To create moments of impact, we must inspire and guide IBMers in their careers and journeys to create personal value. We provide guidance and resources so that IBMers around the world can increase their expertise, learn from others, feel engaged in their professional development and celebrate career milestones and achievements. It is through these efforts that we encourage and empower IBMers to help build a better world in the cognitive era.

Feedback is a gift

To keep pace in a complex world, organizations and individuals need to act with agility, and feedback plays a critical role. At IBM we believe that feedback should be immediate, frequent and flow both ways between leaders and team members. Learning to both give and receive feedback improves interactions with clients and colleagues and accelerates employee learning and company growth. To support a culture of feedback, we provide training and tools to IBMers such as the ACE app and Checkpoint, our new performance management system introduced in February 2016 as part of our strategy to empower employees to transform processes and business through ongoing feedback.

Skill as currency

In our dynamic and fast-changing technology industry, skills have become a currency and in IBM we help our employees to close their skills gap and ensure future success. We call this “Skills as Currency,” and it’s a significant component of our people strategy.

Skills as Currency is a culture where we appreciate and understand the value of a skill to drive better outcomes for our employees and our company. For IBMers, this means clarity in making informed and confident decisions to invest in skill development as they build careers. For IBM, it means having the right skills to win in the marketplace and serve our clients.

As part of this strategy, in 2016 we launched a cognitive platform for IBMer education — Your Learning. This platform is an IBMer’s gateway to professional development. Personalized with cognitive capability, it understands exactly what an IBMer needs and recommends and tracks their professional education journey all in one place. This cognitive tool supports IBM’s ongoing transformation and strong culture of innovation.

Encouraging innovation: The Cognitive Build Outthink Challenge

We continue to encourage people to co-create innovative solutions. The Cognitive Build Outthink Challenge was a strong example from 2016, with an important impact on employee engagement.

The whole reason for doing this was to drive a culture of innovation…This is going to go down in our history.

— Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO

The Cognitive Build began in February with ThinkAcademy education to help IBMers understand what it takes to become a cognitive business. Then IBMers joined forces, forming more than 8,000 teams around their ideas. Teams built new cognitive apps for IBM clients, added cognitive enhancements to our own products and services, and used cognitive to transform IBM processes. They used data and Watson, and applied new tools and methods like MURAL and IBM Design Thinking. Over 2,700 teams passed feasibility reviews with expert cognitive coaches to make it to the crowdfunding stage. Finally, IBMers rallied around their favorite teams, investing over 291 million iFundIT dollars to select the 50 finalist teams that advanced to the Outthink Challenge.

In May 2016, representatives traveled from all over the world to the IBM Design Studio in Austin, Texas. They honed their prototypes and business plans with the help of a host of technical and business mentors, and then presented them to judging panels of IBM senior leaders from every part of the business and globe. Those judging panels selected eight teams to move on to the Outthink Challenge livestream and engage “Shark Tank” style with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and the panel. As a result, IBM created new cognitive apps that we currently use within IBM and with our clients.

Download the 2016 report