a 3 day notice, fly in and fly out in less than 24 hours. Quick meeting but boy was it an interesting and one of a kind one!

I was invited to observe (yes, observe is the right word here) a meeting led by our CEO with about 20 of her hand-selected general managers. This is a special team that drives important initiatives to drive delightful client experience throughout the year (they rotate). But because we believe that employee engagement drives client experience and that delivers business results – naturally they start with employe engagement at the core. And this is where my tiny role comes in…. I am one of the 50 manager champions this year across IBM and we are tasked to champion, advocate and spread the right behavior to the thousands of IBM managers worldwide. So the ask was to come, listen, observe and participate if you can.

Mind you, I didn’t know our CEO was going to be in the whole meeting – thought she would kick off privately and head out to something else. Wrong – she was very engaged and participating fully for the entire meeting. Since you (probably) and I don’t get to sit in meetings with Fortune 500 CEOs everyday – and we only see them on videos or large townhalls – I thought it would be good to capture and share some of my impressions….

  1. Truly impressed by the commitment and how employee engagement IS important – with action, not just talk
  2. Discussion vs. staring at charts – talk about the issue, brainstorm, don’t stare quietly at the screen
  3. Healthy discussion with very bold ideas, even for IBM – and open mind to absorb them all
  4. If something makes sense and doesn’t need anyone’s blessing or approval – why aren’t we doing it now? Only bring things forward that require significant change and this team’s support, otherwise “go do it”
  5. Scale, scale, scale
  6. Engage personally – everyone at the table was asked if they are doing what they are preaching – loved this! On the spot…
  7. A clear presence of an ultimate decision maker… and her recognition that it is not easy to argue with her, given her position.
  8. Decisions made there, quickly – move on
  9. Clarity on the outcome of the meeting and actions

I was was energized and engaged just by observing and seeing that the expectations are not just words – this was so evident. Transform, do what’s right, get out of the way if you are not on board, open to ideas…..

The meeting was in Astor Place, the home of our Watson magic. I loved the office, very chic, standing desks, lots of color, post its, posters, open spaces – would come to the office anytime if THAT was my office !

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As in San Fran, I got gorgeous weather (22C), great walk to the office, lots of folks walking around me, a few demonstrations (Tibet and some human rights I couldn’t decipher), the crazy taxi waving game, submarine like hotel room… you know, typical New York 🙂 but this is why we love it….