Data for such a map requires a full survey with questions such as "How often do you talk with this person for your job" and "How often do you socialize with this person", but sources of data may be more accessible with existing networks. "During the idea phase, if I was doing it today, I would use social media," says Thompson. The proliferation of internal company social media platforms and external tools like LinkedIn InMaps can be used to identify influencers and allies.
Thompson's team cleared initial approvals and the program was announced in summer of 2007 by the Chairman. The team moved forward with program design by meeting with leaders in specific functions, business units, and country heads. They needed Human Relations to sanction CSC as a leadership development program and addressed concerns by Sales that that their employees, whose performance was measured by different metrics, could participate.
The CSC design team learned what they needed for their case and built support from the network, then they were given one final challenge: a minimum of 250 applicants. When the IBM network delivered 5,500 applicants who met the top performer criteria, the team had what it needed to reach the tipping point. "In the end the strength of the experience, stories of participants, and media coverage calmed the first wave of resistance at time of launch," says Thompson. They mined the applications for data that demonstrated the broad appeal among IBM employees across countries, age groups, and functions.
"In geology, some aquifers are under so much pressure that you tap them and they flow for ten years," says Thompson. "That's what you want to do as social intrapreneurs." The CSC is now entering its fifth year with 500 participants annually and it has become a strategic approach for IBM to develop new emerging markets by gathering insights and generating brand equity.
Next Week: Mobilizing Allies