Best in Internal Communications 2017

More than 275,000 employees joined an 88-day journey across five stages, embracing next-generation work methods, including agile development and IBM Design Thinking, among others.

Winner

IBM
IBM Cognitive Build

As part of its major transformation from hardware and software services to a cognitive solutions and cloud platform company, IBM set out to redefine its workplace culture.

The 105-year-old company, which operates in 170 countries and employs 377,000 people worldwide, tasked its staff to take on disruption, embrace new work methods, and facilitate culture change.

The global effort was spearheaded by the internal engagement and comms team.

In the spring of 2016, IBM designed a learning-by-doing experience to educate its staff about cognitive business. More than 275,000 employees joined an 88-day journey across five stages, embracing next-generation work methods, including agile development and IBM Design Thinking, among others.

The goal was to create a "do tank" where IBMers would collaborate to propose a problem and its cognitive possibility, and immediately form a team to design a prototype.

The best work advanced to the next stage, where teams — using IBM build bars — worked on transformative ideas. Using ifundIT (an internal crowdfunding tool), IBMers received 2,000 "ifundIT dollars" to kick-start the best prototypes. The top 50 teams advanced to the Outthink Challenge, where 100 staffers pitched their prototype to IBM’s CEO, senior leaders, industry executives, and clients.

Results were exceptional. More than 72% of employees participated in the challenge, and nearly 10% of the projects are being adopted by the business for additional development — both for clients, as well as internally. More than half of participating staffers are now infusing new methods in their work practices.

Overall, 8,361 cognitive build teams were formed worldwide; and 2,704 teams’ cognitive solutions passed feasibility reviews and entered crowdfunding stage.

"This was highly aspirational," said one judge. "Yet they achieved huge success.


Honorable Mention

USAA
USAA Employee Communications Strategy

USAA set out to overhaul its employee comms function after realizing most of its 30,000 staffers had fewer than 8 minutes a day to consume critical company news. After a robust research campaign, the team developed five strategy tenets — listen, collaborate, simplify, target, and engage — to align and engage employees around the effort. The group redesigned its social engagement platform and evolved its content development team. As a result, USAA saw an 8.9% increase in employee engagement on key content for March to August 2016 over the previous six months.

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